Clip Clop 2015

This weekend was Clip Clop NYC 2015.  Clinton Park Stables hosted an open house and stable tour.  I spent a couple of hours at the stables soaking up the excitement. It was great to see so many people checking out the horses.  I was thrilled to meet members of CONA, the Carriage Operators of North America in town for their annual convention. 

No one could spend two hours in the stables and not see the truth…these are animals who love to work, and are well cared for in excellent conditions.  Here is a little peak inside Clip Clop.

 

Clinton Park Stables

Clinton Park Stables

Steve Malone, spokesperson for the Horse and Carriage Association opened the day.  He was my group’s tour guide through all three floors of the stables–they are clean, airy and well maintained.  I have gotten to know Steve over the last year, since my first visit to the stable and he is a wonderful ambassador and educator for the world of carriage horses.

Clip Clop Hosts

 

Carrots at the ready

Carrots at the ready

 

Clinton Park Stable's Manager Conor McHugh and a carriage driver

Clinton Park Stables Manager Conor McHugh and a carriage driver

The welcoming committee

The welcoming committee

 

Are those carrots I see?

Got Carrots?

 

 

When I first arrived the temp outside was 18 degrees.  The horses cannot go out in temps below 19 degrees. But as the sun warmed up the city, the word came that the horses could go to work, so we got to see many horses and their drivers gear up and head out to park.  As I was watching all the hub bub with lots of folks all over the stables, how calm and relaxed the horses were, and the interactions between the groomsmen, drivers and visitors, I was wishing the Mayor would come by and see the magic these great animals bring to our city.

Headed to work

 

Filming Steve

Filming Steve

 

 

Partners

Partners

 

wonder

wonder

 

Touring with Steve

Touring with Steve

 

Stable Life

 

a touch, a moment

a touch, a moment

 

waiting

 

Ready to roll

Ready to roll

I have become a passionate participant in the fight to save the carriage horse industry. Perhaps an unlikely one, since I am not someone who rides, nor grew up around horses.  I have taken only a handful of carriage rides.

But maybe that is the very point—the carriage horses are an integral part of my neighborhood and my day-to-day life.  They add a magic,  a music and the soulful beauty of working partnerships between horses and people.  The message I heard from CONA members from across the country is how fearful they are, that if we loose this fight in NYC, they are next.

I hope you will join me and send a message to your Councilmember that we deserve to live in a city that honors these horses, and values an industry that is hundreds of years old, that employs several hundred people and one that keeps a connection with horses, with working animals alive in our city.  For if working horses can’t work, then they are not long for our world!  And that would be a profound loss.

 

New Year’s Visit to the Stables

My nephew Luther is visiting with us from Cape Cod.  He has been hearing lots about the fight to save the Carriage Horses in NYC.  Today, we visited Clinton Park Stables, bringing carrots to the horses.  A nice way to begin 2015, with a thank you to the wonderful horses of NYC!

Feeding carrots

Feeding carrots

Getting ready for work

Getting ready for work

 

Headed Out for the Afternoon

Headed Out for the Afternoon

 

An apple at the end of the day

An apple at the end of the day

 

Carrot Angle

Carrot Angle

 

Did you say carrot?

Did you say carrot?

 

Share the City

Share the City

 

 

 

 

Chateau Stables–Christmas in Hell’s Kitchen

This weekend, I took a walk over to the Christmas Faire at Chateau Stables on 48th Street, between 11th and 12th Avenues.  They are a family run stable that provides theatrical animals, carriage rides, horse and pony rides and hosts parties in their stables.  I had never visited but had to come take a peek. As in every NYC stable I have visited, I was invited to go upstairs, see all the horses and staff.  The animals were relaxed, happy to greet people, take a carrot and be petted!  It was great to see the young people with the ponies, taking rides, having new encounters with the animals.  I met a family who had traveled from PA, their Dad had worked in these stables as a young man.

It was a little bit like traveling back in time… and a piece of the Hell’s Kitchen I love.

Diego

Diego

Hot Diggity

 

Pony ride!

Pony ride!

after the ride

after the ride

 

Hey, this is pretty cool

Hey, this is pretty cool

 

Santa and the cat

Santa and the cat

 

Chateau Stable Cat

 

 

 

 

 

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clstewart_141213_7174

 

Santa at Chateau Stables

 

 

 

Rally for Jobs and Horses

Hundreds Rally in support of the Carriage Horses of Central Park on the steps of City Hall

Hundreds Rally in support of the Carriage Horses of Central Park on the steps of City Hall

Yesterday, I attended a rally at City Hall for the Carriage Horse Industry.  Hundred of drivers, workers and their families were joined by Teamsters, other union members, New Yorkers and animal lovers to protest the Mayor’s introduction of a bill in the City Council to ban the horses by 2016.  It was a day of rallies at City Hall, rallies for and against the Carriage Horses, a “die-in” calling for a further inquiry into the death of Eric Garner. It is an important moment for the Mayor and Council to get their priorities straight.

I was at the rally standing for the horses in my Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood who bring beauty and majesty with their calm and peaceful spirits to the neighborhood and to thousands who visit them in Central Park every day.  And to stand with the carriage owners, drivers and workers and their families who have broken no laws, and care for their horses with deep love, respect and pride.

It was the biggest rally to date in support of keeping the horses in NYC.  The Teamsters were out in full force, joined by 10 plus other unions including 32 BJ SEIU.

A highlight of the rally was getting to connect with Jon Katz and Maria Wulf, who came down from Bedlam Farm upstate to participate. Jon has been an eloquent and important voice writing and speaking out on behalf of the drivers and horses and the importance of having working animals in our midst!  Maria, a fiber artist created a beautiful quilt depicting the bond between horses and humans, which appeared in a sign brought to the rally by Pamela Rickenbach of Blue Star Equiculture.

Here are some photographs from the rally.  It was a hugely positive day and we have a long way to go. The majority of Councilmembers remain undecided. It will be about a six month process before the bill comes up for a vote. I am cautiously optimistic. I hope you will take a moment to write your Councilmember and ask them to vote against the bill.

Stephen Malone at the podium.

Stephen Malone at the podium.

Angel Hernandez, Carriage Horse Driver

Angel Hernandez, Carriage Horse Driver

Representative from 32 BJ SEIU adds his support.

Representative from 32 BJ SEIU adds his support.

Maria Wulf and Jon Katz

Maria Wulf and Jon Katz

Frank is a carriage driver I met over a year ago when I visited Clinton Park Stables  It was great to meet his family.

Frank is a carriage driver I met over a year ago when I visited Clinton Park Stables It was great to meet his family.

Teamsters from NJ joined Rally for Carriage Horses!

Teamsters from NJ joined Rally for Carriage Horses!

High School student, Alexandra Summa launched a post card campaign to save the carriage horses.

Alexandra Summa, launched a post card campaign to save the carriage horses.

Professor of Veterinary medicine and expert on the abuse of horses speaks about the excellent health and living and working conditions of the Central Park horses.

Professor of Veterinary medicine and expert on the abuse of horses speaks about the excellent health and living and working conditions of the Central Park horses.

Demos P. Demopoulos, Sec-Treas of the Teamsters, Local 533

Demos P. Demopoulos, Sec-Treas of the Teamsters, Local 533

Maria Wulf with Poster of her quilt and Pamela Rickenbach

Maria Wulf with Poster of her quilt and Pamela Rickenbach

Bhairavi Desai, the Executive Director of the Taxi Workers Alliance.  "We are in the struggle together..."

Bhairavi Desai, the Executive Director of the Taxi Workers Alliance. “We are in the struggle together…”

Calling all horse lovers! Christina Hansen, carriage horse driver and advocate.

Calling all horse lovers!
Christina Hansen, carriage horse driver and advocate.

 

Carriage Horses Gain Important Supporter

Yesterday, I attended a press conference at City Hall in support of the Central Park Carriage Horses.  Councilmember Rafael Espinal, Jr. called the press conference to announce his support for the Carriage Horse Industry, the horses and the 300 men and … Continue reading

Carriage Horses and The Art of Painting the World

The Art of Painting the World at Clinton Park Stables

The All Stars Project is one of the country’s most innovative and successful youth development programs.  Its national headquarters is on 42nd Street.  Each summer, All Stars CEO Gabrielle Kurlander leads a summer program for inner city young people aged 18-25 who have been leaders at the All Stars.  The intensive program is called The Art of Painting the World in Different Colors, and helps young people become more worldly and use performance to succeed in diverse circumstances.  I have been a supporter of the All Stars project since it was founded 33 years ago and have had the pleasure of doing workshops there on democracy, and city and state government.

When I visited the Clinton Park Stables a few months ago, and spent time with Stephen Malone, a second generation carriage horse driver and a spokesperson for the industry, I began to think about what a loss it would be to young people in our city for the carriage horses to disappear. For many young people, that would mean they would never see, touch or smell a horse, never hear the sounds of hoofbeats….  Steve spoke very passionately about the workshops he does for young people and how connected young people are to the horses in Central Park.

I reached out to Gabrielle Kurlander and asked her if she would be interested in having the young people do a workshop with Steve at the stables.  She said yes, and so I introduced Steve and Gabrielle to one another.

Two weeks ago, Gabrielle invited me to join the young people at Clinton Park Stables, which is in my neighborhood.  I was thrilled to spend a couple of hours with a group of young people from the All Stars Project in Newark, NJ.  Steve is a wonderful host and gave us a tour of stables and an inside look at what it is to be a carriage horse driver, what the horses eat, what their shoes are, what happens to the manure, the history of the Teamsters, etc.  After a wonderful briefing, we went upstairs to meet the horses and you could feel the energy amongst the young people shift… They never met a horse, and they got to feed them carrots, touch them and learn about their lives.  At one point, Steve invited the young people to walk around the second floor and meet the different horses. Everyone was given carrots. It was wonderful. We met the resident cat, the field mice that also make the stables their home, and saw a horse getting ready to head out to the park.  iPhones were snapping and the young people asked probing and interesting questions….what happened when a horse dies? How much money do you make driving a horse, etc.

Steve gave the young people a report on the fight to ban the horse carriage trade in NYC.  At one point he thanked them for coming and said that they had done more then our Mayor by visiting the stables and taking a look for themselves.

It was a rich afternoon, fun, informative and a real cultural happening.  Below are some images I took from our adventure.  NOTE: To state the obvious, these horses are extremely well cared for, healthy and friendly!

Introducing Stephen Malone

Introducing Stephen Malone

 

Stephen Malone

 

Stephen Malone

 

brush at the ready

brush at the ready

 

a bit

 

 

 

 

 

 

a touch

a touch

 

heading to work

heading to work

 

 

 

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