A little over 100 years ago, before the advent of the automobile, New York City was a town where the horse was the only way to move about if you had to travel long distances by land. There were 62,000 horses in the five boroughs as of the 1890s according to health department records.
Life was indeed different for New Yorkers of that era compared to today. The workhorses, commonly referred to as hacks, were indispensable. These noble creatures deserve credit for their contribution to the growth of the city.
The hacks transported goods, and people to and fro in all types of weather. Even their manure didn’t go to waste. Each day 500 tons of horse dung was collected from the streets of the city. It was used to make fertilizer, which enhanced crop yields. Thus local farmers were able to feed the city’s exploding population of inhabitants during that period.
Fast forward to today, and horses have become nearly as rare as unicorns in New York City. Besides the NYPD’s mounted unit and those few horse carriages carrying tourist around Central Park, the horses are all gone. Our predecessors from the 1890s would no doubt be awed by this development.
So, in recognition of these facts, today’s day trip involves reconnecting with those bygone days. You are heading to the Big River Barn in Islip Long Island. Islip is a town on the South Shore located about 53 miles from Manhattan, an easily accessible destination to reach traveling on the Long Island Railroad (LIRR).
The Big River Barn is a very well operated horseback riding stable. All of the barn’s horses appear sturdy and well fed. They all have that healthy glow which suggests that they are in excellent hands. Janet, the lady who operates the barn, and her team are some of the kindest people you will ever meet. They are all personable, and patient.
Riders of all experience levels are welcome at the Big River Barn. Whether you are a total newbie or a regular cowboy or girl, Janet and her people will match you to the proper horse and provide top-notch instruction. The trails out in Islip will take one to four hours depending on your choice. The natural beauty of Long Island is the perfect backdrop for a casual ride atop one of Big River Barn’s trained thoroughbreds.
The Big River Barn is open year round. You can schedule your visit for either weekdays or weekends. Children 12 years and older are welcome to ride. Janet is big on safety. Mandatory riding helmets are required. You can bring your own or one will be provided for you.
Once you have enjoyed a day with these beautiful animals, you will understand just how special they are. Horses are warm and intelligent creatures with emotions. One can easily grow attached to them. Although they served our ancestors in building New York to be the magnificent city that it is today, they certainly were not meant for that purpose. After spending a day with them, I’m sure you will agree.
Click on the links in the text above for further details.
Big River Barn operates by appointment. If you are driving directions to the barn will be provided to you upon officially setting up your visit.
If you travel to Islip via the LIRR, Janet or one of her team will give you a free ride to and from the barn.
Click on this moovit link for directions from Manhattan to Islip via public transit.