Testimony in Support of Kensington Stables

Testimony in Support of Kensington Stables

Testimony to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Regarding Rule Change on Care of Horses
Councilmember Brad Lander
February 3, 2010

The rules currently under consideration by the DOHMH are not in the best interests of the horses and their caregivers.  These rules will reduce the chances that a young person growing up in New York City will be able to learn how to ride.  Kensington Stables, the last remaining stable in Brooklyn, has provided New York City residents an exciting and affordable opportunity to ride horses in Prospect Park for almost a century.  Yet this proposed rule change might burden Kensington Stables to the point that it will have to close.
It is my understanding that there is disagreement in the equestrian community over whether straight stalls or box stalls are superior.  Advocates of straight stalls point to the ability of horses to socialize in straight stalls, an essential condition for maintaining happy, healthy, and well-adjusted horses.  Box stalls would not only prevent socialization, but would also endanger the financial stability of the stables, as it would be financially prohibitive for Kensington Stables to do so.  

The loss of horseback riding not only means the loss of a unique recreational experience for New Yorkers and the loss of unique jobs in uncertain economic times.  It also means the loss of programs like GALLOP NYC, which provide an alternative form of therapy through horseback riding for young people with learning disorders and disabilities.

A five-week furlough would only exacerbate the financial impact of these rules, and may be detrimental to the horses as well.  Requiring these horses to be shipped out of the city for five weeks would disrupt their routines and jeopardize their health.  Horses in Kensington Stables have not left New York City for over a decade, and there is risk they might become sick and even die as a result of being shipped back and forth between different pastures.  

Furloughs would place further financial constraints on the stable.  Putting aside the five-week loss of rental income, the costs of shipping the horses will threaten the affordability of horseback riding in New York City and may force the stables to shut their stalls.

I urge you not to implement this rule and to reexamine what can be done to improve horse welfare without shuttering the places that allow young people to develop a passion for working with the animals in the first place.

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