Monday, November 13, 2006
Another check off the 'TO DO' list in New York.
Since day one I have day dreamed of riding through Central Park.
Man and beast trotting down the bridle path past towering oaks, looming buildings and rollerbladers, just the two of us taking in the sights and sounds of the world's most famous park.
But alas, I never made the time, until last weekend.
In a drunken stupor at Mr. Black my favorite new friend Fay Cantor-Stephens, a saucy Brit who works at Sportswear International Magazine, told me she grew up riding and made me promise we would make a riding date.
The next morning we were on the horn with the Claremont Stables on 89th and Columbus making a reservation.
They told us that we would have to answer some simple questions about riding and they would need to see how we handle ourselves on a horse. When they told Fay they would of course help her mount her horse, she dryly said, "Darling, I don't need help mounting anything!"
I arrive at the stables a bit early and it is packed to the gills with little socialites in training all kitted out to ride around the ring. Mothers and fathers were grasping Starbucks cups as their little ladies bounced about on their English saddles. The stables are like a parking garage, four stories high with horses fumbling down ramps till they reach the dirt filled arena that is half the size of any ring I grew up riding in. Problem here is, the space is so tight that the horses occasionally get spooked and set off a spook loop between all the horses. At one point 3 of the 5 girls went airborne from their horses, parents screeching, cats scurrying and Starbucks spilling. One Asian mother gallantly declared, "Big deal! Happens every week! Get a grip!"
With that Fay and I look at each other. What are we getting ourselves into?
I approach the Lady of the Stable, a dour woman who is quite comedic in her frank tone.
Cator Sparks: Hi I’m here to ride!
Lady of the Stable: What’s your experience?
CS: I grew up riding on my aunt’s farm
LS: English or Western?
CS: Western but I know English fine.
LS: Are you sure?!
LS: Did you go to training school?
CS: Yes for two summers.
LS: Did you pass the exam?!
CS: I never took one.
LS: Fine, so what is posting?
CS: Err, well you see, it’s when you trot and raise your ass in the air and pretend like you are holding a penny in it. Or at least that’s what my aunt told me to pretend.
LS: * Silence and long stare...
LS: Fine then, show me someone posting in the ring?
CS: That little girl in blue is posting.
LS: Fine, NO GALLOPPING!
CS: Yes, ma'am
LS: What kind of horse do you want in manner and size?
CS: Gentle giant please
With that she rings a buzzer like Liz Taylor's in BOOM and screams- Bring down Gillespie!
Fay runs a similar gauntlet although she is far more experienced than I. She owned her own horse and went to pony camp every summer in the genteel English countryside.
She requested a horse with 'Pep'
The woman slams down the buzzer again- Bring down Falstaff!
The horses then wobble down the gangplank and we walk them to the center of the ring, mount up, take our map and we are off. We both get our horses outside of the stable and realize we are scared shitless.
How in the hell did we get ourselves into riding on horseback through the streets of NYC?
Traffic, horns, mad cab drivers, oh my!
We suck it up and keep on truckin'.
Once we got comfortable it was a bit of a power trip. Now I know why my sister loves her SUV so much, to be above the crowd is a great feeling. A horse is the one thing drivers will actually give right of way to, no questions asked.
Nary a horn blew when we were in the way; they just calmly waited until we could get closer to the curb.
And the sound of the horses hooves clip clopping along past those glorious Upper West Side townhouses was glorious!
Yes, we were getting into it.
We made it across the 'Death Avenue' that is Central Park West and into the comforts of the park. I fumble for the map and we find the bridle path and head south past the Reservoir and towards Tavern on the Green.
We were both in total heaven. The blue skies, fall leaves, calm breeze and smell of horses on our hands were divine.
Fay lead since she is more experienced, and Gillespie was a kicker anyways so we were advised to keep him in the back. Several attempts at a trot or canter proved futile, these horses were not having it. But after a bit they picked up speed and we careened past Korean tourists snapping pictures, little babies waving at the horsies and some mighty fine runners who gave a wink and a smile (yes, riding is a total turn on!)
Once we reached the end of the road we turned back and that's when the horses really got excited. They knew it was time to go home and with barely a tap we were off in full canter flying by the world, scarf sailing, limbs snapping and Cator wishing for a jock strap. But what fun!
We returned only 5 minutes late and dismounted outside the stable, kissed our fine friends goodbye and promised a monthly date.
To celebrate our successful jaunt we headed to the Boat House and imbibed several Bloody Mary’s, enjoyed a late lunch and kept our eyes peeled for those cute joggers who were winking whilst we rode.
PS- For the Lady of the Stable, this is from www.equusite.com
Posting: The term "posting" is used to describe the up-and-down pattern of the trot. When you post, you raise out of the saddle for one beat, and sit down in the saddle for one beat. This pattern usually creates a more comfortable trot for both the horse and rider.
No Im not talking about Tetley, Im talking about Tinsley!
On Friday night Tinsley Mortimer launched her new bag line she did for the Japanese store, Samantha Thavasa.
I got to the store on 79th and Madison a bit early and Tinsley and Dabney were being swarmed by Japanese and American press.
Tinsley looked great in an explosion of pink ruffles cinched at the waist with a black leather bow. Dabney looked super chic in a sheer and sequined black shift.
Once they had two seconds to themselves I got in a kiss and chat and asked to see what they carry in their TM clutches. They both pop open their bags to reveal a bevy of lip glosses in a variety of shades. Go girls! One never knows what changing mood may occur in the night to go from red to pink to sheet to sparkle. These girls never let me down.
Once the press sucked them back into the camera vortex I strolled about the small but bright store.
It is a rhinestone wonderland! Chandelier were used as displays and even the steps into the boutiqe are embedded with pink sparkles under glass. One gentleman onlooker outside looked at his friend and said, "Oh, seems that we are missing a chandelier store opening!" Note to Samantha Thavasa: Put more bags in the windows with the chandeliers....
The place filled up quickly and Tinsley told me to head next door to the lounge. Perfect! I walk behind Dabney and Tinsley and what do we run into inside the lounge but a bevy of Tinsley look alikes. There were 12 girls with curly blonde locks and Jackie O glasses hired for the night to march up and down Madison Avenue swinging their Tinsley Totes. Superb.
Soon a mound of people showed up including Richie and Traver, Jack from La Force, Patrick Mc Dandy, Stephen Knoll and Fabiola Beracasa.
Justin and I sipped our share of champagne then headed to Chat Noir for a cozy din din.