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Kensington Stables rides again!
After initially signaling that it would be cracking down on horse stables, the city ended up saying “neigh” to reform on Tuesday morning.
Walker Blankinship, owner of the beloved stables on Caton Place near Prospect Park, was pleased to hear that the Board of Health had decided to skip some drastic reforms — which would have required costly renovations — but he knows he’s not out of the woods yet.
After all, a law addressing the care of horses is moving through committee in the City Council.
“I’m optimistic,” Blankinship said. “Of course, I’m looking at that [other legislation].”
The reforms that were scotched on Tuesday called for stable owners to expand stalls, give equestrian vacations, and install sprinkler systems.
“It was a one, two, three punch,” Blankinship said. “I was going to lose a lot of operating income.” He added that he would likely have had to close the stables, which he has owned for the last 17 years, if the reform went through.
But with the council preparing to act, the only thing that the Board of Health did was require that horses be vaccinated against rabies, which Blankinship says he has already done.
But Blankinship still has a problem with what he calls the misguided notion that expanded stalls — called box stalls — are more humane than traditional narrow stalls, called straight stalls.
“Straight stalls are better because the horses sleep in a straight line and are closer to other horses,” Blankinship explained. “That way, they feel more like they’re in a herd, which is what you want when we’re taking groups out [in Prospect Park].
“Four out of five NYPD barns use straight stalls,” added Blankinship, whose barn is the only one of its kind not on the fringes of the borough.
Similarly, the notion of equestrian furloughs also undermines the training for the Kensington Stable horses, which are mounted by people with little or no experience, according to Blankinship.
“I don’t think even Olympic trainers give their horses a vacation,” Blankinship said. “You spend so much time training them — time off is a step backwards.”
Area politicians have sided with the stables, echoing Blankinship’s claim that the reforms should be directed solely at the care of carriage horses, not steeds meant for riding.
“We hope that the [Kensington] stables will be exempted [from any pending Council bill]” said Rachel Goodman, a spokesman for Brad Lander (D-Park Slope).
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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