A riding school and boarding stable is the kind of business that can successfully exist quietly through word-of-mouth – local parents tell other local parents, classes are booked, birthdays parties are scheduled, and those with horses to board probably know their options. That’s why you might not have heard of Lynne’s Riding School, the 66-year-old stable located not far from the shopping district of Metropolitan Avenue on 70th Road in Forest Hills.
It’s one of the few stables left in New York City. Like the now defunct Claremont Riding Academy on the Upper West Side with access to paths in Central Park, or the Kensington Stables in Brooklyn with trails in Prospect Park, or the Riverdale Equestrian Centre, which takes advantage of the expanse of Van Cortlandt Park, Lynne’s has an indoor arena and access to the seemingly endless paths of Forest Park in Queens.
You also may not know that at one time there were seventeen stables around Forest Park, which is not surprising given that people commonly owned horses out here well into the 20th century. The old Forest Hills Riding and Driving Club used to organize a Sunday morning breakfast ride down Continental Avenue to the Forest Hills Gardens Inn at the train station. Ever notice Trotting Course Lane when turning from Metropolitan Avenue towards the Home Depot in Glendale? Most of Trotting Course Lane became Woodhaven Boulevard, but traces of it still exist. Stories vary as to why the thoroughfare was originally named Trotting Course Lane, but one theory is that it was the route from the Queens stables to Union Course, where trotting races were held.
Lynne’s is owned by Lynn Holzhauser, whose Queens-native parents (her grandfather had a farm in Middle Village) started the Parkside Riding Academy in 1947 on a nearby site, moving the stable to this location in 1960. Lynn took over operations in 1982. Her passion for teaching started when she was young and charged with taking customers out on the trail, when freeform hourly rentals were the norm. She would need to give the novice riders the basics for the purpose of safety, and she evolved ways of instilling how to behave around horses, how to mount, sit, and reign. This welcoming environment for the beginner persists – Lynne’s is a great place for children and adults to get the foundation of good riding practice and to grow from there.
At Lynne’s Riding School, you start out in the English saddle, since it requires you to learn balance, to trust yourself as a rider, and to form a rhythm with the horse. From there you can move on to western style, if that’s appealing to you. Usually you begin with a series of private lessons in the School’s sizable indoor arena, and then move on to the trail. Sessions are offered year-round.
Private lessons are offered – an attention-span-appropriate 15 minutes for kids 6-9 (generally $30) – and on up to an hour (generally $70). Once the School gets a sense of your skill level, you can join a group lesson, which starts at $45 per hour. Buying a package of lessons, of course, brings the price down. Although your commitment to riding is entirely up to you – you can take as many or as few classes as you want – the School is geared toward an overall learning experience of quality.
You can also drop in with your kids – or by yourself – for a $10 “pony ride,” that is, three times around the ring on horseback, escorted as appropriate. Lynne’s Riding School offers birthday parties, sessions for boy/girl scout groups, clubs and schools, and even girls’ night out parties. Dates are being set now for summer camp, so if you are interested, let them know of your interest sooner than later.
There’s an unquestionably dynamic personality at Lynne’s Riding School in Program Director Eddie Abraham, also known as Cowboy Eddie. He’s passionate about horses, about connecting people with the natural world, about spreading the experience of interacting with horses to a broader audience, and about history, especially black history and its intersection with horse culture. He’s interested in connecting kids with a natural, physical experience for which we as humans are designed, and to build courage, confidence and a sense of accomplishment in novice riders.
Working with horses is well known to have profound therapeutic impact. Did you know that stroke victims lose, among other things, their sense of internal rhythm, and they can gain this back by feeling a horse’s stride? Lynne’s has a partnership with an organization called GallopNYC, which provides riding opportunities for individuals suffering from physical, mental and emotional challenges. Horses for Heros, a nation-wide program developed by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, is offered via GallopNYC at Lynne’s for veterans and their families.