claremont2.jpgThe skies cleared Sunday in time for instructors at the Upper West Side's Claremont Riding Academy to take horses out for a final ride through Central Park's bridle trails. It marked the end of an upsetting week for many riders and horse lovers, after Claremont's owner quickly announced his decision to close the oldest continuously operated stable in the United States. The New York Sun describes a sentimental and somewhat melancholy scene:

Scores of New Yorkers looked on yesterday afternoon as about a dozen Claremont instructors on horseback made their way out of the building for a final ride through Central Park to mark the end of its 115 years as a stable and riding school. Some watching the procession cheered; some wept; some snapped photographs. One woman called out to the riders: "God bless y'all."

Claremont owner Paul Novograd defended his decision to close the stables, saying he'd been losing money for years and that the stable was no longer economically viable. The decision to to end everything so quickly, however, rankled some riders. One young Gothamist reader who'd spent half her life thus far taking lessons at Claremont expressed concern last week for even younger riders, and pondered the fate of her usual horse Confetti. (The Post says that regular riders can purchase their horses [!] while others would go to farms.)

A lack of demand for riding lessons certainly doesn't seem to be a problem, as the owner of a stable in Riverdale told the Sun she'd been inundated with calls from former Claremont equestrians. Novograd insisted in an interview with the Times that restoration and taxes were making the operation less profitable. He didn't, however, say what would happen to the stables after the closing.

One onlooking man, who was reminiscing about rides he took out of Claremont in the 1970s was succinct. "Post 9/11, in this city, whatever keeps our economic fabric solid, we're willing to sell off — but it comes at a price, which is the soul of our city."

(AP Photo/Seth Wenig)