The story we’ve been recently told about a “cowboy family” on horseback, riding through New York City’s Central Park, is so unique, that we felt compelled to dust off the old keyboard, look up our forgotten passwords, and fire off one more FillyGirl article! The story, as told to us by a first hand witness, involves a middle aged father, a middle aged mother, and what most likely their son (estimated age: 13). Just over a year ago, our witness, who was standing on the West side of Central Park in the 60th street area, observed three people on horse back walking along the bridal path. Now not only is it odd to see recreational horse back riding in New York City (typically you’ll only see either members of NYC’s mounted police department or auxiliary mounted patrol units), but what makes this story exceptional, is that all three of these riders were decked out in full cowboy gear. We’re talking cowboy hats, cowboy boots, plaid shirts, full cowboy chaps, and ready for this- lassos attached to their saddles!! If we didn’t know this witness personally, we’d swear she was making it all up. No, she didn’t get a picture (that’s the first thing we asked too). But, the story gets
better. As this “cowboy family” passed by a group of shocked on-lookers, they tipped their hats (almost in unison), and then proceeded to trot off! To where? Our witness has no idea. We heard this story and we were left just dying to know…where in the world did this family come from? Was the rodeo in town? Did they bring their horses to Central Park in a trailer? Were they filming a movie in the area? Was this part of a candid camera show? Why were they in full cowboy garb in Manhattan, let alone for a leisurely horse ride through the park? We once wrote an article about cowboy boots being “urban chic,” but this is on a whole other level.
As far as we know, there was no rodeo in town, there were no hidden cameras (no one popped up and asked on-lookers to sign a release form, etc.), and anyone who’s visited or lives in New York City knows that parking is nearly impossible to find for a car, let alone a horse trailer. So who was this mystery cowboy family? We still don’t know and we need your help. Anyone who has any information, please share it with us. During our own investigation (which basically consisted of re-telling this story to anyone with a remote interest in horses), we came across an almost as unique story as the one told above. About ten years ago, a man living on the Upper West side of Manhattan was walking North on Broadway at around 7 a.m. (mid-week) on his way to work. As he neared around 91st street, he observed what looked like “the Marlbro Man” on horseback, walking past him, as he stood with his jaw open on the side walk). This man on the horse he told us, “was a large fellow with a cowboy hat on, a slicker, cowboy boots, and a lasso tied to his saddle.” “It was like a guy right out of the movies.” “He just kept riding North until he almost disappeared into thin air.” “Maybe he turned right towards the park or something and disappeared out of view.” “I just couldn’t see once he was more than 2 blocks away.” And with that recount, we found ourselves asking once again, “a real cowboy in the middle of New York City”? Could it be? Only this story has a possible explanation…well, sort of. See, up until 2008, the oldest riding stable in Manhattan was still around and open for business. The Claremont Riding Academy was located on 89th street between Amsterdam and Columbus avenue. Only one avenue away from this man’s cowboy sighting. While this explains where the horse could have come from, it’s important to note that Claremont was an English style riding school and almost all their horses were ridden “English.” That’s not to say that someone who used a Western style saddle didn’t board their private horse there. Anything is possible. But why the full cowboy costume? Who or what was he going to lasso at 7 a.m.? Why was he walking North on Broadway instead of Amsterdam avenue which would have been closer to the stable and closer to the park (assuming that’s where he was headed)?
Sadly we may never know the answers to these questions unless- unless one of you tells us! Have you heard any stories like these before? Do you know any of these people? Have you heard of “real cowboys” or “cowboy families” on horseback in other metropolitan cities? Chicago perhaps? We need your help in figuring out who these mystery riders are, and just what the heck they were doing in the middle of New York City! Write us with any and all information you have. And don’t go submitting that picture of the “Naked Cowboy” in Times Square you took last summer on your trip to New York 🙂 He’s about as much a cowboy as my dog Lucky is!