New York Equestrian Center celebrates a century

Free pony rides and more at 100th birthday bash


It’s the last equestrian center in the Town of Hempstead — and this weekend marks its 100th anniversary. The New York Equestrian Center, in West Hempstead, is holding a birthday bash 100 years in the making.

“The first thing people get out of it is joy,” Alex Jacobson, president of the center, said about horseback riding. “The smiles that the Equestrian Center puts on people's faces is second to none.”

The equestrian center was first established in 1924, when such facilities were common. The building, right off Hempstead State Lake Park, was home to horses that worked with the milkman, the local police department, and even homeland security. The building was one of six equestrian centers around the park — now it’s the last one left.

“It’s important to preserve its history, and recognize what horses have done in our history,” Jacobson said. “And it’s not just about the building — it’s about horses being at this location for the last 100 years, and people being able to come out and enjoy them.”

Now the New York Equestrian Center is home to after school programs and a summer camp. Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops from all over the Town of Hempstead often come to the center for horseback riding activities.

This weekend, as part of its 100th anniversary celebration, the center is open for the entire public to enjoy. They’re offering free pony rides, a bounce house, a mechanical bull and even scenic carriage rides through Hempstead State Lake Park. On top of that, families can watch barrel racing, pole bending and jump-off  clinics run by professional trainers and overseen by official United States Equestrian Federation judges.

“It’s just going to be a whole lot of family fun,” Jacobson said.

But the center isn’t stopping there. On Sunday, they’ll be hosting a horse show. About 200 families come out to the annual event. Young riders show off their skills and earn ribbons — and of course, in the meantime, go back to the pony rides and bounce house for seconds.

Even people who have no horseback riding experience or knowledge can enjoy the weekend festivities. Horses are, as Jacobson puts it, “magical beautiful creatures that let you ride them.” Sometimes it just takes a bit of interaction to be reminded of that fact.

“I think that's one of the biggest things that people get out of it,” Jacobson said. “The joy, and the history, and being able to be part of something that's not readily available in our area.”

The celebration is this Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 633 Eagle Ave., West Hempstead.