BERNARDS TWP., NJ – Although horseback riding lessons at Lord Stirling Stable offered to the public for many decades are still on hold, the Somerset County Park Commission is continuing to study the feasibility of resuming stable operations _ the county issued a reminder this week that weekly Saturday dog walks are continuing on winter hours. The usual $3 dog fee is being waived at this time, although donations are being accepted, according to the parks commission.

The county park commission met this past Thursday. Afterward, Parks Commission spokesman Richard Reitman said that there was no new development in the county park commission's internal study regarding the future of public riding lessons on county-owned horses at the stable, which is located at 256 S. Maple Ave. in Basking Ridge.

Reitman added that the state Executive Order that has placed restrictions on many activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic remains in place.

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Private horse boarding and dog walks now underway at county stable

At this time, private horses are being boarded at the county stable, he said.

The weekly dog walks on trails at the stable property also resumed in July. The Friends of Lord Stirling Stable and the Somerset County Park Commission jointly support the dog walks.

After closing the stable this spring, and selling the horses, Somerset County issued an official statement in July assuring the public that there had been no permanent decision has been made to close the riding stable, despite financial shortfalls.

The July release to the public said county park commission and Somerset County  Somerset County Freeholders were working together to meet their "mutual intention" of reopening the now-closed Lord Stirling horseback riding stable, but "in some fashion that makes sound fiscal sense."

The county freeholders and park commission, which operates the stable where many local horse lovers learned to ride over the last 50 years, faced intense questioning, including a petition, from the stable's equestrians and other concerned residents concerned about the sudden closure and the uncertainty of its future.

The July release affirmed that the county will not sell the 1,100-acre park property on which the stable is located.

In a letter to the editor to TAP Into Basking Ridge, former Bernards Township Mayor and Township Committeewoman Carolyn Gaziano called upon the county to reopen the public stable in 2021.

"Parks  are the most important service provided by the county and all should be funded," Gaziano wrote. "With a county budget of $251 million, $11 million  is not too much for parks."

Meanwhile, The Friends of Lord Stirling Stable's and park commission's Saturday dog walks are now on the activity's fall and winter time schedule.

Check-in time for owners and their pets will begin every Saturday at 10 a.m., according to the parks commission. The guided trail walk will begin promptly at 10:30 a.m. and last for approximately one hour.  

All pets must be leashed and kept under control at all times. The sanctioned dog walks offer participants the opportunity to explore the equestrian trails of Lord Stirling Stable on foot, according to the parks commission.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and NJ. Gov. Murphy’s executive orders, masks must be worn prior to the start of the walk but are optional on the trails once the walk begins. Social distancing must be maintained at all times, according to the county.

For more information, participants are asked to contact Barbara at 908-448-8348 or at kb2krx@yahoo.com. For directions, call Lord Stirling Stable at 908-722-1200, ext. 5010.