It's a snowy holiday season and a time of new beginnings. With that in mind, we would like to debut the new website for RiverHorse Farm. We hope you will like our redesign. Please check this page for news and information related to the barn - whether you are a current or past boarder, or just an interested friend, we are happy to connect with you! You can also like our page on Facebook, which is another easy way to keep in touch.
Stallside: My Life with Horses & Other Characters is in its third printing! We can barely keep up with the demand at local and national tack and book stores and on Amazon. Order your copy today! Don't forget to follow the book on Facebook too and check out some of the local media coverage:
"North Salem Veterinarian Matthew Eliott Writes Memoir," North Salem Daily Voice, September 6, 2013
"Notable Neighbor: North Salem Veterinarian Dr. Matthew Eliott Gets to Horse Around on the Job," The Journal News, November 23, 2013
Stallside has also been reviewed in Eventing USA (the official magazine of the USEA) and Covertside.
Solar Panels have been installed and RiverHorse will be the first farm in the area to be run on solar energy !! There will be an electric car recharging station as well. Our manure is recycled into peat moss and fertilizer. Horses promote green space and green living!!
We are replacing lost footing in the rings, the driveways, the cross country course and on the trails. Where the trail to the elephant walk has gotten a bit 'goopy', we have brought in some additional material to make the area less boggy.
We are also adding a fun new jump to the upper ring !
Walk your horse out the driveway and look left ! You will see the sign.....Ronnie has created a chipped wood trail....It is a relaxing and fun walk for your horse....Not to worry, we will be adding a drainage pipe and new footing over the stream crossing which at this point is a bit of a steep down hill.
Please join the NSBTA if you ride on any of the trails. Applications can be found online (www.nsbta.org). The NSBTA is a wonderful organization that preserves and maintains the trail system throughout North Salem.
Guess who is stopping by RiverHorse Farm today?
Almost 50 years ago, in December 1965, two commercial airline flights collided at 30,000 feet above RiverHorse Farm. Eastern Air Lines Flight 853 collided with TWA Flight 42 mid-air over Carmel, NY. The TWA plane somehow made it back to JFK International Airport. The Eastern plane crash-landed in what is now our 30 acre hilltop paddock. A memorial plaque is mounted outside RiverHorse Farm commemorating both the lost and the brave survivors. Captain Charles J. White, the pilot of the Eastern plane, lost his life attempting to save the last passenger (whose seatbelt had jammed), and has been honored since that day for his heroism and skill in executing one of the most daring landings in aviation history.
The North Salem Historical Society was recently contacted by two of the survivors of the mid-air collision wishing to know if they could return to the place where they miraculously survived. "But of course," we responded when asked if we would be willing to show the two survivors the hill top where they somehow survived, a place where horses now peacefully graze.
More information on the crash may be read here and here.
The horses are chilly...
They are having difficulty moving....
Hmmm... they're wondering why we didn't take them to Ocala this winter....
Hay nets neatly hanging stallside at a local racing stable.....
The corner of Easy Street and Whiskey...The address where Matt's grandparents had a house in Aiken !
We should have a few of these around North Salem.....
Where to have breakfast when in Aiken...Reminiscent of the greasy spoon in the movie 'My Cousin Vinny' where a side of grits comes with everything ordered and heaping dollops of Crisco are used on the griddle !
What fun....How many people have the opportunity to cook for an Olympic gold medalist? Phillip Dutton, his wife, his working student and four other event riders are coming over for dinner this evening ....seven guests in all. Although Matt doesn't have the chef 's whites and toque (traditional chef 's hat), he loves to cook. Tonight he'll cook, create and have a sit down dinner with Phillip Dutton ! Very fun.....
RiverHorse Farm is the old Titus Farm, home of the first Hippopotamus in the United States. The Elephant Walk is part of the bridle trail network at the bottom of the turnout field.
Restoration of an Elephant Walk Recalls Yesterday's Menageries
By ANNE C. FULLAMJAN. 18, 1998
AN elephant is buried on the shores of Lake Waccabuc. A rhinoceros once went swimming in a local creek. A monkey pulled a parson's coat to shreds.
These events and many others occurred during the era of the Flatfoots, the name given to the owners of the enterprise known as the North Salem Circus.
A relic from that time, the Elephant Walk, long a local curiosity for the role it played in the nation's early circus history, is being restored privately.
Not nearly as old as the first American Circus, founded by a Somers resident, Hackaliah Bailey, whose 1804 importation of Old Bet, the second elephant to enter the United States, the North Salem Circus was syndicated in 1820 by the landowners John June, Lewis Titus and Caleb Angevine. Until that time and from the earliest days of European settlement, a Sunday drive might have included a route that went past many farms where horses, cows and sheep were kept.
But by the 1830's, sightseers were roaming local roads in search of exotic animals.
Elephants, giraffes, leopards, tigers and a lion or two, not to mention rhinoceroses, monkeys and the first hippopotamus imported into the United States, could be seen at pasture in North Salem. Horses bolted.
Though the animals are long gone, impressions from the 19th-century circus on the landscape can still be seen. Barns were built to unusual heights for the safe passage of giraffes and elephants. Basements were outfitted with cages for monkeys. A wide stone roadway was built for elephants only.
That roadway, the Elephant Walk, is being rebuilt by the owners of Salem Sunshine Farm, who asked that their names not be used. A large section of the surviving walk is situated along the back edge of their farm.
Built in the 1840's, the Elephant Walk resembles a stone chute. About 4 feet high on both sides and 25 feet wide, the walk was the passage along which elephants were walked to and from local performances and their pastures.
''Everyone owned large tracts of land,'' said Dick Yakman, historian of the town of North Salem. ''It was no problem for them to hold the circus on open pieces of property. There was no structure in the Northern Hemisphere big enough to hold an indoor event.'' Equestrian acrobatics formed the backbone of the circus program. ''For the ring itself, they needed 64 feet in circumference for aerial riders,'' Mr. Yakman said.
Reconstruction of the Elephant Walk consists of new piping laid in culverts where the Titicus River flows under the walk. Rebuilding the walls, where huge boulders are stacked, and laying large stones along the roadbed is the job of Bob Bolender, manager of Salem Sunshine Farm.
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''The Elephant Walk was built to walk the elephants to where the circus was held,'' Mr. Bolender said. ''In winter, they kept the circus here.''
Accepting the fact that there is a dearth of elephants these days, Mr. Bolender is using a tractor to rebuild the walk once constructed with elephant power. Once completed, the Elephant Walk will be used as part of the horse trails that crisscross the farm's acreage.
From Salem Sunshine Farm elephants were walked to June Farm. Titus Farm, also walked America’s first Hippopotamus the approximately 3 miles. At June Farm many performances were held when the menagerie and circus was in town, but from April to October, it was usually not in town. June Farm was not only the location for circus performances but also was the home of the first giraffe imported into the United States. Originally built in the late 18th century as a typical farmhouse, June Farm was added onto as the June family fortunes increased. The Georgian columns were probably added around 1830.
In the 1830's the troupe visited the White House and performed for President Andrew Jackson. In 1839, the Flatfoot circus toured Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York. Circus wagons pulled by horses logged 2,482 miles in 184 days. About 150 days were spent traveling, for an average of 16 miles a day. Exhibitions were held in 85 towns and cities on the route.
Admission prices varied. Boxes were 75 cents. Gallery seating was 50 cents. Audience members could stand up for a few pennies.
The term Flatfoot came from a boast attributed to one of the founding members. ''We put our foot down flat and shall play New York State, so watch out.''
During the Civil War, when the North Salem Circus was owned by George F. Bailey, a nephew of Hackaliah, the troupe visited the troops along the Mississippi River.
Bailey in 1875 acquired the P. T. Barnum Show, which Barnum continued to manage. Baily sold the combined effort in 1880 to James Bailey and James Hutchinson. George Bailey was the last Flatfoot to die. He is buried with the other Flatfoots in June Cemetery.