After Years Of Pounding Hooves, Union County’s Watchung Stables To Get New Main Ring

MOUNTAINSIDE—Recognizing that 24 years of pounding hooves have taken their toll at Union County’s Watchung Stables, the facility is slated to get a new main ring under a plan approved by the Board of Freeholders.

It is in the ring that the horses are put through their paces, especially during shows and competitions, said Jean Foley, the county parks department’s recreation bureau chief.


“When you are jumping a 1,200-pound horse, you need to have a base that will absorb that kind of impact,” Foley said. “But whether they’re jumping or doing flat work, it’s always important to have good footing for the horses.”

Over the years, drainage problems have also developed in the main ring, with water pooling in the center.

All these problems will be corrected with the new ring, Foley said, noting that a new drainage system will shift the existing drains from the center of the one-acre ring to the sides.

“The ring will get a brand new base, new drainage system, new footing, and a new fence,” she said. Work on the ring is expected to start within a few weeks.
“We are a teaching facility with a really good reputation,” Foley said, stressing the importance of the project.

It is not unusual to have all five rings at the stables in use at the same time, with classes being held in each one of the rings, she said.

“Replacing the main ring isn’t cheap, but after more than two decades of wear, the county needs to rebuild it, if it is to maintain a quality facility,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella.

While the stables, which are open six days a week, are used predominantly by Union County residents, the Mountainside location also draws horse enthusiasts from the entire region.

The Watchung Troop and summer camp programs generally accommodate 1,200 to 1,400 youngsters each year, according to county officials.

The county has 56 horses, with an additional 30 horses boarding at the facility. While the county’ horses are used mostly for classes for horseback riding students, on Sunday afternoons there are two open trail rides for the general public that utilize the bridal trails through the 2,065-acre Watchung Reservation.

Approximately 15 to 20 horses go out on the 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. rides, where admission is first-come, first-served. For more information on programs at the Watchung Stables, go to or call 1-908-789-3665.

YEARS OF POUNDING HOOVES….have taken their toll on the main ring at Union County’s Watchung Stables. The Board of Freeholders has approved rebuilding the main ring so that problems, such as water collecting at the center of the ring, will be eliminated.  Work is expected to begin within a few weeks.

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