Giddy Up on the Bedford Riding Lanes
A hidden gem for riders and walkers alike
Photo by Chris Bancel
The Bedford Riding Lanes Association, colloquially known as the BRLA, was founded in the 1916 as an accommodation to the Fairfield-Westchester Hunt and a way for fox hunters to safely traverse the countryside on horseback to get to their meets. A century after its founding, the historic system connects 100+ miles of Bedford and Pound Ridge’s dirt roads and riding lanes. The membership has been famously illustrious, boasting legendary local luminaries including founding member Marilyn Simpson of the Rockefeller family and Wilhelmine Kirby Waller, also known as the Steward of Guard Hill. Friend to half a dozen American Presidents, including Lyndon Johnson and George Bush, Sr., Waller’s passion for horses kept her connected with the outdoors. More recently, Martha Stewart and Richard Gere are BRLA members.
The organization hosts several important events throughout the year, including the Spring and Fall Paces; a trail clean up day and picnic; and a tony land owners’ dinner. A cool true story about the BRLA took place in the 1960s when several female members laid down on Hook Road in front of bulldozers to prevent it from being paved—pavement being ruinous for horseback riding. To this day, the road remains unpaved. The contact is firstname.lastname@example.org. Not a rider? Not a problem. Many members are walkers who, BRLA map in hand, are exploring the trail system.