Riding at the Queen's Stables

I had the unbelievable luck of not only stumbling across an incredible riding school, hidden in a posh residential area in Amsterdam, but also getting the chance to ride there. Known to many as "The Queen's Stables," it's tucked away between two towering houses in a quiet, but expensive neighborhood. All that decorates its simple facade are two antique street lamps and a small plaque in Dutch explaining its history.

The stables were built in 1882 for Holland's upper-classes. Originally, only the insanely rich and over privileged were able to board their horses and school in the luxurious, Victorian style stables, but over time its popularity waned and the stables were shut down. A large company bought the building and began plans for a new office building to spring up in its place. A campaign started to stop the destruction and have the building turned into a monument. By the time it was officially designated, part of the building had already been torn down. Dick and Wil Hogenhout bought the building and had it restored in 1983. It was then reopened on June 6, 1986 in front of hundreds of flashing bulbs and TV cameras.

Dick and Wil Hogenhout, the owners of the stables look over the riding rink from their cafe balcony.

Today it is a fully functioning stable open to the public. It has two large arenas (the main one with a very posh viewing box situated over the side), and a great crew of instructors (most of whom are fluent in English). But the best part is the cafe hanging above the main arena. For all those "horse moms" there is a cafe that is not only ornate but warm for those chilly winter lessons, with tables set up for viewing their young talents while sipping cappuccino or snacking on ertwen soup.

But the mystery is in the name. Why is it called "The Queen's Stables"? The Queen doesn't own them and as far as I know they have never been part of Holland's Royal Family's lot. The story goes that once, when Queen Beatrix was a young girl, she and her sister rode there. Thus the reference. A little ?, I think.

Samantha and Buster work through the paces.
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