Tower Grove Park horses get award-winning stable upgrades

TOWER GROVE PARK – You won’t find two horses as pampered as Moonshine the Clydesdale and Sheffield the Shetland pony.

While other Clydesdales are moving beer wagons, Moonshine does light duty pulling carriages around Tower Grove Park. Sheffield’s jobs include making sure Moonshine’s not lonely and getting petted by swarms of kids at children’s programs such as the Wednesday morning summer childrens’ concerts.

Moonshine, who was born under the light of the moon, and Sheffield, who is named for the town in England where park founder Henry Shaw came from, get regular baths and twice-yearly house calls from a cool vet. They also get plenty of carrot treats, exercise and much more. After his regular baths, Moonshine’s feathers – the hair on his legs down by his hooves – are dried with a hair dryer.

“I wish I was treated as well as those horses were,” said Bill Reininger, executive director of Tower Grove Park.

That’s nothing compared with what came to Moonshine and Sheffield recently. They now live in an award-winning stable.

After a $485,000 makeover, the Landmarks Association of St. Louis recently named the stone stable one of 16 restored buildings in the city to receive the group’s 2019 Most Enhanced Awards.

The approximately 1,000-square-foot stone building was built by Henry Shaw, who donated the land for the park. Shaw also built the nearby Missouri Botanical Garden. Originally, mules lived in the stable building.

“They didn’t have Bobcats, so they were using mules,” Reininger said.

Later, Shaw kept horses in the part that he used for carriage rides around the park. After that, the building was used for storage until the park brought back horses for carriage rides in the 1990s.

“We brought the equestrian program to the park so you could kind of experience the park the way it was originally designed,” Reininger said. The park offers rides for a range of $50 for 30 minutes to $140 for two hours. For reservations, people should call 314-771-2679.

“It was 150 years old and needed some love,” Renninger said of the project. Workers fixed the electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems, did tuckpointing and replaced some walls, windows and doors.

“There was crumbling stone. There were pieces where the old stone was missing on the inside and the outside,” said Jeff Kinman, the stable’s manager.
The money for the project came from an anonymous donor with horse sense.

“We were able to find somebody who really appreciated the historical value, Reininger said.

“It is the oldest building in the park. It is a contributing element to our National Landmark status,” Reininger said. Only seven parks in the country, including Central Park and Boston Commons, have that status.

The condition of the stable may not have affected its status, Reininger said, but, “Like any accreditation, you have to make sure you keep it up. The goal is to maintain the park.”

Jim Merkel Born and raised in the St. Louis area, Jim Merkel covered communities throughout the area from 1991 to 2013 for the old Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis. He is the author of five books about the Gateway City published by Reedy Press. The latest is Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in the Bevo Mill neighborhood of south St. Louis with Miss Jenny the Cat. For more about Jim, visit

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