Other Voices: A history of horses

Los Altos Hills is unique in its commitment to supporting equestrian activities.

The town boasts several larger equestrian facilities, including Westwind Community Barn, which is owned by the town and offers community lessons, boarding, trails and training. There’s also Fremont Hills Stables, Maple Leaf Farm and Rancho de las Reinas, where Kristen Zuraek offers western riding lessons.

Westwind is home to the 4-H Riding for the Handicapped program, the Pacific Ridge Pony Club and the Los Altos Hills Horsemen’s Association (LAHHA), dedicated to fostering an equestrian community in Los Altos Hills.

With support from LAHHA, the town continues to maintain the pathways trail system, not only for pedestrians, their dogs and bikers, but also for equestrians. Horses have been and continue to be a fundamental part of the town’s history.

For those who want to ride in a more structured environment, without boarding at an equestrian facility, there is the Town Riding Arena, a rarity in the form of a public riding space. Located on Purissima Road, the ring is equipped with jumps, a round pen, tie rails, paddocks and a wash rack. LAHHA originally coordinated the building of the Town Riding Arena in 1976, under the leadership of Bob Stutz.

After Los Altos incorporated in 1952, the city restricted horses. Los Altos Hills, however, continued to allow horses to be part of the community, with its 1-acre minimum for every property. The large lots encouraged backyard paddocks all over town.

With all of the horses and few places to ride, there was a need for a communal space for equestrians. The arena struggled for a bit, and maintenance was becoming difficult. Stutz recalls having to “build it and rebuild it.” LAHHA was able to host several events at the arena and spark interest again. A petition followed to help preserve the ring, which faced possible demolition to make space for other projects.

Finally, in 2006, the arena underwent major renovations, giving it a second life. LAHHA secured funding through a state park bond, enabling it to preserve this special resource.

LAHHA continues to host several events at the Town Riding Arena throughout the year, including play days and schooling shows that bring the equestrian community together.

During Los Altos Hills’ annual town picnic, pony rides are available at the ring as well. Outside of special events, residents use the ring to exercise their horses and take lessons.

Local residents can support LAHHA through membership, attending meetings and donations, which are necessary to further the organization’s commitment to keeping horsemanship opportunities available.

The Town Riding Arena is a true gem for the equestrian community of Los Altos Hills and surrounding areas, and one of the few riding spaces available for public use at no cost in the Bay Area.

It is important that we continue to preserve such an asset through its continued use and with support through LAHHA.

To donate and for more information, visit lahha.org.

 

Charlotte Arrouye is a Los Altos resident.

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The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

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