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    Buck Martin, City of San Marcos Parks and Recreation Director, at TOVEA meeting

    SAN MARCOS—Horses are an asset to the community, say San Marcos city staff, and future improvements to equestrian facilities are on the way.

    That was the message from Buck Martin, City of San Marcos Parks and Recreation Director, and Art Sotelo, Public Works Manager for Parks and Landscape, at the Feb. 25 community forum held by the Twin Oaks Valley Equestrian Association.

    Martin may not be a horseperson, but he engaged TOVEA staff six years ago shortly after he had arrived to the area—even saddling up at Deer Springs Equestrian Center and taking a trail ride around Walnut Grove Equestrian Park with some local horsepeople. Since then, working with the community horse group, the city has provided improvements like trees, irrigation and basic maintenance (including a monthly grooming of the arena) to help keep up the county’s only remaining municipal horse show facility.

    Future 2019 improvements discussed at the forum included replacement of the building that serves as the judges’ tower and announcer’s stand, updating the arena rail fencing, re-leveling and adding sand to the arena surface, and maintenance to the horse trailer area.

    “I think the key thing here—and I’ve been here seven years now—is that this is such an important part of the community and the parks system that we really need to pay attention to the things that we can do to ensure that it carries on,” Martin told attendees. “You guys have a couple of great folks here in Patty (Morton) and Lori (Hall-McNally) who are really into this arena, and we’re trying to make it happen.”

    Martin and Sotelo, who said they have visited several equestrian facilities in other areas to garner ideas for Walnut Grove Equestrian Park, encourage public feedback to help prioritize improvements.

    “It’s important that we continue to listen to each other,” Martin said. “Communication is the key, so that when there are things that need to be paid attention to, they get addressed.”

    In addition to working with the City of San Marcos and the County of San Diego on trails plans, TOVEA has raised $78,000 over the last 10 years for the improvement and upkeep of the Walnut Grove facility, leading to bleachers, corrals, sprinklers, arena footing, maintenance and trail improvements. Morton and Hall-McNary are both on the TOVEA board, with Morton the current chairperson.

    Also at the community forum was Cortney Pache, the Lead Park Ranger and Mounted Patrol Coordinator for the City of San Marcos, who invited equestrians to join the volunteer mounted patrol that helps enforce safety on the city’s nearly 70 miles of improved trails. Mo Parga, a retired mounted police officer and now a leading trainer of mounted patrol horses, also encouraged volunteers to join a mounted patrol.

    More online: http://bit.ly/903-NT1

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