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An ‘Army of One’

- February 1st, 2021

Lynn Brown leaves a legacy of horses in our communities

Special to the Horsetrader

Lynn Brown and her beloved Andalusian, Nova. (Courtesy photo)

LOS ANGELES – Lynn Brown, whose public advocacy for horse interests in Southern California and beyond was unparalleled, died Jan. 1 after a brief illness.

A lifelong rider with a relentless passion to protect equestrian rights, the choice for an equestrian lifestyle, and the right of horseback riders to the peaceful enjoyment of public trails, Lynn passed away at home with her son, Christopher, at her side.

Lynn was the only child of J. Woodson Brown, a Texas businessman and cattle rancher, and Genevieve Brewster, a Southern Belle. She was raised in Southern Colorado on a cattle ranch. From the time she could walk, she rode.

An accomplished horsewoman, Lynn trained and rode several horses over the years throughout Griffith Park. Some of her most memorable were Nikki, her mustang; Cleo, her Tennessee Walker; and Nova, her magnificent Andalusian.

For anyone who knew or worked with Lynn, she was unsurpassed in her advocacy, working tirelessly for 25 years to keep Griffith Park safe for equestrians and hikers, trail runners and birdwatchers.

Lynn Brown (center, in blue) and more than 100 riders from 17 organizations in the City of Los Angeles’s official Day of the Horse ceremony in October 2014 at City Hall. The annual event, sparked by the volunteer L.A. Equine Advisory Committee, reminds civic leaders of the importance of horses in their great city. (Betsy Annas photo)

During a three-year period from 1999 to 2002, Lynn engaged a coalition of community leaders, neighborhood councils, environmental organizations and horseback riders to protect the heritage horse and hiking trails within the Park. In a room of 200 angry and concerned equestrians, she started what would become a citywide effort to maintain L.A. Parks safe for its Western Heritage. In the process she became a true ally to the Sierra Club, Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils surrounding the Park, activists from Committee to Save Elysian Park, riders from the Burbank and Glendale Rancho communities and other local groups and organizations.

When Los Angeles City Planning once again revised its Bicycle Element, Lynn, as Deputy National Trail Coordinator for Equestrian Trails, Inc. (ETI), secured critical amendments to preserve historic dirt trails for safe riding experiences, again working with coalitions from prior battles.

Her success relied on four principles: seeking allies (locally and across California); writing fine advocacy articles and letters (her much beloved “talking points”); listening to others; and acting strategically. She could commandeer an army of advocates. A friend once remarked that she was “an army of one.”

To this day, the peaceful enjoyment of Historic Griffith Park and its Trails are due directly to the diligence and skills of Lynn Brown.

Beginning in 2005, she became a member of the Griffith Park Working Group, which was set up by the L.A. Recreation and Parks Department. Over the next several years came guiding influences, including A Vision for Griffith Park, Urban Wilderness Identity that champions the Park for its bio-diversity, native species, unstructured aesthetic and continued emphasis on the wilderness values as exemplified by equestrian uses in the park. Approximately 2,000 horses board adjacent to the Park, either in backyards or in boarding stables, as well as in horseback rental stables. Vision recognized the significant Park use by either owners or guardians on a daily basis.

In February 2009, Lynn worked with the late Councilman Tom LaBonge to accomplish a milestone in the city of Los Angeles: the official creation by the L.A. City Council of the Los Angeles Equestrian Advisory Committee, a 16-member citizen committee representing equestrians from all Council districts and the Mayor’s Office. Convened and managed by the L.A. Recreation and Parks Department, the LA-EAC soon began serving riders from South L.A., the Valley, the Westside — every Council District, and representing the diverse populations of the city who shared a common love for horseback riding. She helped raise funds for the Compton Junior Posse, now the Compton Cowboys. She arranged a carriage/team for Councilman La Bonge in the Toluca Lake Christmas Parade. She was thrilled to see the growing representation of Black Cowboys in the MLK Parades in 2018 and 2019. She brought back to prominence the recognition of the Day of the Horse at the Los Angeles City Council.

Without her diplomatic and persistent skills, the important representation of the horse community would not exist today.

She assisted the Rancho residents of Glendale and Burbank, and the Atwater community of Los Angeles, as a practiced voice in opposition to bad development and in support of good development. a few weeks before her death Jan. 1, 2021, she was instrumental in educating and securing opposition from local elected Burbank officials over a “proposal” for an aerial tram that would tear out the only public riding arena, Martinez Arena, in Griffith Park.

She was a polished and accomplished writer and frequently contributed articles to Western Horseman and California Horsetrader on a range of issues: Griffith Park, the Ranchos of Burbank and Glendale, how to make friends with a bureaucrat. As a consummate communicator, her candor and advice were sought and effective. She made many friends over the years with General Managers, Superintendents, Park Rangers and the much-beloved maintenance staff. Every year, she provided flowering bulbs, Honeybaked Hams and personal notes and cards to them.

Lynn is survived by her son, Christopher and daughter Feather. And the many friends she made from all walks life who shared her passion and love for the healing power of a horse. A Celebration of Her Life will be announced at a later date.

Del Mar Horsepark (Horsetrader photo / Gordon Stevens)

DEL MAR — The 22nd District Agricultural Association has conducted a second public hearing in less than three weeks to explain details of its closure of the Del Mar Horsepark for 2021. Del Mar Fairgrounds officials who manage the popular facility announced the closure in December, then held on online meeting Jan. 12 to a dismayed, rapidly growing list of petitioners against the move.

A second online meeting on Jan. 29 when California Horsetrader went to press, was scheduled at 1:30 p.m.

In a December email, 22nd DAA board President Richard Valdez said that continuing with an equestrian presence at the 64-acre Horsepark would require “a significant and immediate investment of funds to address water quality requirements, which is simply not possible given the dire effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the fairgrounds’ revenues.”

Before the Jan. 12 meeting, advocates of keeping Horsepark open for equestrian shows, a riding school and other activities released a report that the facility’s water issues likely originate outside the property.

In a published report, testing lab ALS Group USA Corp. of Irvine examined water samples taken during seasonal rains Dec. 28 upstream and downstream from the horse park. The upstream samples showed significantly higher amounts of coliforms, pollutants that come from human and animal waste.

Carla Echols-Hayes, a Solana Beach resident and horse park advocate, told the San Diego U-T newspaper that the results “indicate that the Horsepark is not the source of any additional contaminants to the San Dieguito River Valley waterways.”

Potential litigation by environmental groups was another cause of the closure, according to a Rancho Santa Fe Post article Jan. 24 by Phil Trubey. In the article, Valdez said that although they had not received any litigation threats, it was the possibility of such a lawsuit from San Diego Coastkeeper and Surfrider Foundation that made them decide to cancel all horse activities at Horsepark for all of 2021. Valdez cited a lawsuit settled in 2018 brought by Orange County Coastkeeper against Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park, a multi-use facility that hosts soccer tournaments and large horse shows. According to the report, in settling that lawsuit, the city of San Juan Capistrano paid Coastkeeper $1.9 million in attorney fees and also paid an additional $1 million directly to environmental groups.

In his article, Trubey said he asked both San Diego Coastkeeper and the Surfrider Foundation their respective positions on Horsepark.

Matt O’Malley, Executive Director and Managing Attorney for San Diego Coastkeeper, told RSF Post that the group has not threatened any lawsuits on the Horsepark, and “we do not wish to shut the park down.”

Also in the article, Alex Ferron, chair of the San Diego Surfrider Foundation, said “Surfrider is not currently involved with this issue — or rather, have no horses in that race.”

The Horsepark is located next to the San Dieguito River about two miles east of the fairgrounds. Fairgrounds staff will attempt to move horse shows to the fairgrounds, where there have been infrastructure upgrades “that can accommodate large-scale equestrian events.” Part of a recently completed two-year, $15 million infrastructure project were upgrades at the fairgrounds that include a holding pond, a constructed wetlands treatment area and other improvements to the racetrack infield. The fairgrounds has also built a stormwater treatment plant to comply with state and local regulations designed to protect nearby waters.

To be added to the mailing list that receives Horsepark updates from the 22nd DAA, send your request to planning@sdfair.com

Riders enjoy the trails in San Marcos. (Horsetrader photo)

SAN MARCOS – An advisory five-person trails committee — none of whom are equestrians — voted 5-0 in a virtual meeting Jan. 13 to recommend to the City of San Marcos that e-bikes be allowed on the city-run trail system.

The matter now moves to a Feb. 17 Parks and Recreation Committee meeting. City staff will be recommending that the Parks and Rec Commission request the trails advisory council to further explore and analyze e-bikes on city trails —and to bring back any findings or policy changes. Parks and Rec would then determine whether or not to recommend approval to the City Council at a future date.

Public comments received by Feb. 10 will be included in the agenda packet. All public input should be emailed to toshinski@san-marcos.net with “public comment” in the subject line.

Under present municipal code, e-bikes and other motorized vehicles are prohibited on San Marcos City trails.

More online: https://bit.ly_1trailmtg

Del Mar Horsepark (Horsetrader photo)

DEL MAR — The Del Mar Fairgrounds announced last month that the Del Mar Horsepark — the region’s last venue capable of hosting major horse shows year-round — must suspend horse boarding and shows in 2021. There are 38 horses boarded at the horse park by three trainers who have monthly stall rentals that expire at the end of 2020, and they were given through March 2021 to vacate, according to published reports.

There also is a 2021 show calendar filled by a variety of show organizations that have — as they have for many years — booked the facility to stage their events.

SAN MARCOS — A virtual meeting to give equestrians the chance to influence whether or not the City of San Marcos will change its trail usage rules to allow electric bicycles will take place Jan. 13 at 6 p.m.

San Marcos is looking at allowing motorized “e-bikes” that travel up to 15-20 miles per hour on trails that currently are restricted to equestrians, hikers and traditional bicycles. It will require a charter amendment to change trail usage rules on the City’s public trails system, and the City is encouraging public response from the equestrian community regarding this proposed change.

To publicly comment, email toshinski@san-marcos.net and write “Public Comment” in the subject line. City staff will read all comments, provided that the reading does not exceed five minutes.

Taylor Oshinski, who will receive the email Public Comments, is the Recreation Director of the Ranger Program at the City of San Marcos. The City of San Marcos phone number is (760) 744-9000.

Steppin’ Up in the High Desert

- October 30th, 2020

HiDHA show season offers variety, competition — and lots of fun

Photos by Evon Kurtz Photography
EXCA Hall of Famer Bill Cameron enjoys participating in and contributing to his community’s shows. (Evon Kurtz photo)

PALMDALE — Obstacles play a big part in today’s popular horse show classes, but this year, obstacles also have gotten in the way of many 2020 shows. Eight months after COVID’s kickoff in March, some lockdowns remain in place at municipal show facilities, but like a clean trot over poles, some clubs managed to navigate problems and stitch together their show seasons.

NORCO — While high-profile Presidential and California elections capture attention as Nov. 3 approaches, voters in Horsetown USA are facing the selection of three Norco City Council members.

The unique equestrian hamlet of 26,000 has a coveted animal-keeping lifestyle, and the new members taking seats in the current economic and development headwinds are expected to play a role in the next phase of the town’s stewardship.

“In the next 10 years, we are going to see a lot of changes in the Inland Empire, and that includes Norco,” says Sigrid Williams, one of eight Norco City Council candidates. “We need a City Council that’s going to brainstorm and problem solve, collaborate with its residents to keep our rural lifestyle intact.”

Sigrid Williams (Courtesy photo)

Williams, a horsewoman who has lived in Norco almost 12 years, has a professional and educational background well-suited to earn residents’ votes. For over 15 years, she taught college and university courses in Policial Science, Public Administration and Criminal Justice, plus seven years in Public Safety and Forensic Science in technical education. She also worked seven years as a Deputy Sheriff with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and she holds a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership, a Master’s in Public Administration, a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and and Associate Degree in Administration Justice.

Her true reason to run, she says, is simple: “Because I care.”

“Even before I became a resident, I was actively involved in the city, its nonprofits and riding clubs,” says Williams, whose community involvement has spanned both equestrian groups like the Norco Horsemen’s Association and Norco Mounted Posse to non-equestrian ones like Little League and Boy Scouts.

“I believe one of my greatest attributes is the ability to influence through education, educating this town and informing them of what will happen if we continue to be reactive instead of proactive,” she says. “I like to think of it as a chess game — I am not about the move I’m about to make, but I’m thinking about the moves in the future. A chess player will tell you if you are only working the next move, and not thinking five moves ahead, you will lose. I refuse to lose.”

Williams believes she can influence key areas of Norco’s future, including: preservation of the city’s animal-keeping keeping lifestyle; infrastructure improvement, including streets, trails and utilities; stimulation of the local economy; public safety, empowerment of the community’s non-profits; and better civic decisions based on improved information and education. Her detailed thoughts on each of these can be found on the link below.

Other candidates who are running for Norco City Council include Robin Grundmeyer, Ted Hoffman, Patrick Mitchell, Sam Tavallodi, Brent Sakamoto, Susan Olmstead-Bowen, and Katherine Aleman.

More online: https://bit.ly/010norco

Committed to a Comeback

- June 2nd, 2020

Leaders of California’s associations and facilities are prepping to relaunch show seasons

Melissa Brandes
Blenheim EquiSports

First and foremost, we want to ensure that we welcome our exhibitors to the safest environment we can possibly achieve by thoughtfully and thoroughly working with local, state, federal and USEF guidelines to put the necessary protocols in place. Once that has been achieved, we have to make sure that we have a smooth implementation of the current practices, allowing for the level of competition to stay intact and providing an enjoyable experience to those who attend.

We’ve worked with local, state. federal and USEF guidelines, health expert consultants, as well as collaborating with other managers, in order to compile the proposed plan. We are diligently creating implementation procedures, to make our return smooth and seamless, as we all adjust to the “new normal”. We have come to understand this is a fluid situation, with new discoveries and information emerging on a daily basis. We have worked together as a team at Blenheim EquiSports for over 20 years and we are committed to the sport, our exhibitors and our staff, and can’t wait to welcome everyone to our home. We have taken this challenging time to think outside the box, find solutions and remember what it is that binds us together — our love for horses.

Whether as chairman of the “Ride for the Cure”, President of the L.A. Equine Advisory Committee, or leader in his Foothill Trails District, Dale Gibson has “gotten it done” — but he’ll tell you the key is working together.

HT: Dale, how does a “horse community” build?

DALE: Well, let me start by saying that like a lot of us in the horse world, we have kind of an individualistic, cowboy attitude. We want to go off and do things by ourselves. I had trouble at the ranch one time with the county, and I went and tried to work by myself and get stuff done — but I wasn’t getting it done. It wasn’t until later after I had I kept fighting and fighting that I met some folks who had similar problems. We all kind of put our heads together, and that’s when I started moving mountains, with other folks around me — other horse people around me. So, nowadays, I’m encouraging everyone to work together.

2018 rendering of Atwater Bridge

ATWATER VILLAGE—A long-awaited bridge spanning the Los Angeles River that was built to accommodate equestrians was closed before its grand opening celebration when a horse had to be euthanized following an accident Jan. 17 on the new structure.