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Eli Green and Chase Helton bested 167 other teams. (BFI courtesy photo)

GUTHRIE, Okla. — The Hooey Jr. Championships during Wrangler BFI Week are designed to showcase today’s youth superstars, and the Jr. BFI did that perfectly on March 18.

While 18-year-old Texans Kreece Thompson and Kaden Profili took the Jr. Open at the Hooey Junior to split $54,000, a pair of California teens captured the Junior 10.5 Division and earned $20,000 of their own.

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.

“Dune” brought $110,000 at December’s Twombly Sale (Courtesy photo)

FORT WORTH, Texas — One again, a Californian came away with the highest-selling horse at the Twombly Performance Horse Sale, held Dec. 4-5 at the Wil Rogers Memorial Center during the National Finals Rodeo.

When it was all said and done Lot 9, “Dune,” a beautiful 5-year-old Palomino gelding and a grandson of Topsail Whiz, topped the sale at $110,000!

Many repeat and new buyers participated in bids from 40 states, Belgium and Canada.

Other top-sellers included Lot 3, “Smokey”, purchased for $80,000 by a Colorado buyer. He’s an 11-year-old Buckskin gelding who was the pony horse to Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah. He was for young children to ride the trails and to enjoy.

The next- highest seller, Lot 7, was “Infamous”, a 4-year-old Palomino gelding who is an own son of Shine Chic Shine. Reining-trained and ranch broke, he went to a Florida buyer for $66,000.

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

Mark Blakely photo

THERMAL — For the first time in recent memory, the Los Angeles Equestrian Center will not host the year-end California Reining Horse Association Challenge show, as health officials still had not lifted constraints on events at LAEC as of press time.

In August, the CRHA moved its Summertime Slide show from Hansen Dam Horse Park in Lake View Terrace to the CRC Ranch in Temecula for the same reason.

The CRHA Challenge will be held Oct. 20-25 at the Desert International Horse Park in Thermal, a well-known hunter-jumper venue that will be hosting a reining for the first time.

“We really appreciate the generosity of the DIHP opening their doors to us on such short notice, and we look forward to cultivating this relationship for future reining events,” CRHA President Mike Berg said in a press release.

Steve Hankin, President and and CEO of the DIHP, said he hopes to create a new home for regional reining events, adding that three new sand rings will add 250,000 sq. ft. of schooling space to the facility.

Also scheduled the same week at the DIHP on Oct. 23-25 will be the National Sunshine Preview show, the first in a series of shows co-produced by DIHP and LEG Shows & Events that will focus on hunter equitation riders up to 3-ft. and jumpers up to 1.20m.

“These two events bring together two disciplines in a fun, casual weekend. There will be a crossover team event, a dinner social, and more fun activities throughout the weekend,” added Hankin.

“With COVID-19 limiting activities in Los Angeles County, this gives us a great opportunity to move the needle on producing affordable and accessible competitions for the West Coast equestrian community,” said Marnye Langer, Managing Director and CFO of The Langer Group.

Los Angeles Hunter Jumper Association (LAHJA) will also be moving its Medal Finals Extravaganza, featuring all seven of its 2020 LAHJA Medal Finals, to the National Sunshine Preview. LAHJA President Kay Altheuser said moving the finals to DIHP “is the best decision for everyone involved.”

“We understand how important the medal finals are to our members, and we want to do everything possible to be able to safely host the finals this year,” Altheuser said.

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

Del Mar Horse Park (Horsetrader photo)

DEL MAR—Even before the horse community had a chance to raise its collective voice, hundreds of residents near the Del Mar Horse Park are protesting a concept to bring temporary homeless housing to the show facility.

The 65-acre Horse Park, under the purview of the 22nd District Agricultural Association that manages the Del Mar Fairgrounds, apparently is not under any immediate impact.

BURBANK—Griffith Park, the largest urban park in the United States, has 56 miles of horse trails and supports a thriving horse community of trail users. Every day, equestrians can be found riding, from early morning into the evening, on a trail system that provides a quiet riding experience in a natural and safe environment.

With plans heating up by city businessmen and leaders to construct an aerial tram to view the Hollywood sign, equestrian advocates met virtually with Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu to present concerns.