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Good Fortune

Suburbia and horse country mix like an ongoing dream in Moorpark and Simi Valley

By Audrey Pavia for the Horsetrader - June 19th, 2014 - Feature Article
Moorpark, CA

Moorpark, CA

MOORPARK — Some people outside of California have trouble imagining how a quiet suburban
community can co-exist with an active equestrian population. Horses are for rural areas, after all, and not compatible with life in the suburbs. But these people have not been to the cities of Simi Valley and Moorpark, where suburbia happily meets horse country.

The towns of Simi Valley and Moorpark are located in the southernmost section of Ventura County, just outside the boundary of Los Angeles. Both towns are so close to L.A., in fact, they are considered bedroom communities. Home to commuters who brave the 101 Freeway each day on their way to the City of Angels, the neighborhoods of Simi and Moorpark provide a respite to these road weary travelers.

The most fortunate residents of Simi and Moorpark are the equestrians. Some keep their horses in backyard lots, usually attached to older homes. Larger, horse-friendly properties as these were once common throughout parts of Ventura and Los Angeles County. Others board their horses at one of the many commercial equestrian centers in that can be found in either city.

Active ETI
Although the majority of Simi Valley and Moorpark residents do not own horses, the equestrian community in the area has a strong presence. One of the most obvious signs of its existence is ETI Corral 118, which takes its name from the neighboring 118 Freeway, which bisects Simi Valley.

“Simi Valley and the Moorpark area have a large horse population,” says Chris Mayer. “Since so many residential housing developments are springing up today, it’s important that we preserve the lifestyle we have with our horses. Let’s get our horses out of the backyard and do something with them.”

Training for All
Simi Valley and Moorpark are abundant with trainers of all kinds. Everyone from dressage riders to the physically challenged can get help from the experts who call these communities their home.

Dressage legends Hilda Gurney and Jan Eberling hail from Moorpark, attracted by the town’s climate, accessibility and equestrian influence. For Eberling, a star U.S. Olympic rider, there was another compelling reason to settle here.

“I met my wife here,” he smiles. “There is no better reason.”

Jan and Amy Eberling, an East Coast native, have conducted their training business at their property, The Acres, for two decades now.

“I absolutely love it here,” says Jan, whose competitive travels take him far. “You cannot beat the Southern California climate, and the location to major freeways and the Metrolink can put you in the city in no time. And there are horse trainers of all disciplines —
jumpers, event riders, dressage, Western. We’ve got it al lin Moorpark.”

June Tabor of June Tabor Show Horses is one of those expert trainers, providing services
for those interested in Western pleasure, hunter under saddle, reining and trail. Tabor works out of her 23-acre facility in Somis, just outside of Moorpark, and houses anywhere 80 to 100 horses.

“I have been in this area for almost 30 years, and have had no reason to change,” says Tabor. “I love it here. No matter what type of riding you like to do, it’s all here, whether it’s dressage, Western pleasure, reining, or just trail riding. You have the country, but you also get good food and good shopping nearby.”

Several facilities for physically challenged riders can also be found in the area. One of these is Special Equestrian Riding Therapy (SERT), which moved to its current 24-acre facility at Classic Equestrian Center in Moorpark at the end of May 2008.

“SERT is a community organization that offers therapeutic equine assisted activities to children and adults with special needs,” says Connie Gilly, director. “Our priorities are safety, accountability and fun.”

Trails Galore
As if all this wasn’t enough, equestrians in the Simi Valley and Moorpark area have access to some of the most beautiful trail riding in Southern California. Not only does Simi Valley have a park district that maintains equestrian trails in the area, as well as two public arenas, the communities are surrounded by open space and terrific trails.

Both the Happy Camp Canyon Regional Park and the Santa Monica National Recreation Area provide miles of trails for those who like to ride in the great wide open. They are both a quick trailer ride from Simi and Moorpark, or a healthy horseback ride, for those who prefer to hoof it.

Most of the horse people who live in Simi Valley and Moorpark consider themselves very fortunate to be here, and with good reason. Active, organized equestrians and beautiful scenery combine to make Simi Valley and Moorpark a great place for horses.

For almost 25 years, horsewoman and real estate professional Nona Green has been a resident of the Conejo Valley that encompasses Moorpark. She recognizes the realities of economic pressure to develop available land, but she is pleased to see sensitive planning here.

“Within the last 15 years, a small number of housing tracts have carefully been developed in and around Moorpark that feature riding trails and community parks,” Green says.

Amy Ebeling, who hosts the likes of Ann Romney and keeps her clients’ horses well pampered, remembers when she moved here 20 years ago.

“There was nothing here except orchards,” recalls Amy. “Now it’s great that there is shopping, theaters, and fine dining right in town – Moorpark is the best of both country living and city convenience.”

Trending now in Moopark is a growing awareness and support for SOAR, says Green. The name is an acronym for “Save Open-Space and Agricultural Resources,” a Ventura County Planning department initiative that requires development of land previously held for agricultural (including equestrian) use to be subject to voter approval.

“Growth for Moorpark is inevitable due to the demands of a growing population craving Moorpark’s temperate climate and open space,” says Green. Depending on water availability which is a major variable, it will be interesting to see how Moorpark will maintain it’s small town, country feel, while succumbing to the economic pressures of development.”

In the meantime, though, she — and many other equestrian-minded residents — will continue to enjoy it.

“Moorpark has it all, from large acreage cattle ranches to one-acre, horse-zoned homesteads” she says. “A few top notch equestrian centers in Moorpark are host to AA and AAA circuit shows. Moorpark is home to Happy Camp Regional Park, providing 3,000 acres and 12 miles of beautiful riding trails. Feed and tack stores are located right in town, and two equine hospitals are minutes away. There is something for every horse aficionado.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This updated article first appeared in the March 19, 2009 issue of California Horsetrader.

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