from our sister site, the Southern
California Equestrian Network)
Like a refreshing oasis in the middle of a desert, I found one of the coolest equestrian facilities where you would never expect it. Only three miles from Disneyland, and a stone’s throw from both "The Pond," home of the NHL Ducks, and Angel Stadium, home of the 2003 World Series winners. This place is home for some other great athletes, and what I would call more fun than any amusement park. It is the
Anaheim Equestrian Center. Also known as Rancho del Rio
Stable, this facility is located in the middle of Anaheim, beside the 57 Freeway, and is home to over 160 horses. It has been in the same location for 35 years, but owners Bob and Jayne Jones say almost every day someone enters and says, "I never even knew this was here."
Since the site is actually owned by the city, one has to wonder how this rustic country-style facility has survived on some of the most expensive urban real estate in the state of California. At various times in the past, the center felt pressured to give up the property, and were even notified of the city’s intent to evict them on one occasion. But those fears are in the past. "We have found the community wants us here and the city agrees. We all have become good partners," said Jayne Jones. "Our City Manager is Dave Morgan and with a
last name derived from one of the great horses in America, how could we not become partners?" said Jayne as she chuckled.
Jayne and her husband Bob take their partnership with the community and city seriously. They have worked together to create some very advanced programs for the local community and adjoining cities. Their commitment to equine education is predominant in all of their programs and ideas. With five trainers representing diverse disciplines, and a very active staff, they have created innovative community programs suited for a technologically advanced city such as Anaheim.
The "Fun With Horses" program they have developed provides affordable horse activities for all youth from Anaheim and thirteen surrounding cities. This four-week introduction to horses is designed to allow the children of a metropolitan city possibly their only chance to ride a horse, and helps them realize the power of their own potential through horses. You could hear the excitement in Jayne’s voice as she described the program that trainer Cheryl Skidmore facilitates. "Horses + kids = magic! Kids become more confident in themselves and blossom around horses. And the magic of horses should not be kept from anyone," Jayne says with conviction and zeal. This program provides community riding classes and also camp outs, day camps, birthday parties, Boy and Girl Scout programs and special events.
The conviction of sharing horses with everyone is evident in many other programs at this innovative horse facility. Anaheim Equestrian Center is also home to a vibrant program providing Equine Assisted Activities for persons with mental and physical disabilities. "Ride Your Horse!" serves approximately 30 clients from several southern California cities each week. Under the direction of Darlene Harman, all "Ride Your Horse!" instructors are NARHA certified and trained to bring therapeutic Equine Assisted Activities to persons with disabilities from the age of three years to adults.
Another innovative program located at the Anaheim Equestrian Center is their corporate program, ParaMount Performance: Courses with Horses. This is a state-of-the-art leadership and team-building program facilitated by Ava Roberts and designed for the enhancement of corporate workplace productivity and effectiveness. Portions of the proceeds from this program go to Earth Connections, a non-profit organization which provides the horses and clinical psychologist for the program. These proceeds are then recycled back into the youth programs to touch more people who might not have horses in their lives. This exciting program is based on "The Way of the Horse," designed by Franklin Levinson and is certified by his Horse Whisperer Seminars.
Okay, want more cutting-edge innovations in your horse stables? How about a work force of over 100,000? The fastest growing labor movement without any salary or benefit disputes? We are talking worms. Anaheim Equestrian Center has teamed with VermiPRO to offer a program utilizing earth worms. These little crawlers turn a product manufactured at every horse stable, manure, into the Le crème or the black gold of compost, with a process called "worm casting." The finished product costs as much as $40 per bag in the current market and is being created by hundreds of thousands of little squirming workers. While we and our horses sleep at night, these busy little guys and gals are disposing of manure in a very environmentally friendly process and creating a very valuable by-product.
You might not be surprised to find out that Anaheim Equestrian Center has a Tack and Feed Store and horse boarding, but how about hundreds of miles of riding trails also? The center is adjacent to the Santa Ana River Trail, which goes to the ocean in one direction and inland towards the mountains in the other. I have ridden on this trail and it is quite a paradox to be participating in such a relaxing activity as trail riding in the middle of a huge city. But you can ride all day and not go in a single circle. Who could ask for more than that?
Jayne says, "We really offer the ‘wow’ factor with great people and the magic of horses." Many who come to the stable often say, "I can’t believe I am in the middle of the city. " This center has not only helped and partnered with the community, but become a community within itself. With 35 years of history, kids have grown up here and met their mates right on these premises and brought their own children back to enjoy the magic.
Jayne says, "This year our goal is to let everyone experience the world of horses. It’s like going for a massage except it is massaging your brain." I recommend you go to Anaheim Equestrian Center and even if you don’t get a massage, give one . . . rub a horse.