History of the TWHA Part 2

Back in the early days we always had an annual meeting at Lucille Arnon’s house, with an outside guest speaker, often from EBMUD or EBRPD. These meetings gave members an opportunity for input. Occasional suggestions for horse shows or competitive trail rides were put forward -- which always seemed like a good idea if someone else was willing to do the work (which for many years no one was willing to do!).

We were much more interested in the riding facilities in our parks. When the California State Horsemen’s Association Seven Day Trail Ride camped in Tilden a picket line was stretched from a sapling eucalyptus to a truck at the other end. Up to 60 horses were tied in between. This involved a lot of work to set up at the end of a day’s ride. We asked if we might have a permanent row of posts with rings so that a picket line could be run along between them. CSHA members helped put in the posts after park staff had dug the holes with a machine. The posts were set in 1/2 inch gravel (not cement) so that technically they were not a "permanent installation” -- this simplified the paperwork involved! The site is very much used to this day.

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Next we asked if we could have a few practice cross country jumps so our children would not be at a disadvantage when they entered combined training events elsewhere. Cross country differs from show jumping in that the jumps should be solid enough that the horse will fall before the jump does. Horses seem to know this instinctively and seldom make mistakes with them. The park supervisor collected lengths of telephone poles and railroad ties from wherever he could find them and provided a tractor for the work days when we set the jumps up. We asked for a picnic table at our site and he kindly gave us two. Then we took the President of the Board of Directors of the EBRPD for a ride on my horse Skipper, and casually stopped for lunch at our new overnight site. Needless to say she noticed the whole set-up, but made no comment! These jumps stayed for many years until EBRPD proclaimed them to be an insurance risk and removed them.

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Our next problem was when a young man was given a permit to set up a frisbee golf course in Tilden Park. Our overnight site was to be his parking lot and Mineral Springs picnic ground was to be his golf course. The parking lot would have ruined the view from the National Skyline Trail above, quite apart from usurping our site. Mineral Springs is a much used picnic area, and who wants a frisbee to come flying past when one is quietly riding or hiking around Lake Anza? We were naturally opposed and collected numerous signatures in protest from people who were enjoying these areas as they were. We wrote letters and appealed to the Regional Parks Association for help and the permit was rescinded.

Another threat to our overnight site was when we heard that some members of the California Native Plant Society had their eye on it as a possible growing ground. We had to persuade them that it was more suitable for us than for their use and anyway we were there first! [Ed. Note from Morris Older: Es was a very active member/volunteer with the California Native Plant Society as well as TWHA for many years. The magnificent profusion of Fremontia, Ceanothus, sticky monkey and other native plants along the Selby trail just below the intersection with Shasta Road was planted by Es and her family and is often referred to as Es’s garden.] [See the end of this article for more information on Es' garden. - G.F.]

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Our next issue arose when the anti-horse element in the Parks wanted to close down the Pony Ride. We thought this would be a shame, as for so many city kids this is their first experience with horses and ponies. We spent all our spare time that summer collecting letters in protest. Lucille’s granddaughters wrote illustrated letters from England to the Park Board saying that the highlight of every summer holiday for them was the pony ride. The tide was finally turned when Mary Jefferds got a substantial donation form the College Women’s Club, A.A.U.W., who I believe are still supporting it.

About this time Lucille & I were asked to serve on the Citizens’ Task Force for the Wildcat Master Plan-- a very interesting and time consuming experience.

Around 1987 we were riding along the Seaview Trail when we met a polite young man on his bicycle, who jumped off his bike to let us pass. We thanked him and said that we were always surprised at the numerous complaints at Trails Councils about bicycles. He had never heard of Trails Council so we invited him to the next meeting. His name was Mike Kelly. Since then he has come regularly to meetings and even formed a Bicycle Trails Council to try to iron out problems of trail compatibility. He has also come to our meetings and worked with TWHA on Tri-for the Ridge Rides.

Being mostly unliberated housewives we usually felt it better to have a man as our representative. Jack Bartley and Jock Anderson were both persuaded to serve at different times as President, while Kim Abbott was our official representative at Trails Council -- though we always attended as individuals also. Around 1981 we persuaded Debby Young to be President with the idea that we should try to interest riders at the south end of the park. Then for a time we had Jane Binder as president, and tried to involve more of the Orinda Horsemen Association riders. Then we persuaded Juliet Moss to serve as President, again to involve more of the Lomas Cantadas end of the Park. I was very glad that she accepted as just after this we suddenly lost Lucille, and TWHA desperately needed new energy to continue.

Juliet with Joan Andrews as Vice-President became a very strong team. Together with lots of new young enthusiastic members they organized many successful events. We have had overnight camps not only at our Tilden Horse Camp but also at Sunol, Del Valle, Mount Diablo, Samuel P Taylor Park, Point Reyes and at Jack Brook Horse Camp in San Mateo County. For a number of years we have held an annual play day in Tilden. Any horse or rider of any age can compete in several classes--and the obstacle ride we hold on the same day is a great opportunity to teach your horse trail manners and to react well to the unusual. At the first of these, in 1974, we celebrated out 20th anniversary with a cake.

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Joan Andrews was instrumental in organizing the first Ride for the Ridge, which went from the Tilden Horse Camp to Sequoia Arena. Dozens of riders collected pledges for each mile and funds were raised to establish and promote the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

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The following year TWHA joined with bicyclists and hiking clubs to organize the Tri for the Ridge--47 riders, 24 cyclists, 19 hikers and 7 runners joined in to benefit the Ridge Trail. Since then there have been such benefits in both the North and South Bay as well.

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Around this time TWHA began organizing its members to participate in trail work days. On our own we have held numerous work days at which our members have cut brush, widened trail, improved erosion and generally refurbished large sections of the Arroyo Trail, Wildcat Gorge Trail, National Skyline Trail and others. Our members have attended Trail workshop series put on by the regional parks, and joined other users in trail projects from Sunol to Chabot, from Redwood Park to Mt. Diablo, as well as in Tilden, Briones, EBMUD watershed land and up in the Sierras.

Meanwhile Juliet plugged along until the overnight site was officially included in the Tilden Park Master Plan, and now it has a paved driveway up to it with a beautiful wooden sign at the bottom identifying the entrance to ”Equestrian Camp” on Wildcat Canyon Road. TWHA members have also constructed a trail leading out from the camp to the Quarry Trail, and in 1992 the Tilden staff installed a sign at the top of the trail pointing the way to the horse camp. The big priority now for improvement of the camp is to convince the Park Dept. to provide water at the camp. [Done! as of September 2004. -G.F.]

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Juliet and Joan, who also served as President, were also instigators of the much needed water trough on the National Skyline Trail at the Upper Parking Lot above the steam trains (Ed Note--which was dedicated to Es Anderson for her numerous contributions to the park). Sally Weare and Debby Young designed a great logo for our notepaper, which was later used on our t-shirts and sweatshirts.

Our members and their horsemanship are getting to be known far and wide. Linda Davidson was our first member to win some endurance rides and Peter Rich became an organizer of NATRC rides. In 1993 Shirley Delsart finished in eighth place on her horse Dusty in the North American 100 Mile Championship Endurance Ride, and in 1994 she was selected to the short list for the US National Endurance Team. In 1994, after Juliet returned to England after over 20 years in California, she returned to ride her horse Tamaar as a member of the English Team, riding against Shirley and Dusty, who represented the US Pacific South Regional Team in the 1995 North American Endurance Championship. In 1995 also Beth and Scott Wachenheim each finished fifth in their weight division in the West Region of the American Endurance Ride Conference., each logging over 800 miles on their horse in one season.

Riding horses gives pleasure to people of all ages and at all levels of skill, whether we are in strict training for endurance rides or just pottering with our friends over the trails and enjoying the views, wildflowers and birds. And what better company can one have than one’s favorite horse?

For the future let us keep a loving and ever watchful eye on our parks, give a thank you to the staff who look after them, and a friendly greeting to fellow trail users.

Always let us remember that, as Winston Churchill put it, "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.’

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-- Es Anderson, 1993