Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hallowed ground

I grew up half a mile up the road from a large public boarding and lesson stable.  Not surprisingly, Eaton Canyon Riding Club was ground zero for most of my equestrian "firsts."  It's where I petted my first horse, took my first riding lesson, rode in my first show, jumped my first jump...  Well, you get the idea!

The stables are long gone.  They were bulldozed sometime in the late 1980's, but I still feel compelled to visit the remains whenever I go home.  

The top of the driveway almost seems the same.  
The old gate is there, perhaps with an original sign. 
Beyond the gate, however, things are remarkably different.
This space used to house four large barns, a couple rows of pipe corrals, two turnouts, three rings, a tack shop, three large tack rooms and several lockers.  Now there is just one large arena.
Granted, there is also some empty space, but I can't help but wonder:  How did so much fit in so little?
I don't have any pictures that show ECRC in its entirety, but this one comes the closest.  It was taken in early 1986.
Eaton Canyon has changed, too.  There's a lot more foot traffic than there used to be, and all the trails are signed.
But there's still that hill where an over-eager Chalk Dust took off with my eleven year old self...
and if you look carefully, you can see the switchbacks that Chalk Dust and I conquered a couple years later.
I feel extremely fortunate to have grown up so close to Eaton Canyon Riding Club.  I can't imagine what my childhood would have been like had it not been there, and I wonder where all the little horse crazy girls learn to ride now. 


  1. What a lovely back drop. Surrounded by the mountains. Why did it close? It's always sad when things change.

  2. I don't remember the whole story as I was away in college. However, it seems like it was decided the land would be worth a lot more with some kind of housing project on it. The stables were leveled, but there were zoning issues that prevented anything else from being built. Eventually this ring was erected. Sadly, it doesn't look to get a lot of use. There were a few hoofprints but not many, and they all looked old.

  3. Remember they used to board Rose Parade horses there over the holidays.

  4. Somewhere I have some really old, really bad photos of the Budweiser Clydesdales hanging out in ECRC's "C" barn. I remember watching the handlers exercise those Clydesdales two a time in the big ring. They'd ride one horse in a bareback pad fitted with Western stirrups and pony the other. I wanted to ride one so badly!

  5. In the mid 70s I was the stable manager for Rosie & Mike. Mike & Pam Baker were the resident trainers at the time. By trade I was a ferrier and was given the opportunity to work on the some of Budweiser
    Clydesdales. We had a show going on once when they were in town and as a joke the Bud guys got up early and got Duffy (the wheel horse, all 26 hands of him) show ready. They let the halter horses into the ring and snuck Duffy around to the gate, well as much as you can sneak a Clydesdale! well when they trotted him into the ring all the other horses completely freaked out. It was hystarical! Thanks for bringing back the memories.

  6. Thank you for this. I'm just sitting here smiling as I read. I boarded my horse there in the mid-70s. I remember a trainer called Jane Shaw, who was really nice. It was a dream come true having my horse there. My mother had taken me there many times when I was a small child, just to gaze at the big girls on their horses going round and round the ring. I also remember visiting the Clydesdales at the new year. I'm so sorry the place is gone, but I'm glad they didn't put horrible condominiums on the lot!

  7. My mom was office manager there in the 70s. We lived behind the tack shop. I rode horses. Got school horses ready in exchange for lessons. Ride the canyon. Frequent visits from the hooded so called devil worshippers from the canyon made nights there spooky. Sorry to see its gone.

    1. You should join the Eaton Canyon Riding Club page on Facebook. It's not a terribly active group, but there's lots of old photos from the ECRC glory days.