The Santa Ynez Valley Riders hits the trails to enjoy the equestrian community

After months of lockdown and social distancing, Santa Ynez Valley Riders President Kathleen Rosenthal is eager to hit the trails once again and invites others to join the club, with half-priced memberships offered through the end of 2021.

“It’s a good way to get outside and get exercise. It’s really good for your health; it’s really good for your mind and to get out with friends to enjoy the outdoors,” Rosenthal said. 

The riding club—which has promoted trail advocacy and rider safety since 1952—brings the riding community together with opportunities for trail rides with friends and family members through Central Coast landscapes. 

“Our memberships, as I’m sure it is for many different types of nonprofits, are dwindling,” Rosenthal said. 

click to enlarge The Santa Ynez Valley Riders hits the trails to enjoy the equestrian community
PRESERVING HORSE COUNTRY : Santa Ynez Valley Riders Club members hit the trails to spend time outdoors with a community of people with shared interests.

Prior to the pandemic, Rosenthal said club membership had a high of 75. But now it has about 25 members with a goal of gaining 25 more by emailing previous members and sending newsletters along with the offer of discounted membership plans.

Half-priced plans are $50 per year for a family, $30 a year for adults over 18, and $20 for youth under 18. Day passes are $20, and social passes, which are for those not riding but who wish to join for lunch, are $15 for a single person. The next riding event is on Saturday, Aug. 21, at Los Flores Ranch. 

One of Rosenthal’s membership goals is to attract younger riders either through a pony program that introduces young people to trail riding and its benefits or by adding horse camping to the club’s programing. 

Along with the membership growth, “We are trying to network with other riding groups here along the coast, particularly the San Luis Obispo and Monterey area to enjoy the trails and enjoy each other’s company. We need to come together and pool our resources so that we can keep our club going,” Rosenthal said. 

The Santa Ynez Valley Riders is involved with the developing Santa Barbara County-wide recreational master plan. Rosenthal and her team are helping the county reach out to the equestrian community through a survey on the club’s website. 

“It’s an effort by the county to solicit feedback from the communities on what they think is needed,” she said. “This recreational management plan is going to be kind of a blueprint for recreation in the county for the next 30 years.”

Most of the responses received ask for more trails and the need for a horse camp or some type of horse facility, Rosenthal said. The county follows a multi-use paradigm that makes trail riding more difficult than it used to be.

“We’re trying to advocate for more equitable trails and make them safer because we are really an aging group as far as recreational users go. The largest trail riding group in the equestrian world right now is about ages 40 to 85,” she said. 

Rosenthal said she wants to see riders continue sharing their passion. 

“I’ve been riding my entire life. Now, riders are no longer the top recreator like we once were,” Rosenthal said. “We are in horse country, and we are trying to preserve what is left of our history.” 


• Free COVID-19 vaccinations will be offered on Fridays at Santa Maria’s Downtown Fridays through a partnership with the city and the county Public Health Department. A list of vaccination sites can be found at with appointments available at Santa Maria Area Transit is offering free rides to COVID-19 vaccination appointments for eligible ADA paratransit riders. Riders can schedule next-day services or up to 14 days in advance; residents are encouraged to book in advance. To schedule a ride, call (805) 928-5624.

• The Santa Maria Public Library’s Valley Reads Book Club will begin its next book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, with the first meeting on Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. in Shepard Hall. The book recounts Skloot’s investigation of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman whose cells were cultured without her permission when she died of cervical cancer in 1951. The biography explores the long history of experimentation of nonconsenting Black people in American medicine. Those interested in participating can register by visiting or by calling (805) 925-0994.

Staff Writer Taylor O’Connor wrote this week’s Spotlight. She can be reached at [email protected].

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