Dear Live Oak Equestrian Trail Supporters-
Happy New Year! Wishing you many new adventures in the coming year. We want to take a moment to thank all of you, for your interest and support to save Santa Barbara County’s only equestrian trail – the Live Oak Equestrian Trail at Cachuma Lake Recreation Area.
Sending heartfelt thanks to all of you for your support!
It has been three years since we took up the cause to preserve the Live Oak Equestrian Trail for horseback riders! In doing so, we have maintained a tradition and treasure, the last equestrian facility of any kind in Santa Barbra County.
Without your support, either by spreading the news and challenges among your riding club members, with friends and family, attending meetings in person, or by using one of our handy-dandy, fill-in-the-blanks support letters and sending to the Santa Barbara Riding and Hiking Trails Advisory Committee (CRAHTAC) to Park Division officials and to our decision-makers at the Planning Commission, we would have never been able to do what we have done – kept the Live Oak Equestrian Trail as it was intended – safe for equestrian trail riding.
Through your efforts we have kept the trail open for equestrian riders, kept the trail safe for young riders and horses so they can learn about trail riding and stood up and made it clear to the County management officials and others involved in County trail planning who seek to diminish the demand for equestrian riding on County trails, that the horse community is thriving here and we’ve shown that there are major deficiencies in recreational opportunities for trail riding.
Here's what we’ve accomplished this year:
We’ve kept the Live Oak Equestrian Trail open for the past three years, by and for equestrians, as was intended when it was created!
We’ve held our government and government appointed officials to their responsibility to provide transparent and open meetings!
We’ve politely reminded Committees, Commissions, and government officials of their duties to provide open public meetings and accurate agendas and recording information under current statutes and to their credit, they have complied.
We have collaborated with Committee members to develop the following trail policy recommendation from CRAHTAC. It hopefully will replace the “multi-use Trail” criteria (it never was an approved policy!) used by the Parks Division all these years:
We’ve learned that:
In reality, there are few trails actually available to horseback riders. Only a couple “multi use trails” (as defined by the County Parks Division) offer horse trailer parking (required for riders to access trails trails) but no other amenities (water troughs, tie rails) for horseback riders.
There is no signage at County trailheads that remind trail users of the trail yield triangle.
The Park Division doesn’t monitor trails or trailheads for compliance.
The biggest “Ah-Ha” is that every other coastal County from Monterey to San Diego offer equestrian only trails and at least one horse campground in their array of recreational facilities. Just last month in December, San Diego County held a grand opening for the brand new 14-acre Dianne Jacob Lakeside Equestrian Park.
Other Counties recognize the demand and potential revenue source that horse-related recreational facilities can offer.
We’ve discovered that Santa Barbara County is not adequately planning recreational facilities and trails for equestrians, as directed though current directives and policies.
The County-Wide Recreation Master Plan and the Agricultural Enterprise Ordinance will affect horseback riding opportunities in the County and therefore are important for paving the way for design guidelines and policies that will allow Live Oak Equestrian Trail to remain a recreational facility for horseback riders.
The policies and design standards that will be approved in these documents can make or break the opportunity for equestrian facilities and/or set policy that will allow and protect equestrian only trails.
What’s coming this year?
We're (still) waiting for the outcome of a lawsuit appeal against the county to change Live Oak equestrian trail to a multi-use trail.
We will support and promote design guidelines for trails that accommodate equestrian riders.
We will continue to fight motorized transportation devices on any natural surface trails (E-Bikes et. al.).
We will continue to build bridges with government representatives and private individuals to educate them about concerns and build support for equestrian recreational in Santa Barbara County by retention of the Live Oak Equestrian Trail, possible horse camp, and providing for equestrian considerations in trail design.
Progress moves slowly with government decisions and documents such as the Recreational Master Plan and Agricultural Enterprise Ordinance. There may be longer lags between any type of news, action or call to action on your part.
Please hang in there and know that we will keep you updated as well as we can. Feel free to email with questions or for an update.
Be proud of yourselves! Together, we’ve made exceptional progress and expect much more in the coming year. Again, wishing you a very happy 2024 And Happy Trails!
Kathy Rosenthal Santa Ynez Valley Riders SAVE Santa Barbara Equestrian Trails