Over the years, horse owners, riders and students have enjoyed public access stables at Golden Gate Park, which paired the allure of natural attractions with the beauty of majestic, four-legged creatures. Sorely missed is the splendid gallop of a Palomino or the agility of a show jumper at the stables, which are currently closed. In the past, horses at the stables were allowed to lead tours throughout Golden Gate Park, but today, the stables are now horseless…and members of the San Francisco Stables Foundation have been trying to revive the park’s stables ever since.
Situated on JFK Drive and 36th Avenue, the Golden Gate Park Stables once offered private and group lessons in jumping and riding, as well as the exciting daily guide rides that used to tackle 12 miles of trails. Although reservations were needed at least two days in advance, lessons and rides were never at a loss for interest. Before the stables officially shut down, trail rides from the stables fetched $30 per hour, while younger visitors could enjoy pony rides at $6 per hour. Guided rides were provided for the reasonable fee of $18 per hour. Over the weekend, equestrians flocked the stables, becoming an attraction for onlookers.
History of Resurrecting Golden Gate Park Stables
In September of 2001, the Golden Gate Park Stables closed up shop and with it a deep history spanning 130 years of horses and riding in San Francisco was quieted. Many efforts were made to continue the city-owned stables as a means to drum up profit, but all failed. The high cost associated with operating a public stable in the San Francisco area was an overwhelming task to continue. The earnings were ultimately slim, making it impossible to reinvest for improvements and maintain the stables.
The San Francisco Stables Foundation believed that if the stables were treated as a not-for-profit organization, the community would embrace the center to uplift it to attract worldwide recognition as a highly respected facility. A wealth of support has accumulated over the years in cooperation with the reestablishment of the stables. Organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco and Blackburn Architects have joined forces to back plans created by the San Francisco Stables Foundation to bring back horses to Golden Gate Park.
With a newfound architectural image and a boost in support, a proposal was created in with anticipation that the stables could be transformed into a high-quality public urban riding center with horse-friendly principles. With an estimated $100,000 needed to kick off an 18-month environmental review project, it was rumored that renovations could have possibly occurred in 2007 with a vote at the ballot box.
To date, plans for the renovation and reopening of the Golden Gate Park Stables have stalled due to lack of funds.
Most Recent Horseback Rides
In 2017, horses and guided horseback riding returned to Golden Gate Park for the spring and summer season, thanks to Pot A Gold Stables. The Bercut Equitation Field (located on Chain of Lakes Drive E, near JFK) served as the temporary space for fifteen horses and the company’s professional wranglers. Trail rides were available every day of the week, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (weather permitting). Pot A Gold Adventures offered 30-, 60- and 90-minute rides, charging rates from $40 to $80. With a valid I.D., San Francisco residents enjoyed a 25% discount on horseback rides. Due to overwhelming popularity, the company’s two-month trial period run was extended until the end of June.
There are currently no horseback riding opportunities available at Golden Gate Park.