Sorely missed is the majestic gallop of a Palomino or the agility of a show jumper at the currently closed stables of Golden Gate Park. Today, the park is horseless where in the past, horses were allowed to lead tours throughout the park, as onlookers enjoyed wondrous views of the bay, the sight of regal skyscrapers, waterfront gems, and surrounding redwoods. Hopefully, in the future, the optimistic attempts of the San Francisco Stables Foundation will succeed in reviving the stables at the park.
Who Enjoys Horse Riding at Golden Gate Park?
Over the years, horse owners, riders and students enjoyed the public access stables, which paired the allure of the Golden Gate Park’s natural attraction with the beauty of four-legged creatures that have captivated the public for many years.
The Golden Gate Park Stables
Situated on JFK Drive and 36th Avenue, the 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 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 additional attraction for onlookers.
Bringing Back Horseback Riding at Golden Gate Park
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 slim, making it impossible to reinvest for improvements and maintenance of the stables.
The San Francisco Stables Foundation believes that if the stables were treated as a not-for-profit organization, the community will embrace the center, uplifting it to worldwide recognition as a highly respected facility. Currently, a wealth of support has accumulated over the years in cooperation with the reestablishment of the stables in mind. 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 return horses to Golden Gate Park.
With a newfound architectural image and a boost in support, a proposal was created with the 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 lift an 18-month environmental review project off the ground, it is rumored that renovations could possibly occur in 2007.