Written by Tanya Krause (Randall) published in the February 2005 issue of Barrel Horse News
The last thing you expect when traveling to a barrel race is to have to stop and wait for surfers, lugging their surf boards, to cross the road in front of you on their bare feet and make a mad dash for the beach. it happens on the way to a barrel race at Park Pacifica Stables in Pacifica, California.
Tucked into a hillside of the Santa Cruz Mountains is Park Pacifica Stables. Most people wouldn’t even know that there was a horse facility anywhere close except for the occasional truck and trailer winding its way through the neighborhood.
“We have neighbors that didn’t know it was here, and they’ve lived here for years,” said owner April Schneider. She and husband, Matt Farley, bought the property four years ago. They’ve strived to make the place a comfortable, family-oriented home for all disciplines.
Along with hosting American West 4D barrel races, the facility offers a variety of riding experiences from jumping and dressage to Western pleasure and cutting. They’ve hosted numerous clinics from horsemanship, dressage to barrel racing.
Park Pacifica Stables has its own restaurant, The Corral Steakhouse, and the operators of the restaurant also board their horses at the stables. With the restaurant open seven days a week, an interesting crowd is always on hand to watch people ride and enjoy a barrel race. Dinner reservations are highly recommended.
An added bonus, is the stables own tack shop.
The facilities can hold up to 84 horses and included several barns.
“Most of the stalls are 12 foot by 24 foot,” Schneider said. “When we first got here, there was a lot of banging going on. We knocked down a lot of walls and things got a lot quieter. They seem happier with more room and personal space.”
A few smaller 12 foot by 10 foot stalls remain, but are used mostly for smaller horses and ponies.
There are several areas to ride and allow your horse to relax including an outdoor pen, covered warm-up pen, a dressage course, a round pen, turnout paddocks and many miles of trails up in the hills.
“There are lots of trails,” Schneider said. “The hills behind the property go up to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.”
The crowning feature is a laser-leveled 135 foot by 225 foot covered arena with washed sand footing.
“The families and neighborhood have been so supportive of this facility,” Schneider said. “When we wanted to put in the covered arena, we had to go before the city council for permits to put in a building of that size in the city limits. There were 20 families showed up to speak in favor, not one person said ‘boo.’ That’s unheard of to have no one complain about building something of this size.”
Schneider, herself, enjoys cutting.
“I started out doing reining,” she said. “Then I got into reined cow horse. After I got in front of cattle, I said to heck with the reining and went with cutting.”
Farley also cuts and it’s no surprise that cattle have found their way into the property.
“We’ve talked with other local barns down the coast to revitalize the activities in the area,” Schneider said. “We’re working in a joint effort to start team penning and team roping clubs.”
Although the property has been steadily encroached upon by houses over the years, it’s been a home to horses and horse events for a long time.
Kiki Yaron, a WPRA barrel racer, has boarded her horse on the property for 38 years.
“There’s a lot of history there,” she said. “Before the houses got close by, they used to have huge team ropings and rodeos.”
Aaron said the rodeos were mostly California Cowboys Association approved. They never got around to holding a PRCA rodeo before the houses started to get too close.
Making the Pacifica rodeo popular with the cowboys and cowgirls was the first-place prize of a Winchester rifle. In fact a well known barrel racer in the California circuit was said to have refused a belt buckle in favor of a rifle.
As ironic as it may seem by today’s atmosphere, many top horsemen and women got their start and honed their skills on the San Francisco peninsula. Pacifica has had its share of greats ride through the arena including team roper Doyle Gillerman and Quarter Horse racing great Danny Cordoza.
Aaron also said the stables has hosted a few barrel racing clinics over the years, including Sammi Thurman, Wanda Cagliari, Marilyn Camarillo and recently Melanie Southward. Aaron will host a barrel racing clinic at the end of February.
Now Schneider is using the facility to bring families together and share the enjoyment of horses. She hopes to have reining and cutting clinics in the future as well.
“There are lots of pockets (of horse people) still holding out,” she said. “People used to have horses for pets, and we’re trying to show people there is a whole other level to enjoy their horses.”
Schneider said their niche has been providing educational opportunities for new horse owners, children and their parents. Park Pacifica Stables offers weeklong horsemanship camps throughout the year.
In the upcoming months, the stables will play host to an educational benefit of another sort. Schemer’s brother, actor-comedian Rob Schneider, has a music foundation that supports music programs in local schools. The covered arena will become a concert stage during a benefit concert featuring Neal McCoy and a poker tournament will also be held.
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