A Sneak Peek at Plans for Riding the Pismo Preserve

A Sneak Peek at Plans for Riding the Pismo Preserve | SLO Horse News

Soon equestrians can be riding the Pismo Preserve.  “We are getting close to announcing the weekend when the Pismo Preserve will be opening in January 2020,” states Kaila Dettman, Executive Director for the Land Conservancy. She is the main force behind getting this gem purchased and ready for the public to fully enjoy it. Kaila recently invited a small group of riders to take part in a PBS documentary about the Pismo Preserve called, Walkin’ California with Steve Weldon.

A Sneak Peek at Plans for Riding the Pismo Preserve | SLO Horse News

Walkin’ California Gave Us a Sneak Peek

“Can you join us for a PBS film production of equestrians riding the Pismo Preserve?” Beverly Poorman, my riding buddy and owner of “my” horse Carerra, asked me about three days ahead of time. Well of course I can clear my schedule to fit in an opportunity like that.

We joined two other trail riding enthusiasts, Kathleen Phelps and Kathy Longacre. They ponied along an extra horse for Kaila who is also a horsewoman. We, along with our trusty steeds, would be a part of Walkin’ California a PBS documentary on the Pismo Preserve.

It was an intimate group of ladies who truly appreciate access to horse trails and relish in the beauty of San Luis Obispo County.

Riding the Pismo Preserve to Get into Position

Since the Pismo Preserve parking area was being worked on that day, we parked our rigs on a private back road maintenance access area. Once we tacked up, we made our way up the steep fire road to near where the PBS film crew was already stationed.

Kaila met us at the top of the fire road close to where the film crew was busy filming aspects for the show. She happily took up the reins of the extra horse and hopped aboard to lead us on a trail that would set us into position for filming.

Oh What a Beautiful Day!

Yes, the lyrics of the song, “Oh what a beautiful mornin’ ” by Rogers and Hammerstein from the movie, “Oklahoma” began ringing through my mind as our intimate group took advantage of being on the Pismo Preserve. We headed towards the ocean view while taking a few off-shoot trails to duck under some shady oaks.

Business Meeting on Horseback

A Sneak Peek at Plans for Riding the Pismo Preserve | SLO Horse News

We reached the section of a trail where the view simply spills out in front of you. The azure sky melds into a sapphire blue ocean. We just stopped and gazed at the beauty. Even the horses seemed to appreciate the view.

Not wanting to go too far from where we were to start the trail ride the film crew planned to capture us riding along, we gathered and waited to be called forward. Here we had an informal mounted business meeting regarding the plans for the equestrian parking and other aspects once the Pismo Preserve opens up to the public. Kaila described the Pismo Preserve parking plans along with other impactful items and we provided input.

Equestrian Parking Plan for the Pismo Preserve

Here are the key elements of the Pismo Preserve Equestrian Parking:

  • The equestrian parking/staging area will be part of the main parking lot. However, the ground will not be paved in the equestrian staging area and the parking stalls will be long enough to accommodate a truck and trailer.
  • The equestrian parking will be well-marked and non-equestrian vehicles will be ticketed and towed if found parked there.
  • Three rigs will be able to park in the equestrian parking area at one time.
  • An on-line reservation system will be employed for riders to pre-register and claim a parking spot a head of time. There will be two time slots per day – morning and afternoon and maybe a seasonal third slot.
  • Plans are in the works for establishing an equestrian-parking Day twice a month (more or less depending on demand), probably on a Tuesday, where the whole parking lot is set aside for just equestrians. Eleven rigs can fit in the whole parking lot, with most being parked on the asphalt. The Preserve will be open to all users on these days, but the parking lot will only be available to equestrians.

Other Items Relating to Equestrians Riding the Pismo Preserve

A Sneak Peek at Plans for Riding the Pismo Preserve | SLO Horse News
It’s a Magical Place
  • Equestrian Group days can be scheduled into the calendar a few times a year. On these days the parking lot will be closed off for just the members of the equestrian group. These equestrian group days will be organized by individual groups and could be scheduled 2-4 times a year depending on interest and the initiative of groups to organize the day.
  • Docent led rides will be scheduled as demand dictates along with the availability of equestrian docents. Frequently equestrian docents will also be riding the Pismo Preserve, helping other riders enjoy riding the trails. Kaila says, “We will be looking for equestrian docents to ride the property and greet visitors, and for volunteer monitors for the parking lot on the equestrian parking only days. It would be great to have a few docents to offer organized/guided rides occasionally.”
  • The trails will be multi-use with an effort to educate all users as to how to enjoy the trails together.  Kaila comments on this, “There are a couple short hiker-only trails to viewpoints adjacent to sensitive habitat, and one hiker only loop through one of the canyons that is geared towards families with small children and our education program. Otherwise, another 10 miles of trail, including the major loops, will allow all three main user groups, plus dogs on leash.”
  • Helmets will be required for all docent-led rides and organized group rides. Helmets are recommended for all horseback riders and mountain bikers.

Riding the Pismo Preserve Amenities

  • A full service-bathroom is located in the parking area.
  • One water trough is available at a central location on the Preserve.
  • A water hose bibb for filling buckets will be a part of the equestrian parking area.
  • A manure bucket and rake may be provided for convenience. Equestrians will be asked to pack out manure from the staging area.

How can Equestrians Help Others Experience the Pismo Preserve?

A Sneak Peek at Plans for Riding the Pismo Preserve | SLO Horse News

Equestrians are needed to be involved in trail work days. Volunteers will be needed to help organize the equestrian-parking only days, especially with helping get people familiar with the rules, the reservation system, how to park to best use the space, etc.

All users should provide feedback on trail conditions. Equestrians can help spread the word to others riders about the need for the parking reservation system, and encourage use on equestrian-parking only days. Horseback riders are encouraged to contribute towards educational/informational signage and the systems needEd to manage the equestrian-parking days and the reservation system.

Want to be sure the Pismo Preserve opens on schedule? The remaining fundraising balance need is: $418,000 as of this writing. You can securely make a donation on the Land Conservancy website.

“Construction is going well and we are so close to opening this phenomenal place!” Kaila relates very excitedly.

Back to our Equestrian Movie Stars

A Sneak Peek at Plans for Riding the Pismo Preserve | SLO Horse News

After our mounted business meeting we got the signal to start riding the up the trail towards the filming crew. Once up at the top we paused for more instruction. We would all line up flank to flank and Beverly was chosen to be our spokesperson. Her horse Freedom was such a love he practically stole the show.

Once our movie star moment was over, the five of us took off on another trail ride. We continued to marvel at the views. The day was especially clear and bright. Kaila was quite appreciative of enjoying riding the Pismo Preserve as a change in her usual routine.

A Horsewoman in our Camp

A Sneak Peek at Plans for Riding the Pismo Preserve | SLO Horse News

The equestrian community is fortunate to have Kaila, a horsewoman, in their camp. She appreciates the unique needs of horseback riders and desires to keep trails open for all types of users.

Kaila grew up on land in Northern California and rode as a kid and teenager. The needs of an equestrian are known to her as she got her first pony at six years old and owned horses all the way through her thirties. Kaila graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor’s in Animal Science with an emphasis on horses, and a Master’s Degree in Watershed Management. She has worked for the Land Conservancy for 14 years with seven as the Executive Director. Today Kaila lives in SLO with her husband and two kids and she still rides when the opportunity arises.

Airing of the Show Walkin’ California

March of 2020 is slated for the airdate of the Walkin’ California documentary we enjoyed being a part of. Not only did we get our five minutes of fame we also experienced an intimate ride on a true gem not only of the Central Coast, but of California.

We have so many great places to ride on the Central Coast. If you are looking for places to explore on horseback pick up the SLO County Trail Ride Guide e-book.


A Rare Occurrence to be the Only Ones on the Pismo Preserve

At the end of the day Beverly and I were the only ones left on the Preserve. The film crew had packed up and the other ladies turned back to the trailers earlier than we did. We rode all the way to the picnic spot where the horse tie rails and picnic benches are. My favorite section is riding above the 101 freeway with a 360 view of the ocean and oak-studded hills. What a privilege to experience such a glorious day, exploring a special jewel of the Central Coast on “my” special horse Carerra with my dear riding friend Beverly and her horse Freedom!


Discover the Pismo Preserve and enjoy the memories of riding on this special gem of the Central Coast. Get the artwork for a printable set of note cards with two scenes of riding the Pismo Preserve. Download this artwork to your home computer and you can print note cards every day. You will become a member of our SLO Horse News herd where we’ll continue to add trail riding stories and more to our website. Don’t worry if you are already a member, you won’t get duplicate mailings. Get the artwork for printable Pismo Preserve Note Cards >.

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Former Pony Clubber, Eventer and Dressage rider who balanced training and showing with getting a college degree (from Cal Poly SLO), becoming a wife and raising a family.

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