Living on the Central Coast is truly an equestrian’s dream. The idyllic landscape, temperate climate and convenient location (half way between Los Angeles and San Francisco’s Bay Area) are all factors that make what we have here in SLO County something special. For competitive equestrians on the Hunter/Jumper circuit, the only thing that has really been missing in our area is a venue that could accommodate the types of shows that draw top level riders to Southern or Northern California…but this has all changed.
Just a few short weeks ago, the Paso Robles Horse Park went from a vision to a reality. Located on 67 incredible acres of quintessential Paso Robles real estate, this state of the art facility has become the bridge between the southern and northern sections of our “equine state”, and seeks to become a regular venue for riders on the west coast. I recently had the chance to tour the Paso Robles Horse Park with Amanda Diefenderfer of Big Red Marketing and Danielle Ballard of West Palms Event Management to see for myself what makes this facility such an incredible addition to our area.
Vision to Reality
The story of the Paso Robles Horse Park really begins with one person…Linda Starkman. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Starkman spent her life helping others as a registered nurse. She was also a Board Member of the UC Davis Center of Equine Health, and a competitive equestrian up until the 1980’s. In 1985, she purchased the beautiful Fox Hollow Ranch on the west side of Paso Robles, where she breeds and trains warmbloods for the Hunter/Jumper circuit.
Despite all of her successes, there was one dream that Starkman had yet to achieve. She wished to provide the riders on the Hunter/Jumper circuit with a mid-state facility that could accommodate regional level riders. As luck would have it, a beautiful piece of property off of Hwy 46 became available, and Starkman took this opportunity to make her long time dream a reality. The Paso Robles Horse Park was born.
State of the Art
The Paso Robles Horse Park is the California Hunter/Jumper community’s new jewel; a facility that is comfortable, safe, practical and maintains the look and feel of a top quality venue.
Set on 67 picturesque acres just off of Airport Road, the park blends seamlessly with the Paso Robles landscape. Great care was taken to respect the natural landscape and rural vibe of Paso Robles during the construction phase. The park avoided concrete and asphalt in favor of decomposed granite for all of the pathways and roads throughout the park. A large, sloping grass hill just beyond the parking lot overlooks the entire facility, and is a perfect area for spectators to enjoy lunch, watch classes, and relax in the Paso Robles sunshine.
One large turf field and 5 arenas with specially-engineered footing provide plenty of room to show and warm up. The turf field measures 300 by 500 feet and is a drought tolerant Bermuda blend that is specially-designed for athletic events; it is maintained by a sophisticated water gun system, which eliminates the need for sprinklers. The arenas are all well groomed and lined with a state-of-the-art artificial footing blend, which is extremely kind to equine athletes in terms of concussion reduction and grip.
Arena fencing is a low profile “pole” design that truly looks as though it was created specifically to blend with the rural landscape.
Horse accommodations at the park were taken extremely seriously. There are 224 permanent, 12×12 stalls with gorgeous dutch doors and an airy design, as well as room for approximately 375 portable stalls, making this one of the larger equestrian venues on the California circuit. Additionally, there are 3 large wash stations with rubber mats, a 5000 square foot hay barn, designated farrier and vet area, and a huge, dedicated “open space” area, which is the perfect place to relax and go for a ride “on the buckle” between classes.
For exhibitors, the park features are no less spectacular. The large main parking lot gives way to an RV parking area with trees and full hookups on one side, and beautifully designed bathrooms (with showers) and office area on the other. At the top of the hill, there is a food concession area, and at the bottom of the hill, adjacent to the turf field, there is a large VIP seating area and “Vendor’s Row”. Comfort and class combine at the Paso Robles Horse Park.
With the new Paso Robles Horse Park, SLO County will finally be on the map in the wider circles of the equestrian world. While the park was designed to be a premier Hunter/Jumper facility, Amanda Diefenderfer assured us that she would be actively expanding the scope of what the park caters to, including breed shows, flat class events and more. The park may not just be an equine destination, either; wine and food events, charity auctions, festivals, weddings and dog shows are just a few of the things that may be on the horizon as the world learns about what SLO County now has to offer.
In the end, it seems that the Paso Robles Horse Park went from a dream to a very accessible and ingenious reality. Our community is better for this exciting addition, and we at SLO Horse News look forward to covering the many different events that will be taking place at the park in the future.
Story written by Sarah Williams
Unless otherwise noted, pictures by Sarah Williams Photo Impressions