|History of Fullerton Recreational Riders|
In the late 1940’s, about 6,000 men, women, and children owned and rode some 9,000 horses in Orange County alone per Gordon Grant, LA Times 1967. The riders spent millions of dollars on feed, tack, veterinarians, trailers, and other accouterments which made horseback riding one of the largest sports in the state during those times. Pleasure riding in Fullerton was at its height.
In 1951, a loose organization of about 1,000 horse owning families, better known as the Sunny Hills Ranch Town Riders, regularly met for trail rides and to exchange information as “horse talk”. Sharing horse problems and sharing trails, they emerged as simple horse lovers and recreational riders.
Real estate development in the 50’s, however, gobbled up landed estates, orange groves, and bridle trails as new homes were built. A stiff requirement requiring homeowners to have some 30,000 sq. ft. of land to be able to own a horse forced the riders to move somewhere or to give up their hobbies. Eventually the Ranch Town Riders were forced to give up their old Sunny Hills riding facility at Valencia Mesa Drive, fondly remembered by old timers as the Beckham Ring, and quietly disband.
At the onset of 1960, the remaining riders and the new horse owners began re-organizing. In 1961, Robert McNary, with the help of Harold McCabe, incorporated the now well-established Fullerton Recreational Riders (FRR) and became its first president. With more enthusiasm and fervor, the new group reformatted their interests and purposes, and approached the City Council for the much needed space to further improve their activities. The City Officials were convinced that this legitimate organization would be an advantageous group if they had a permanent area to meet.
In 1962, the site of the defunct Pacific Electric Railroad, consisting of some 26 acres bordering Laguna Road and Euclid (formerly Nicholas Road) and adjacent to the Laguna Lake Park, was approved for use by the FRR, with the end clause that the riders will build the facilities and maintain its upkeep. Family participation increased two fold.
Over the years, FRR has been associated with Equestrian Trails Incorporated, and the California State Horseman’s Association. Year after year, Fullerton Recreational Riders members have won accolades from these organizations. Equestrian Trails Incorporated, the California State Horseman’s Association. and FRR members donated their time and resources to build the arena which was used to stage horse shows, trail rides, and put on educational programs. These facilities they developed are some of the best to be found anywhere in the Southland.
In continuing coordination with the City Council, bridle trails were improved and renamed after the proponents of safe horse riding our own FRR members. Trail signs have been added over the years and the trails have become multipurpose enhancing the rural life style of Fullerton. Property values have consistently been above neighboring communities in part due to the 30+ miles of maintained trails in our City.
The City of Fullerton continues to recognize the benefits of having an active riders group and recently entered into a long term agreement in which FRR will formally oversee the use and maintenance of the City’s arena.