Riders take the reins

‘Dusters’ event highlights L.A. County trails while aiming to preserve them.

May 20, 2010|By Megan O’Neil

La Cañada Flintridge returned to its roots as an equestrian community, as 150 riders joined Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich on his Trail Dusters horseback-riding excursion Sunday.

Twice annually Antonovich selects communities within District 5 to host the Trail Dusters event, which attracts equestrian enthusiasts from throughout the county.

“It was a huge turnout,” said Randy Strapezon, president of the La Cañada Flintridge Trails Council.

Sunday’s ride began at the Rose Bowl Riders facility in Hahamongna Park, and traversed parts of the Flint Canyon, Cherry Canyon, Ultimate Destination and Cerro Negro trails.


The last time La Cañada hosted the supervisor and his horses was in 2004, Strapezon said.

The Trail Dusters ride, now in its 18th year, serves to highlight trails in L.A. County and show them some extra care. The county Department of Parks and Recreation dispatches crews to rehabilitate them in anticipation of the ride.

“All the people on the ride wanted to give special thanks to the trail crew, which has been out here for the past month working,” Strapezon said. “The trails were delightful and safe.”

The county has spent $78 million in the past two years to expand trails and equestrian recreation, Antonovich said.

“That is part of the history of the county of Los Angeles,” Antonovich said. “We want to have a trail network so we can have more people participate in equestrian activities.”

The trails help to promote healthy lifestyles and protect open spaces from development, he added.

“There are a lot of people who want to pave over these trails,” Antonovich said.

In addition to leading Sunday’s ride, Antonovich recognized La Cañada resident Elizabeth Blackwelder for her work with local trails. Blackwelder, who started riding when she was 4, joined the Trails Council in 1974 and has remained as a vocal advocate ever since.

La Cañada used to have a large horse population, Blackwelder said. But trails began to disappear as post-World War II developers bought up open land in the 1950s and 1960s.

She recalled one developer who wanted to eliminate La Cañada trails in the early 1980s. Trail proponents took the case to court and won.

“We were able to do that, but it could have gone the other way, and then we would have no trails in La Cañada and no more horse keeping in La Cañada,” Blackwelder said.

Blackwelder, 89, continued riding up until the last of her three horses died a few years ago. Events like the Trail Dusters ride are critical to the preservation of the trails, she said.

“It is very important we continue to fight the battle,” she said.

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