WHOA! Has a New Website
Written by CRM
Tuesday, 11 June 2019 17:42

We’re pleased to announce our transformation, and invite you to look for these highlights and more!

Welcome to Woodside Horse Country!

Woodside has always been home to horses, beginning with early California explorers, settlers, farmers, ranchers, and loggers, whose horses provided their transportation and horsepower. Today, horses in Woodside provide recreation and pleasure riding, equestrian sport and equine-assisted therapy, along with the rural community character for which Woodside is known around the world. Welcome to Woodside horse country!

Horses in Woodside History

Horses brought Spanish explorer Don Gaspar de Portolà through the Woodside area during his 1769 expedition from San Diego to San Francisco, and horses have been traversing local roads and trails ever since.

First as transportation, they carried riders and pulled the wagons, carts, buggies and stagecoaches that brought early settlers to the area. Then as work horses, they plowed farm land, worked cattle for ranchers, and hauled logs from forest to mill, helping build the early settlements that today we know as Woodside, Portola Valley, and beyond.

Until the early 1900s, horses provided the primary means of travel and transport, work and play. They were valued by farmers and ranchers, teamsters and loggers, cowboys and sportsmen. Horses held a historic place in everyday life, until the advent of the motorcar.

The Great Estates Era

Woodside became, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the place for wealthy San Franciscans to build their great estates. Some spent summers here to escape the City’s fog, others resided in Woodside in between travels to Europe and other worldwide destinations. Some of the grand stables that housed their treasured horses remain today, giving a glimpse into an elegant past.

Why Worry Stables, off Woodside Road, was home to the American Saddlebreds and Hackney ponies of the Filoli Estate’s Mrs. William Matson (Lurline) Roth, who won countless trophies at horse shows across the country. The stables remain in private ownership.

Runnymede, built for Alma Spreckles Rosekrans, is the remarkable landmark Tudor stable that’s visible from I-280. Named after her father’s Thoroughbred Runnymede, the first California-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby, it is no longer used for stabling horses. Today is stands sentinel where hikers and riders enjoy the estate’s trails through an incredible outdoor sculpture collection.

Folger Stable, designed in 1905 by Arthur Brown, Jr., who later designed San Francisco City Hall, was originally part of the Folger Coffee family’s Woodside estate. Sold to developer Martin Wunderlich, it was given to San Mateo County in 1974 and later restored thanks to generous donors and the perseverance of local equestrians, including WHOA!. Opened to the public in 2010, it now offers public boarding, trail rides, the Carriage Museum that showcases local history, and a school program operated by the San Mateo County Historical Association.

Woodside Horses Today

Today, horses in Woodside and across the country work at providing leisure, recreation and therapy for their owners and riders. Their role in daily life has changed, but it can be argued that their contributions are as essential as ever in today’s fast-paced, screen-centric, internet-connected world.

Drive through Woodside today, and you’ll see horses and riders sharing the roadside trails with walkers, joggers, and moms pushing strollers. Hike the trails in Woodside area parks, and you’ll find trail riders enjoying nature from a horseback vantage point. Shop at Woodside stores, and it’s not surprising to find a horse or a few tied to hitching racks outside a restaurant or shop.

In Woodside, horses are still an integral part of everyday life. Many properties have barns and fields for keeping horses at home, from beloved companions retired from active riding, to breeding stock, to famous competition horses. Equestrian centers provide boarding and training facilities for horses from Woodside and surrounding areas. Equine therapy organizations offer programs for children and adults that provide life-changing experiences for participants and their families.

The Horse Park at Woodside is home to trainers, horses and riders in a wide variety of disciplines: hunter/jumper, eventing, dressage, vaulting, reining, driving, and more. Highly regarded as an equestrian event venue, most weekends you can find a competition to enjoy, from a local schooling show to an internationally-ranked eventing competition, or a clinic with a famous instructor. The opportunities to enjoy top sport are endless.

There’s a social side to equestrian life in Woodside as well. There’s a riding club or equestrian organization for literally every interest, from western rodeos and reining to English dressage and hunter/jumper. Trail riding groups have deep roots in the community, and equestrian service and safety organizations are essential to community life, as well.

Woodside Trails

Woodside and its southern neighbor Portola Valley have hundreds of miles of trails over 500 square miles of rural residential properties. The system is a combination of public and private trails which link the community together, criss-cross the towns and connect them to 1,000 acres of trails in the San Mateo County Parks and the Mid-Peninsula Open Space District, where one can ride from the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean!

The Town of Woodside’s public trails provide routes from one end of Woodside to another, with routes from outlying properties into town, and winding along town roads. The Town of Woodside website provides a map that shows trails through town and connecting to adjacent open space areas. View Map

Private trails are under the purview of the Woodside Trails Club, founded in 1923 by a group of seven women who wanted to ride safely to each other’s homes. Today these trails across private property are protected with dedicated equestrian easements, a privilege which club members take seriously by cooperating with property owners and carefully evaluating new members.

Town of Woodside Private Memberships for Trail riding:
Woodside Trails Club – (650) 851-1194

Keeping Horses in Woodside

The Town of Woodside’s Livestock and Equestrian Heritage Committee provides application reviews and inspections related to stable permits, and is a resource for Town Council, staff and residents on matters concerning horses. Their work in producing the Keeping Horses in Woodside notebook, available online, is a comprehensive guide to help horse owners, especially those new to keeping horses at home, with valuable information. View Guide

Press release provided by WHOA!.