March 2016 - Hansen Dam Equestrian Center
Written by Kim F. Miller
Tuesday, 01 March 2016 07:37

Boarding, training and show facility is blossoming with new offerings.

by Kim F. Miller

You could say the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center has been hiding in plain sight. Located within view of the 210 Freeway in Lake View Terrace, the centrally located Los Angeles-area boarding, training and show venue is an equestrian gem that not everybody knows about. That status, however, may not last long as physical upgrades, energized management and marketing and hunter/jumper and new dressage competitions coalesce to capitalize on the property’s many amenities.

Cover photo: After a fun Saturday of lessons, Deirdra Davis escorts her student Paris Garrison, accompanied by Isaac Martell who rides at the Hansen Dam Riding School, and fellow HDRS student Nicole Dzul accompanying them on a walk along one of the many trails. HDEC riders enjoy many great riding opportunities and settings. Photo: LEG Up News

Photo ©Kristin Lee Photography

Already, there is a lot going on at the property.  Hansen Dam Equestrian Center is home to 10 training barns, primarily hunter/jumper and dressage. It’s the home for the Langer Equestrian Group’s Verdugo Hills series of eight hunter/jumper competitions, and veteran dressage manager Glenda McElroy’s Cornerstone Events is debuting a series of shows in that discipline on March 19-20.

Hansen Dam also hosts four, typically 300-horse, Interscholastic Equestrian League competitions every year.

Since April of 2015, the Hansen Dam Riding School has been attracting new people to the sport. The school was launched by Larry Langer and is run by Lydia Doherty out of Sandrine Siefert’s D&D Stables.
The Riding School is giving approximately 100 lessons a month, with growth expected to continue steadily. The Langers identified an entry-level program as the only thing missing at Hansen Dam and are especially pleased about its progress.

“We have a couple of goals with it,” Larry explains. “To introduce new people to the sport and to help promote the sport. As the school grows, we know that people are going to graduate to leasing or buying their own horses and, hopefully, to start showing.” Stacey Tuttle’s participation in the Outreach classes at the January Verdugo Hills show fulfilled that prediction and the Langers expect that trend to accelerate going forward.

Some jumper action at a Verdugo Hills Show. Photo ©Kristin Lee Photography

“The facility is really nice,” says Sandrine Seifert, who has based her show-oriented hunter/jumper program at Hansen Dam for several years. “But we still get a lot of people who come in and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t even know this was here!’”

Reflecting Hansen Dam’s ability to accommodate multiple trainers and their students, Sandrine’s program occupies its own barn. Numerous arenas provide ample space for a wide range of riding and training. Grand Prix rider and resident trainer Jenni McAllister might be schooling a World Cup contender in one ring, while another arena sees a youngster enjoy their first interaction with a horse and others are stages for every level of riding in between. “We have a lot of variety and ways to keep everything differentiated,” Sandrine explains.

Stabling options include box stalls and Malibu stalls, all facing the outside, giving horses plenty of fresh air and the stimulation of watching the day’s doings. Turn-out paddocks provide play time and arena footing and the grounds are carefully maintained by an experienced and attentive staff.

Fellow hunter/jumper trainer Deirdra Davis concurs with Sandrine’s assessment. She’s run her Harmony Farms training business at Hansen Dam since 2004. “The set up is very simple and neat,” she says. Even though it’s a large facility, it doesn’t feel like it. “Even on weekends when you can see that the parking lot is pretty full, it never feels congested.”

She loves the improvements that have been implemented in recent years and praises the footing in all rings as well as the maintenance crew.

Winners of Verdugo Hills August Aloha Equitation Teams. Heatherly Davis and student Jessica Sanders. Photo ©LEG Up News

Sheri Moser’s student Lucy - end of the year champion for IEL.

Show Time

A full schedule of well-run horse shows is a boon for everybody.  Costs are significantly less without travel and the quality of competition is plenty high to prepare riders of all levels to do well when they chose to travel off site. Five of the Verdugo Hills hunter/jumper shows are rated as United States Equestrian Federation Region 1 (B) shows and the remaining three are National (A) rated events.

Two of the four IEL shows overlap with the Verdugo Hills events. On these weekends, Verdugo Hills runs on Friday and Saturday, and IEL runs on Sunday, making things even more convenient for exhibitors, whether they’re boarders or those who haul in from other areas.

Another plus is that show arenas are situated close to each other, so it’s easy for trainers to walk from one ring to the next to coach their students. No golf carts needed. “The lay-out is close, but you don’t feel cramped,” explains Marnye.

On the dressage side, Glenda McElroy is thrilled to introduce three new shows in a series, the Let’s Go Show, that she hopes will grow to four or five a year. The first is March 19-20 with a St. Patrick’s Day theme that reflects Glenda’s desire to combine quality judging and organization and a great venue with a fun vibe. A light-hearted touch to the premiums and prizes is part of her campaign to boost the fun factor in the sport.

Winner from Barbara Vasilaros at Verdugo Hills show.

Claudia Roberts on Bionico - dressage show at HDEC.

Two of the Let’s Go Shows will be staged concurrent with hunter/jumper competitions, a formula that is popular at other shows Glenda is involved with. Shared vendor and food areas and social gatherings that bring both disciplines together are part of the master plan.

Whatever the discipline and rating, the Hansen Dam shows provide great competitive opportunities for riders of all levels.

Two hundred acres of rideable parkland are another of Hansen Dam’s attractions. As an amateur jumper rider and a show organizer, Marnye Langer leads a show-focused life, but she and her jumpers love hitting the park’s easily accessible and varied trails. “You can ride in the sandy trails along the creek bed, areas that are so jungle-like you can’t see the sky above and everything in between. You can do everything from a casual walk after your lesson to preparing a horse for endurance competition.”

The Hansen Dam Equestrian Center carries forward a proud equestrian legacy. It is owned by the Champ family, whose daughter Olivia was a top junior hunter/jumper rider before going off to college. With the team of advisors and show organizers now on board, the boarding, training and show facility appears poised to carry that legacy to new heights.

For more information, call 818-896-6514 or visit