The Martinez Horseman’s Association, which has operated its arena at the end of Tarantino Drive, next to Joe DiMaggio Fields at Waterfront Park, is not feeling the love these days, according to association president Barbara Glenn.
For 15 years now, the association’s landlord, East Bay Regional Park District, has been under pressure from the City of Martinez, which rents the ball fields, to turn the horse arena property into spillover parking for ball players.
“We’ve been fighting for 15 years to keep our facility open,” Glenn said.
And now it’s the dog owners.
With no official dog park in th city, a group of dog owners have been using the association property to let their dogs run around.
“We’re ok with that,” Glenn said. “But some people don’t clean up after their dogs, and a couple of people have started to get destructive.”
She said an old bathtub which used to serve as a water trough for the horses was recently removed and replaced with devices specifically designed to water horses. The new devices are much safer for the horses, she said.
But at least one dog owner threatened to destroy everything in the arena if the group didn’t return the tub, which was apparently where the dog owner washed his animal.
“We’re a non-profit organization,” she said. “Everything done there is paid for by our members.”
The dog situation grew from good intentions, she said.
“The park district doesn’t let dogs walk down there off leash,” Glenn said. “Our dogs are pretty well controlled, but other people started letting their dogs off leash, and it kind of became a word-of-mouth thing that it was a dog park, and it’s not. Now it’s out of control.”
The 20-member Horseman’s Association used to have rodeos at the arena, but insurance costs prohibit that now. These days, the association sponsors equestrian events just about every weekend, and offers a place for local horse owners to ride for free.
“We were always hoping the public would be on our side, and now it seems like maybe they just don’t understand how hard it is to keep the place going,” Glenn said.