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Martinez Horsemen's Association Under Fire From Park District, Dog Owners

Long time Martinez horse group is fighting to keep its arena from turning into ball field parking or a dog park.

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.

Angela Materne July 04, 2012 at 10:11 AM
The Martinez Horseman's Association is NOT the only club holding events at the facility. Region 5 of the California State Horseman's Association and local club Tri-Cities Horseman's both host 5-10 events each year. The events typically draw 40-80+ competitors and their friends and family. The majority of the competitors are local to west county, but often draw competitors from all around northern California.
Evelyn Ruth Cecil Ortman July 05, 2012 at 06:31 AM
Please keep one of the last local equestrian arena just as it is. I've been going to this arena for over 20 years.
Virginia Mason July 05, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Look MHA pays rent for that space. Not only that but they maintain it. All the horsemen have dogs too. We are not saying we don't want the dogs to come play. We are saying please don't destroy and vandalize an area we work hard to keep nice. Would you invite someone in to your house that didn't respect it? There are many dog parks in Contra costa county. There is only one public horse arena. It is open to any one who want to bring their horse down and ride from May till October. Horse areans are being taken over by bikes dogs and hikers. Places that we used to ride are being turned in to parking lots and ball fields. Is this area becoming less of a "horse area" Yes! All the more reason to keep our arena open and nice. If people have a problem with the fact we took an old tub out that they let their dog swim in, too bad. Do you realize it was put their to water horses. If your ok with that go let your dog drink out of the duck pond or the toilet. If you want us to have a dog waterer then show up to some fundraisers and maybe take some time out of your day and put in a little work like us.
Dan November 11, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Since the the Martinez Horseman's Association does all the maintenance at no cost to the City or the EBPD. Such as weed control and mowing and general upkeep of the land area that benefits the Association as well as the general public who are free to walk and use the area what is the problem. This is in the general plan open space which benefits the community at large. Money! the City wants another parking lot for all the cars associated with the courts and has not planned properly for this. Come January 1, 2013 all the courts are being moved to Martinez due to County Budgetary cuts and the down town is going to look like a Baghdad Rug Market. Once the Horseman Associations field is taken the Ball Fields are next,,heads up Baseball. What a politician tells you today will be different tomorrow and the same goes for Dog owners having a place to walk their dog on leash.
Karen July 15, 2013 at 03:18 PM
Leave the arena for the horses! You can hardly say that taking your dog to Paso Nogal is too far of a drive.

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