This past city council session was attended by a large majority of the Royal Riders Pony Club (RRPC). They came to voice their about bullying tactics from the Yorba Linda Country Riders (YLCR).
Sharon Kaak, Disctrict Commissioner of the RR Pony Club was one of the first to speak. She had some very interesting information to share, including the allegation that members of YLCR are the ones who get to control usage of the Paxton Equestrian Center. This is odd because the Paxston center is a PUBLIC facility not private facility. The YLCR has even asked the RRPC to move their organization OUTSIDE of Yorba Linda to Anaheim Hills.
The most glaring allegation is that allegedly the YLCR President’s daughter is currently running a private, for profit, training program at the facility. This explains why she would benefit from the pony club being pushed out. I wonder if she has liability insurance?
An hour into public comments it seemed as if City Council grew tired of hearing from all the residents in Pony Club. Mayor Nancy Rikel then asked that if anyone else was to speak on behalf of the Pony Club they can be seated as they have heard enough. (not exact words but attitude was there)
Read Sharon’s full statement below, it is quite facinating.
Dear Members of the Council and Mayor Rikel,
I am Sharon Kaak, District Commissioner of the Royal Riders Pony Club. Let me start by saying how appreciative we are to have a council that is favorable towards equestrians and the efforts made by legacy organizations to preserve our heritage. However I do not appreciate a city that seems to support only one group of equestrians.
We started pony club 4.5 years ago because we wanted to take the equestrian youth in a positive direction. I started with 8 core families who were not happy with how the YLCR was treating the youth and the overall bullying mentality of the club. These families wanted their kids to learn safe horsemanship and to be good community members. Pony Club was a natural fit as it had a curriculum that we could step right into. It’s an organization that has been around 89 years and is known internationally for its comprehensive education in the equestrian sport.
This past week an assault took place within city offices. The Royal Riders Pony Club was summoned to the city hall by the Parks and Rec Director and City Manager, where my Joint District Commissioner and myself were to meet with the Yorba Linda Country Riders President and her Youth Team Leader.
We assumed the meeting was about an incident the previous week where we were teaching our kids how to ride safely in the open. We set up some jumps in the parking lot at Paxton and those jumps scared one of the YLCR member’s horse. After the incident, we decided that can just as easily move our lessons in the open over to the lakebed.
When asked about the agenda for the meeting, we were given a vague answer of “arena usage”. This implied that no preparation was really necessary on our part. Apparently, the city had given the YLCR a much more extensive agenda, because the YLCR board had time to meet and hold a vote where they decided that if the Pony Club would not allow them to determine the time and number of students in our lessons, the city would shut down lesson programs for everyone altogether. Let me reiterate that, the YLCR Board voted to shut down lessons for EVERYONE if we did not submit to their demands about our lesson program.
But I’m ahead of myself, because prior to making her demands on our program, the YLCR president and Youth Team Leader told us that we should move our program out of the city of Yorba Linda to Anaheim Hills Saddle Club. Here is a woman, who has been coming to council for years, beating everyone over the head with her drive to preserve our “equestrian heritage”, yet she wants 55 plus families and Yorba Linda residents to move or trailer their horses out of town because she doesn’t want to share what she considers “her” Paxton facility. I ask you, who or what is she really representing because it’s most definitely not all Yorba Linda equestrians?
But my real frustration is that the city allows it and even supports it. The City Manager could not or would not validate any of the complaints the YLCR claimed. Yet he was willing to shut down lessons for a non-profit youth organization that services about 40 children. These children are the next generation of equestrians and citizens. Ironically, new pony clubs are being mirrored after the success of our club in both Nellie Gail and San Juan Capistrano. They are being embraced by their communities, while Yorba Linda is pushing us out.
The sense of entitlement the YLCR has over the Paxton Center is, and has been perpetuated by the city. The Paxton Center is a public park on county land and yet the YLCR has keys to the property, exclusive use of the clubhouse and judging by our ambush last week, can decide policy on how it is managed.
In addition, the YLCR President’s daughter is currently running a private, for profit, training program at the facility which explains why she would benefit from the pony club being pushed out.
I agree that Paxton is at times crowded and that our numbers are many. The solution is NOT to turn kids away or have families move their horses out of town as the YLCR president suggests. Paxton’s land is underutilized and desperately in need of improvements that could ease the overcrowding, benefitting all of the neighborhood equestrians.
In summary, we as equestrians and residents of Yorba Linda are outraged that we are not being supported by the city. We literally have people moving to Yorba Linda because of our program. We are supporting city industry and building up the equestrian heritage, one child at a time. We are building bridges with non-equestrians and showing them what an amazing asset it is for our city to have horses here. Yet the city appears to be turning it’s back on the youth. I beg of you to please, please think about the impact on this exceptional group of kids when making policy decisions and let’s have Paxton run with equity for all.
I would like at this time to have a show of hands of those in the audience today that are here in support of pony club.