Times have changed! In September 1970, lessees were advised that EBMUD had hired a
trapper to remove predatory and wild animals from all watershed lands. In 1997, the native
fauna flourishes and current policy is to protect it- 27 years of environmental policy
evolution for which the OHA members are appreciative.
Pranks! In the mid 1970’s, Carla Furtado, teenager, was riding with Dan Holmes
one afternoon in late fall on a darkly shaded trail along a gully headed toward the lake.
Suddenly, just off the trail under some thick Live Oaks, Carla spotted a corpse hanging by
its neck with barbed wire in the trees, pointed to it and screamed. Dan’s horse bolted;
he, frightened, yelled, `Carla, lets get out of here now!’ What he didnt know was that
some days earlier Carla, and Sandy Davidson, also a member, had found a discarded Plaster
of Paris sculpture, hung it in the tree, and schemed to lure the unsuspecting Dan to the
OHA foals! Bob Lewman decided in the late 70’s that his mare Penny had the
qualities he appreciated and would produce a fine foal. Bob had the mare bred and in due
time produced a beautiful champaign colored filly named Misty. He built a small paddock
below the present Pavilion to house Penny and Misty. Misty thrived with Bob Lewman’s
loving care and became a fine horse, the first born in the pasture. Many years later,
being aware of Bob’s positive experience, Jane Binder decided to breed her long time mare,
Abby, which in due time successfully produced Rover, who immediately rolled away from his
mother leading to his name, an excellent young horse which she now proudly rides and
That Rascal! He somehow found his way, probably tumbling, to the bottom of a
ravine with a raging creek on a rainy, windy, cold winter day, in 1996. However, two smart
dogs-to be sure one was `Kep’ of the Swan family- sounded the alarm and alerted the
frolicking Swan children. Herculean efforts at rescue by the many members who were oddly
present on such a day were successful and Rascal, though seriously injured, survived his
short stay as pasture resident. One might wonder whether or not he was actually sad to
Weeds, weeds, noxious weeds! A never ending pasture event carried out by many
including but not limited to: Los Manos, Team Older, and Mirek Kaczorowski. The worst weed
offenders continue to be yellow star thistle and fiddleneck. Progress has been made
though, and with continued diligence the numbers are declining.
El Nino! The mid 1980’s saw the washout of the El Toyonal road as a result of
massive rains which has allowed for a very peaceful OHA existence free of traffic since
then but also subject to the occasional teenage party. Recent sentiment by meteorologists
is that another more powerful El Nino repercussion is on the way in 1997-1998.
Drought years! Little rain and sparse grass. However, some horses like Dusty
Houdini, Chica, and Rover continued to require dieting! How can that be?
A new bridge??? The County Department of Public Works announced its intent to
replace the old El Toyonal Bridge with a railroad flat-car frame, to support pedestrian,
equestrian, and bicycle traffic. It was noted that upper El Toyonal residents would fight
for an automobile bridge, for emergency use. Not surprisingly, sufficient construction
funds continue to be unavailable. Recent advice (July, 1997) is that the Orinda and CCC,
the EBMUD, the community, and OHA have agreed tentatively that the El Toyonal bridge will
be rebuilt for emergency use only by fire equipment and autos. Otherwise the road will
remain closed, with hikers, and bicyclists only having free access. Hard work and good
community relations won the day, but one can never count a chick until the egg is hatched!
More storms! California was hit hard by violent storms in January 1997. Orinda
was no exception. A great deal of damage resulted: Trails and fire roads were washed out
in many places. The fire trail leading from the Lower Pasture to the Pear Orchard was
seriously damaged. There were many fallen trees and damaged fences. Much of the 1997 work
year was devoted to repairs, both by EBMUD and the OHA.
Come Prepared! To comply with EBMUD’s request for more intensive grazing of
sections of the Pear Orchard nearest adjacent housing, Jane Binder and Beverly James
undertook, along with others, to build a dividing fence across the Pear Orchard. On the
appointed day, Beverly James, imaginatively, showed up wearing a `bee keeper’s outfit’ to
avoid the pasture perils of poison oak, ticks, and yellow jackets! The two got the job
done despite the hazards and without casualty.
Devotion! Shortly after Morris Older joined the pasture, he and Linda Davidson
riding Flame and Sonny respectively, met to repair the fence at the top of the ridge along
the Seaview Trail. After reaching their destination, Morris dismounted and turned his
horse loose to graze while he worked on the fence. This seemed safe enough, as they were
relatively isolated from the rest of the pasture and believed that Sonny and Flame, which
had shared a small pasture the previous few years, were inseparable buddies. Unexpectedly
Flame spotted the herd far below, and after a few moments of indecision, left her buddy
behind, rapidly descending down the ridge, picking the most direct and steepest route to
return to her newly beloved herd. Morris, stunned by what just happened, suddenly realized
with clarity that a horse’s attraction to its herd is its deepest instinct. Unfortunately
he also realized with equal clarity that he faced the long walk back down by foot alone.
Pig?! The year of `Pig’, `Piggy’, `Piggly Wiggly’ was 1996, Black and sleek for
a wandering fellow, he snorted his way into pasture hearts for a short time. He adopted
the Pavilion horse residents being especially fond of Scout, Dusty, and Leo. He was seen,
so they say, chasing his horse pals around in the ring pasture to pass the time away. And
he was also seen, so they also say, sometimes having the favor returned. He loved the
vegetable garden which everyone was happy about, and received special treats. Alas, he
left, that roving guy, and he was not to be seen again. However, happily, rumors of
sightings occasionally have been heard.
Horse Heaven! If ever there has been a heaven on earth for horses it is the OHA.
It is doubtful that there is any place that could easily rival the wonderful environment
in which OHA horses live. But still, members have had to part with old friends, or been
faced with caring for a horse with serious injury, illness, or confronted with a horse’s
unexpected death. Almost everyone has been touched by these events in some way, at some