Horse toy comes to Buellton with New Riding Stable

The staff at the Santa Ynez Valley Horseback Rides are (from left): trail guide Jennifer Coltrane, assistant manager Michelle Alexander, barn manager Vanessa Soria, owner and general manager Bob Sweeney, trail guide Alison Hilling and trail guide Randy McGeeney.
A group is led on a fun family trip at River View Park in Buellton. Santa Ynez Valley Horseback Rides opened in the park in December.

Horse toy comes to Buellton with New Riding Stable
Santa Barbara business opens its location in Riverview Park
By Pamela Duzoua
Contributing writer

Santa Ynez Valley is known for its love of horses, from racing to hunters/jumpers, western covenants, and of course, Arabian horses. But finding a location where one could hop on a horse and venture off the beaten path for an afternoon and ride a horse in unspoiled nature has been challenging – until now.

Bob and Evie Sweeney got to know the void and opened up riding in Santa Ynez Valley on December 15, 2021.

“We opened our new facility next to River View Park in Buellton just in time for the Christmas holidays, and we were thrilled to respond, both from locals and visiting guests,” said Sweeney. Business, horseback riding Santa Barbara Beach, located in Summerland. “When COVID hit, our work took off like a rocket with people who wanted to enjoy the safety of the outdoors,
“So we decided to open a new location in the valley,” said Sweeney. “When the City of Buellton approached us to rent a portion of its Willemsen property, the staff immediately expressed their intrigue and
Excitement because they realized that this would be a destination for both local and visiting families. When news reached the local hotels of what we were offering, they got on board and were glad to have something like this for their guests.”

Sweeneys met with Buellton City Manager, Scott Wolfe last June and the project was put on the agenda and approved unanimously during the next city council meeting. “Since then, Buellton City has been so wonderful and supportive all around
Sweeney said. “Last year was a long journey for us, to find a new location in the valley which was still close to the river,”
Follow Sweeney. “With the help of Pam Gnekow, Director of the Buellton Senior Center, we finally found the perfect spot in River View Park in Buellton.”

Sweeney is very happy with how the new project has turned out.
“It couldn’t be better than this,” he said. have
55,000 square foot (1 acre) facility near the Santa Ynez River. We have the permit for 18 horses and we currently have 13 horses. We’re on track to include a super fun March pet zoo featuring miniatures
Cows, sheep, and goats.”

Owned by horses for over 42 years, Sweeney has an extensive background in the Arabian horse world and has also been a senior level horse dealer for 25 years. So when he envisioned this work, he said he wanted it to represent the valley’s deep equestrian history. “When I moved here in 1984, there were about 5,000 people in the valley and 20,000 horses,” Sweeney said. “Every major breed has had a strong presence here. Therefore, it is appropriate for us to reflect this heritage with our horses. We currently have eight different breeds of horses and most of them are retired show horses, rodeo stars or working farm horses. They all have past lives and a story.” Example, we have three semi-Arabian horses, two of which have won National Honors in the Show Horse World and a Thoroughbred Arabian mare bred by Daydream Arabians, who produced a national champion filly. We also have the National Finals World Champion Rodeo Star, purchased from the Branquinho family. Even our two ponies are trained on farm horses.”
Sweeney explained that when the ride departs, the guides are filled with stories of each horse the guests ride. “As the rides leave the stable, the 100 year old guests are taken back to old California with wildlife everywhere,
such as deer, wolf, fox, bobcat den, beaver dam and even the golden eagle.” “There are also many water crossings that, during the rainy season, a rider can encounter high levels of water
Like the middle of the thigh. “By design, our horses are older, well-groomed and well-trained, from their past lives through today,” Sweeney continued. “We have simply reintroduced them to a new life and they love it. Our rides are really beautiful and our horses are walking, and there is no trotting or running at all – it is low stress on the horses and riders.”

Sweeney said Santa Ynez Valley is specifically designed for his business. “Because of our location and our history with horses, we wanted to make this a destination that would make the community proud and provide the opportunity to enjoy the incredible beauty of the landscape,” he said.

Santa Ynez Valley Horseback Rides offers pony rides for kids, ages two and up, that include rhino rides featuring Marshmallow and Mabel, a mischievous little mule. The owners also welcome birthday parties, which include crafts and games. Guests are encouraged to bring their own drinks, party favors, and a birthday cake. Family Fun Ride has become the big new item where kids under 5 years old can go on an actual ride
with their families. It begins with a pony meeting with a brief lesson, and then on to a trail trip. There are three different river pass ride options, 60, 75 or 90 minutes in length.

In the spring, there will be riding lessons for children and adults and a new feature called “Evening Horse Hangout,” where people can spend an hour with the horse of their choice and learn the basics of equestrian and grooming.

The staff at the Santa Ynez Valley Horseback Rides are (from left): trail guide Jennifer Coltrane, assistant manager Michelle Alexander, barn manager Vanessa Soria, owner and general manager Bob Sweeney, trail guide Alison Hilling and trail guide Randy McGeeney.

“Our amazing staff includes lifelong riders who grew up in the valley and have been riding and competing since childhood,” said Sweeney. “Our main guide is Vanessa Surya, whose grandfather was the first draft horse provider in Solvang and across the valley. All guides are local jockeys and mums, making it a relaxing experience for guests and children.” “I have a personal passion for introducing people to and relating to horses,” Sweeney said. “It’s my love language.”
Santa Ynez Valley Horseback Rides is located within River View Park at 151 Sycamore Drive, Buellton.

Rides are available daily, year-round, by appointment only. No riding experience necessary and discounts
Available to local residents and guests staying at certain hotels.
For more information, call (805) 693-4600, text (805) 705-5458, visit or email [email protected] to secure your date or answer any questions.

Tour guide Randy McGeeney gives a kiss to a horse after a recent tour of Riverview Park in Buellton.

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