The Los Padres Trail Riders

Montecito’s Troop 33 Scoutmaster Otis Calef made a presentation at the Multi-Jurisdictional Trails Task Force meeting July 11 on behalf of the primary local equestrian group, Los Padres Trail Riders. This is the only local trail-riding club open to the public; it currently boasts 111 members. In addition to group trail rides and social get-togethers, Los Padres Trail Riders raises two to three thousand dollars per year for trail maintenance through its annual Tack and Tog Sale, a swap meet held at Earl Warren Showgrounds every spring.

Calef is a well-known member of the trail user community, as he is often packs equipment on his mules to assist the U.S. Forest Service and other groups with trail maintenance projects. In addition to being an experienced horseman, Calef is also a leader of Boy Scout Troop 33, and in that role has introduced many youngsters to the outdoor life. In his speech, Calef recounted his own experience of being thrown when his mule went over the edge of a trail after being spooked by a mountain biker. Following are excerpts from Calef’s speech:

“Four years ago, when the Forest Service set up the Trails Working Group, I was Ride Chair of the LPTR and was asked by the Forest Service to serve on that committee as a representative of horsemen. For the differences in objectives that different groups have when they use our trails, there is no resolution. This is especially clear in the conflict between horsemen and bicyclists on our steep mountain trails. It is like trying to mix oil and water. The horsemen I represent will almost universally be afraid to use certain trails if they anticipate a possible encounter with a bicycle.

“As was pointed out by the Sierra Club, equestrians have mostly been displaced from our front country trails. There are clearly a number of reasons. The final blow to popular trail riding in Santa Barbara was the advent of the bicycle. However, there are still many saddle horses hidden away around town and there is still a lot of enthusiasm for trail riding, and it just doesn’t seem right to us that horsemen should have been recently driven off the trails. There is a very deep and wonderful tradition of horsemanship in Santa Barbara, which, I suppose, most people don’t know about.

“Most horsemen believe there exists a real risk for the safety of themselves and their animals when they are forced to share mountain trails with bikes. The risk has been established by the occurrence of several accidents, including the death of one horse.

“Is there some way to mitigate the danger? How about bells? A speed limit? No downhill racers, just cross-country riders? More trail work? Better education for everyone involved? As my own wreck shows, none of these mitigations would have made any difference. They wouldn’t have increased safety, and, what may be more important, they would not have improved my experience. Currently my experience on that section of trail is one of great anxiety and of great relief when I get off.

“The Los Padres Trail Riders are full of hope that this Task Force will find ways to regulate the use of our trails so that horsemen can return to riding our trails with confidence in our safety. We hope that riding the front country trails will once again be enjoyable.”

The next meeting of the Trails Task Force is Wednesday, September 5 at 5:30 pm in City Council Chambers, 735 Anacapa Street. Public comment is welcome.

Fire At Zaca Lake

The long-term effects of the still-burning Zaca Fire are yet to be determined, but having burned over 25,000 acres thus far, enormous portions of the Los Padres National Forest, particularly the San Rafael Wilderness Area, are affected. The Lost Valley Trail has been burned out, and the Hurricane Deck Trail is in immediate danger. The fire has burned as far east as Sulphur Canyon, and is not expected to be fully contained for perhaps another two weeks. Obviously this is not a good time to be planning any backcountry trips, and even after the fire is out, be sure to check with the U.S. Forest Service as to which trails will be passable.


Saturday, July 21

Sierra Club Hike

Rattlesnake Trail


5.5 miles round-trip

Hike up a wooded canyon with scenic views to Gibraltar Rock. Bring lunch and water. Meet behind Bank of America on upper State Street at Hope Avenue at 9 am. For more information call Paul at 964-9002.

Friday, July 27 – Sunday, July 29

Los Amigos Peruvian Paso Horse Show

Earl Warren Showgrounds

8 am – 5 pm

Free Admission

For more information call (661) 268-0357, or visit

Sunday, July 29

Sierra Club Hike

San Ysidro to the Falls


5.5 miles round-trip

1,150-foot elevation gain

Hike past a favorite rock climbing location to a seasonal waterfall, returning to a pool for lunch. Steep in spots. Bring lunch and water. Meet behind Bank of America on upper State Street at Hope Avenue at 9 am, or at San Ysidro trailhead at 9:30 am. For more information call Dave at 563-4850.

Thursday, August 2 – Sunday, August 5

Fiesta Stock Horse Show and Rodeo

Earl Warren Showgrounds

Thursday: 7:45 pm

Friday and Saturday: 7:30 pm

Sunday: 1:30 pm

Parking: $5.00

Riders from the Tri-Counties will compete at this 83rd Annual Fiesta event, trying their skills at a variety of challenges, including Fiesta Ranch Horse class, Buckaroo class, Old Timers Team Roping, and Barrel Racing. For more information call 687-0747, or visit

Friday, August 3

El Desfile Historico

Fiesta Parade

12 noon

One of the largest equestrian parades in the United States starts on Cabrillo Boulevard, continues along the beach, and then turns up State Street to Sola Street. Bring a hat and arrive early for free street-side viewing. Televised live on KEYT Channel 3.