Trancas Riders and Ropers Hits the Trail

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Community members participate in the trail ride.

The Trancas Riders and Ropers organization met for an event at the Malibu Equestrian Park this past Sunday. Participants socialized with other members of the horse community, exchanged information in case of emergencies and went on a trail ride followed by a pizza lunch. The organization has experienced a recent decline in participation; however, 62-year-old Malibu resident Talley Hutcherson, also known as “Malibu’s Horse Whisperer” and the backbone of the group, hopes to revitalize Malibu’s oldest organization.

When Hutcherson moved to Malibu in the late ‘70s, Trancas Riders and Ropers was a very active organization that put on numerous equestrian events. However, the group has become less active since then. At Sunday’s event, there were five riders and about a dozen total participants. Though the size of the group has shrunken, the enthusiasm has not waned.

“They do fun stuff. They do rides here at the arena, today we’re going to go out for a trail ride, get [together] with other horse people—it’s wonderful,” Riders and Ropers member Larry Gray told The Malibu Times before a trail ride on Sunday.

“Because horses are fewer and fewer in Malibu, it’s becoming even more important to support the organization, get active and be present to all of their events … and just show that we care about having the facilities here, care about horses in Malibu and care about each other,” Hutcherson said, saying the club wants to “build a community where we support each other during emergencies and other challenging situations as they arise.”

Hutcherson attributed the decline in ridership to the rising cost of real estate in Malibu, among other reasons. 

“It just doesn’t make financial sense to most people to host horses. There are lots of reasons, from liability problems, to not liking the smell or flies, or just the inconvenience of having to slow your car down and share the road with horses—but most of it has to do with the economy—the value of the real estate going up so high” Hutcherson said.

Gray, a 62-year-old resident of Malibu, has owned a horse for 30 years and explained that a big challenge of being a part of the horse community has to do with losing trail access.

“[Malibu] closes trails constantly. People don’t understand that it’s a benefit to have trails between communities. They think it’s a security issue instead of an issue of making communities accessible for hiking and horseback riding,” Gray explained. 

Aside from such challenges, Hutcherson and members of Ropers and Riders are hopeful they can build back the strength the group once experienced as an organization.  

Kevin Beck, Malibu resident and member of the club, would like to see this happen “so that this can continue and we don’t lose this wonderful facility we have.”

For Hutcherson, a big part of what makes Riders and Ropers a worthwhile is the community aspect. She said she believes horses can teach people about the importance of being part of a larger group and staying connected, as horses themselves depend on community for survival. 

“When horse are isolated, they tend to not thrive, flourish or do very well because they’re open to predators,” the horsewoman described. “People tend to isolate and not build communities. You see this happening more and more in Malibu as people don’t live here and rent out their houses and their houses are empty.

“They live behind walls and gates and fences and they don’t know their neighbors,” she continued. “Horses really keep me connected to people, so that’s what I like about them.”

Hutcherson mentioned the therapeutic aspects of trail rides, as someone who does trail rides every day. 

“We have these beautiful open spaces. The Santa Monica Mountains have hundreds of miles of trails and it’s a refuge for people to get away from the city and the stress of being in a high-density situation with lots of people and cars,” she said. “Being out in nature with horses is a great way to heal and enjoy nature … and be in the quiet.”

Gray also added: “Riding is wonderful. Everybody who rides a horse is great—and they get it. And it’s real—until you become a rider, you don’t get it—and then you really do, and it’s all about the horse.”

Hutcherson added, “I’m just so thrilled and excited that people came and supported … For all the people that came here today, I’m just so grateful.”