Three decades ago, when Malibu was a rural town where everyone had horses, each year the community came together to clean out their barns and celebrate horses with a Swap Meet.
Malibu residents continued this tradition Sunday with the 30th Annual Trancas Riders & Ropers Horse Fair/Swap Meet at Bluffs Park.
Now, in addition to the Swap Meet, entertainment is included such as a horse-shaped bouncing tent, pony rides, a raffle, and a row of booths selling items ranging from the Pet Owner’s Tarot Card Deck to used Levis.
Debbie Purucker, the chairperson, explained that the Horse Fair serves as, “a way of getting out information . . . of making the community aware that horses are still a presence in Malibu.”
Two booths featured prominently among the raffle cries and pony rides, illustrating that the issues facing the horse community are significant and beyond recreation. The newly created Recreation & Equestrian Coalition warned, “The battle is just beginning” over zoning changes in the Santa Monica Mountains. Meanwhile, the booth for the Jr. Posse Equestrian Program worked to expand the horse riding experience to inner-city youth.
Stephanie Abronson, a representative for the Recreation & Equestrian Coalition, passionately spoke about a way of life in Malibu that she feels is being threatened. Abronson explained that the Planning Commission is considering restrictions, “so prohibiting that it would be near impossible to keep horses in the Santa Monica Mountains.
“There is a lot of emotion behind it,” she said. “A lot of us can’t live without our horses.”
Abronson described the Santa Monica Mountains as “one green oasis, solid concrete everywhere else in Los Angeles County.
“[People can] come from the city to experience relief from stress and tension,” she said. “[They can] hike, experience animals.”
Further down the chain of booths, Mayisha Akbar stood selling framed pictures of horses made by inner-city youth who are learning business skills.
Akbar, the founder of the Jr. Posse Equestrian Program, explained her non-profit group based in Compton shows inner-city youth how to care for and enjoy horses.
“[These are] horses that no one wants,” Akbar said. “Horses that everyone had given up on–abused and abandoned. [They] show kids how to give horses love and affection. Kids want love and affection–It completes the cycle.”
The Trancas Horse Fair serves as an outreach to the Jr. Posse Equestrian Program where horse owners donate equipment, people volunteer to help teach classes and some long-term connections are formed.
This Sunday, Akbar collected saddles, reigns, bridles, saddle pads and one promise of a horse.
Since the program survives solely on donations, the charitable contributions help to bring a love of horses beyond the Santa Monica Mountains and into the concrete jungle of Compton.
While these two women promoted their programs, children enjoyed pony rides up and down the bluff.
A horse enthusiast showed one little girl where to put her feet in the saddle of a pony. Originally, the young child resisted and cried to her father, “It’s scary.”
After petting the large pony, she soon gained the courage to mount it with her little sister.
“You look like a cowgirl,” said her proud dad.
Riding tandem, they both soon lost any expression of fear and started addressing the crowd, “hi, hi, hi!”