We have a computer game in the works: “Ride Your Horse Around Los Altos Hills”. Horse poops on the wrong driveway? You loose five points, which means you only have one dog treat, but, oh no, you need to pass three dogs! Watch out for the deer scaring, sideways water burst on level two. If you get hit by that, you land on the ground and are out of the game. Gain five points if you turn and face before the cement truck passes. It takes three points to make it under the freeway, but if you get to the packard trail, you get ten points of fun flying up it. Then you lose five because your horse got spooked by President Obama’s helicopter because he was in los altos hills stumping for money. The ultimate prize would be securing a lease on the Maple Leaf “farm” property and getting to live at the barn with the horses happily ever after.
In our game, as in life, obstacles abound. Drivers driving 50mph down Robleda or Purissima. Having to walk for blocks in the middle of the road because of rows of gardening trucks or construction vehicles or party guests all parked, illegally, on a pathway. Having to catch your horse before it crashes to the ground because you have to cross a sealed driveway that wasn’t roughed up as town ordinance requires or on the long, fancy, new, paved with stones driveway at the end of Newbridge court where there is supposed to be pathway because there is an ordinance requiring all new construction to build pathway when it is adjacent to the property as is the case with this part of the path. After building a 5 million dollar house, the owner was incensed at having to put out another 20K to build the pathway, so the Town turns a blind eye. But heaven forbid your horse should poop on the fancy driveway. After all, someone’s child might step in the poop, walk into the house with poop on their shoe and the, horror of horror, contract tetanus!
Believe it or not, we have a good deal of success with getting the bikes to slow down because you can yell at them, but not so much the skateboarders; illegal by town ordinance, but a regular fixture on La Paloma.
Los Altos Hills wants to call itself a “Horse Community”. They love seeing the horses. We get our pictures taken and oohs and ahhs every day. It also, conveniently, raises the property value. We are finally, praise the lord, getting an official crossing on Purissima where the arena is. But that leaves a dozen or so other pathway crossings, including the one where the angry motorist slammed her car into the back of one of the horses because, I’m guessing, she felt, even though it was the correct a proper place to cross according to the way the pathway was designed at the spot, that we didn’t have the right to be there. Hey, we’d even settle for them enforcing maybe just one of their ordinances? How about making sure people don’t park on the pathways? And could they keep their trash containers off them also? Heaven forbid they should do something really helpful, like putting in speed bumps.
No, we don’t get that. We get, “You’ve got to do something about that manure! We can’t have children getting tetanus!”, which is the equivalent of thinking you are going to get AIDS from a toilet seat. I do remove manure so long as doing so doesn’t create risk for the riders. I had one woman tell me last week that she was horrified at the thought that the children would get manure on their bike tires while riding to school. A more horrifying thought is a world where the kids don’t have access to horses.
Owning the Maple Leaf property would solve a lot of problems. But even if we could come up with the $27 million asking price, it does seem ethically questionable to spend that much money on a property for horses rather than, say, digging wells in Africa or providing heat and housing on the Navajo Nation. The $30,000 in property taxes would also be a bit of an obstacle. Seems it wouldn’t be all that much trouble to make a few, minor, adjustments that would allow the horse to be out and about without having to run a gauntlet. Time will tell if they really want their horse community.