Se habla español

Main Menu

Keeping the historical legacy and tradition of horses in the community

Please help us by donating your car, boat, or RV so we may continue to educate the community about horses and assist in the building and maintenance of trail. Your donation can help fund SMCHA in promoting an interest in horses and horsemanship.

SMCHA Color Guard

San Mateo County Horsemen’s Association*

San Mateo County Horsemen’s Association


The San Mateo County Horsemen’s Association was formed in 1940 for the purpose of sponsoring, cultivating, and fostering an interest in horses and horsemanship within San Mateo County.


“To share the horse world with all and create sustainability throughout the Bay Area.”

The San Mateo County Horsemen’s Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting an interest in horses and horsemanship. We provide shows and training clinics to encourage a better relationship between horse and rider, sponsor events to educate the community about horses and assist in the building and maintenance of trails. SMCHA is also committed to building relationships with other equestrian organizations to exchange information and ideas to promote stronger equine communities.

More About Us

During the year of 1939, San Mateo County officials arranged to have the first Floral Show and Fandango held and the new Bay Meadows Club House in San Mateo. A parade was to be held in conjunction with the show starting in Burlingame. L.C. Smith was asked by San Mateo County to organize a group of horsemen to ride in the parade and to display as many different representative types of horse-drawn vehicles as possible. Mr. Smith, as he later stated, anticipated a rather small showing. However, he underestimated his ability to organize as well as the horse lovers who couldn’t wait to show off their old family carriages, buggies and wagons. Horsemen from the southern end of the county (Pescadero) to the extreme north (Colma) were contacted and an estimated 300 horses were in the line of march on the day of the parade.

San Mateo County Horsemen’s Association

This large showing of horses was truly a credit to Mr. Smith and an inspiration to him to try to find a way of keeping these horse lovers together instead of “being scattered to the four winds”. That evening at the Fiesta Dance, L.C. Smith discussed his ideas with Don Facciolle of the Lazy Day Ranch in Portola Valley. It was Mr. Facciolle’s suggestion to start an association of horses similar to the one that had already been organized in Santa Clara County. One might say that the San Mateo County Horsemen’s Association was born that evening. However, it wasn’t until the following year that the association began officially with the election of officers. The first meeting was held in the City Hall of San Mateo with a membership roster of 20 to 25. The first directors were drawn from these first charter members and were: L.C. Smith, John Perata, George Johnson, Don O’Neil Sr., Don O’Neil Jr., Creed Haberlin, Patsy Gray, Rolla Watt, Mrs. J. Grepe, Pete Villa, Hack Hara, Harry Tyrell, Lillian Jones, Grace Jones, Colonel Koester, Judge McNutt, Nick Ayers, Brad Melvin, John F. Nyland, Myron Duncan, Lucille Fardon, Roy Waldron, Harold Himmeleman and El Spillane. Eventually thirty-five directors were elected – some serving one year, two year and three year terms. By-laws were drawn up and officers were later appointed.

Nine busy years passed from 1948 through 1957 and the SMCHA grew in numbers, gained in community service and status.

Riding became more and more popular. Trails were developed through Huddart Park, the Emerald Lake area of Redwood City up toward the skyline open spaces over the Stanford lands behind Menlo Park and through Portola Valley. Horsemen spent many happy hours with congenial friends riding the trails, training their horses for the shows, playdays and endurance rides. Those who were lucky could maintain their horses on their home lands building nice barns and corrals, and some could even manage a bit of green pasture. The serenity and peace of mind that so often accompanies living close to nature helped good friendships ripen. The Juniors were very active with their own group within the organization. The horse-oriented activities brought them shared interests and fostered their natural love of animals, horses and dogs in particular. The living scenes were truly rural with few, if any, sub-divisions, congested traffic and living; the hillsides and valleys were charming in their old-world look of white fences, barns and livestock grazing at breathing intervals, of course, for both man and beast. This was a truly gracious living.

San Mateo County Horsemen’s Association
San Mateo County Horsemen’s Association
San Mateo County Horsemen’s Association

Source: Some images, text and videos are the property and copyright of San Mateo County Horsemen’s Association.

*We only accept Car donations from California.