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SYVPC Club History 

The Santa Ynez Valley Pony Club Story Santa Ynez Valley Pony Club was founded over 45 years ago by the suggestion of Betsy Raine, mother of international dressage rider Kathleen Raine. It was there that our club began with Norma Shepherd and Heather Sorenson. SYVPC met briefly at alternate locations, but by the second year, we had moved our operations to Shepherd Ranch. With nine children of her own, Norma could never tire of helping children achieve their dreams of learning to care for and ride horses. Having been raised by “non-horsey” parents, she had learned to ride through the graces of a generous horse owner. Norma wanted to pass this opportunity on to others. She graciously opened up her home and ranch to The Santa Ynez Valley Pony Club. After many years Norma handed down the Pony Club to her daughter Bunnie Sexton, where SYVPC grew into what it is today.


As our first members hit college, we were offered their horses as donations and gladly accepted since Shepherd Family horses were being loaned out to members and still many more children wanted to join. This blossomed into our leased horse program, a way that children without the financial resources to purchase a horse could be involved in pony club and eventing, and a way to allow members who had outgrown their horses or whose horses had become injured to continue riding. Bunnie recalls an important turning point for the club, “I distinctly remember at Championships in Utah, relating to another club that I felt passionate about the concept of having horses to teach all levels of children, but that I heard the National office was a bit concerned about the liability. I was just finishing my sentence when a woman at the fence turned to me and said...Well, I am Cindy Piper, President of the Pony Club and I love what you have done. So after having a long discussion, she asked me to write to her about how we managed our club and its horses. I did and to my surprise, it was added as a chapter in the National Pony Club Policies.”

SYVPC continued to grow at Shepherd Ranch and it was an amazing experience to see the club blossom and to witness the development of one of the most extensive facilities available, all due to Pony Club Families’ hard work over the years.


In 2020 we moved from Shepherd Ranch to Etcetera Farms run by Caitlin Davison of CD Eventing. We will be eternally grateful for Norma Shepherd and Heather Sorenson’s vision and the Sexton Family for hosting SYVPC for many years. We look forward to what the future has in store for horse loving kids in the Santa Ynez Valley and surrounding communities.

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