Sheriff's Activity League

Lessons and trail ride for youth with SAL


The Mounted Patrol Foundation is working with the Sheriff's Activity League to sponsor horse riding activities at Wunderlich Park.  Chaparral Ranch is located at Wunderlich Park, and has a number of good trail horses and qualified wranglers that support the program.  As currently designed, a "session" consists of two days, with a one hour activity each day.  The first day is 1/2 hour of introduction to grooming and saddling a horse, followed by a 1/2 hour training ride in the arena to teach the basics of horsemanship.  The second day is a 1 hour trail ride in the beautiful trails of Wunderlich Park.   We are also trying a two hour session on a single day.  Each "session" will have 4-6 youth, an adult supervisor and two wranglers.   The approximate cost of a session is $720.


We want to thank the following for their generous donations to support this program.

Please consider to donating to support this program


Click here to donate to this worthwhile program


Woodside Horse Owners Association

raises funds to support recreational, environmental and educational programs and projects of SMC Parks.

San Mateo County Parks Foundation

raises funds to support recreational, environmental and educational programs and projects of SMC Parks.

Bay Area Barns and Trails

assists with the preservation of publicly accessible barns, stables, pastures horse camps and trails. The have recently expanded to provide activities for children related to this mission.



SAL was founded in 1997 by former Sheriff Don Horsley with the purpose of strengthening relationships between youth, deputies, and communities to aid in the intervention and prevention of juvenile delinquency in San Mateo County through positive, dynamic programs. Today, under the leadership of Sheriff Carlos Bolanos, the SAL program continues to thrive and is serving over 11,000 youth per year in programs, presentations and special events throughout San Mateo County.  More information on SAL at


Link to Sheriffs Activity League website


The first session was on Dec 20/21, 2021 and had six youth participate. They all had a great time learning about horses and riding the trail in the beautiful forest. The second session was a two hour session on Feb 25, 2022 and again the youths had a great time.  The third session was March 30, 2022.   The fourth session was June 9, 2022.  See pictures and read their reactions below:


Session #4 - June 9, 2022 - Two hour session on the same day.

Riding in the arena



Monica - Thank you for giving us the opportunity to go horseback riding!! This is definitely one my most memorable experiences. I got to meet sparkle who was a wonderful horse. When we first got there, I was nervous but after being introduced to sparkle and spending time with her, I felt a lot calmer and more comfortable. I learned that when riding a horse, you need to hold the reins with one hand while your other hand is on the horn of the saddle. I also learned that to get your horse to walk you need to move the reins forward and if that does not work your need to squeeze them lightly with the calves of your legs. For the horse to turn or walk to the left you need to move the reins forward and move them to the left and for the horse to turn or walk to the right you need to move the reins forward and move them to the right. And for the horse stop you need to move the reins towards your stomach. After being taught how to direct our horse, we went on a trail. I personally think that was the highlight of my day because I got to spend time with sparkle and enjoy the beautiful view of Redwood City that could be seen from the trail. Once again, I would like to thank you for the amazing opportunity you have given me. This experience is one I will never forget, and I would highly recommend horseback riding to everyone.
Melissa  -Thank you for a great experience. What an experience it is to ride a horse on my own with the help of the friendly staff. My horse's name was Warlock. Warlock was very gentle, and, with the help of the staff, I was able to overcome my anxiety of not being able to get along with the horse. It was so cool that I my friends and I got to experience this. I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to all who made this happen. It will be something that I will never forget.
Ruben  - Thank you so much for the horseback riding, it was fun to ride a horse. My favorite part of this experience was going on the trail. It was really calming and was fun. The horse I was riding was called Sunday. The Horses and staff were all friendly. My favorite part was the trail ride. I will definitely ride a horse again if given the opportunity. Thank you to all who made this happen. I really do appreciate this opportunity
Emely - Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to ride horses. Most of us, including myself, have not gone on a horse, so for us this was an exciting chance to get on a horse. I want to thank you for letting me meet my horse Lucie, who was a wonderful partner for this occasion. Lucie gave me such an amazing experience. The most fun for me was the trail, I got to ride Lucie for an hour. It was nice and refreshing to go through the trail. Once again thank you so much.
Victoria  - I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to have been able to ride a horse. This was the first time I had ever ridden a horse. I got to ride Angel which was a nice light brown beautiful horse. One of my favorite parts from this experience was when I got to go on the trail. I really hope other youth can have the chance to have this same experience because it may be something new to them. Again, I really appreciate getting this opportunity because I learned many new things such as how to control a horse and how to calm them down.
Melissa  - Hello! My name is Melisa. Thank you so much for this fun and exciting opportunity of horseback riding. This opportunity taught me a new skill of riding a horse. Personally, today was my first time riding a horse. I happily learned how to steer the horse. I rode Ernie and it was an amazing experience. Ernie was an amazing horse. Riding Ernie made me feel engaged and joyful. My favorite part was the trail because I enjoyed riding the horse up the mountains. I appreciate having this fun experience. I know that if this opportunity wasn't given to me, I would of never have gotten to ride a horse in my life. Thank you so much!


Session #3 - Mar 30, 2022 - Two hour session on the same day.

Lining up in the Arena after learning the basics


Watch a video of the session




Alondra - This experience was so fun! Thank you so much for allowing us to be able to spend the day learning about the horses. Growing up, I had always been fond of horses so having the opportunity to ride one is a dream come true. I learned how to properly groom horses and also the different brushes to use. Additionally, I was able to learn how to ride and control the horses using the reins. The staff helping us were so nice and patient. My horses' name was Lucie and she was a very friendly horse. I thought it was funny how she would always want to be close to the other horses. Fortunately, Lucie was very cooperative which was relieving since it was my first time riding a horse. Overall, it was a very fun experience and I appreciate the opportunity. - Alondra
Diana  - I finally got to cross "riding a horse on my own" off my bucket list. I was nervous at first but through the guidance of trained workers, I felt safe and comfortable as soon as I met my horse, Ernie. I learned how to properly brush Ernie's mane and body with difference hair brushes. I also learned what the movement of their ears meant and how to recognize when your horse feels comfortable with you. If their ears are relaxed and listening forward, your doing everything right. I learned how to "drive" so that when we went on the trail, we were all aligned. By simply holding the reins and saying "whoa", Ernie recognized we were getting a bit too close to other riders. Riding Ernie under the trees, getting to viewpoints of Redwood City hearing the birds, and the trees rustle from the wind was not only peaceful but was so incredible. I recommend going because not only do you get to learn and experience riding horses for the first time, you experience an amazing opportunity. You make a new friends with the horses like I did with Ernie. I was excited before actually riding and was left astonished afterwards. I can now say that I have ridden a horse on my own and completed one of my bucket list items. - Diana
Evelyn  - Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to ride a horse for the first time. I learned a lot of new things about those beautiful horses and it was just such an amazing experience being there. I rejuvenated me and made my inner child very happy. I never to experience these things when I was younger so I'm just overall grateful for the experience. Its for sure a core memory that I'll remember forever. The trail ride was definitely my favorite part. - Evelyn
Mia - Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity and privilege to ride a horse. It was so nice interacting with all of the horses and the workers. They were all so patient. I got to ride Annie and Blondie. They were both such nice and beautiful horses. Annie was a light brown horse. I really loved this experience riding a horse so again, thank you so much. - Mia
Emily  - Thank you so much for the beautiful opportunity you gave us. I had an amazing time learning how to ride and groom a horse. My favorite part of the experience that I will never forget was when we went on the trail with the horses. It was so peaceful and relaxing. I really hope other youth get a change to have this experience too. - Emily
George - Thank you so much for allowing me to be able to go to this amazing opportunity. This was my first time riding a horse and I had a lot of fun. Being able to ride a horse in the woods and being taught different things about the horse was really exciting and I won't forget it. I learned how to brush, put on a saddle, and how to ride a horse. My favorite part was when we did the hour-long ride because I was able ride a horse in the woods. Thank you so much for this opportunity and I hope other kids are able to have the experience to ride a horse and have as much fun as I did. - George


Session #2 - Feb 25, 2022 - Two hour session on the same day.

Lining up in the Arena after learning the basics




Thank you so much for allowing my peers and I to have the unique experience of horseback riding. It was such an amazing experience that was really fun. I had a great time. I really loved learning how to ride and meeting some of the beautiful horses. I especially enjoyed meeting my horse named "Lady". My favorite part was being able to go on the trail and learning to groom the horse. I remember how good the horse looked after grooming. This was definitely something that I can cross off my bucket list thanks to you. - Genesis
Thank you so much for this beautiful and amazing opportunity. I had so much fun. My favorite part was when we rode on the trail. My horse "Angel" was such an angel. Angel was sweet, gentle, and fast. I never thought I would be able to ride a horse through the woods. I also enjoyed learning how to put a saddle on a horse. I didn't realize how much time went into to taking car of a horse. I truly am thankful for the opportunity. It was definitely a "once in a lifetime" experience. - Camilia
I really enjoyed this opportunity. It was a very fun and amazing experience. I learned what it takes to care for a horse and was able to even ride a horse! This was my first time riding a horse so it was very special. I never thought that I would be able to ride a horse through the woods. I learned that my horse, Shasta, was best friends with one of the other horses because they would stay close to each other. Seeing how gentle and friendly these horses are was very interesting. Thank you for this experience! -Ashlee
Thank you for the wonderful experience to ride horses. I was happy and could see that my friends who were riding that day were happy as well. I really liked my horse because it kept rubbing its head on the side of my leg. I hope other kids who get this opportunity to ride have as much fun as I did. -Perla
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to ride a horse. I really liked learning different ways to take care of the horses and how to ride. The nice walk through the woods was my favorite. My sister who was in the first session could not stop talking about how much fun she had. I was jealous at the time but happy that I got the opportunity to ride as well.-Desire
To say my thanks for this favorable moment, is an understatement: I am so grateful that my peers and I were able to have this opportunity thanks to your generosity. I have felt new measures of happiness through this experience. my horse Angel was powerful and nice beyond belief. Once more, this was all made possible by your kindness, for which I am truly appreciative. - Gisell




Session #1 - Dec 20, 2021 - Day 1- Lining up in the Arena after a lesson in horse grooming, saddling and riding.




Dec 21, 2021 - Day 2- Riding the Alambique Trail in Wunderlich Park



Notes from the youth that rode


I'm very happy I got to opportunity to experience to be around horses. I never knew how much care horses required. I also learned a lot of facts like the difference in English and Western Saddle and the different brushes for grooming. I also liked learning how to control the horse by using the rope. One thing that I found very surprising is that horses can't vomit! The crew that was helping us were very nice and patient. Being able to go on the trail with the horses was a very fun experience and the views were amazing. Being able to be a part of this experience was very fun and memorable. P.S. My horse's name was Shasta -Mariana
For starters I want to give a huge thank you for providing me with the opportunity to have an amazing time. I enjoyed every aspect of my experience from learning how to treat and car for horses to the peaceful trail ride. There was never a dull moment. I was able to build a connection with my horse. I had an amazing time and would definitely do it again if I get the chance. Once again, I truly appreciate the work and effort put in for me to have a good time.-Destiny
I've rode horses before but I never had the chance to ride on my own until today. At first when they told us we were going to ride on a trail I was really nervous but once we got on the trail, I started to get comfortable. I learned that horses aren't able to throw up which was pretty interesting. I would honestly rather ride a horse to get around than to be stuck in a car. If I were to have the opportunity to come back, I definitely would because I had a lot of fun. I would love to learn more about horses in the future. I'm very grateful for this opportunity and wish many other kids can have this experience as well. - Kassandra
I am very happy I got the opportunity to experience how to take care of a horse and learn the difference between an English and Western Saddle. My favorite part about this experience was the trail ride. It was so relaxing and you really got to learn how to control your horse. Another thing I really enjoyed was just getting to know my horse. My horse "Annie" was a lot like me and that's what I loved about this experience. Annie loves to talk and is a little clumsy like me. Overall, I would like to thank everyone who made this opportunity happen for us. -Ariana
This experience was wonderful once in a lifetime experience and I really appreciate everyone who made this possible. I really enjoyed learning how to ride a horse and how to take care of a horse. Thank you for an experience I will never forget.-Alex
It was very fun to be able to learn about horses. I have never been around horses so I didn't realize how much actually goes into taking care of horses. My favorite part was learning how to mount and steer the horses around the cones. Thank you for the opportunity. It was really fun. -Samantha


Background and goals of the Sheriff's Activity League


The goal of SAL is to guide the youth of San Mateo County towards their full potential through impactful programs, which foster relationships between deputies and their community.

Building the Bond between Deputies and Youth


All of the SAL programs have the overarching goal to build the bond between deputies, youth and their communities to foster positive interactions between law enforcement officers, youth and communities to build mutual trust, respect and relationships.


Health and Wellness


Our health and wellness programs, which include our sports and recreation programs as well as SAL Healthy Youth, combine education and hands-on activities to provide participants with opportunities to gain practical knowledge, skills and experiences that encourage healthy lifestyle habits with the goal of reducing juvenile diabetes and other related diseases.


Leadership Development and Mentoring

Our leadership and character development programs include our Teen Leadership Council, Empowering Young Women, Mentoring, and Early Stage Intervention and Diversion programs. These programs are aimed at building fundamental life skills, increasing self-confidence, teaching teen's leadership skills, and empowering youth to make a positive impact in their community and school.

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