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Club encourages members to saddle-up, ride

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Displaying one of his four horses, John Moren, the Vandenberg Saddle Club treasurer, stands with family members, Kelly Moren and Kelsey Moren-Callabresi at the Saddle Club here July 30. The Saddle Club is a members-only club for horse owners. The club features scenic trails for horse riding and 52 individual barns spread out over more than 37 acres of land. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Steve Bauer)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Displaying one of his four horses, John Moren, the Vandenberg Saddle Club treasurer, stands with family members, Kelly Moren and Kelsey Moren-Callabresi at the Saddle Club here July 30. The Saddle Club is a members-only club for horse owners. The club features scenic trails for horse riding and 52 individual barns spread out over more than 37 acres of land. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Steve Bauer)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Trotting along some of the most scenic trails on the Central Coast, a man and his horse can witness the sun setting over the Pacific blue or watch a herd of deer feeding along the thickets of the base's woodland.

Such horseback riders harvest these same freedoms as part of their membership in the Hoyt S. Vandenberg Saddle Club.

The Saddle Club is a membership-only club open to active duty and retired military personnel, Department of Defense civilians and contractors assigned to Vandenberg. The club has 52 barns in which the members can stable 96 horses.

"Regardless of a person's military rank, our members can pick from our available barns on a first-come, first-served basis," said Michelle Packham, the Vandenberg Saddle Club secretary. "We offer very competitive membership rates as compared to other similar clubs in Vandenberg's surrounding area."

The club itself occupies more than 37 acres of leased plains, quietly nestled on the outskirts of the base's property. Members enjoy the trails, made for both the novice and experienced riders, which extend for miles along lakesides, wooded areas, beaches and over the area's rolling hills.

"It doesn't matter what your day has been like, once you get on your horse and ride, all of the stresses of the world are gone," Ms. Packham said. "Riding becomes a soothing passion that links man with his horse."

Tending to horses brings about a passion that bonds the Saddle Club members together.

"We are very protective of our herd," Ms. Packham said. "Whenever we see people come out here who we don't recognize, we will strike up a conversation with them to make sure that they didn't come here to disturb the horses or infringe on others' property. I firmly believe in what we do out here."

The camaraderie and loyalty of the Saddle Club members date back many years. Some of the senior members are now tied to governing positions at the club.

"I have been a club member for more than 20 years," said John Moren, the Saddle Club treasurer. "It is a great place to be, for me and my four horses."

The club takes pride in being another conduit for members to build social connections and relationships with other people who have the same interest.

"Long lasting friendships are made here," Ms. Packham said. "I have gotten to know a lot of people from this organization. It is a meeting place for friends who share the same passions in life."

Those people interested in becoming a member of the Saddle Club or more information can call Michelle Packham at (805) 588-4843.