Horse community takes the reins to save Pompano Beach equestrian park from losing funding

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – The only equestrian facility in northeast Broward County is hidden in the heart of Pompano Beach, and while it may be small, it sure is mighty.

And when there was a possibility that the city was going to cut funding, the horse community took the reins to save their stables.

“Sand and Spurs is a little piece of paradise in the middle of Pompano Beach,” horse owner Kristin Rush said.

“It’s a gem in this city. Not every city has a horse farm,” former City Commissioner and Vice Mayor Charlotte Burrie said.

“Sand and Spurs is a hidden jewel and we’re in the middle of the city, and you can come in here and get totally recharged,” said Nancy Olson, a horse and stall owner, who is also on the Sand and Spurs Advisory Board.

Established in 1955, the 12-acre public park is adjacent to Pompano Air Park and the Goodyear blimp base.

They have 30 stalls and walkouts house horses, but these beauties do much more than provide smiles – they also save lives.

“It’s a therapy place for me, as well as the people I introduce the park to. I have lost my son and this is a piece of recovery for me to come to,” Olson said.

Olson has been coming to the equestrian park for the past two decades. And now, she shares the power of her little horse named Houdini with others.

“Horses are so therapeutic -- they have the ability to tap into your heartbeat and that’s why you feel so relaxed around a horse because they can sync to your heartbeat and it just brings total peace,” she said.

A peace that was nearly disrupted when Pompano Beach commissioners were trying to slash the city budget.

“I would be crushed. I would feel like someone just took my life support system away from me,” Toni Klemetsmo said.

Klemetsmo is one of the most outspoken advocates who fought for her salvation in the form of Sand and Spurs.

“This park and equine therapy and the horses saved my life,” she said.

Once suffering from major medical issues, Klemetsmo thanks therapy in the form of riding for her healing.

In fact, everyone here seems to have found their happy place.

“I come out here after work and this is my Zen calming area, because I get to spend it on this beautiful property and get to see my horse,” Rush said.

With beautiful South Florida quickly becoming a concrete jungle with construction absolutely everywhere, it’s so rare to have a park on the east side of town like this with animals that are bigger than you and me, but it’s not just the horses that live here either.

“It’s the horses, it’s their home, and it’s not just them -- it’s the owls, it’s the burrowing tortoises, it’s the birds -- they all have homes here too, and they’ve been here long before I was here,” Klemetsmo said.

“We have coyotes out here, we have raccoons, people bring their dogs, we have barn cats,” Rush added.

The circle of life among our local animals found living in harmony at this beautiful public park that lives on thanks to those that can’t live without it.

The city commission budget meeting will be coming up in the next month to confirm the cash needed to keep Sand and Spurs alive.

In the meantime, you should go check it out! It’s located at 1600 NE Fifth Ave. in Pompano Beach.

About the Author:

Jacey Birch anchors Local 10 News Mornings each weekday from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. She is also proud to be the animal advocate for Local 10's investigative team.