In the beginning, Horses were first bred and raised on land now known as the Sacramento Horsemen's Association in the eighteenth century - the SHA land was then part of a large Mexican land grant known as Rancho del Paso ("Ranch at the Pass"), so named due to the road leading to the Emigrant Gap in the Sierra Nevada mountains, which crossed the land grant diagonally.
The 44,000 acre grant was bound by the American River on the south, what is now Manzanita/Fair Oaks Boulevard on the east, U Street of Rio Linda on the north, and Northgate Boulevard on the west. Eventually, Mexican Governor Manuel Micheltorrena granted Rancho del Paso to Ehab Grimes in 1844. The ownership of the land transferred a few more times before it came into the possession of a Mr. Samuel Norris.
James Ben Ali Haggin was born in Kentucky in 1822. His exotic name came from his mother's father, a Christian Turk. Lloyd Tevis was born in Kentucky in 1824, and came to California with the early Gold Rush. In 1850, J.B. Haggin came to California with his wife. Her sister met and married Lloyd Tevis. (The wives of Tevis and Haggin were the Sanders sisters). Haggin and Tevis opened a law practice together and accumulated a fortune - not so much by practicing law, but mostly through banking and real estate, notably by lending money at healthy interest rates on land claims.
In 1859, Samuel Norris borrowed money from Haggin and Tevis, secured by a mortgage loan of $65,000.00 on the Rancho del Paso property at 2% interest. Norris got behind in his payments, the interest mounted, and in 1860 Tevis sued Norris to foreclose the mortgage. James Ben Ali Haggin and Lloyd Tevis thusly acquired Rancho del Paso.
Tevis lived on the ranch, and for the first several years had power of attorney over Haggin's interests in the property while Haggin lived in Europe and New York. In the 1880's, Haggin began a race horse breeding operation at the ranch. Within 10 years, his ranch produced several famous winners, notably, Waterboy, Africander, Yellow Tail and Irish Lad. There were 24 stables with 64 stalls each. In its heyday, the rancho was home to some 600 horses. Altogether, 17 annual sales of Del Paso stock were held in New York. Horses were shipped out from the ranch on the nearby railroad. It was not unusual for a Haggin yearling to fetch $ 10,000.00 - the highest price ever paid for one of Haggin's yearlings was $ 38,000.00.
Mr. Tevis died suddenly in 1899. The Haggin Ranch sold in 1910 to the Sacramento Valley Colonization Company, which intended to subdivide the land. The city of Sacramento acquired part of the property, and in 1932 the upper/west end of the Haggin Oaks Golf Course was built.
Numerous riding clubs sprang up throughout California through the 1930's and 1940's. In 1941, Santa Clara County Horsemen's Association hosted a meeting in San Jose for representatives of all the state's riding clubs and associations to propose the formation of a state federation of horsemen's associations. Dr. Walter W. Cress of Sacramento attended the meeting. and was inspired to instigate forming a horsemen's association in Sacramento County. He, along with W.C. Anderson, president of the Bank of Galt, drafted a list of interested horsemen in Sacramento and proposed an association organizational meeting. The Sacramento Sheriff's Posse had been formed in 1937 and in 1941 was instrumental in the creation of the Sacramento County Horsemen's Association (SCHA).
The first formation meeting of the Sacramento County Horsemen's Association (SCHA) was held January 19, 1942 at Clunie Clubhouse with Judge James McDonnell presiding. Nearly 200 equestrians attended. The organization was confirmed and officers elected. The first president was LeRoy J. Miller. By July of 1942, the club had more than 500 on the roster, and by 1945 there were about 700. The association continued to meet at Clunie Clubhouse, the Coca Cola Bottling plant, and various places around town.
Members rode their horses on trails in William Land Park and Del Paso Park, among other places. In September 1946, SCHA obtained a 20-year lease from the city for a clubhouse and arena in the Del Paso area. The arena was built most likely in the eastern area of what is today Haggin Oaks Golf Club. The facility was kept active with numerous horse shows and events. For the clubhouse, SCHA purchased a building from Camp Beale and moved it to a new location on Auburn Boulevard near Fulton in August 1949. The first regular and executive meetings were held there the next month.
By 1956, the Haggin Oaks Golf Club wanted to expand its course to the southeast, which would intrude on the horsemen's activities. SCHA was asked to move its clubhouse by the end of 1957. After much research and analysis of potential sites for more than another year, a new clubhouse and arena was built in 1959 at the present location. A grand opening was held for the clubhouse November 14, 1959. Five nominations were put forth for the building's name, which was finally dubbed the "Saddle Oaks Clubhouse." A new arena was built with a grandstand, and the SCHA was vibrant again with numerous horse shows and affiliated riding clubs' activities. The arena was called Phillips Field, named for James Phillips, who had been chairman of SCHA's 1946 legislative committee and 1959 building committee. By then, folks were referring to SCHA as simply SHA.
In 196 l , Dr. Roger Daniels instigated the building of the current barn. After more than a year of garnering funds and sorting out building plans, construction began in April of 1962. In July, it was reported that all but 10 stalls bad been rented at $40 a month. By 1963, a trailer for a caretaker was added where the Memorial Building now stands, and the trees along Longview Drive and along the entrance driveway were planted. In the 1970's, the small arena was added, and the trees were planted around it in 1985.
As other riding clubs and stables have given way to suburban development, the Sacramento Horsemen's Association (SHA) remains an anchor to the area's still-thriving equestrian sport institution.
2017 was the Diamond Jubilee year for SHA. We celebrated our 75th year with a grand party on Sunday, October 1, 2017 at the SHA Park. (Further details on the Diamond Jubilee page).
In late 2017, our Association Membership voted to dissolve the SHA 501c4 and transfer all assets to the FSHA (Foundation of Sacramento Horsemen's Association), thereby becoming a 501c3 non-profit entity, thus making all donations to FSHA tax-deductible.
You can call us "Sac Horsemen's", "SHA" or "FSHA". We invite you to join us in building a bright future for the last public Equestrian Park in Sacramento County.