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By Jessica DiCostanzo

Meet the San Juan Capistrano Equestrian Coalition’s President, John Henry Berney. This longtime San Juan Capistrano resident has been advocating for the preservation of the equestrian lifestyle he grew up with so that future generations could enjoy the same pleasures. John serves as a liaison from the equestrian businesses to the Chamber of Commerce as a board member.  John also works to preserve local horse shows by serving on the board of Orange County Horse Show Association.

Berney’s equestrian roots in San Juan go back decades. As a young boy, he started riding Western and bareback at the old Smith Stables in Capistrano Beach. In the early 1970s, he transitioned to English at Coto de Caza and at the boarding stables run by his older sister in San Juan Capistrano.

San Juan Capistrano equestrian John Berney has a well-known love of horse riding and encourages others to get in touch with the Equestrian Coalition if they want to take up the activity. Photo: Courtesy of John Berney

Now, as a professional, he runs a hunter/jumper barn out of Rancho Sierra Vista Equestrian Center in San Juan Capistrano. Berney is grateful for how “horses have impacted him as a person and as a professional.”

He comments, “They’ve given me a career and my own business that I’ve built around my love of horses and the sport. Horses also have allowed me to further connect with the San Juan Capistrano community.”

His advice for getting started with the horses?

“For those interested in getting involved with horses, I suggest spectating at horse shows at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park and looking online at local programs and stables. Find a few trainers whose programs align with your goals and budget, then meet them in person and maybe take a few lessons. The social aspect can be just as important as riding instruction, so be sure to choose a barn that has other riders close in age and with similar goals as you. Another great way to get involved is to become a member of the San Juan Capistrano Equestrian Coalition to stay up to date on events and news in the community.”

He urges those who admire horses to “get involved and support equestrian advocacy groups, like the San Juan Capistrano Equestrian Coalition” and “attend the Parks, Equestrian, and Community Services Commission meetings and advocate at City Council meetings when there are equestrian-related agendas.”

Jessica DiCostanzo is a San Juan Capistrano Equestrian Coalition Board Member, lifelong equestrian, and co-founder of

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