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By Marlene Holmquist

Intertwining my passions of interior design and horses is a unique and satisfying opportunity, and I appreciate every minute I get to do so. Design in general is fascinating, because no matter where you look, or what you look at, it was designed by someone. I last wrote about the topic of biophilia (the tendency to interact or be strongly associated with other forms of life in nature) and how it benefits our health and welfare through interior and exterior design. Horses are a unique portal to enhanced biophilia by exposing us to nature in an incredibly unique way. Whether we use them to work, ride them for pleasure, or watch them perform, horses have been a gift to humanity.

Our own Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park is a scenic place where we can enjoy nature with or without our horses. This 40-acre park in San Juan Capistrano was caringly designed for future generations, and it will continue to evolve according to community needs. It is our responsibility to pay attention and participate in honoring the intentions of those before us.

“For sure, the blessings of landownership come with important responsibilities, including a commitment to manage thoughtfully the land, a pledge to honor family, friends and community, as well as help meet the demands of a growing population, and a promise to always ‘make your handshake, your bond.’ ”—Anthony R. Moiso, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Rancho Mission Viejo

Located at the corner of Ortega Highway and Avenida La Pata, RMV Riding Park is a public park, and visitors are welcome. Known mostly for world-class horse jumping events, the community may be unaware that these horse shows at the park are always free to spectators. Thanks to the current managers, Robert and Hillary Ridland of The Ridland Group, the park has recently opened on Mondays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and occasionally on Saturdays) for ride-in or trailer-in horseback riding at no cost (weather permitting), with two arenas at your disposal. Check for current details.

I recently rode my horse Zeke to the park with several of my mounted friends. We enjoyed the spacious arenas and the addition of various obstacles, including barrels, vertical poles, and ground poles commonly enjoyed by Western riders like myself. Robert and Hillary also intend to accommodate Western riders with various Western events, shows and opportunities throughout the year. If there is something you would like to experience at the park, they welcome requests. As the United States Olympic Equestrian Team coach, Robert Ridland brings a unique asset to the future of the park and will continue to host world-class horse jumping shows. Community events, soccer, our yearly RMV Rodeo, music concerts, festivals, art shows, private parties and weddings are also planned.

Up until now, the RMV Riding Park has been managed through short-term contracts. Before the end of this year, either the Ridland Group (current managers) or Frontier Real Estate Investments (a local developer) will be awarded a 20-year contract to manage the park. Both proposals have an equestrian component and are posted on the SJC city website. You are encouraged to voice your opinion about the future of the park by attending city council meetings, contacting the city council members directly, writing letters, or attending Meet the Mayor lunches planned every Friday at rotating restaurants. Visit for more information.

Marlene Holmquist, ASID, owns Luxury Ranch Interior Design, a full-service interior design company specializing in remodels for residences and small businesses. An avid equestrian known as “The Cowgirl Designer,” she is a member of the San Juan Capistrano Equestrian Coalition and Las Vaqueras Women’s Riding Club. or

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