California Riding Magazine • October, 2008

An Opening In Horsey Haven
Training spaces available at
Rancho de Felicidad in Chino Hills.

There’s an attractive new stable in the Chino Hills “neigh-borhood”: Rancho de Felicidad. Tan barns with crisp burgundy shutters house a variety of horses at this efficiently-designed facility, with tall pines, shaded benches and thoughtful amenities to add comfort and safety for horse and human guests everywhere you look. It’s a bustling horse scene that’s complete except for one barn that waits for a new trainer in this unique equestrian community.

Rancho de Felicidad, as the name implies, is a ranch of happiness. Ranch owner Suzanne Vlietstra says, “Our ‘horse parents’ come here for the best part of their day, their escape from whatever pressures they face in real life. We’ve created an atmosphere where you can just relax, ride and unwind without stable politics, whether you’re boarding your trail horse or training for shows. It’s a sanctuary of sorts, without the drama often found at big commercial facilities,” she explains.

A long-time equestrian, Suzanne and her family purchased the tree-shaded property two years ago and immediately began renovations. “When I was a kid, my mom and I would drive down English Road and admire the farms … but we always liked this place the best. I’ve been dreaming about living here since I was 12 years old,” she says, then adds with a smile: “Be careful what you wish for!”

Every part of the 50-horse ranch has been refreshed and improved, from new, enlarged arenas with Triple Crown footing to fly systems in all barns, fresh landscaping and additional tack and grooming areas. Barns were refurbished, energy-efficient lighting installed, hot-water wash racks constructed and automatic irrigation for riding areas installed. Saddle and bridle racks were designed and built, and over 500 railroad ties installed for terracing, arenas and landscape planters. “And we used more than 200 gallons of paint!” Suzanne adds.

The neat facility is thoughtfully arranged on five acres, and visitors often exclaim, “It’s so clean!” Little comforts, like thick stall mats in every stall and pen and a bottled water cooler for riders, add up to a boarding experience that’s a comfort to horses and their owners. “We live here. This is our home, too, so we want to keep things tidy and attractive and functional,” Suzanne says. “I’ve kept horses at home and boarded in four states, and I know how annoying it is to find there’s no toilet paper in the bathroom, or to use turn-outs that are never cleaned. We’ve learned from my lifetime of horsin’ around.”

Rancho de Felicidad is located in Chino Hills’ English Road area, a hidden horse haven with a dozen small farms with world and national champion trainers working from them. For shows, the McCoy Equestrian Center is close enough to be seen while jumping an oxer at Rancho de Felicidad, and it offers nearly 40 schooling events a year for western and english riders. Chino Valley Equine, Southern California’s premier horse hospital, is in the midst of the valley’s more than 500 equine residents. Thirty-six miles of city-maintained trails stretch away from the valley, with seasonal streams, grazing cattle and enormous hawks in attendance. This horse lover’s paradise is less than 35 miles from downtown Los Angeles, and just 20 miles from Disneyland.

Training Barn Open

Rancho de Felicidad has one barn available for a reputable trainer that desires a clean, safe, quiet and professional facility for their existing business. The Courtyard Barn has a grass center with a bubbling fountain, large tack room, cross ties and a trainer’s office, and both 12’ x 12’ and 12’ x 16’ box stalls with front and back grill windows. With a dressage court and large jumping arena, complete with four courses of jumps, the facility would suit an english trainer especially well. Arena space is shared with only one other trainer, and turn-out and blanketing services are available.

Rancho de Felicidad is offering a $1,000 cash referral fee for the right trainer-tenant. “Someone out there, a veterinarian, farrier or other equine professional, knows a trainer that is looking for a great place to run their business. Word of mouth is what makes the horse business work, and I want to reward those who suggest us to others,” Suzanne explains when discussing the $1,000 referral payment. “We’re looking for an established trainer who wants to concentrate on their business while we take care of the horsekeeping details.”

For more information on Rancho de Felicidad, please visit their website at, or call 951-316-0063.