Horses trotting through arenas in the hot sun in clear skies brought to mind the Chino Hills of yesterday, when horses were more common than houses, during last Friday’s celebration at the McCoy Equestrian Center on Peyton Drive.
The event honored the late Helen McCoy on what would have been her 110th birthday and celebrated her donation of 20 acres of land to the city.
McCoy Trust member Bill Hughes, a longtime friend of Helen and Frank McCoy, received a check for $ 1 in a frame with a nostalgic photo and an inscription from Mayor Brian Johsz for the purchase of the property after his 25-year lease.
A good-sized audience, refreshed by a light breeze and shady trees, were mesmerized by Mr. Hughes’ memories of working for Frank McCoy at Arab horse shows and helping him raise mares.
The McCoys moved to Chino Hills in 1963 to continue to breed and breed their award-winning Arabian horses.
The Peyton Drive / English Road area contained more Arabian horses than some states.
The couple traveled to Morocco, Cairo, Japan, New Zealand and Australia with the World Arabian Association.
Mr. Hughes met the McCoys in the 1960s and lived close enough to walk to their ranch when help was needed.
“I spent a lot of time at Friendly Frank’s Tavern,” he says. “It was very funny. It was another time.
He said Frank McCoy has more stories than anyone else and that if he doesn’t, he will make one up.
When the McCoy facility was under construction, Ms. McCoy continued to live in her home and enjoyed riding around in her golf cart.
When the barn was converted into a community center and celebrations took place, she loved people watching.
“She loved parties,” said Mr. Hughes. “She just came by to see people. They were all his people.
She lived in her original home until her death in 2003 at the age of 96.
Mr. Hughes said he was very impressed with what the city has done with the McCoy Equestrian Center.
“She would be really excited to see what’s going on here,” he said.
Ms. McCoy supplemented her land donation with a $ 2.3 million contribution overseen by the McCoy Trust.
The funds were used to convert the barn into a community center, add a third arena, permanent washrooms, a new storage shed, and more.
During the 25-year lease, the city contributed $ 2.4 million for facility upgrades, Mayor Johsz said.
He said the board is committed to preserving McCoy’s equestrian heritage for many years to come.
Councilor Peter Rogers spoke of saving the wish of the late Mayor Mike Wickman who, when appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission in 1998, asked him to oversee the development of the facility.
Mr Rogers attended the equestrian committee meetings alongside Mr Hughes, Ms McCoy and administrator Denny Gunnels who were unable to make it to the celebration.
He said he’s committed to bringing more equestrian uses to the center, which will be a slow but steady process.
Mr. Rogers thanked former McCoy coordinator and equestrian expert Jana Dale, who was in attendance, for her work in putting on shows at the center.
She has advised the city on changing trends and how to reach the right types of horse groups, as many of the groups that once hosted the shows no longer exist.
After the ceremony, residents toured the horses and toured the barn and the McCoy Residence to view trophies, photographs and memorabilia.
Long lines formed to receive soft serve ice cream donated by the Chino Valley Lions Club to honor Ms. McCoy’s love of hosting ice cream parties.