THE BEGINNING (by Wm.D. Canfield 1990)
"In the spring of 1935, five horsemen from Redondo Beach and the surrounding area decided that they would organize as a group to participate in parades and other civic functions. These men adopted organizational colors of black and gold; in the space of a few weeks, the standard dress evolved as black and gold shirts, gold tie, Levis, black chaps trimmed in gold, black hats, and black equipment. The group began to participate in parades in the summer of 1936.
During the fifth parade, one of the horses slipped and fell in front of the reviewing stand. The rider and his horse were not hurt, but the horse came to his feet riderless. It was at that moment, as a result of a chance remark made in jest by one of the reviewing party, that this unnamed group of friends acquired the name "EMPTY SADDLE CLUB". The first two years passed in an otherwise uneventful way.
In 1937, the members numbered thirty-two.
In the late spring of 1937, the members rented a piece of ground in Redondo Beach known as "The Triangle". Concurrently, initiation fees were established at $1.00. In addition, dues were $1.00 per month for members owning a horse and $5.00 per month for members not owning an animal. With an established location for Club activities, the members began to expand the range of organized riding activities. One of the first interests of Club members, other than participating in parades and civic functions, was playing the game of broom polo, at which some of the members became very proficient.
The Club began to expand its membership and activities slowly at The Triangle until 1939. In the spring of that year, owners of The Triangle property announced their plans to build. The search for a new Club site began at once. Several months passed without success until a piece of property became available for rent at what is now 182nd Street and Hawthorne Boulevard, which was much larger than The Triangle property in Redondo. The rental fee was modest, and the Club moved to this new location shortly thereafter.
Broom polo continued as the horseback game of primary interest, while roping became more and more popular. This was a result of two Palos Verdes ranchers who owned cattle, Ray and Roy McCarrell, having joined the Club, as well as the expanded size of the facility making new activities possible. It was about this time that the Club adopted its Constitution and By-Laws. Several members were interested in finding a permanent location for the Club. Palos Verdes Peninsula land prices were low and the still-rural area seemed like a natural site for such a facility. The Peninsula has a long and varied history; its development was to become very significant to horsemen and to the Empty Saddle Club.
By 1940, the property located on the Peninsula now known as the Empty Saddle Club was purchased. The club purchased 12 ½ acres for $225 per acre. With financial help from one of the members, the club as able to make the purchase with an interest free loan and repaid the debt at $20 a month for 10 years.
At the time of purchase, the unnamed and unimproved road — now Empty Saddle Road — had been washed out. It was impassable to wheeled vehicles.
Cash was used to grade a crude road, and dues were increased to $5.00 a month to keep up with in increasing costs and payments for the new land acquisition.
By fall of 1941, the club had built a roping arena.
World War II hit the nation, but the club survived.
By 1948 and 1949, the club had 51 officers and members, and it had developed sufficiently to permit the club to hold its first and second RCA-approved rodeos. 1950 through 1970 was a time of major facility development for the club. The barns were constructed, and more arenas were built. Since then there has been a constant improvement to the facilities to accommodate the growing interests of various members."
To date we have approximately 90 members. Our activities now include team penning and sorting, cutting, team roping, trail riding, and some working cow horse. We now have three great arenas, two hot walkers and, of course, cattle to support the cattle activities.
Our social events include monthly TGIFs, our yearly Cowboy Days, roping and penning events, group weekend horse and rider trips, Christmas and New Year's parties, and much more.
We have monthly General Meetings with four dinner meetings throughout the year to keep the members informed.
Our Board of Directors meets monthly to keep the club running smoothly and to continually build a healthy, desirable club.