Hansen Dam Equestrian Center in Lake View Terrace will stop renting its 40 horses to the public today because it has been unable to obtain liability insurance, its operator said Monday.
The center’s future is uncertain because no private developer bid last month on a proposed city project to transform the run-down stables into a modern riding facility. Potential bidders said they also could not get liability insurance for unguided trail rides, a city Recreation and Parks Department spokeswoman said.
Hourly rental of horses is the most lucrative operation at the facility, accounting for about half of its revenue, center operator Charles Walls said. The center grossed $161,488 in 1984, according to a report by the City of Los Angeles.
Land Owned by Army
The facility is on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers in the Hansen Dam Flood Control Basin. The corps leases it to the city parks department, which contracts with a private concessionaire to operate and maintain the stables and riding center.
Walls said that he paid $16,000 last year for insurance that expires today and that he was unable to find a replacement carrier.
“I’m just going to keep operating without the rentals,” Walls said. “It’s going to cut the business in half, but the premiums were getting so high it almost wasn’t worth it anyway.”
The center will still be open for horse shows, hay rides and boarding of privately owned horses, he said.
Walls has been granted a permit to continue operating at the site for a year, according to Kathy Barnett of the parks department. “In this year we will have to analyze the situation before we can say what is going to happen to the site,” Barnett said.
City officials had hoped the center could be revamped to include training rings, a show area and improved stables.
Jay Taormina, president of Anaheim-based London American General, a large equine insurance agency, said insurance for unguided trail rides has been nearly eliminated across the county because the risk is too high. His company stopped insuring such “horse-for-hire” operations last year.
“It’s like insuring a dynamite factory when a match factory is next door,” Taormina said. “We were the largest writer of this type of insurance in the country. But by June, 1984, . . . for every dollar we took in, we were putting out $1,710.”
Walls said guided tours are not feasible because most customers want to ride on their own. He said he plans to sell the 40 horses.