Maria Martell is a people person. She's also a horse person. And with the help from the website meetup.com, she's discovered a way to combine both.
Last year, the Burbank resident was trying to find a horseback riding group she could join, and a friend told her about meetup.com, a website that allows people with common interests to keep in touch and arrange events.
Martell decided to start her own group.
Not only does it give those who used to ride a reason to get back on a horse, it also "gives city slickers a chance to feel what it's like to be a cowboy," she said.
Horseback Riding in Burbank, the name of her group, started out with a trot. Seven people who saw it on the website attended the first meeting in March with a ride through Griffith Park, and it's been picking up speed in the three successive events since then, she said.
Sunday's event drew 35 people, and 62 members are now on the list, Martell said.
"The fun thing about this is I just wanted to get out and ride, especially in a big city like Los Angeles," she said. "We have a lot of resources — the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, Chino, Palos Verdes and Malibu. I try to do it once a month. Why not start up a group and get out there? Get out for a ride!"
The group met at 9 a.m. Sunday for a picnic brunch at Diamond Bar Stables in Glendale where Martell boards her two horses, Shine and Voodoo. People socialized for an hour and then were helped onto their horses for a ride to Amir's Garden in Griffith Park. After the two-hour ride, members who had time met at Viva Fresh Mexican Restaurant for lunch.
Martell is known for planning fun things to do, said Barbara Lange of Studio City.
"She's also planned scuba diving excursions and organized salsa dancing nights," Lange said. "This is our first time joining the group, and I think we'll be out again."
Marcus and Samantha Zalewski drove all the way from Westchester to ride, they said. Marcus Zalewski works with Martell's husband, Eric, Samantha Zalewski said.
"I used to ride as a child in Northern California," Samantha Zalewski said. "When I moved here, there wasn't as much access to riding."
They were looking forward to getting out on a horse and enjoying nature again, she said.
"It's a fun ride. A good time," Samantha Zalewski said. "It reminds you there is so much beauty in the city and Griffith Park and Mulholland Drive, and when you're on the ride, you forget you're in the city."
The ride was a change of pace for the couple, Marcus Zalewski said.
"It's just another fun thing to do — not the same old, same old," he said.
The couple usually goes to the beach on Sundays to ride bikes and take their boxer, Sugar Rae, he said.
Cyndi Fischer of Temecula brought her 15-year-old daughter Lauren Fischer out for the ride.
"We regularly ride and came out today with a friend," Cyndi Fischer said. "We love riding, and it's good to go out and ride with people. It's a chance to enjoy one another."
What: Horseback Riding in Burbank
When: check the website http://www.meetup.com
Local stable: http://www.diamondbarstables.com