During the 1930s and 1940s, Onondarka was a small scale Los Angeles Equestrian Center with adult and youth riding groups, rental horses, horses for sale, barns, stalls, stables and several schooling rings, including a big rodeo sized ring. Onondarka became the site for big “Montrose Rodeos” in 1946 and 1948, showcasing the Western Days celebration with a week of parades, celebrities and silliness. In the rodeo, Montrose merchants were pitted against real cowboys in roping and riding. During this time, for kids being raised on the Westerns of Tom Mix and Roy Rodgers, Onondarka Riding School was a real-life link to the Old West.
The Onondarka Riding School holds a hint of the symbolic to its name. To the Native Americans, forms of nature have always been revered as symbols of great force and respected power. The sun and moon, the wind, plants and animals were all considered “friendly spirit” forms. In many cases, the Native Americans expressed their language in succinct words to describe the nature and force of how they viewed the world. In a single expression for “Stable on a hill” that word was Onondarka.
In 1947, Harry Simington originated his famous award winning Onondarka Drill Team, which has since set the standard of horsemanship. Onondarka officially become the Onondarka Riding Club in 1960. Since then, Onondarka has been taken over by Don Simington and has become the pinnacle riding academy and full service training program of horses & riders of all ages. Every member is proud to take the place of those who rode before them — an honored group of skilled horsemen and horsewomen who rode for the joy of riding and thrill of competing. Today, Onondarka Riding School sponsors the Onondarka Medal Class, allowing PCHA (Pacific Coast Horse Shows Association) members to compete. The Onondarka Riding School remains to be the foundation for anyone desiring to compete as an amateur or junior rider and later become a true horsemen, and is committed to upholding its benchmark traditions for years to come.
The Onondarka Riding School is now located at Rancho Polo in Thermal, CA and although it has changed in size and place, its spirit remains steadfast. Onondarka’s values and philosophy remain constant: responsibility, helpfulness, good sportsmanship, courage, the pursuit of excellence and always the understanding and enjoyment of horses.