Serving equestrian community | February 8, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Community - February 8, 2012

Serving equestrian community

Susan Lang named 'Outstanding Horseperson-Citizen' for 2011.

by Dave Boyce

If the elegant century-old Folger Stable off Woodside Road in Wunderlich Park has champions, a notable one is Susan Lang.

The stable and its carriage room museum, once dusty and debilitated, are again well-appointed and glamorous after a nine-year, $3 million campaign, completed in 2010. Ms. Lang served as co-chair of the campaign.

An equestrian and Woodside resident, Ms. Lang has long involved herself with public-spirited and environmental nonprofit organizations, often involving equestrians and equestrian causes, according to the Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County.

In recognition of her efforts in Woodside and on the Peninsula, the Patrol has named Ms. Lang "Outstanding Horseperson-Citizen" for 2011.

The award honors men and women for community service, leadership in a profession or charity, and "outstanding" contributions to equestrian life — trails, facilities and horse-riding — in San Mateo County.

Ms. Lang is the 27th honoree, the fifth woman, and the second consecutive woman to receive this award, which was presented at a Jan. 21 ceremony during the Mounted Patrol's annual dinner at the Menlo Circus Club in Atherton.

Joys of riding

Ms. Lang, who is 68, grew up riding in San Rafael in Marin County, where she had a natural affiliation with horses: her father owned the Sleepy Hollow Stable in nearby San Anselmo.

"We would ride from stable to stable with our friends," she said in an interview. "We would ride all over the hills, and in those days, you could."

Woodside, she added, remains a bastion for extended rides.

Her horse, Hermes, is 26, half thoroughbred and half quarter horse, and was a polo horse before she acquired him 15 years ago. He is semi-retired and resides at a ranch on the Western side of Skyline Boulevard.

Ms. Lang said she loves all animals and enjoys their companionship, including that of her dog Keeper, who is 16 years old.

"I guess since I was a child, I always felt (riding) was a wonderful connection between a person and an animal," she said. "I just enjoyed being out in the country. There is a wonderful connection with other people who ride and with horses."

Using a line reputedly from Winston Churchill, she added: "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man."

Ms. Lang has a bachelor's degree in art from Scripps College in Los Angeles, a master's degree in art therapy from Lone Mountain College (now part of the University of San Francisco), and a master's degree in business with an emphasis on nonprofit management from Golden Gate University.

The Folger Stable renovation project "turned out to be a determined, well-organized project from start to finish, funded by almost 600 donors," said the Mounted Patrol in announcing their selection of Ms. Lang. "Without Susan and her associates' vision and direction, the project would not have succeeded in saving this 105 year-old structure."

Ms. Lang has lived in Woodside since 1991 with her husband Robert. The couple, who have two sons, founded the Friends of Huddart and Wunderlich Parks and the If Not Now When Fund, which has made grants to environmental causes such as the Committee for Green Foothills, the Marine Science Institute in Redwood City, and Hidden Villa in Los Altos Hills.

She has been active in the Woodside-area Horse Owners' Association (WHOA), the San Mateo County Horsemen's Association, and the National Center for Equine Facilitated Therapy, a Woodside riding facility serving the community of children and adults with special needs.

The Mounted Patrol, a men-only club begun in 1942, fills several roles at its 23-acre compound at Kings Mountain and Tripp roads in Woodside. It is a social club and a venue for rodeos and other Western equestrian activities. The club also has a search-and-rescue team on call when the territory to be searched is inaccessible to vehicles, as are parts of the dense woodland in and around Woodside.