Westwind Community Barn is located on Altamont Road in Los Altos Hills. The original barn dates back to the 1940’s, when Frank Ellithorpe built the first six stalls and raised Morgan and Arabian horses. In 1965, Robert D. Clement bought the barn and added seventeen stalls, a tack room and a sand arena. The Countess Margit Bessenjey purchased the property in 1971 as an extension to her Montana stud farm where she raised Hungarian thoroughbreds. The countess, whose late husband was the Hungarian ambassador to the United States, met the well-know horse woman, Linda Tellington Jones at the Pacific Coast Research Farm at Badger, California. She was successful in bringing Linda and her husband Birch, back to Los Altos Hills to manage her program for the Hungarian horses. Under Linda’s supervision the Pacific Coast School of Horsemanship was formed and became nationally recognized, drawing students from all over the country and Europe. The countess added a third wing to the barn and other elegant touches which included the ornate double oak door entry and the elaborate spiral stairway. A full sized dressage ring was built and a difficult cross country course was added to the growing complex. In 1975 the Town of Los Altos Hills acquired a portion of the property for $25,000 and the Countess Bessenyey made a gift to the town of the remaining 13 /12 acres and the 24,000 sq. ft. “U” shaped barn. The donation was planned to complement the earlier donation of 55 acres by Dr. Albert Byrne which became known as Byrne Preserve. After more than a year of inquiry over the best use of the barn, the town Council approved the proposal presented by the “Friends of Westwind” to lease the barn as a cooperative stabling facility, leading to the formation in May of 1977 of Friends of Westwind, Inc. In October of 1978, a therapeutic horse riding program for physically handicapped children was established. Under the supervision of Jim Forderer, the Westwind 4-H Riding for the Handicapped began operating with classes offered on both Monday and Thursday afternoons. Over 500 children with physical handicaps have been served since the inception of the riding program. Thousands of volunteers have given countless hours, many of these high school students fulfilling community service requirements. The establishment of the riding program was created in response to the Town Council’s wishes in 1977 that the Westwind Community Barn serve “the broader community.” Westwind Community Barn is also home to the Pacific Ridge Chapter of the United States Pony Club. Many of the youngsters who live in Los Altos Hills have been given the opportunity through the pony club to learn good horsemanship, team skills and leadership. This rigorous program is widely acclaimed and as a national organization has spawned many of the members of the US Olympic Equestrian Team. In 2000 a Town of Los Altos Hills Recreation Program was established with its center at Westwind Community Barn. The summer recreation programs include horse camps, Ohlone day camps, and additional activities at Westwind. As the horse program is attracting increasing numbers of children each year, the Recreation Committee is exploring the possibility of a year-round riding program for the children of town residents at Westwind Barn. Westwind Community Barn together with neighboring Byrne Preserve open space offers the community a welcome refuge from the hectic pressures of Silicon Valley—be they strollers, serious hikers, joggers, or merely those seeking a moment of solitude in a pastoral setting.
A real barn experience, this program focuses on responsible, considerate care of horses.