Griffith Park Pony Rides officially closes after 74 years

Wednesday was the last day for the public to ride the 36 horses at the Griffith Park Pony Rides. 

The ponies were cared for by 17 staffers who now face finding new jobs. 

But, that wasn't really on the minds of children like Matthew Martinez and his mom Kassandra. 

Like so many others here they came to the park because this was the last day for the pony rides.

The pony rides at Griffith Park started 74 years ago - in 1948. 

Black and white pictures from the Los Angeles Public Library show children back then enjoying the horses.

For many this has been a public treasure. 

But, there was a backlash from animal rights activists and months of protests. 

They made claims of animal abuse and that led to this day.  On this day, they were worried about what would happen to the horses going forward. 

When we asked owner Steve Weeks he told FOX 11 his 36 horses are going to go to a combination of sanctuaries, rescue ranches, and individual horse owners. That aside, there were people that wanted one last day with the ponies. 

And, their thoughts? Their kids, their childhoods, their parents and their memories.

Richard Almeida came from Upland. He remembers riding the ponies in 1953. He and his wife brought their daughter and their grandchild.

Monique Herd told FOX 11 she remembers riding the ponies and keeps pictures of those days.

She recalls, "I’m 45, I know I was here when I was two so at least 43 years."

Zarina Navarro remembered her dad, Alex Leiva, bringing her here as a child. Now she brings her child. She says it's generational for her family. 

And, of the closing, she says, "It’s sad because it’s a family tradition."

Kassandra Martinez was emotional and teared up as she thought about the pony rides shutting down. 

She said, "It just hurts so much because my son won’t be able to experience it and my niece... she loves the horses so much. She gets so excited just to come here."

Now, Griffith Park Pony Rides is history.