The land that became Coral Springs was previously part of Bud Lyons’ 15,000 acre green bean farm south of Wiles Road, the biggest in the country. When he died in 1952, the family converted the business to ranching, raising 5,000 head of cattle. Horses were used to round them up, plus the occasional wild bull or stallion, and to ride along fencing, looking for breaches.
When they decided to sell the land, city developer Coral Ridge Properties bought 3,860 acres for $1,000,000 in 1962, eventually buying another 1,200 acres. It designed Coral Springs as ‘the city in the country.’ Advertisements marketed the area as a rural haven, with property available for ‘ranch-style living, including room for a pony.’
North of Wiles Road, Luther Remsberg ran a 3,000-acre cattle ranch. By 1971, he was unhappy with the ‘citification’ of the area and sold his property to Coral Ridge Properties for $9 million. Land value had increased from $260 per acre in 1962 to $3,000 per acre by 1971.
The Saddle Club of Coral Springs was across the street, between Coral Springs Drive and Coral Hills Drive, now the Running Brook subdivision. It had weekly meetings at 8 p.m. on Mondays in the Coral Ridge Properties Administration Building that is now our City Hall. There were monthly horse shows in the riding ring including dressage, rodeos and barrel races, attracting people from both Broward and Palm Beach counties to compete and watch.
As anticipated, the area known as The Hills included many families with horses. Numerous corrals were built on the one and a half acre lots. In 1965 one owner, Vice-Mayor Wilfred Neale (1970-1972) built an enclosure for the children’s horse Bucky, but it did not like the confinement and managed to escape.
For several hours, Mrs. Neale looked for it along a nearby dirt path between fields, bushes and trees, which when paved, became University Drive. She finally saw hoof prints and followed them to Bucky. The horse was calmly standing beside panther tracks.
Mayor James Edwards (1972-1974) had his own posse. In 1981, Edwards invited the city commission to attend the dedication ceremony of the recently installed bridle path signs. Sand pathways had been laid down for horse riders.
Following the nine markers, equestrians could ride along Coral Ridge Drive, east on Wiles Road and south along University to the Village Green on the northeast corner of University Drive and Sample Road, where they were known to stop for ice cream at the Golden Cone. Those signs were recreated by the Coral Springs Historical Advisory Committee in 2004 and are stationed along Coral Hills Drive.
Children used horses as their main transportation around town and to Mullins Pool, sometimes riding bareback. They would tie them up to the surrounding fence, take a swim, then throw their towels on the horses’ backs and ride home. For a short time in the 1990s, which by then had become more urban than country, mounted police provided some of the last opportunities to see horses in the city.