The truck traffic created by the construction of a new energy facility off Searsville Road has been a challenge for neighbors and Stanford employees alike. But who would have thought some of the biggest sufferers would be the horses at the Red Barn?
The new energy facility, under the auspices of the Stanford Energy Systems Innovation (SESI), combined with nearby PG&E pipeline replacement work, has created increased truck traffic on the west side of campus. Horses are famously known for being easily spooked by loud noises, and Stanford’s horses are no exception.
VANESSA BARTSCH, executive director of the Red Barn and head coach of the Stanford Equestrian Team, described the noise created by the combination of the two projects as “the perfect storm.”
“The trucks from SESI drove over the metal plates that PG&E put down along Junipero Serra right behind our arenas. It sounds like a gun shot when a big truck hits them at speed, and it makes things pretty exciting,” she said.
The answer to the noise challenges proved to be gigantic earplugs. Bartsch said equestrian team president and newly named Rhodes Scholar RACHEL KOLB secured 40 pairs of earplugs from the company EquiFit for the horses grazing in the pastures that are located just 50 feet from the site of the construction.
“The girls on the team think they look like dessert,” Bartsch said.
The earplugs have evidently solved the problem for the horses.
“Now we have horses pretty zenned out marching right by these huge monster trucks,” Bartsch said.
The Red Barn is the most obvious reminder of Stanford’s initial incarnation as a farm. It was the site of Leland Stanford’s Palo Alto Stock Farm, where he bred and trained trotting horses. At its height, the farm employed 150 workers and boarded 600 horses. The Red Barn is also the site of photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s famed photographic experiments of horses in motion. Those experiments laid the foundation for the motion picture industry.
Two buildings from the stock farm survive today, including the Victorian-era Red Barn, home to the Stanford Equestrian Team and its Equestrian Center facilities.