In which we get excited about the *NEW* Washington State Horse Park

Horselovers all over Washington State are a-flutter with excitement: after nearly 20 years (!) of dreaming, screaming, and scheming, the very first Washington State Horse Park is actually on the trail to becoming a reality.

This weekend there was a big celebration, and we went to take a look.


The new park is located barely a mile off Highway 90...not 15 miles down a rutted logging road, or up a steep hill into a tiny parkinglot, but rather just barely outside the mountain town of Cle Elum, Washington. In a state divided down the middle by a mountain range that separates Swamplanders on the west side from DrySiders on the east side, the central location is ideal, and I applaud the forward-thinkers who located this piece of property for the Park.
When we arrived, we were waved into a large parking area under the powerlines. This is apparently only temporary parking--we located the real parking area on the map. It will be huge, with plenty of room for big rigs.

We were transported to the site of the festivities by haywagon
...which gave us an opportunity to look around.
SECOND THING THAT I LOVE: It's very pretty here!
Arriving at the "vendor's alley", we were able to shop our way to the food tent. Clearly, the organizers know about the weaknesses of horse people. Ooooooh, artwork! And books! And leather stuff!

The whole concept of cross-disciplinary education is going to be an important theme at the park, as demonstrated at the roping area, where this little girl in jodpurs spent at least an hour working on her roping skills.

The guys joined her there ...and got pretty good at getting the loops to go where they intended them to go
...the stock they practiced on was pretty forgiving, which helped a lot.
With a firm hand on my arm (and my credit card) Jim guided me to the lunch tent, catered by Suncadia Resort.
Fabulous food (free!) provided by the resort that donated the land to the horse park. I didn't get a good photo of the barbequed chicken/pulled pork/brisket table or the amazing potato salads or the huge cookies or free beer, but I carefully explored all the corners of the tables. Suncadia is showing a clear intention to be my favorite kind of a good neighbor.

The welcoming ceremony consisted of a bunch of happy people congratulating each other. Hooray! It's really going to happen!

Leslie Thurston is the Executive Director of the WSHP Foundation.
My impression: Leslie is a very efficient person having a very giddy day. Who could blame her? We were all rather giddy.

Cle Elum Mayor Charles Glondo was onhand to congratulate his city's newest neighbor. The City has extended a 99-year lease to the horse park, for $1 per year. They didn't even insist that the $99 be paid all at once, and have happily agreed to take payments for it. His Honor is a fine fellow in a fine hat.

The crowd was gratifyingly diverse. Scattered among the various kinds of cowboys were dressage riders, 3-day-eventers, hunter jumpers, vaulters, theraputic riding instructors, and trail riders of all stripes.

THIRD THING THAT I LOVE: The mission of the park is to serve all the horse disciplines in Washington State--not an simple task. They will eventually build indoor, outdoor, and grass arenas, round pens, and a cross-country jumping course, as well as huge horse barns and lots of parking for horse rigs.
And access to trails? Oh yes! We talked to one of the rangers from the Cle Elum Ranger District, and she knows what endurance riders want. She even did a Ride and Tie with her husband at the Mt Adams Endurance Ride in 2007. Hooray, hooray, hooray!!!!

It's not built yet, of course.

We took the walking tour, and discovered that you can only tell that the "Park" isn't part of the adjacent wilderness
because they've punched in a few 2-lane jeep tracks and stuck a couple of signs in the ground, showing where stuff will be when it's all finished.

The Park is asking horse people to JOIN. The membership money is needed to get the infrastructure in place, and also because many members = much more influence when legislators get involved with state funding.

The Park has an FAQ page that I found very helpful.

FOURTH THING THAT I LOVE: Talking to people at the event also made me hopeful that this location could easily be a ridecamp for an endurance event before many of the park facilities are "finished", since endurance riders require very little in the way of amenities--give us a flat place to park and access to water and a bunch of trail, and we will be happy.

A new ride site for 2010? It could really happen!


  1. How exciting! Can't wait to see the "after" photos!

  2. That's amazing! I wish we had something like that around here.

  3. I meant to go, but, darn, I've got stuff to finish before winter! It's a great opportunity for all equestrians!

  4. That sounds really very nice! And the scenery looks amazing. Congrats to the people who worked to put this together.

  5. That brings back one of my favourite teenage memories - I attended an international camp at Cle Elum forty-five years ago! Spent a couple of weeks hiking and backpacking all around that area - it is so beautiful, and I can already envision horses and riders cresting the trails and inhaling the beautiful views.


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