Bear Creek Equestrian Facility aims to serve the community
Lauren Clark chuckles when asked why she moved from Fall City, Washington, to the Methow Valley two years ago with her husband, Hootie, and daughter Elizabeth.
“We over-horsed ourselves and were competing with bulldozers and new houses,” she said.
Now, the Clarks have plenty of room for more horses. They purchased the equestrian facility on Lower Bear Creek Road outside of Winthrop and opened it up to the community for horse boarding and lessons. There are currently 14 horses at Bear Creek, which are both privately owned and available for lessons, with room for five more boarders.
“In our first year here we wanted to get familiar with the community and now we’ve met trainers who can provide lessons. We’re trying to see what the community wants,” Clark said.
And to do that, Bear Creek is opening its doors to the public. Every Thursday night through the end of October, people are welcome to bring their horses to the facility for an evening of training and fun. Coaching in gaming and dressage is available. Cost is $40.
On a recent Thursday night, a group of horsewomen got together for some learning opportunities and good laughs with their horses at Bear Creek Equestrian Facility. Some riders trotted and loped their horses around the outdoor arena before practicing moving their horses around poles and barrels. In the covered arena, riders got one-on-one dressage training.
Johnnie Duguay of Winthrop brought her lanky, off-the-track thoroughbred to see how he would do bending poles and racing around barrels. Rio the racehorse, as Johnnie calls him, gave it his best shot and learned a lot. Johnnie came out of the ring with a big smile on her face.
“Tonight was super fun. It’s a great, safe environment for my beginner horse to learn the basics of gaming and dressage,” Duguay said.
All ages and skills
This fall, Bear Creek is also offering a special for new clients. In September and October lessons are available at a discounted rate of four lessons for $100 and are open to riders of all ages and skill level, whether you own a horse or not. Bear Creek has two trainers on staff, Bethann McKittrick and Katherine Un, who can offer lessons in all disciplines — from barrel racing to dressage.
“We’re really passionate about creating a safe place for the community to come and learn, McKittrick said. “I’m so honored to be a part of this team and teach at a facility owned by wonderful people.”
McKittrick and Un are both experienced horsewomen, able to work with problem horses as well as gentle and start colts.
“I like to teach dressage, jumping and eventing with a twist,” Un said. “It’s about enjoying your horse and being in a community where people want to have fun with their horses. I’m really excited about the community we’re building.”
Lauren Clark never had lofty dreams of running a competitive riding facility. For her, Bear Creek Equestrian is about sharing her deep love of horses and serving the community in whatever way she can. “There’s something for everyone,” she said. “We’re not any one thing.”
Clark owns a wild-caught Keiger Mustang mare that she adopted from the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon and gentled herself. She grew up around horses on the East Boast and never pictured herself owning a mustang, let alone training it herself, but she said it’s been an amazing journey.
“I find the more I learn about horses, the less I know,” she said.