There is a new obstacle course in Maple Ridge for those who enjoy riding their equine companions.
Horseman’s Park, located just north of Abernethy Way on 224 Street, was fitted with four new obstacles to train horses on how to properly handle real-life scenarios that are commonly found along Maple Ridge horse trails.
The park was fitted with the new equipment by Haney Horsemen Association, a non-profit organization committed to equestrian trail stewardship throughout Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, with help from the City of Maple Ridge.
The mandate for the Haney Horsemen is safety and there’s a lot of young riders with green horses, said Dianne Stoesz, president of the association.
“These trail obstacles are a great tool to teach inexperienced horses and/or riders how to handle logs, bridges and tricky manoeuvres for when they get out on our Maple Ridge trails,” said Stoesz.
Young riders and green riders can now come to the park and practice taking their horses over a bridge or between logs or over stepovers.
“Then when they are out on the trail, it’s going to be safe. Their horse won’t panic about having to go over a bridge or anything,” she said.
On March 21, members of the Haney Horsemen and a team from the city got together and mapped out the area where the obstacles were to be placed. March 29 city crews cleared away the leaves and built a sand path with $900 worth of crusher from Sanscorp Products Ltd., who donated another $900 worth in the name of Bill Archibald, a former member of the Haney Horsemen and the Horse Council of BC who died in 2000. Archibald had championed horse trails across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Crusher was also put along the perimeter of the park.
All the logs were installed on Thursday, April 1.
Obstacles include: the Elbow; the Pop-up Platform; the Bridge; and the Stepovers.
Each obstacle is between 20-25 centimetres high.
The bridge teaches riders how to slowly get their horse to mount the bridge and slowly get off.
“There’s a lot of trails that have little teeny bridges like that in Maple Ridge,” said Stoesz, adding that sometimes horses tend to rush off a bridge. The key here is to go slow, she said.
The Platform was designed with one and a half metre logs attached in a square position and filled with crusher, or thick sand. The idea, again, explained Stoesz, is to get the horse to mount the platform slowly and then get off slowly.
“Both with the bridge and the platform, we put extra crusher around it, just in case a horse did step off, it would be safe to do so,” she added.
The Stepovers are made with one metre logs with the first and last log sunk a little farther down in the earth.
Finally the Elbow is a 90 degree turn, which Stoesz explained, is good for practicing how to back up your horse and turn a corner, which riders may have to do along a trail.
“It’s a safe place for people to practice. It looks really easy but it’s not,” noted Stoesz.
In 2018 a grant of $2,600 was given to the Haney Horsemen from the Equestrian Trails Fund of the Horse Council of BC for upgrades to Allco Park. In April 2019, the leftover funds were approved to be spent on the training obstacles for Horsemen’s Park, as well as obstacles for Allco Park, that still has to be completed.
The grant covered all the materials for the obstacle course. Work was done by City of Maple Ridge trail workers and, in kind, by members of the Haney Horsemen.
The logs are reclaimed from Allco Park.
Dianne Stoesz and Dave Hodgens designed the course.
Kim Hofmarks, Kirsten Call, Deb Murray, Gayle Heuring and Dianne Stoesz, Alex Torres, and workers from the City of Maple Ridge, Parks and Recreation department, installed the course.
Stoesz believes Horseman’s Park is currently the only place in the Lower Mainland to offer an obstacle park for riders.
A commemorative plaque has been installed and now they are waiting to hold an opening ceremony, when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
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