More than a trail ride

By Patrick Johnson
For Oregon.com
 
Clackamas County is the epicenter of the horse culture in the United States, and a visit to Dream Ridge Stables will show you why so many people love horses.
 
“We are not a place where we put people on horses and send them into the arena or take them on the trail and expect everything to be automatic. Instruction is part of all of our ride options, including trial rides.” says Karen Brauer, owner of the stables. “We are passionate about horses, enjoy spending time with riders of all abilities, and sharing our knowledge; when you leave here, you are at least going to know the basics.”
 
When you pull into the stables, there isn’t a line of horses, saddled up, waiting for you to jump on, without so much as a “giddy up.” Here, you are going to learn how to be safe handling a horse from the ground, mounting your horse, and have a complete intro lesson in the large indoor arena where you become comfortable riding your horse and prepare yourself to be in control when you take to the trails! Your ride is private for yourself or your group. Your instructor is with you start to finish, and throughout the trail ride to give instruction as needed and/or requested to ensure a safe, educational and enjoyable ride.
 
“A lot of people come out for the lessons, yet the entire visit is customized to each individual or groups desire of their equine experience,” Brauer explained.
 
Yes, you can see some amazing views from the trails surrounding her Redland stable, but you get much more when you visit – you walk away knowing the basics about horse riding.
 
Brauer’s stable is located in the heart of Clackamas County horse country. Clackamas County has the distinction of being the county with the highest number of horses per capita in the entire United States.
Yes, that’s a lot of horses.
 
But don’t think you have to show up with your chaps and cowboy hat to fit in. She provides the proper boots, helmet and other safety gear to make sure that you are safe throughout your ride; which can be enjoying indoor arena riding, outdoor riding: including riding their trails in a beautiful old growth forest. Which is why when you book your ride, you are asked your age, experience level, height and weight (250-pound weight limit), as they want to be as prepared as possible by selecting the right horse and trail for your skill level.
 
“We have many local people and visitors from all over the world come here to ride,” she said, while sweeping out the stables where she can house nearly 26 horses.
 
Brauer, bought the 10-acre property 10 years ago and built it into the business it is today. The facility has two indoor riding arenas, one is small for training and the other is larger for when the weather is too nasty to go out along the trails. She said her passion for horses led to the stables, and she looks at home giving advice to riders and talking with the other trainers she has on staff.
 
Kris Ryser is a local resident who brings her daughter out to ride the horses, but on this sunny Thursday, she came out alone, to get a lesson and practice riding.
 
“I have been looking forward to this all week,” Ryser said as she led her horse from his  stall to the tack up area and began to groom him prior to saddling. “My daughter is jealous she wanted me to take her out of school so she could ride this afternoon. No way, this is my time.”
 
The first thing her instructor, Carol Braman, did was set a saddle on a medal pedestal to adjust the stirrups and give Ryser a refresher course in how to sit and control the animal.
 
“You want to sit tall, the horse can tell when you slouch,” she said. “Plus, you only have to use settle motions to get the horse to do what you want them to do.  You learn how your body movement communicates requests to your horse.”
 
Keeping your heels down, your head up, working in partnership with your horse is just the beginning of your instruction. Showing confidence develops your leadership role throughout your ride. Our role as instructors is to help you gain that confidence and develop a working partnership with your horse. 
 
“It’s therapeutic,” Ryser said. “You can come out and focus on one thing; riding and let go of everything else that is going on in your world.”
 
From boarding horses, to birthday parties, the stable offers all different types of experiences. A popular option is a picnic ride along one of the viewpoints in the old growth forest where you can relax, enjoy a snack and maybe see the red tailed hawks, woodpeckers, owls and deer.   
 
“We have the unique ability to accommodate all levels of riders.  We have had riders from 2-years old up to 74-years-old,” Brauer said. “We are a beautiful country drive, half an hour from Portland and an hour and a half to Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood. We have a lot of happy horses and happy riders.”
   
About Dream Ridge Stables (www.dreamridgestable.com): This is a 10-acre riding facility that offers training, trail riding, parties and horse boarding and sales. Connected to trails that wind through an old growth forest with majestic views of the Cascade Mountain Range, the facility also has two indoor riding areas for when the weather is raining or snowing. The stable has been open 10 years and has become well-known. With each ride you get a lesson to learn horse riding basics, not just a trail ride with a horse that plays follow-the-leader.
 
What to bring: Weather appropriate clothing is very important. While they do have two indoor arenas, if you really want to have the full experience, you need to be prepared to be outside. Oregon weather, especially that close to the Cascade Mountain Range, can change quickly. Dressing in layers and with the property shoes is important. Also keep in mind you are going to be straddling a horse, so the choice of lower-body wear is important.
 
Tip: Reservations are required. Dream Ridge Stables offers many different riding packages, so when you call make sure to take the time to explore all your options. In addition, bring your cameras to capture the great scenery and memories of your ride.
 
Season:  The stable is open year-round.
 
Getting there: Dream Ridge Stables is located at 20524 S Ridge Rd, 10 miles South East of I-205 and 1/2 mile North of Redland Rd.
From I-205, take Exit #10 (Molalla, Park Place). Take a right at the second traffic light. You will drive down a little hill and come to one more traffic light. Drive straight onto Redland Rd. From this last traffic light drive 9.3 miles on Redland Rd.. Take a left on South Ridge Rd. Drive 1/2 mile and Dream Ridge Stables will be located on the right side of the road.