Cheryl Oickle, treasurer of the Back Country Horsemen of B.C. (Alberni Valley chapter), stands with “unofficial mascot” Abby next to the new and improved riding area in Beaver Creek. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Horse riders resurrect public riding ring near Port Alberni

Open house planned for July 22 so public can check out Beaver Creek facility

A new and improved horse riding area in Beaver Creek is now open to the public.

The Evergreen Public Riding Arena, located at the end of Fayette Road in Beaver Creek and owned by the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD), was formerly a rodeo grounds. It had been left “sorely neglected” for a number of years, according to Cheryl Oickle, treasurer of the Back Country Horsemen of B.C. Alberni Valley Chapter.

Five years ago, the Back Country Horsemen took on a project to replace the rails and improve some of the footing, but the work stopped. Earlier this year, the society restarted the project.

“We wanted to bring it back up to par and have a safe place for people to come and ride,” said Oickle. “It’s been a huge untertaking.”

After a grant from the ACRD, along with a number of community contributions and “major workbees,” the new riding arena is complete.

Part of the area has been divided off, leaving a space for obstacles. The Evergreen Park now has a regulation 110-by-210-foot riding arena, with three inches of sand making proper footing for horses. Fence posts and proper gates have also been installed.

Oickle emphasized that the area is open to the public.

“We want to raise the awareness in the Valley,” she said. “We’re really proud of the work that’s been done here. It’s an open facility for everyone to use.

“We’re just looking for respect,” she added. “Nobody’s really maintaining this. We’re encouraging people to pick up after themselves, to scrape manure into the designated area.”

The Back Country Horsemen will be holding an “open house” on Sunday, July 22 to celebrate the completion of this new riding area. The celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature “fun horse games” and lunch for a donation that will go towards upkeep.

“People can come down and just take a look,” said Oickle.

There are still a few things left to be finished. Oickle said they will be putting up signage with credits and “rules” for using the riding area. The society is also working on a set of horse pens and paddocks where horses can rest.

“We’re really happy with this,” said Oickle. “It’s a pretty big accomplishment. It’s been a labour of love since March.”

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