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Riding the Dream: talking with Dream Ridge Stables, Redland, Oregon

August 4, 2010
Staff of Dream Ridge Stables
Karen Brauer (right) and staff make sure you have a fantastic, safe ride at Oregon's Dream Ridge Stables.
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In the gorgeous farm country just outside Portland, Dream Ridge Stables offers trail rides with a difference. Focused on safety first, a short lesson is included with every ride. When you head out on your carefully-matched mount into the huge indoor arena and into the forested Bureau of Land Management (BLM) trails adjacent to this beautiful property you feel confident and relaxed with owner Karen Brauer. A genuinely nice person, her style of positive reinforcement supports even the most tentative. I had to entertain visiting family for a few days this summer. Skill levels ranged from “frightened of horses” to “love to ride.” Karen and caring staff handled all of this in stride. At the end of the ride there were smiles all around. And the “frightened” one? Karen coaxed out her natural ability and she looked as if she was born in the saddle; even cantering in the arena on this first ride! Top notch scenery, a good lesson before the ride, sparkling facility, superior horses, wonderful tack and saddles and the ability to canter if you want? This is a rider’s dream. Here is Karen and Dream Ridge Stable’s story told in Karen’s own words.

MW: When did you find your property? When did you finish building?

KB: I grew up a few miles from Dream Ridge Stables and watched this facility being built when I was a little girl passing by on the school bus. I purchased it from a bankruptcy auction in October of 2002. It was in in horrible condition; completely overgrown with brush and blackberries and all structures neglected for many years prior. When we did feel like we were finished fixing, repairing and building (I don't know if this ever ends!) the winter storm of 2008 hit us. Mother nature and the big snow storm collapsed our indoor arena (120 x 80) on December 22, 2008. We got thrown into a demolition and cleanup of the collapsed arena and have been repairing and rebuilding our new facility since then. We have now two arenas (48 x 84) and (100 x 160) and a new hay barn. We still have some finishing to do to include a round pen, parking and more horse turnouts. But major construction is done now!

MW: How did you come up with the name “Dream Ridge?“

KB: Horses and sharing the horse experience has always been a dream of mine. The previous barn was called Scenic Ridge Stables. This became my "Dream." We sit on a ridge overlooking the Viola valley and the lower Cascades (mountains), hence Dream Ridge Stables. Now it fulfills so many peoples "dream" of riding and enjoying horses!

MW: How do you select your horses for your rental/trail ride program?

KB: By the horses personality and their previous experiences in life and training. Overall the disposition of the horse is the key. A horse that generally does not want to lead the herd but rather has a less challenging personality definitely makes a better horse for novice or occasional riders. An "alpha" horse will always challenge a less experienced rider. Also, if the horse has had the opportunity to be exposed to lots of activities in it's life (trail riding, 4-H, equestrian team, family pleasure horses, parades, camping, working cows, etc.) this helps so much. We offer a range of horses for the range of riding skills that come our way!

MW: Types of horses you have (Arabs, Quarters, Missouris, etc.?)

KB: We do not focus on one breed. Each breed has it's own great qualities and we offer horses for many riding abilities. Presently the breeds that we use are Quarter horses, Arabian, Saddlebred/Qtr, Mustang, Welsh & Haflinger. Throughout the entire facility and its boarded horses we have many more breeds such as Lippizaner, Irish Draft, Paint, Thoroughbred, and more!

MW: What made you want to work with horses? Have you always been blessed with horses?

KB: I have always loved horses... the smell, the look, the movement... the whole package! When I was a small child my family, who immigrated from Germany, could not afford a horse so I rode all my neighbors’ horses as often as I could. Kids make due. I understood that we could not afford a horse so instead I trained our few cows to ride which I showed in 4-H and at the Clackamas County Fair (Oregon) where I was riding one. My father finally got so much grief from his friends to "buy that girl a horse!" that he finally did. He also loved horses. Hence I got my first horse!

MW: Why are you different?

KB: We focus on safety and instruction that the riders can take with them. We offer year round riding for all experience levels including the first time riders or the occasional rider. Great for the family, ages three and up. Trail rides and arena work both with instruction included... yet we let the riders ride to their ability! Cantering is allowed! Our hope is that the riders can take the basic skills they learned here to any other horseback riding experience that they might be participating in. Too many of the "trail rides" have no instruction for the novice or occasional rider. Many people come back for more riding, instruction and to learn more about the entire
horse experience. No large groups and generally you and your friends and family will not be "grouped" with anyone else, just your group and your own private instructor/guide. We also offer for the repeat guests rides that are off-site from Dream Ridge Stables. We will trailer the horses to Mt Hood, McIver State Park and more trails, so they can experience other trails and scenery! We are about to do our first "day camp" since we have the new arenas built! Finally we are getting back into full swing again.

MW: What is your message?

KB: Living to ride and riding to live! Many people love horses yet owning one doesn’t fit into their life. This is where we come in! Come learn to ride or come ride to your ability! I especially like to see the timid kids or adults have that great ride and realize that they just overcame a great fear of theirs and handled it extremely well... horses are great! Horses are great for the mind, body and soul; I wish to offer to the general public a chance to learn about horses, ride to their ability and enjoy the beautiful trails that Oregon has to offer! Safety and good basic riding skills is the key to being able to progress in your riding and ride safely. We love to teach this to all that need it and for those who are experienced, when they arrive then this shows quickly and our intro instruction time is shorter.

MW: Anything else to share?

KB: I guess that a mention about our web site and that we are open year-round would be super! I again thank you for taking the time and interest to write about Dream Ridge Stables. Your article will make a difference not only for our business but hopefully for the equine enthusiasts out there that did not know that we are here if they want to ride horses! They do not have to be in a boring "nose to tail" trail ride nor do they have be an active part of a "lesson program." We wish to always offer a beautiful and relaxing place to ride, with instruction always included as needed and requested. Happy Trails!

Contact Karen Brauer at www.dreamridgestable.com and 503-631-8466 to arrange a ride when you are in Oregon. Not to miss this one!

Photo credits:
Karen and Staff courtesy of Kurt Winner
Returning from forest trails courtesy of Dale Phill



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