The Stan Halcro Agriplex is getting a lot of use this winter, with more equestrians taking advantage of the opportunity to train their horses indoors.
Bobbi-Jo Dayman, the organizer for the bookings at the 100 Mile Agriplex, said 79 individual equestrians have used the space from February to April this year, compared with about 20 regular users last year. She expects the main reason for the jump is that the arena is now open seven days a week and people can schedule and book their own specific times to ride. Previously, the arena had been opened for limited drop-in times, which were stopped during the pandemic.
The arena, which is leased to the 100 Mile Agriplex Society for $1, is also used for dog agility training and by Bighorn Archery.
“People are still spending time with their horses,” Dayman said. “It’s more that they have more time to do things like this and keep their horses going.”
The bookings are limited to lessons or smaller cohorts of six people at a time. Those who come out use the arena to work with young horses, practice their barrel-racing or keep their cart ponies in shape ahead of the upcoming carriage race competitions. Youngsters also come out to hone their roping skills ahead of the Little Britches Rodeo or just to ride.
There are also a group of equine coaches who offer lessons both in the arena and outside. All COVID protocols are followed.
“It’s been something we could still offer to youth to get them outside and be involved,” said Dayman, who has been organizing the arena equestrian use for the past three years. “You bring your own tack and your own equipment so it’s easy to maintain social distancing.”
Lac La Hache resident Lynn Dent-Wilson said the arena has been a great venue to train young horses over the winter. She and Mandy Pincott, of Forest Grove, have come out regularly, she said, while they wait for their own arenas to dry up.
While Pincott practices many disciplines, such as reining and penning, Dent-Wilson is working on her last barrel horse.
“In the dead of winter, this is pretty nice to come in here and ride on dirt because you can’t do work in the middle of nowhere in the snow and ice,” Dent-Wilson said.
Pincott credited Dayman for organizing the different groups and schedules, especially during the pandemic.
“She organizes and orchestrates all of that,” she said. “We’re pretty fortunate to have somebody like that so dedicated to the arena.”
Dayman said it’s worth it to have the arena available to all the different user groups, not just the equestrians. “It’s a great little resource for the community.”