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Equestrian Centre Will Border RMNP

Molly Kelleher, 24, has been “nuts about horses” for as long as she can remember. When she was 14 years old, Molly’s parents, John and Nancy, purchased a four-year-old quarter- horse, “Tug,” for her for Christmas and the gift made her surer than ever that horses would be her life and career.

Molly describes her father as a “talented businessman” who recognized an opportunity that would be beneficial to everyone, when he purchased Triangle Ranch from Len Boles in November 2009. Boles, 55, had managed that business for 20 years and continues as manager of the new “Elkhorn Riding Adventures” today. Molly, who has a BA from Brandon University and experience working in a vet clinic, is assistant manager.

When describing Elkhorn Riding Adventures, Molly said, “There’s nowhere in the world like this – a full-service equestrian centre bordering a national park!”

The facility, which is still under construction, will feature a high-tech, 10,000-square-foot, heated, 23-box stall stable. Each stall will have a trap door and the horse poop and damp shavings will be shovelled onto a conveyer operated by electric pulleys and deposited into a big container. When full, the contents of the container will be removed and composted.

If that isn’t environmentally friendly enough, the barn will feature heat recovery ventilator (HRV) technology. The body heat of the horses will go through a heat exchange core, transferring the recovered heat to the incoming fresh air. The air will be filtered to remove pollutants and this process will heat not only the barn, but also the equine facility’s offices.

The barn’s 12×12-foot stalls will be available for year-round boarding, on a daily basis for people who would like to ride their own horse in the park, bed and bale for people travelling through with their animals, weekly for people vacationing with their horses or all summer long for seasonal residents. The barn will have cameras so that owners can log in and see their horses any time they want to. “There have been lots of calls already,” says Molly.

There will be turnout pens for all the horses, constructed of treated posts and tubular steel, which is virtually maintenance free and much safer for horses and handlers than barbed wire. The fencing design will be visually appealing and the paddocks will be expanded so that the horses can be seen from some of the resort chalets and also from Highway No. 10.

An 85×200-foot riding arena will be available for various events. The building has a spectacular, opaque, fabric-covered roof that allows natural light to filter into the space. The footing is finely grained, soft sand sourced locally by Ken Beatty Construction of Onanole. The building is unheated, but there will be hockey rink heaters facing the spectator bleachers which will be located all along one side, and there is a cement patio in one corner, which could be used for a musical band or other purposes.

Molly says the arena will be used for horse events of all kinds – lessons, kids’ day camps, riding clinics, barrel racing, horse shows, dressage practice, hunter jumper, team roping and even rodeo events like bull riding.

The arena is licensed for 1,300 people, so socials and other large events will be welcomed. There are no bathrooms in the arena itself, but the barn, which will be close by, will have six toilets for public use.

Trail riding, buggy rides and hayrides are now available, but the facility’s grand opening will be in 2011, once all the pens and landscaping have been completed, and a gift shop is in the planning stages. At that time more staff will have to be hired but for now the current employees consist of Alice Kelleher (Molly’s sister), Brian “Boxer” Ramsden, an experienced wrangler, and Bryant Grant, who also shows heavy horses along with his family.

Situated on the Elkhorn Resort grounds, bordering scenic Riding Mountain National Park, the location of Elkhorn Riding Adventures’ equestrian centre is unparalleled. The park is 2,973 sq. km of wilderness, with 305.7 km of trails, most of which are available to horseback riders, as well as hikers and bikers. Many of the trails have hitching rails, where you can “park” your horse and take time out for a picnic.

For more information contact Molly Kelleher at 204-848-4583 or [email protected]

– Candy Irwin writes from Lake Audy, Manitoba

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