Northwest NEWS

November 12, 2001

Features

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25 years of happy trails

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Reporter
   Just above Hollywood Hill Elementary, there's a horse arena and trail course owned by the Hollywood Hill Saddle Club (HHSC). What people may not realize is that it's open to the public and free of charge. "It's a huge beautiful arena," says Lynn Burch, club president. "It's a crown jewel sitting in the middle of Woodinville. Not many communities have anything like this."
   The site has a trail for obstacle course work, including a pond with a bridge and a mailbox. Equestrians can bring their horses to the course and practice walking their horse over the bridge or riding and opening the mailbox in preparation for horse events. Also, the club grounds abut to the King County Gold Creek Park for happy trail riding opportunities.
   Burch hopes to get the word out that the arena is not for members only. "The more people know about it and utilize it, the more longevity it will have," she says.
   The club not only opens up their arena and trail course to the public, but they also open up their events and membership. "We're open to membership all the time," Burch says.
   In addition, people are welcome to come and watch the equestrian games.
   "We get a lot of spectators who come just to watch," she says. People who are out walking their dogs or hiking or driving by on summer nights, will often stop at the arena to grab a cup of coffee at the Club's Cook Shack. Many will find a seat in the bleachers and enjoy the coffee while observing the horse events.
   Established 25 years ago, the HHSC began with a desire to promote the equestrian way of life for families in the local area.
   In the beginning, before the Club ever formed, there was a riding arena on the land that Key Bank, QFC and Big Foot Bagels now occupy. As Woodinville developed, the land was sold and some of the people who had enjoyed the use of the arena began looking for another site to hold equestrian events. An industrious group got together and formed the Hollywood Hill Saddle Club.
   "We started with just a few families," says Burch. "Then it just gradually grew."
   With the support of King County, the organization was granted a care lease on land on Hollywood Hill. Through fundraising events, the Club was able to build an arena and outbuildings on the newly acquired land.
   In 1979, Northshore School District purchased the HHSC land in order to build Hollywood Hill Elementary. The Club then moved to its current site and upgraded the new area with compensating funds from the School District.
   Today, as was true 25 years ago, a board of directors selected by the membership base manages the non-profit organization. The board meets each month to take care of matters, such as deciding policy or organizing activities.
   Burch explains the Board's purpose. "Primarily we promote equestrian events and inform our membership of equestrian issues. That is what we see as our job as a board." The board communicates with its members through a newsletter, "We have a monthly newsletter," says Burch. "We keep our membership base informed on any issues that may affect people who have horses."
   While informing its members, the organization also acts to protect equestrian interests. "We do things to support the rural type of atmosphere," Burch notes.
   As an example, Burch sat on a Citizen Action Committee for King County a year ago.
   The committee came up with a consensus of how they would like to see historical trails preserved and made a presentation to the Metro Council. In another example of how the HHSC protects interests, the club is working on signage that will alert drivers to slow down in areas where people are riding horses.
   According to Burch, horses bring something special to a rural environment. She remarks that when she looks out her window and sees her neighbor's horses grazing, "There's a sense of peace. It's grounding."
   She says that a horse community usually has zoning that doesn't allow for sub-dividing. "I would say ... a community having horses is more prone to preserve the landscape."
   The HHSC covers its costs through fees collected at their events. Burch mentions that the event fees are low and that many of the events have no charge at all.
   Some of the events sponsored by the membership include: a community Easter egg hunt in the spring, fun nights with equestrian games, annual poker rides, pancake breakfasts, trail rides and informative clinics.
   One of the most popular events is western games which features barrel racing and speed and dexterity races. This event, along with the club's Show Division event, brings in 95 percent of the club's funds.
   "They are attended by people all over," says Burch. "Events are open to everyone. Everything is open to the public."
   Periodically, the club holds fundraisers with proceeds targeted for local charities, such as Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center.
   The club also supports Hopelink (formerly Multi-Service Centers of North and East King County) through an annual food drive that brings in hundreds of canned goods.
   On Sunday, Nov. 18, the Hollywood Hill Saddle Club will host its Annual General Meeting and Awards Banquet at Woodinville High School.
   In a media announcement, Burch stated, "It will be an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of 25 years of service to the community." The public is welcome to attend.
   For further information, contact President Lynn Burch (425) 481-8376.