Friday, December 06, 2013
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Perrydale senior Kelsey Ford and Pookie, a 17-year-old paint, hang out at C Bar K Stable, which she is managing.
September 10, 2013
PERRYDALE -- Kelsey Ford doesn't do things halfway.
When the Perrydale High School senior takes on a challenge, she does so without much hesitation.
That was evident when she signed up to train a wild mustang -- without any previous experience with horses.
She took on the task through the Yamhill County Fair Teens and Oregon Mustangs' 2012 Youth and Yearling Challenge, which gives competitors 98 days to train their horses for the show ring. Ford and her mustang, Twist, placed in the middle of the pack of 35 competitors.
Now Ford has moved on to her next, and much bigger, equine challenge -- managing a boarding facility near Perrydale.
"I wanted to do this for awhile," Ford said last week, just days after C Bar K Stables opened for business. "Horses are actually pretty new to me, as of a couple of years ago. I kind of jumped in and trained a mustang from the wild."
For now, the stable has two occupants -- barn owner Kim Fitzpatrick's two horses -- but they may soon be joined by as many as 16 horses.
That is Ford's goal, anyway.
"I hope I'm going to fill up the barn with horses because it is what I really like doing," she said.
Ford, who is taking three classes at Perrydale this year and spending the rest of her "school day" at the stable on a work credit program, is also a member of the Western Mennonite/Perrydale girls soccer team.
Kelsey Ford, pictured with her horse Twist -- a mustang she trained from the wild -- has become the manager of a horse boarding facility near Perrydale School.
"It will be a lot on my plate," she said, acknowledging her busy schedule. "I get all kinds of looks when I tell people."
Reactions run the gamut from admiration to puzzled to some people telling her, "you're crazy."
Ford is undeterred. Twist was supposed to be an impossible challenge, too, after all.
Fitzpatrick said she was skeptical at first when Ford first proposed running a boarding facility out of her barn when the previous leasers moved out at the beginning of the summer. But she was reassured when she met Twist.
"(He's) so tame, so well behaved," she said. "It will blow your mind. She has done such a good job. ... I was just like, `I don't see how this is going to be a problem at all.'"
With Fitzpatrick's permission, Ford began cleaning the barn, building new pasture fences, setting up a tack room, and learning to drive a tractor to care for the stable's indoor arena.
"She's really a hard worker and dedicated and worked all summer just trying to get things back up to speed after the people left," Fitzpatrick said. "I'm very happy to have her as the barn manager."
Ford and Fitzpatrick dream of a day when C Bar K's boarding business is successful enough that the stables can host children's horse camps and lessons.
"I used to coach, so I love to see kids do what they love," Fitzpatrick said. "I just love watching kids do something that they have never done before."
Similarly, Ford said she wants to give children the same opportunity she was given in training Twist. She discovered her love of horses and a possible line of work after high school. She still wants to go to college to pursue a business degree, but if the stable is successful she will delay those plans.
In the meantime, Ford has been putting the word out about the facility, marketing in the Dallas, Amity, Salem and McMinnville areas.
Once up and running, her work schedule at C Bar K will have her commuting from her home in McMinnville to the stables early before school, back in the afternoon after her classes, and in the evening following soccer practice this fall.
It sounds like a lot, but Ford has a different perspective.
"It's work that I like doing, so it doesn't ever seem like work," she said. "It's something I get to do after school."
Home for Horses
What: C Bar K Stables.
Where: 6750 McCoy Road, Amity, near Perrydale in northern Polk County.
Of note: C Bar K Stables offers full-service boarding, arena use rentals, lessons and training.
For more information: Kelsey Ford, stable manager, 971-241-6610; email to email@example.com.