The Great Outdoors

New Allen County Equestrian Course Now Open

The Allen County Board of Commissioners were joined by community members and horse enthusiasts from across the region at the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting for the new Allen County Equestrian Course located on E. Paulding Road.

Lynn Sroufe, Board President of Three Rivers Horse Trails Association, shared about the history of how the horse trails came to be and about how many years of work and coordination with multiple agencies it takes to pull off a regional amenity such as a horse trail park.

One key component to the success of any project is funding. The Allen County Equestrian Course was funded in large part by an Indiana Department of Natural Resources Grant in the amount of $250,000. Nathaniel Simmons, Grant Manager with Indiana DNR, spoke on behalf of their agency and said that the grant was well-written and a worthy cause. Indiana DNR did grant the project the top amount available, with a stipulation that the county had to match at 20%. The county exceeded its minimum match and contributed over $100,000. Allen County owned the land previously for the development of the K9 Training Facility and Sheriff’s Training Complex, so the remaining county property in that area was allocated for the horse trail project.

Jill Boggs, President and CEO of Visit Fort Wayne, praised the Equestrian Course for not only offering a unique amenity to residents but for being a destination in the region and another attraction that they can help promote to boost tourism to Allen County. She shared that in 2023, the equine industry contributed $177 billion to the United States economy. “It is good for us to get a piece of that,” she shared.

Dawn Ritchie, Greenways Manager for the City of Fort Wayne and a Three Rivers Horse Trails Board Member spoke. She was an asset to the planning and coordination of the horse trails. Commissioner Rich Beck thanked her for lending her expertise to the project, as well as representatives from Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council (“NIRCC”). Commissioner Beck thanked the Allen County Highway Department, Surveyor’s Office, Building Maintenance, and Highway Sign Department.

To conclude the event, Commissioner Beck dedicated a memorial plaque in honor of Allison Wheaton the founder and Executive Director of Summit Equestrian Center who died tragically in an aircraft crash in November of 2023. Allison provided Equine Assisted Services to adults, children, and Veterans working through trauma. Members of The Cavalry, a Veteran-focused program founded by Allison were in attendance for the ribbon cutting and dedication of the plaque.

The new horse trails park was created with accessibility in mind. The ramp, picnic table, port-a-john and hand-pump for the non-potable water spigot all feature accessible design. The main trail is built wide enough to accommodate a side-walker, which is required for therapeutic riding for people with disabilities.

For the safety of the public, the horses, and their riders, the trails at the Allen County Equestrian Course are equine only. Hiking and bike riding are strictly prohibited. The property is open to horse riders from dawn until dusk.

The Waynedale News Staff

The Waynedale News Staff

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