Cowboy Race and Dutch Oven BBQ
When: 8-9 a.m., registration, Saturday, Sept. 5.
Where: Layton Hill Horse Camp, 2514 Chicken Coop Road
Registration fee: $30
More info: Call Anna at 425-737-7404 or e-mail
On the web: www.laytonhillhorsecamp.com
Trail ride race and dutch oven BBQ set for Labor Day weekend on Chicken Coop Road
by ALANA LINDEROTH
The gateway to hundreds of acres and miles of trails awaits just east of Sequim.
In hosting their second annual Cowboy Race and Dutch Oven Barbecue, the owners of Layton Hill Horse Camp are busy implementing new challenges aimed at testing riders’ and their horses’ abilities to work together.
A mile-long, dynamic trail course with about 12 obstacles is nearly set for the upcoming weekend race that will be followed by a potluck and dutch oven barbecue on Saturday, Sept. 5.
“Our goal is that everyone will leave having had a lot of fun,” Anna Sage Neal, event organizer and co-manager of Layton Hill Horse Camp, said. “We really do this for the love of people and horses.”
The Cowboy Race is a timed challenge, but points are largely acquired by completing a variety of obstacles on horseback. The more graceful and fluid a rider and horse can overcome each obstacle, the more points gained. Although the race is designed to test horsemanship skills of the most experienced riders, it’s also a good opportunity to introduce less experienced horses to obstacles likely found while on the trail, Neal said.
Obstacles range from river-rock crossings and weaving between tight spaces to stepping over downed logs and traversing diverse terrain.
Two of the most difficult obstacles include “The Plank” and the “Water Box,” Neal said. Like walking a balance beam, only on horseback, The Plank requires the horse to walk the length of a 16-inch wide plank about 8 inches off the ground.
“It sounds simple, but it’s pretty hard to get your horse to walk the whole thing and not step down or walk around,” she said.
Secondly, the Water Box is a 4-by-4 box filled with water. A piece of plywood with holes tightly floats inside, but is pushed to the bottom of the box as soon as a horse steps into it — splashing water up through the holes.
“It’s a fun and challenging one,” Neal said.
After tallying points, ribbons for first through sixth place will be awarded, as well as prizes.
“The big prize this year is Dad’s donating a three-day pack trip into the Olympic Mountains,” Neal said.
For nearly two years, Neal and her father and longtime horseman Delman Sage, have worked side-by-side to transform 100 acres into a camp to benefit the local equine community and visitors.
“It started as just a dream Dad had,” she said.
Since Layton Hill Horse Camp opened last July, Neal and Sage have continued to expand the camp. In addition to a common gathering area and fire ring, the camp has individual campsites with corrals to hold livestock, fire rings and picnic tables. The camping complex is built on a large, flat area perched on the side of a hill that from its peak offers a panoramic view of Bell Hill, the Dungeness Spit and glimpses of Mount Baker in the distance.
For training and events, the camp has a round pen, multiple obstacles and trails carved throughout it, with more being built. Next, Neal hopes to incorporate an arena that would soon allow her to host clinicians.
Additionally, Layton Hill Horse Camp is a launch point to hundreds of miles of roads and trails on Department of Natural Resources’s land.
“We wanted to give the horse community a place to gather, meet and relax,” Neal said.
All those attending the Cowboy Race are invited to bring a dutch oven for making a main dish or dessert. Otherwise, any potluck item is welcomed.
The Cowboy Race and barbecue is held throughout Saturday, Sept. 5, however, camping reservations can be made by calling 775-6500.
Come Halloween on Oct. 31, a Haunted Forest will come alive at Layton Hill Horse Camp, but before sunset, a poker ride, costume contest and dutch oven cook-off are planned. Both horse enthusiasts and the general public are welcomed to come and join the fun.