Back in the saddle


Herald Writer

BRIER – Allie never takes off her shoes or coat, which poses a problem for the stubborn 17-year-old, who goes running four times a week.

Especially since the track is a dust bowl in summer and a mud bowl in winter.

But beginning today that will change when the Brier Community Horse Arena reopens.

Allie, Ruth Carroll’s 17-year-old mare, should trot home after her workout sporting a shiny coat and spotless shoes. The arena’s dusty surface, which made it a dirty business to go riding, was removed and replaced. Instead of kicking up a cloud of dust, Allie can kick up her heels.

Thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Snohomish County Department of Parks and Recreation to the city of Brier, the horse arena’s old covering of woodchips is gone. In its place, a granulithic surface of compressed rock and sand, designed to be dust-free, was laid three-inches deep over a base of crushed rock, said Susan Ernst, a Brier horse owner.

The new surface should make the 100- by 215-foot arena accessible to equestrians year-round.

Since 1995, the horse arena has been unusable in winter, said Ernst, a member of the Brier Horse Network, which maintains the arena. Built in 1983, the arena was constructed on city property by volunteers. Garage sales, bake sales and donations paid for the arena.

The original sand-base surface, which also generated dust, was replaced in 1989 by four truckloads of wood chips. But after five years, the chips had begun to crumble, badly. It was dust in the summer and mud in the winter.

By 1995, neighbors were complaining about the mess. Horse clubs packed up and took their saddles elsewhere.

In the meantime, the Brier Horse Network, with 70 members, began lobbying the county council for grant money to resurface the arena.

The arena provides an important focus for the city, said Kathy Dittmar, another Brier horse owner.

"The Brier area was founded in 1965 as a horse community," Dittmar said.

On weekends at the arena, instructors give lessons in horsemanship, and veterinarians conduct horse clinics. Kids ready their geldings and mares for 4-H competition. Riders play games on horseback, such as barrel racing or pole bending.

And spectators, young and old, line the fences.

"People come up and pet your horses," horse owner Peggy Dare said.

Members of the Brier Horse Network and county officials celebrated the reopening of the arena Tuesday night with music, food and horses. The arena had been closed for three weeks while being resurfaced.

In the last year, it’s undergone other improvements as well. Last fall, a Brier Eagle Scout, Brett Irvine, organized a work party to replace the structural posts and rails, Ernst said. The drainage system also has been improved.

Use of the arena, located across from City Hall, on the corner of 228th Avenue SW and 29th Avenue W, is free. Volunteers level the surface once a week.

Members of the network ask only that horse owners, like dog owners, pick up after Dobbin.

"We added two new barrels and a manure fork," Ernst said.

You can call Herald Writer Janice Podsada at 425-339-3029 or send e-mail to

Talk to us

More in Local News

A few weeks before what could be her final professional UFC fight, Miranda Granger grimaces as she pushes a 45-pound plate up her driveway on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Her daughter Austin, age 11 months, is strapped to her back. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Daily Herald staff wins 5 honors at annual journalism competition

The Herald got one first-place win and four runner-up spots in SPJ’s Northwest Excellence in Journalism contest.

Panelists from different areas of mental health care speak at the Herald Forum about mental health care on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At panel, mental health experts brainstorm answers to staff shortages

Workforce shortages, insurance coverage and crisis response were in focus at the Snohomish forum hosted by The Daily Herald.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Report of downed hot air balloon turns up farmer’s tarp near Snohomish

Two 911 callers believed they saw a hot air balloon crash, leading to a major search-and-rescue response. It was a false alarm.

People gather for a color throw at Stanwood and Camano’s first-ever Pride celebration on Saturday, June 4, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘We’ve at least come a little ways’: Snohomish to host first Pride event

A 10 a.m. parade on First Street will be followed by a pop-up market with 60 vendors, a downtown wine walk, queer cabaret and more.

The site of a former 76 gas station and a handful of century old buildings will be the location for new apartments buildings at the corner of Pacific and Rucker on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Old gas station demolished for apartments in downtown Everett

A 200-unit apartment complex between three and seven stories tall is proposed at Pacific and Rucker avenues.

Kamiak High School is pictured Friday, July 8, 2022, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Kamiak football coach fired amid sexual misconduct investigation

Police believe Julian Willis, 34, sexually abused the student in portable classrooms on Kamiak High School’s campus.

Police: Marysville man fist-bumped cop, exposing tattoos of wanted robber

The suspect told police he robbed three stores to pay off a drug debt. He’d just been released from federal prison for another armed robbery.

People begin marching down First Street with a giant balloon “PRIDE” during Snohomish’s inaugural Pride celebration on Saturday, June 3, 2023, in downtown Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
GALLERY: Snohomish hosts first official Pride celebration

Scenes from the parade and other events celebrating LGBTQIA culture and people in downtown Snohomish.

Cat killed, 9 people displaced after duplex fire in Everett

None of the people were injured in the fire reported around 1:15 a.m. in the 11500 block of Meridian Avenue S.

Most Read