By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 24, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 24, 2014) -- Where a once dilapidated building stood, now stands a freshly renovated symbol of renewal at the Fort Rucker Riding Stables.
The riding stables showcased its newly renovated clubhouse to the community July 18 during an open house that featured the facility's new amenities, including a working kitchen, central heating and cooling, grills, and a leisure area, complete with tables, chairs and TVs.
Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, was on hand to welcome the community to the clubhouse and open the facility for use.
"Imagine, if you will, walking into a rundown old building that just looked like it was about to be torn down," said McRae during the open house. "That was where we started, and look at how it's turned out. What a fantastic job that everybody's done."
Instead of getting rid of the old facility, McRae said there was potential seen in the building rather than a liability.
"When we looked up and saw this beautiful ceiling that has so much character, we said, 'What if we could save this thing?'" he said. "We asked, 'Could this be better? Could this inspire people to come out here? Could this be another great opportunity out here at Fort Rucker to be able to serve our customers and create a new venue that people can come into, be proud to be in and be happy?'"
The answer to all of those questions was a resounding "yes," he said.
Hannah Francis, Army Family member, is an avid horse rider and said she is eager to get the chance to utilize the new clubhouse while visiting the riding stables.
"This is really phenomenal and I'm just so glad it all came together, finally," she said. "(My Family) recently moved here and, so far everyone has made me feel very welcome, and it's fantastic to be a part of a community here where they are so welcoming."
McRae thanked all those involved in the project that helped from design, furnishing, labor and everyone in between, and was also happy to report that the project was completed under budget.
"We had a lot of help in this thing and everyone did a great job transforming this place, and they did it within the budgetary requirements that we had to meet, and that's the big thing," he said. "This building had a lot of life left in it, and with good, disciplined folks who thought out of the box and figured out different ways to do things, this things going to live a long time and continue to give to Fort Rucker for many years to come."
The clubhouse is just one piece of a large recreational puzzle that the riding stables offer.
"We are truly a one-of-a-kind facility because of the variety of things we offer," said Martie Haverfield, recreation aide at the riding stables. "We have just too many amenities. We offer it all here in one place, and you can't get that anywhere else, military wise or civilian wise."
The facility boasts more than 10,000 acres of wooded trails, four community pastures, a hay barn, 40 duplex barns with individual tack rooms, 67 stalls, multiple segregated paddocks, two regulation dressage rings, two breaking pens, a lighted-western and English-style jump and show arena, a covered farrier's shed and double wash stalls with warm water.
A feed-service program is also available for patrons, along with a facility-use program for thzose who board their horses on their land. Hay and stall bedding may be purchased from there, as well. The jump trails offered are cross-country preliminary, cross-country beginner novice, cross-country novice and cross-country training.
The boarding of privately owned horses is open to the public, but active-duty military have priority, and pricing depends on a person's rank and the type of stall they wish to have their horse boarded in, said Haverfield, adding that immunization for all horses that are boarded is required and proof must be furnished to the stable office.
The riding stables also offers riding lessons in English and Western styles. The price is $35 per lesson and is taught in a one-on-one style with lessons ranging from beginner to advanced, and horses are provided for the lessons, if necessary.
The stables are located near Bldg. 20090 on Hatch Road, and the office is open Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The riding stables is currently looking for volunteers to sign up and help with the stable's annual Fright Night Haunted Hay Ride held in October, and anyone over the age of 16 can volunteer to help with building, make-up and costumes, and acting to scare patrons.
For more information on boarding, pricing, riding instruction, volunteering or birthday parties, call 598-3384.