FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Recent and future upgrades continue to improve an already valuable resource nestled a short drive down Hatch Road.

Fort Rucker's Riding Stables have served the post community for years and John Clancy, outdoor recreation manager, hopes ongoing improvements to the facility continue to give equestrian enthusiasts a place to call home.

"The clubhouse has been recently upgraded and will hold about 40 people for private parties," he said. "It has a small kitchen, heat and air conditioning, and video equipment. Rest rooms are also available, with wheel chair access. We also plan on upgrading trails for future horse trials, such as cross country."

The stables are located on Hatch Road just south of the Silver Wings Golf Course, surrounded by over 10,000 acres of wooded trails. The complex includes a clubhouse with bathroom facilities and an emergency phone.

Four community pastures, hay barn, 40 duplex barns with individual tack rooms and paddocks are available on-site, as well as 67 stalls for transient and show horses.

"We board privately-owned horses for military members, Department of Defense civilian employees, Department of Army civilians and contractors," Clancy said. "If there is room, we also board for civilians.

"We offer a feed and cleaning service at an additional cost, if the owner requires it," he added. "Each half of the duplex unit has a 12-by-12 stall, an adjoining 6-by-10 tack room and a roughly 30-by-60 turn out directly behind each unit."

Patrons also have access to two large, lighted arenas, two round pens for training, a covered farrier shed and double wash rack.

Riders have access to about 30 miles of trails and some cross country jumps. The facility also boasts four large pasture turn-out areas for horses -- two for mares and two for geldings.

"We offer a quiet, relaxing area to enjoy your favorite pastime as well as safety for you and your family," Clancy said. "We will board your horse and take care of it while you go away for the week-end, or longer."

Although the surrounding horse trails are part of the riding stables, Clancy said riders not utilizing the stables are allowed to utilize the trails with certain provisions.

"We welcome outside riders, but they are required to wear orange vests and have a copy of a current Negative Coggins with them before they unload their horse," he said. "They must also pay a fee per rider for the day, or they can purchase a yearly single or family membership.

"As we share the areas with others -- training, fire prevention, hunting, etc. -- only certain areas are open to us on specific days," he added. "Each rider must check the public board for the day's availability."

Clancy welcomes riders of all experience levels, including those who have never ridden a horse, but urges first-time riders to take lessons before hitting the trails.

"Be aware of all that entails keeping a horse in the way of daily care, initial tack purchases, hoof care, feed programs and safe riding," he said. "In the near future, we should have a qualified instructor on contract that will furnish a horse for lessons for ages 7 and older."

For more information, call 598-3384.