The drive past the cast iron gates down the 1/4-mile entry into the Mustang Mountain Ranch is often the best part of Chuck Cowan’s day.

“When the sun’s out and it hits all the trees along the driveway, that’s one of the prettiest places on Earth,” the ranch owner said.

After time spent first in the Army, then operating a successful heavy construction consultation business for the last 15 years, Cowan decided he wanted to get back to his roots.

“I was actually born in my family’s farmhouse in Georgia and grew up riding the mules we used to pull the plows because we could only afford one tractor,” Cowan said. “I would spend my days working with the sharecroppers and just loved it, so it was always in the back of my mind to create something similar when I was old enough.”

Over 53 acres in Yacolt, Cowan and his wife Annette have created a refuge for horses, with everything from riding trails to grazing pastures, a massive indoor competition-style riding arena, grooming bays, and riders with a guesthouse, fitness center, lounge and RV park.

“What I want is for the Mustang to be a place for people to come to from everywhere to spend time with their horses,” said Cowan. “The other goal is to be established as a top-quality rehab facility for horses where they can be brought to, treated and recover in a rural setting they can thrive in.”

Cowan purchased his first horse in 1998, and over the next 15 years, he’s expanded his stable to include 21 more.

“I was never looking to break the bank when I found one, but over the years we were just able to come across some beautiful animals that we brought out here,” Cowan said.

To help establish the ranch, Chuck and Annette are putting on a Hoof Clinic on Sat., June 22, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and an Endurance Clinic on Sun., June 23, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The Hoof Clinic will provide information and examples of how to transition horses from traditional steel horseshoes to being barefoot or using hoof boots, as well as proper hoof care and maintenance. Cowan said he’s been an advocate for the transition for the last few years.

“The best comparison is to think of them like sneakers for horses,” Cowan said. “If you trace the history of how we use horses, it was a tradition to shoe them, but they’re not practical for them nowadays. Using the hoof boots is actually a cheaper alternative to shoes and they’re much better for the long-term health of the animal.”

The clinic will also cover how nutrition and proper care can also help keep a horse’s hooves healthy. Tools will be provided, though participants are encouraged to bring their own.

The Endurance Clinic provides owners a chance to learn about the sport of Endurance Distance Riding and experience a short mock ride through the ranch’s trails.

“A standard endurance event can cover anywhere from 50 to 250 miles in a day,” Cowan said. “We’re not able to go that far, but we can introduce folks to it and understand what it does for both them and their horses. We’ll have veterinarians on the course at routine intervals to perform checks and make sure everyone has a good time.”

The Cowans have also begun making and selling endurance saddles, as well as becoming a dealership for English-made Black Country Saddles. Looking ahead, Chuck hopes to expand the ranch to include more trails and more facilities.

“I’m hoping to finalize a deal on a neighboring property which would allow me to turn the house there into a bed and breakfast or a bunkhouse, as well as finish the rehabilitation center I’m envisioning for the horses,” said Cowan. “What I hope above all else is for people to come out and see one of the prettiest places in the world. It’s really like heaven here.”

Details on the Mustang Mountain Ranch and their upcoming clinics, including registration forms, can be found at their website, www.mustangranch.com. The ranch is located at 30500 N.E. 258th Ave., in Yacolt.

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