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BACKGROUND AND HISTORY

Where it All Began

The Chelan Rustlers Saddle Club has been a part of the Chelan and Manson communities for more than 60-years. Originally formed in 1953 by a group of horse enthusiasts who shared a passion for experiencing Central Washington on horseback, they settled their base location in the foothills above Lake Chelan and are still located there today.


The first official meeting took place in June 1953 when they dubbed themselves The Chelan Rustlers Saddle Club, elected their officers and put together a board of directors of which at least one had to be a woman. They also identified the 40-acre property located north of the Chelan Cemetery as their desired club location and entered into a lease agreement with the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) who owned the property. Within a few short months, the membership grew – dues were only $.50 a month then – and The Chelan Rustlers Saddle Club was off and running.


During their first summer, the club got a big break when the City of Chelan offered to donate the existing rodeo grounds structure and materials which included corrals, chutes and bleachers. THE CATCH: The Saddle Club would need to move and relocate the entire rodeo setup from its current location in downtown Chelan (now known as Don Morse Park) to the recently leased saddle club grounds. The club gladly accepted the offer and began the long and arduous process to migrate the rodeo facility – piece by piece - from the edge of the lake to the foothills. It was four more years before they completed rebuilding the rodeo stadium, just in time for the first Lake Chelan Rodeo held on Labor Day weekend of 1957.

Meetings . . .

In the early years, monthly meetings often were held at places of business such as the Chelan Building Lumber Company, Elgin Orchards Cabin House or Harlan Faris Tire Company. Of course, these business owners were also saddle club members themselves.

Expanding the Club

The Club incorporated at the end of 1953 and was designated a nonprofit organization. Over the next several years, members worked together to prepare the grounds to be a fully operating horse boarding and riding facility. This required finding a source of water, electricity and other utilities along with extensive landscaping. The neighboring cemetery gave access to their waterline for portions of the property, and the Club installed the necessary piping. This in addition to drilling a well addressed the water source issue. After the pump house was installed and some lights were put up, the Club was in business. 

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. . . Buy the Land

In late 1954, the members decided to stop leasing the land and purchase it outright. An offer of $1,200 was made to the IOOF. Surprisingly, the offer was accepted. Chelan Rustlers Saddle Club became the new owner of the 40-acres that housed their growing organization.

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Plans to build corrals took form in 1954-55 as did staking out areas for an arena along with a play area, training and riding track. Even with the ongoing work, the members, never forgot their passion to venture out regularly on horseback around the mountains and orchards of Chelan and Manson. 

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Passion for Riding

Each month, the assigned trail chief organized the upcoming rides which were often a family affair. Children were regulars on these outings so much so that the club decided each ride should include a “certain amount of playtime for the kids.” In 1957, then President Phil Harley initiated a plan to help generate enthusiasm and interest for younger riders: He dedicated one night a week to training and mentoring young girls and boys, teaching them about proper rigging for trail riding, maintaining their tack and better  methods for handling and caring for their horses. This eventually evolved into the Jr. Saddle Club group.  

Grounded in Tradition

Community and civic engagement was and still is a core principle of the Saddle Club. From the beginning, Saddle Club members have participated in parades, festivals and numerous local events. In the 50’s and 60’s, several members joined the Chelan County Posse supporting local law enforcement with duties ranging from public ceremonial events to patrol of wilderness areas and other emergency response requests. It wasn't unusual to find the Posse on a search and rescue mission in wooded and remote areas that were not conducive to powered vehicles.


While some things have changed over time, the Saddle Club traditions remain the same and have been passed on from generation to generation. The Club continues to support equine events through organized rides, youth programs, community engagement and it's sponsorship of training clinics and rodeos.  


The Chelan Rustlers Saddle Club is a place for those individuals who enjoy being part of a community where life is experienced on the back of a horse.

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OUR FACILITY

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The Horses

The Chelan Rustlers Saddle Club is a one-of-a-kind facility that bears the rustic charm of a 66-year-old horse club. Each barn is individually owned and maintained. Most barns can board anywhere from two to four horses, depending on the set up. Members who own barns pay higher annual membership fees to help with the cost of additional ongoing maintenance, utilities and water usage.


The facility currently has 30 barns and paddocks housing the 40+ horses that call the Saddle Club home.

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The Members

The Saddle Club has more than 100 members today. Membership is not exclusive to onsite barn owners. Many members keep their horses elsewhere, on their own property or other boarding facilities. And some are not horse owners at all. They just enjoy participating in club events and social activities with other horse minded people. There is a place at the Saddle Club for anyone who enjoys being in the company of horses. 

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Amenities

We sit on 40-acres of beautiful central Washington land where members have easy access to miles of nearby riding trails and other scenic areas to ride that are less than an hour’s drive from the Saddle Club. 


Shared amenities include:

  • two large professional sized riding arenas, (one covered for year-round use)
  • one 60’ round pen
  • two obstacle training courses
  • one rodeo arena and stadium with cook shack
  • one clubhouse used for meetings, social events and BBQs.

The large arenas have been named in memory of two former members, Art Mathers (member from 1956 - 1975) and Marv Stocker (member from 1973 - 2003), who put a lot of heart, soul and even their own personal money into the club to make it what it is today. We honor their contribution each time we use these arenas.

Operations

As a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, the Club's budget primarily comes from membership dues. These dues help with the ongoing maintenance of the grounds and amenities along with utilities, accounting services, cleaning, repairing and landscaping. Members help by participating in year-round work parties to keep up the grounds and prepare the facilities for upcoming events.


The club also receives income through member organized fund raisers and fees paid by outside organizations to lease the rodeo facilities and other parts of the club grounds. 


Special assessments may be levied by the Board as needed to fund unexpected or under-funded situations during the year. This might include mid-year increases for weather-related damage to plumbing, electrical, downed trees or unexpected repairs to the other facilities on the grounds.

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Governance

The Club is governed by a nine-member Board of Directors that oversees club operations and ensures compliance with bylaws and regulations. Board members also are actively involved in day-to-day activities, events and sponsored club events. Board of Directors and association member meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at the club house. The current officers and board members are listed below. 

Saddle Club Officers

Darrin Hamilton, President

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Member since 1998

Cheyenne Stocker, Secretary

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Member since 2000

Pat Lingle,Treasurer

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Member since 2014

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Butch Wiese

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Club member since 1995

Sonya Shaw

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Club member since 2015

Kathy Whetstine

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Club member since 2008

Jody Southwick

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Member since 1998

Bernice Bernatz

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Member since 1963