The Chelan Rustlers Saddle Club has been a part of the community 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 located there still today.
The first meeting took place in June 1953 when they adopted their name, elected their officers and put together a board of directors of which at least one had to be a woman. They also voted to lease the 40-acre property located north of the Chelan Cemetery from the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) as their home base. Within a few short months, the membership grew and The Chelan Rustlers Saddle Club was up and running.
During their first summer, the City of Chelan offered to donate the existing rodeo grounds to the club - lock, chutes and barrels. THE CATCH: The Club would have to relocate the entire rodeo setup from its current location in downtown Chelan (now known as Don Morse Park) to the recently leased club grounds. The club gladly accepted the offer and began the long process of migrating the rodeo facility – piece by piece - from the edge of the lake to the northern foothills. It was four more years before they completed rebuilding the rodeo stadium just in time for their first Chelan Rodeo held on Labor Day weekend of 1957.
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.
The Club incorporated at the end of 1953 and was designated a nonprofit organization. Over the next several years, members worked toward having a fully operational horse boarding and riding facility. This involved drilling for water, bringing in electricity and other utilities as well as landscaping.
In late 1954, the members decided to purchase the leased land and made an offer of $1,200 to the IOOF. The offer was accepted and the Chelan Rustlers Saddle Club became the new owner of the 40-acres that housed their growing organization.
Plans to build corrals took shape in 1954-56 as did staking out areas for an arena, 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.
Each month, the assigned trail chief organized upcoming rides which were often a family affair. Children were regulars on these outings to encourage more youth involvement. In 1957, then President Phil Harley dedicated one night a week to training and teaching youth about proper horsemanship, rigging for trail riding, better ways for maintaining tack and caring for their horses. This eventually evolved into the Jr. Saddle Club group and later migrated into the Jr. Rodeo.
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 working along side 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.
The Chelan Rustlers Saddle Club is a one-of-a-kind facility that bears the rustic charm of a 68-year-old horse club. Each barn is individually owned and maintained as are the horses who live in them. Barn owners pay an annual land lease fee in addition to membership fees which helps with the cost of ongoing maintenance, utilities and water usage. The facility currently has 34 barns and paddocks housing the 40+ horses that call the Saddle Club home.
Nearly 100 members make up today's Saddle Club. 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 simply enjoy participating in club events and social activities with other equine enthusiasts. There is a place at the Saddle Club for anyone who enjoys being in the company of horses.
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 venture out on horseback 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
As a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, the club's budget primarily comes from membership dues. These dues help with the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the grounds and amenities along with utilities, accounting services, cleaning, repairing and landscaping. Members help defer some of these costs 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.
The Saddle 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 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.
Member since 2000
Member since 1998
Member since 1992
Member since 2020
Member since 1968
Club member since 1995
Club member since 2014
Club member since 2018
Club member since 2018