Crook County Fairgrounds puts hold on open horse rides

Riders disappointed; work on solutions underway

Crook County Fairgrounds open ride...

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - The Crook County Fairgrounds has halted its horseback "open ride" program, saying too many riders had abused the system.

During non-business hours, riders are asked to pay using the honor system, but many have not been paying the fee, officials said Tuesday.

Fairgrounds Manager Casey Daly said they decided to stop the program indefinitely after a group of riders let themselves into the arena.

"We have a caretaker that lives on site. He had found a group of folks in there that had opened it themselves, and they were riding in the dark, and that was kind of the last straw," Daly said. "I met with my staff and we said, we need to come up with a different plan."

Vickie Westwood is a frequent rider who uses the program at least five times a week.

She said it is discouraging for her to have the program stopped this close to wintertime.

"I was very, very disappointed to find out that people had not paid, used the arena, and ended up getting it closed down for those of us that use it every day," Westwood said.

For Westwood, this indoor arena is the closet place to ride, and she is hopeful the arena will allow for open rides again soon. 

Daly said he and his staff are working on a solution.

They are working an adding a fence with a keypad lock to the door, as well as adding cameras to the arena.

"I've engaged our I.T. department on actually mounting a camera over the door," Daly said. "I think we can get that done relatively quickly. As soon as that happens, I think we will be able to get it back open."

Daly did not indicate when the arena will be reopen, and he said funding will have to come from a different part of his budget, but he doesn't anticipate it taking away from the fairgrounds' other programs.

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