What do pool noodles, logs, a mailbox and an inflatable orca all have in common? They are just a few of the many obstacles riders and their brave equines will find at Blue Diamond Ranch’s new extreme trail obstacle course in Roy. Owner and trainer Kimberly Woods-Loyd has built her ranch from the ground up and is now ready to share in the joy and excitement of this newer equine sport that is quickly growing in popularity.
Kimberly moved with her mother form Iowa to Washington when she was 15-years-old. She spent her teenage years in Puyallup before heading off to college. When she returned to Washington, she purchased land in Roy where she would realize a lifelong dream of hers. “I resolved to finally build this property in 2004,” she shares, “when I bought it, it was raw land and lots of stumps, but with a dream I had most my life and by working hard to save, I was able to accomplish this on my own.”
14 years later, and Kimberly, along with her two older daughters and two young sons, runs her training and boarding facility. “Our love and compassion for all horses has come to be a way of life,” Kimberly explains. “I have 4 beautiful children that are growing up learning this way of life (hard work, honesty and integrity).”
As far as riding goes, Kimberly has been doing it for 24 years. Her background is English. She used to ride Arabians in Scottsdale, Arizona, where one of the largest Arabian breed shows is held each year. But when she moved back to Washington, she says she gravitated toward western riding. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to her what style you ride, it all about the relationship. “Here at Blue Diamond Ranch we enjoy anything we can do with our horses as well as sharing with others that desire to learn and be a part of life on the ranch with our equine friends,” she shares.
Originally, Kimberly was not planning on an extreme trail course, she just started to use obstacles in her training as a way to build trust. “A few years ago, I found that by creating a few obstacle challenges to take the horses I trained through, there began to be an almost instant trust relationship, which I built upon, helping horses to understand a more Natural Horsemanship learning style,” she explains. “They did not need to fear in order to learn. I wanted to create an open and safe environment where the horse could trust and accept me as their leader. As I practiced and taught these techniques to the horses I worked with, I gained their respect, trust and a willingness to learn what was asked of them.”
And when it comes to kids versus horses, she says the kids are much harder to train. “Personally, raising four children all with different personalities and learning styles has helped me to understand horses are not much different than children, however I do think that horses will not give you as many challenges as your kids,” she laughs.
In July 2018, Kimberly was contacted by one of the directors of the Extreme Trail Horse Association (ETHA), a new organization whose mission is to “provide safe, yet challenging obstacle courses and events for individuals or family recreation.” Members of the ETHA get discounted rates at their parks as well as from partner companies. The ETHA contacted Kimberly to see if she would be interested in creating a park after seeing some of photos of the obstacles she was already using.
The Blue Diamond Ranch course has obstacle for all levels of horse and rider – easy, moderate and difficult. She currently has 35 obstacles, but she is always thinking of new things, so you never know what is next! The point is to work at the level you and your horse are comfortable with and go from there. Remember, it’s about the relationship. “It is important to me to share with other horse people that by engaging in these challenges with their horses, both rider and equine can gain confidence and trust in their abilities and partnership,” Kimberly explains. “Also, by helping horses to engage the thinking side of their brain rather than the reactive side, it will help in the future as they exercise their brain muscle to overcome other challenges that may surprise them.”
The ranch will also hold clinics for all levels of riders/handlers and horses as well as an extreme trail challenge show series and fun events throughout the year.
Visiting Blue Diamond Ranch
Currently, they are open weekends 10:00 a.m. – dusk (depending on winter and summer hours, as well as by specially appointments during the week. Call 253.255.5673 to schedule your time on the course. Follow Blue Diamond Ranch on Facebook for updated information on upcoming clinics, shows and to see what new obstacles Kimberly will think of next.