Hayden horse clinic kicks off round of grant-funded events meant to boost local economy

Equestrians lead their horses Saturday around the indoor arena at the Routt County Fairgrounds during the second day of the Hayden Horsepower clinic. Famed horse trainer Kip Fladland, of Bozeman, Montana, held the clinic in Hayden over the weekend teaching the fundamentals of horsemanship. (Photo by Bryce Martin)

HAYDEN — For Wendy Lind, the Hayden Horsepower clinic wasn’t just a horse training event but a piece of something much bigger.

The event Saturday marked a return to normal after a year of COVID-19 lockdown and a step towards putting Hayden on the map as a destination town of its own, not just a bedroom community to Steamboat Springs.

Lind, who co-owns Axial Arts Architecture with her husband Kevin in Hayden, obtained a $10,000 grant from the Hayden Economic Development Committee to help bring events to the town.

The committee awarded the grant in 2020, but COVID-19 forced Lind to put a halt on events. Now that Routt County is back in the low-risk level, and 67% of residents have received their vaccines, Lind is excited to hold more events at the Routt County Fairgrounds in Hayden.

“We want to be approachable and create an environment where people can ask us about other events and have other ideas,” Lind said. “We’re just getting going, and I really encourage people, if they have an idea or an event they went to put on here, reach out to us.”

Horse trainer Kip Fladland, of Bozeman, Montana, leads a three-day horse clinic hosted by Hayden Horsepower at the Routt County Fairgrounds. (Photo by Bryce Martin)

Mary Alice Page-Allen, Hayden planning and economic development director, said the grant is about utilizing Hayden’s resources to promote the town and provide a variety of events all can enjoy.

“It’s about taking the resources that Hayden already had and turning it into something that’s really successful,” Page-Allen said.

For one of the town’s first events in more than a year, Lind brought Kip Fladland, a Montana-based horse trainer, to lead a three-day clinic for about 20 people and their horses at the fairgrounds.

A group of about 20 locals, alongside a few residents from the Front Range, attended the Hayden Horsepower clinic Friday to Sunday at the Routt County Fairgrounds. (Photo by Bryce Martin)

Fladland stood inside the fairground’s indoor arena Saturday and led directions to the crowd over a cordless microphone.

“You want to get them to lead and not have to drag them,” he told the crowd in teaching them to instill more self-sufficiency in their horses.

“We’re trying to get these horses to ride more efficiently, as if we weren’t riding them at all,” Fladland said. “We’re trying to get them to be more responsive to our aids and work for better communication and a better relationship between the horse and the person.”

The Kip Fladland horse clinic held at the Routt County Fairgrounds is the first in a series of upcoming events hoping to boost the Hayden economy. (Photo by Bryce Martin)

Lind said while the events are meant to serve as a fun outing for Yampa Valley residents, they are also meant to bring more revenue to Hayden’s local businesses. While most participants Saturday were locals, Lind said they did have a few from the Front Range.

“It’s really great for us small business owners, because when we have clinics or events in town, suddenly people come; they have breakfast, lunch and dinner here and visit our businesses,” said Tammie Delaney, owner of Wild Goose Coffee at the Granary. “It’s great for us as businesses to have something that draws people in and gets them to stay.”

While Saturday’s event was considered a foundational training, several longtime riders still attended the event and said they enjoyed it.

“It’s a blessing that I only live 2 miles from the Routt County fairgrounds, and I have wonderful access to this beautiful arena,” said Sandy Messing, a Hayden resident. “I’ve been working on my horses for years, and we just needed a refresher course on our basic training.”

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