Vernonias Ridge Riders raise funds for horse arena with trek through woods

by: COURTESY PHOTO - Members of the Vernonia Ridge Riders, an equestrian social group, are looking forward to a fundraiser poker ride July 13.Trail riders from near and far will travel to Vernonia Saturday, July 13 and head into the woods on their ponies to play poker.

The Vernonia Ridge Riders — an equestrian social group founded in 1954 that raises funds for the local high school equestrian team, local rodeo riders and the needy — are hosting a poker ride.

Riders start at Vernonia’s Anderson Park by picking up a playing card, and proceed to stop at card stations along the ride. Upon returning to the park at the end, riders have the chance to win prizes — from horse feed to tack to Dutch Brothers gift cards — for the poker hand they bring back.

The approximately three-and-a-half hour ride over the rivers and through the woods (private property and old growth timber land) is “one of the most beautiful rides you can find, with the most breathtaking views,” said Bonnie Sage, a Ridge Riders member who helps organize the poker ride and maintain the trails. “Just go up there for a ride and all your worries will be gone.”

Sage said the trails are suitable for unshod horses, which are growing in numbers these days. She’s been working to remove rocks and otherwise smooth problematic terrain that could be hard on “barefoot” horse hooves. The route only requires horses and riders to cross gravel logging roads, not travel on them.

Sage said riders from Washington and Oregon, young and old, come to the Ridge Riders events, and group members hail from Vernonia, Hillsboro, Forest Grove and even south of Eugene.

“The more the merrier,” said Sage, who trail rides with her husband, granddaughter and a mini-donkey named Maynard T. Baker. “A lot of the fun is meeting all kinds of different people.”

Riders have been flocking to the city-owned and Ridge Riders-leased arena in Anderson Park for decades. Long before the Oregon Equestrian Trails group and State Parks Department created the Banks-Vernonia Linear Park Trail, riders followed the railway lines that led to Vernonia’s Oregon-American Sawmill. The approximately 40 current Ridge Riders have kept up the traditions of past members and added a few of their own — poker rides, club banquets and participation in the town’s Fourth of July parade and Vernonia Friendship Jamboree and Logging Show.

The Ridge Riders are currently raising money and looking for donations to cover the arena so local riders can use the facilities year-round.

The poker ride entry fee is $5 per hand and $20 for five hands. Signup starts at 8 a.m. and the ride starts at 9 a.m. Afterward, riders can participate in a trail obstacle challenge for $5.

Overnight camping facilities with corrals are available.

Visit for more information or call 503-327-5641.

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