From Pierce Park Rd. I gaze down into the canyon, or more properly, the gulch. Strewn along a rugged ten acres a scant mile and three quarters north of Hill Rd., Pierce Park Stables is a dense collection of neatly-maintained arenas, barns, stables and corrals. Horse trailers are lined up side-by-side in a central parking area. Mature trees shade much of what is otherwise the hot, dry landscape typical of the Boise foothills. And, of course, horses are scattered within the corrals and stable areas, swatting a fly or two, or just cavorting with the other horses in either a submissive or dominating posture depending on their place in the pecking order. Everyone seems to be getting along just fine today as I drop my vehicle down the dirt driveway to what appears to be the main barn. As I get out of the car I hear voices growing louder, then, emerging from the barn is Liz Trosky, or Lizzie to her clientele, barking instructions about the care of this or that horse and the anticipated arrival of one of her boarders.
She smiles and waves as I grab my camera bag, always a dead giveaway of my identity. “We just about got washed away last night,” she exclaims, referring to the summer downpour that dropped nearly an inch of rain in an hour the night before. I can see the telltale signs of small mudslides here and there and the wonderful aroma of damp sage and grasses. “Yes,” I reply “and one heck of a lighting show, too!” Liz is direct and matter of fact in the most pleasant way. We stroll through the barn as I ask her about the morning schedule for classes or other activities I might capture with my camera. I’m introduced to Allison Parker, one of her boarders who’s in this morning to do some light work with her buckskin mare, Timber. Eager to get going, I follow them to an arena and take up a position to grab some of the action. It’s a beautiful setting, the sage covered hills forming a colorful backdrop for horse and rider. Allison puts her mount through her paces in a gently assertive way, praising Timber following a particularly long stretch of demanding tasks. I grew up around horses in a casual way and I’m always impressed to watch a seasoned duo perform as if they are one entity.
As they leave the arena headed for the barn, another boarder enters an adjoining arena, this time a young man named Sammy Malhas riding a stout, somewhat short horse named, appropriately enough, Sage. Right off this mare’s pedigree is obvious. The shorter legs, alert temperament and rustic brand scrawled across her neck says “mustang”. Sammy confirms that he just bought this horse a couple weeks prior after a friend urged him to “check her out”. “At first, when I went up to her, she was a little skittish. So, I walked away, and then the next thing I know she’s following me all over the corral” smiles Sammy. “ I knew I had to have this horse.” He went on to explain how well trained she had been after being collected from the wild. Despite not having been ridden for a couple years, in the short time Sammy has owned her, Sage is adjusting her gait and re-learning the commands easily. There’s a little more work to go, but soon Sammy will have a very capable trail horse, which was his intent from the start.
I stroll back to the barn where Liz continues to attend to this task and that. I ask her about the stables’ history. “It started back in 1994 or so and went through several formats, both private and public, over the next 10 years trying to find itself in the market”, Liz explains. “I had 20 acres in Meridian on Eagle Rd. when this place came up for sale. It just seemed like a good fit for the kind of business I wanted to have.”
The core of the operation is boarding and at the moment she has 32 horses on the property. There is increasing demand as over recent years Boise has passed ordinances that exclude having livestock on your property within much of the city. Having a place that’s close to where people live yet provides trail access makes Pierce Park Stables an ideal resource for folks working close in to Boise that still want the amenities of a rural lifestyle.
But, boarding is just the beginning. The stables make a great trailhead for riders to trailer their horses to and take off for a day in the foothills. They can ride out from the property and connect with the equine-friendly trails that are part of the vast Ridge to Rivers system. Layovers are also possible and they can accommodate medical rehabilitations. Although Trosky does not offer group riding lessons, she does train individuals in all aspects of horsemanship, horse training and both Western and English riding styles. Already have a horse on your property but don’t have a proper arena for training and practice? No problem, Pierce Park Stables can accommodate with a facility to meet almost any riding need. For a number of business reasons Trosky is not able to offer up horse rentals. She does, however, lease horses to individuals who want to learn to ride, but aren’t sure they’re ready for the financial and time commitments of ownership.
Liz excuses herself to make her way over to work with a client who’s been trying to train her horse and break a few unusual habits. I watch as she patiently instructs, urging the most nuanced of adjustments that only her seasoned eye could recognize. My presence isn’t helping, so I make my way up the slope to find other photographic subjects. There are plenty as the stables are alive with people grooming horses, saddling them up for a ride, or attending to their feed. I find Timber and Sage back in their stalls and move in for a closer look. They munch away after their exercise, unconcerned by my attention and the rattle of my camera shutter. I leave them to their clean and quiet surrounding and make my way to my car, stopping to grab a few shots of Liz, now mounted up and heading to the gate for a morning ride of her own. I wave and she thanks me for coming by and offers to answer any other questions if I just give her a call. Then she laughs, remembering our inside joke about how difficult she can be to get ahold of here in the canyon.
Pierce Park Stables is located at 9400 Pierce Park Rd. Boise, ID 83714, just 1.8 miles north of Hill Rd. Call them at 208-853-6153 and leave a message, or wait for the voice mail greeting and get her cell phone number. Email is a reliable alternative as cell service can be sketchy on the property. Liz@pierceparkstables.com. Visit them at PierceParkStable.com on the Web.