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Horse sanctuary is paradise for retired horses, training


By Lynda Brommage

There’s an equine paradise in a nearby town with more than 30 retired horses that are free to roam between five pastures, encompassing over 40 acres.

Instead of putting a horse down due to age or injury, it can be brought to Lone Tree Farm in Waterford to enjoy the rest of its life in the pastures with other horses. There’s even a horse here that once worked in Hollywood movies.

Lone Tree Farm also features a fully-equipped training ground with a dressage area, a stadium for shows and events, jump courses for different levels, and even a cross county jump course. In all, there are approximately 125 different jumps for training and competition.

Riders from all over the Central Valley and the entire state come to improve their skills in a stress free environment. Each participate must fill out a registration form and be accompanied by a certified and insured horse trainer.

The Lone Tree Farm was originally founded by Connie Arthur of Oakdale in 1994. She built out the entire 80-acre site, bit by bit, starting with a barn, creating the pastures, and then the cross country jump course and stadium. She trained Irish Draft Sport horses.

Arthur is now retired but has stayed on as a resident trainer. Pierre Paquerlier and his partner Erin Gates are the new owners of the location with many years experience under their belts in training and working with horses.

Paquerlier is originally from Dijon, France, and is also a professional well-established horse shoer. His “Pierre Ferrier Service” business has been operating out of San Jose, Woodside, and Monterey for more than 30 years. He came to America in 1989 and has spent much of his time training and starting horses.

The ranch has many stalls and camping options for riders, trainers and their horses to be accommodated during events. There’s also a couple guest rooms.

Earlier this month, Lone Tree Farm hosted a Derby event that included dressage, a stadium jump course and a cross county jump course. There were about 30 horses with riders and trainers participating in the competition.

Dressage, the first part the event, is a French term for training, a form of riding performed in 5-6 minutes, on how well the rider can control their horse in pattern, walk, trot, and canter.

“It’s showing you have the capability to control your horse to perform under a certain a time frame,”Paquerlier said.

Horse trainer Julie Mattox was in attendance for the Derby event to assist with the horses and training. “Horse training typically starts at 2 years for a horse but that can vary,” she said. “Every horse is different just like people. Training is very individual. The hardest thing for people is learning to have patience.”

Mattox has been riding horses since she could walk, she said. She also has her own ranch with about 30 horses, and she owns seven of them.

Ashley Burkett, 17, from Carmichael, has been riding since she was 12. She has been attending the training practices at the farm for the last two months and hopes to do more competing. Her horse Marley, 18, has been her steady companion.

Burkett loves the training and has been camping at Lone Tree Farm. “It’s been a bit hot,” she said. “But it’s a blast. You learn so much, and about yourself, and you gain a lot of independence.”

Natalie Lenser from Oakdale took up riding horses in her mid-30s. “It was something I always wanted to do. The sky is the limit,” she said. “I purchased my horse Nora at age 14.  A prime age — very good for beginners because the horse knows what to do. It’s usually already trained. The older horses will take care of you.”

Lenser started with 4 years of riding and lessons before she bought her own horse.

While the property serves as a venue for eventing and training clinics it is mostly to serve as a equine sanctuary for retired horses to live out and enjoy the remainder of their lives peacefully in the natural environment of the pastures which hug the Tuolumne River.

The cost is $350 a month which includes everything, except in the case of older horses which may need extra supplements, mash (softer food), or extra care. During most of the year the horses graze freely on grass when it is plentiful and in the winter they are given hay and winter supplements.

“Horses typically live 30 years plus,” said Pasquerlier. “The horses are divided into three groups; one for males, one for females and one for the older horses. There are people in place to tend to the horses to check fences, food, and care for the horses at all times all year round.” Barn Manager Dyan Southern over sees the facility.

The Lone Tree Farm has quite a following and is well recognized through out the Central Valley as the place to take your horse to retire or to train your horse and yourself. Jerry Kelly, a long time equine enthusiast and attendee said, “At Lone Tree Farm, the care of the horses and respect for their feelings is the most important.”

There are many events lined up which can be viewed online for more information including the Foundation Horsemanship & Cow Working Clinic by cowboy Buster Mcaury from Texas scheduled for Sept. 23-26.

The Lone Tree Farm & Equine Retirement, Training and Event Venue is located on 23806 Yosemite Blvd., in Waterford.

For more information visit their website:

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