Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 18, 2012

Horse park built in Ironton

Mike James
The Independent

IRONTON — Visions of hundreds of trucks pulling hundreds of trailers keep volunteer workers energized at a horse arena under construction here.

The Lawrence County Horsemen’s Association is building the arena in the South Ironton Industrial Park, and association chairman Flint Adkins thinks it will draw horse show enthusiasts from hundreds of miles away.

The association’s shows at other venues typically bring 300 or more spectators, and competitors come with 80 or more horse trailers. Adkins hopes to double those numbers at the new arena.

That will be good for the equine industry and good for the city’s economy, he said.

“Look at it this way. With 80 horse trailers, that’s a lot of tires, a lot of trucks pulling them and a lot of gas.” The people in the trucks will spend money at local restaurants and pick up boots and western wear at area stores. “It’s a whole culture of the past that makes money for the future,” he said.

When it is finished, the arena will measure 128 feet by 280 feet and will have an entry booth, announcer booth and concession area. There will be parking space for 300 horse trailers.

Association members, all volunteers, are building the arena on weekends. They are raising money via advertising placards that will be posted around the arena.

The association is still seeking funding to add a sound system.

Work started about two weeks ago and the association hopes to have its first shows in the new ring in April. Currently it holds shows at Ohio University Southern’s Ohio Horse Park in Franklin Furnace, which is just over the line in Scioto County.

The association has been putting on about five shows per year and hopes to triple the number at the new park. It also hopes to add gaited and draft horse events to its current schedule of barrel racing and pole bending competitions.

All shows have both adult and juvenile classes, and the arena will be available to 4-H groups as well.

Horse shows have the potential to draw competitors from hundreds of miles away. Events at a Jackson, Ohio, show Adkins recently attended brought horses from as far away as Nebraska, Georgia, New York and Ontario.

Ironton mayor Rich Blankenship, who dropped by the arena Saturday, is looking forward to its completion and what he hopes will be an economic boost. “Anytime you can get new people in town it benefits all aspects of commerce and business,” he said.

Also, once people get to town for a horse show, they are likely to explore its other attractions, he said.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.