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A white 120-year-old farmhouse sits off Rogers Road next to an assortment of barns and outbuildings. Inside two of the largest barns are a handful of people ambling about and tending to horses. One of those is Pam Kiehn, who has lived on this farm since she was a child in 1969.
Pam Kiehn’s love for horses started as a little child while living in the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard. Her horse was boarded in Renton, so she only was able to see him on the weekends and her parents would have to drag her out of the barn after each visit.
She and her parents moved to a farmhouse on Rogers Road in Chehalis in 1969 to raise cattle. She and her parents decided to each get an Arabian horse; Kieh, a 6-month-old Arab stallion; her mother a yearling filly and her dad an Arab mare.
“Those were the three horses that we started with,” Kiehn said.
Her parents named the farm Adams Arabia. After her parents divorced, Kiehn took over half the farm and named it Acres of Pride Arabian over 40 years ago.
She’s been teaching riders ever since. Kiehn currently has 30 horses in her stables, a mix of board horses and her personal horses. Most of them are 20-plus years old.
“I’m known for taking exceptional care of older horses,” Kiehn said.
And they’re not just pasture horses, they each serve a purpose and all get some time to explore the pasture each day. The more friendlier and tame ones are used for riding lessons she teaches. She has provided riding lessons for kids as young as 4 years old and adults in their 60s. Most of her clients are beginner kids who love horses, never have had one and want to learn how to ride. Clients learn how to tack a horse up, how to brush them and how to ride. Down the road, some of them end up leasing horses.
“We also have some horses here who are partial-leased, so the owners can come and ride them but then someone else can come and ride them,” Kiehn said. “It kind of helps financially for both parties, because they don’t have to pay for all of the care of the animal.”
Some of the kids in her barn started learning from her at 4 years old and are still here as teenagers. Clients can choose to help out around the barn, cleaning out stalls and taking care of horses to pay for their horse’s board.
“I have kids that are like, ‘You’re older than my mom,’” Kiehn said. “And I’m like, ‘Yep. Because I used to give your mom lessons when she was your age.’”
Kiehn has also been active in local 4H for decades and currently runs the Bit N Spur 4H club, the longest active horse club in Lewis County. She even takes youth riders to performance shows around the state.
On Thursday, two youth riders were taking advantage of Kiehn’s indoor arena. Alaina Bedsole was riding a brown horse named Sierra, while Kendra Dimaggio sat atop a black horse with a white-streaked head named Baby.
It’s an important activity for the kids, Kiehn said, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered most extra-curricular activities for youth in the county and around the nation. She has kids travel from as far north as Olympia and as far south as Toutle to come and take advantage of what Acres of Pride Arabians offers. Horses provide an outlet, she said, and she only has a handful of people onsite at a time, so social distancing on this 20-acre farm is never a problem.
“I have parents say that if they didn’t have their horses and come and ride they’d probably kill their kids,” Kiehn laughed. “The kids aren’t able to do a lot of things. They’re restricting their other activities. There’s a lot of kids who are still at home doing virtual school.”
Acres of Pride Arabians isn’t just for kids, Kiehn said, she had one man start riding lessons at 59 years old. He’s 75 years old now, still has horses, dressages and competes in horse-driving competitions.
It’s been a fruitful job the past four decades, she said, but even more satisfying is seeing the benefits people gain from being around and riding horses.
“Coming out and riding a horse, if you have a stressful day at work or the office, make you feel better,” Kiehn said. “Horses just make the whole soul feel better.”