There are hitching rails at the South end of Kiona Winery’s parking lot. These were put in several years ago, I believe by the Backcountry Horseman chapter (this is unconfirmed, because I’ve heard numerous others claim to’ve put them in). At the time they were on Kennewick Irrigation District (KID) property.
We all assumed it was Kiona property, as it was right on the line of a very old, brittle, barbed-wire fence that any logical person would assume marked the actual property boundaries. (I have some stories about that fence though, and that’s another post for another time.)
The Aquilini group purchased the KID land and have since been planting 640 acres in vines.
We knew early on that our access to the hitching rails would come to an end. We loved setting up at Kiona — they’re family there and the location was so central to the rest of the mountain. I took endless photos of my commute home from the hitching rails, ponying the rest of the string in a line behind me, clip-clopping along the road that led from the hitching rails to our home. I loved that trip home, with the sun on my back.
Today I learned that the hitching rails were going to be pulled. For what it’s worth, I did call Aquilini’s top guy (Barry Olivieri) and ask if he’d consider leaving the rails. This was an understandably short conversation. It does not make business sense to leave the rails there.
So, that’s that. The hitching rails are going. We have been preparing for that by a.) doing rides by reservation so we spend very little time standing about, and b.) getting our place ready to run rides out of here. Oh, and c.) talking with Kiona about other arrangements, which they graciously are considering.
I see this in a way as a good thing. Being stationed out of our place is such a great benefit to the horses. They get to hang out in the shade, in corrals under the willows, with automatic waterers full of cold water, hay bags full of hay, and not being tied to the rails. Not that they minded it, but a corral is nicer than a tether, I don’t care who you are. It also enables us to get some chores done around here in between rides.
I think the thing that worries me is that folks may assume that either we took the rails or that Kiona took them out or that it’s some big move to eliminate horses from Red Mountain. That somehow it’s something “personal.” It’s nothing like that at all. It’s just the business of progress.
The good news is that there is a push to get a trail built out here, and it will be accessible for horses. There’s a trail head planned and everything.
So, if you are out here and wondering where we are with our horses, and where the hitching rails are, don’t worry! Come and visit us at our place, we’d love to see you!