New horse training facility open in Whatcom County

By Lance Henderson

Cowboy Campsite, a northwest Washington-based company that runs horse-friendly campgrounds in Sedro Woolley, Wash. and Kooskia, Idaho, has purchased the 15-acre former Papetti Lane Equestrian Center at 1090 E. Smith Road and opened the Cowboy Campus, a new equestrian training facility.

The facility will be equipped with commercial stables to house 10 company horses and 20 boarded horses, a riding arena and a clubhouse. The campus will offer rider lessons, horse training and boarding.

Duke Croney, owner of Cowboy Campsite, said horses are not allowed at most camping sites, so he opened his campgrounds exclusively to horse lovers who want to camp and ride trails. Members pay a membership fee, which indefinitely reserves them a space to camp and build a horse corral.

However, the Whatcom County facility will not be a Cowboy Campsite; it will be an educational facility designed to meet a local need for equestrian boarding, training and education.

Croney said most equestrian training is specialized toward a specific horse event, but for basic horse training there is no national training standard. So Croney researched several methods and developed a 12-step “foundational education process” to learn basic things, such as how to put a halter on a horse and how to determine if a horse is healthy.

“We talked with trainers around the country and learned where all the holes were and created an approach that would give riders the basics before getting into something more specialized like barrel riding,” Croney said.

Currently, the Cowboy Campus is open for lessons, training and boarding. The company is still going through a change-of-use process for the clubhouse, which should be open before the end of the year.

For more information about Cowboy Campsite and the new Cowboy Campus, call (360) 922-0206 or visit


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