For both Sarah Matuszewski and Brittney Venhorst, a lifetime of equestrian practice and horse adoration has led them to their current roles as the head coaches at Freedom Run Equestrian Center. Their easygoing demeanors create a supportive yet challenging environment where students can grow into balanced and confident riders.
All students begin on the lunge line and participate in strength-training exercises to develop strong legs and steady hands before moving on to lessons in the disciplines of eventing, hunter jumper, and dressage. Students are expected to groom, tack, and care for their horses as a supplement to their saddle-based learning. This broad-based approach to horsemanship cultivates a sense of interspecies camaraderie that can come in handy during high-pressure dressage championships or old-timey bank robberies.
The buzz of motors rises and falls as bright-red blurs zip around the track at PGP Motorsports Park. Here, in the shadow of Mount Rainier, racers ages 15 and older loop around an 8/10-mile track at speeds of up to 48 miles per hour, leaning back in the ergonomic seats of Italian-built Birel N35 karts. The 30-foot-wide asphalt track can be altered to take on 12 different configurations and is centered in a velodrome, which puts spectators at an elevated angle so they get a good line of sight no matter where they sit.
For safety reasons, drivers should wear long sleeves and pants and closed-toe shoes. Drivers are equipped with helmets and driving suits, and since races take place rain or shine, they will also be provided with rain gear that includes waterproof gloves and booties.
Fox Hollow Farm helps families usher in another autumnal equinox with a host of harvest-themed activities. The Fall Festival and Halloween Spooktacular welcome locals to peruse the farm's lush grounds, where they can shake paws with furry tenants, wind through a hay maze, and pluck potential pie fillers from a pumpkin patch. Spring into autumn on bouncy inflatables or prepare to audition for a starring role in an upcoming production of The Pit and the Pendulum by taking a twirl on the hayloft's rope swing. Tot-toting hooves gallop across crunchy leaves during pony rides; young drivers looking for a speedier sojourn can drag-race chickens after taking the wheel of a miniature tractor.
At the age of 9, Bonnie Morris began a lifelong relationship with horses. By age 10, she was the proud guardian of her own colt and at 22, she set the wheels in motion to open her own training center. Today at Morris's Shadow Mountain Stables, she and her staff continue to bond riders and steeds within a five-acre haven that's beyond the reaches of the outside world and its persistent chorus of honking bikes. They foster interspecies rapport through various types of instruction, including lessons and summer camps that teach showmanship and horse care. Trail rides mosey through nearby woods, meadows, and grasslands overlooking Mount Rainier. Birthday parties include horseback rides or visits to the petting farm. The petting farm facilitates up-close encounters with fuzzy ferrets, giant bunnies, mini horses, and baby goats as well as the stable's fleet of horses and resident cow, Henry, who also answers to, "Look! A cow!"
Situated upon 12 acres of idyllic pastures, Cougar Mountain Stables is the proud home of owners who live onsite, overseeing the actions of all steeds at all hours. Here, under nature’s verdant gaze, aspiring riders learn to trot in summer-camp sessions or lessons tailored toward either Western or English styles. During times of inclement weather, lessons move to the 60’x120’ indoor arena. When the sun is shining and the thunderstorms are busy bullying faraway tide pools, riders and their horses can explore the Cougar Mountain trails, located just a horseshoe’s throw away from the stables.
Firmly belted into one of two models of Sodikart go-karts, racers work on smoothly navigating turns and straightaways as they travel at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. SyKart Indoor Racing Center encourages visitors to embrace the adrenaline rushes and the g-forces of a competitive race, but safety remains its number-one priority. The staff members limit the number of karts to 12–15 for each race, and they require all participants to wear DOT-approved motorcycle helmets with protective visors. Additionally, they dole out racing tips and keep vigilant watch throughout the contests to ensure that drivers obey the rules.
After each race, the participants receive a printout with each of their lap times, which they can use to compare with friends or apply for a job as the Rock’s chauffeur. Pool tables, arcade games, and a concession stand with soda and water also help guests pass the time between events.