All Things Horse Related
Cottonwood Creek Equestrian Center
A Northern California’s gathering place for anything horse-related, Cottonwood Creek Equestrian Center prides itself on keeping happy, healthy horses.
The full-service equestrian boarding and training center has been around since 2003 when Northern California native Gail Bloxham launched Cottonwood Creek. Bloxham knew she wanted to have a career with horses since she was 12 years old. Growing up in Red Bluff, she remembers the first horse her dad ever bought her, named Nubbins. There was a piece of land near the Forward Park/Monroe Road/Manzanita Road area that locals named Motorcycle Hills, and she rode there with her friends often. “We were in 4-H and the local riding club, and we rode out by the ranch off Highway 36 East,” Bloxham adds.
In early 2003, Bloxham moved out to Dillon, Mont., but came back that fall to be closer to her daughter and new grandbaby. “We wanted to be a part of our grandchild’s life,” she says. When asked if her daughter and grandkid ride horses as well, Bloxham responds, “My daughter rides, not as often as she used to, but she’ll still come over. And my granddaughter rode every weekend from when she was 2 or 3 years old to until she became a teenager.”
While running a 26-acre, 15-stall equestrian center has had its challenges, Bloxham says she wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s the absolute best. I wouldn’t change it for the world. She’d come over for sleepovers, and to do trials and little shows,” Bloxham adds.
When she started the business, Cottonwood Creek originally just offered horse boarding. Over the years, Bloxham has added horse clinics, lessons and events, and a covered arena is open to the public.
“We had a vision and then adjusted the business to fit people’s needs. We originally wanted to board, but then we started a few lessons, added horsemanship training, and then someone called and asked if we could do a clinic. Now we do several clinics, workshops, small events and overnight boarding for people passing through or for whatever happens,” Bloxham explains. “Whatever people need we try to accommodate.” Northern California horse owners came to her during the Carr and Camp fires, and because of the recent and prevalent wildfire danger, Bloxham tells her clients that whenever they need emergency boarding to just come over.
Cottonwood Creek is usually full in the winter because people like to keep their horses close to the covered arena. As far as its boarding ability, some horses just stay for the weekend while others have been there for 10 years. “They’re kind of permanent. Or the same people are still around but they have different horses,” she adds.
Bloxham herself came to Cottonwood Creek with four horses and two mules, but now she just has one of her own named Very Chexy. “He’s a 10-year-old quarter horse. He’s really nice. I like him a lot,” she says with a smile. She takes pride in the care they give their boarded horses, feeding them twice a day, cleaning their stalls and closely monitoring their health.
“They all stay healthy; I think they like the barn because it’s kind of airy, yet covered. They seem happy; several of them play quite a lot,” she says. And sometimes when a person takes the horses out of their stalls, they’ll talk to each other.
Meeting the horses – and their owners – is Bloxham’s favorite part of her job. “It’s fun to meet all the horses. Some come troubled, some come great when they show up, some have health issues, and we take care of them. And we get to meet some really great horse people, some who are very well known in the area and in the industry.”
Along with offering new Garrocha workshops, tack swaps, obstacle challenges and reining clinics with world champion riders, Bloxham personally teaches a ground workshop where she shows people (and horses) ground manners, respecting each other’s spaces and more.
“And cow events…we play with cows quite a bit. We try to offer well-rounded aspects of what you’d like to do with your horse,” Bloxham says, also mentioning how obstacle practice open days are popular with riders.
Even though it’s a lot of work, Cottonwood Creek is in a safe, convenient location with plenty of people around who like to use its services. “The facility is clean, organized, and clinics were professional, beneficial, and I would return for more,” one Cottonwood Creek client says. •
Cottonwood Creek Equestrian Center • www.cottonwoodcreekequestrian.com