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Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

August 24, 2012 at 10:05 PM

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Brier still riding high in the saddle


Sketched Aug. 15 and 22, 2012

If you go to this city park in Brier, bring your skateboard and your tennis rackets, and don't forget your horse.

Carlos García rides his Mexican dancing horse at Brier Park's 23,000-square-foot equestrian arena two or three times a week. "I love that this town has preserved its horse-riding culture," García told me as Mandilón stood still for my sketch.

But while the circa-1980s horse arena is a testament to Brier's bucolic identity, elsewhere in this small town just 15 miles north of Seattle, development threatens to erode the rural character that drew people here.


Gene Funk bought a home on 4 acres in 1976 and has enjoyed boarding horses for more than 20 years. Now 70, he admits he might consider an offer from developers if they knocked on his door. "They could build nine homes here," he said.


Peggy Dare, who appears in my sketch with her Saddlebred/Arabian horse Bodie, has been advocating for horses and horse owners' interests since moving to Brier more than 25 years ago. That's why when you ask anyone in this city about horses, the response is usually: "You should talk to Peggy."

Like fellow horse owners, Dare is saddened by the effects of development -- she's seen two farms near her property turned into "giant homes" on 1/3 of an acre lots in the past 10 years -- but she's not ready to give up.

"I know some homes for sale where people could have their horses," she said. "People should bring their horses to Brier. We'd love to have them."


Gus Dorati is a retired fisherman who boards his two horses, Scorpion and Geronimo, at Funk's home. Scorpion, the horse I sketched, is a mix of Andalusian and Lusitanian, said Dorati.


Dorati introduced me to Ramón Mejía and Abraham Espinosa at the horse arena. Mejía owns a pure-bred Friesian horse that he takes to shows and parades. Espinosa, the fellow on the saddle, is his trainer. Dorati said this horse, named Peter, is "the most beautiful in the entire county."

Do you like horses?
Check out the Seattle Times Northwest Horse Forum.

What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!

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