HER ENTHUSIASM AND passion are catching. I’m smiling inside just thinking about my interview with the bubbly, spirited and compassionate Kari Payne as she showed me her 20-acre farm and described the work she’s already done toward making it the forever home for her and her rescued dogs and horses; it also enables her to offer financial support to nonprofit local rescue organizations.
Payne has totally spruced up the farm, and I think it looks very cool with all the buildings painted in gray and black. Built in the 1990s, the farm, which Payne has renamed 4L Arena, has been turned into a top-quality equestrian facility with multiple arenas and provides full-care and vacation horse boarding. She’s also built a grand 160-foot by 240-foot arena she hopes to open for local organizations to host shows for little or no cost.
And as a huge bonus, the property is just a stone’s throw away from the Cassidy Creek DNR trail system.
Payne purchased the farm on South McCrorie Road in 2015 from Nikki Gold after selling “everything I’ve acquired in life,” including the seven properties she owned in California and Washington state, to make her dream come true in her retirement years.
Why gray and black? Payne hails from Sacramento and is “a huge fan of the Raiders,” formerly the Oakland Raiders of Oakland, Calif., located near Sacramento.
Recently, the team moved to become the Las Vegas Raiders. Despite that, she remains a diehard Raiders fan, and she chose the team colors, gray and black, for her farm.
With 4L, she hopes to continue an idea she started with an arena she owned in southwest Washington, and that is “to offer my arena in ways that will benefit local nonprofits, specifically local animal rescue organizations.”
She describes herself as a “huge supporter of OPEN,” the Olympic Peninsula Equine Network, a local horse rescue nonprofit based in Sequim and operated primarily by Diane Royall and Valerie Jackson.
“Diane is just a wealth of knowledge about horses and horse problems, and so helpful,” Payne said.
I couldn’t agree with her more. Royall and Jackson have worked tirelessly for many years — along with using their own hard-earned money, helping both horses and their owners, along with slowly building their facility as money and time permits. If you’re able, I highly recommend donating to and supporting OPEN. For more information, phone 360-207-1688 or go online at www.olypenequinenet.org.
She and her late first husband — “the love of my life,” she said — chose the name 4L, not only because their last name was Lohman, but because they found themselves constantly rescuing horses and dogs that they nicknamed “the four-legged ones.” So, she said, the name 4L is a tribute to both her husband and their love of “the four-legged ones.”
“I really want to give back to our community,” she said.
So much so, she’s offering her arena at no charge for weekly practices to local youth horse groups, such as pony clubs, 4-H, high school equestrian teams, junior rodeo, patterned speed horse and youths in Washington State Horsemen.
For youths who want to ride but don’t own a horse, she’s open to the idea of letting him or her use one of her older, highly experienced horses. She’s also open to organizations wanting to host youth campouts in the summer.
“I’ve got some nice campsites in the back with fire pits,” she said. “It could be a lot of fun for them.”
She plans to give 100 percent of the profits she earns from shows to local horse- and dog-rescue organizations that are unfunded, such as OPEN, PAWS and Pet Posse.
“Even though I don’t have kids, I want to support them,” she said, adding not having children was by choice because she only ever wanted animals. “That’s why I’m offering use of my arena free to local youth groups to practice in.”
She’s got a love for competing in speed events, such as barrel racing and poles, so she’s ecstatic she’s helped create a new National Barrel Horse Association district for Jefferson, Clallam and Kitsap counties — NBHA WA District 5, or WA05.
To maintain the footing during events, she’s got a new ABI arena groomer; for speed events, she has two wireless laser timers for accurate reading.
Since purchasing, Payne has torn down all the worn-out buildings and rebuilt them stronger and better. The place came with a small indoor area — Gold had added a half-sized Dressage arena with rubber mulch footing. To that, Payne added an extra-large outdoor arena, complete with a two-story grand announcer’s stand, where she invites organizations to host shows.
To ensure the outdoor arena’s footing is good to ride on year-round, she had a bulldozer cut down 12 feet beneath the surface, then laid gravel and filled it in to 8 feet, where she added drains “all through underneath” to avoid any mud pooling under the surface.
A bit of reject gravel was added before filling and leveling the rest of the footing with a 60-40 mixture of sand and clay.
“I do speed events, so I don’t like pure sand in the arena — it shifts too much when walked or ridden on,” she said, fearing the extra movement could cause a horse to pull a tendon or worse.
In the beginning, while she focused on making improvements to the property, she offered vacation rentals, but unfortunately for the visitors, she was so busy she couldn’t advise them on the many attractions of the North Olympic Peninsula.
Now, she finds it a bit comical: “I’d have visitors from all around the world asking me the best places to explore and see, but I couldn’t tell them anything because I’ve just been working on my farm and hadn’t gone anywhere. Oh, I did go once to Hurricane Ridge.”
I enjoyed meeting Payne and seeing all her improvements after riding past the farm a number of times during the 20-plus years I lived on Olson Road. I’ve ridden trails through the Cassidy Creek DNR land, including a looping trail where I crossed the lower part of McDonald Creek to trails on the Blue Mountain Road side, and a trail that ran parallel to the creek. A small section of that loop included riding past the farm on McCrorie Road to Midnight Sun Lane, where, at its dead end, a trail took me back across the creek to the Cassidy Creek system. I used to refer to those trails as “my greater backyard” because they started just a few hundred feet from my driveway. Those memories are part of my “good old days.”
I’m looking forward to making new memories with Payne at her 4L Arena. I’m hoping in the near future to ride that Cassidy Creek trail loop again, but this time starting with Payne at her place.
And if you plan to visit the farm located at Gellor and McCrorie roads, 95 S. McCrorie Road in Port Angeles, call ahead to Payne at 503-789-4247 because the property is gated and secured. Hope to see you there at a show.
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.
If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.