So many of my favorite childhood memories reside in the heart of this big red barn, Cedar Ridge Horse Center, located in Woodbridge, Virginia.
My mom would drop me off first thing summer mornings, and I'd spent the entire day there.
There were other girls my age, of course, and we'd exercise and groom various horses, pick stalls, feed, water the arenas (to keep the dust down) and just eat, breathe, and live horses.
A boarding facility that housed 50 horses, there was always action to be had. I rode daily, but I also participated in lessons once a week, and occasionally a group clinic. If we weren't riding or working, my friends and I would pretend to be horses - ascending over the jumps in the arena by foot. Or we'd sled down the manure pile (which towered overhead in the rear of the barn) on a little red sled. If someone with a driver's license was around, we'd pile into a car to head down the road to Taco Bell, the newest fast food chain on the block. Sometimes we'd grab Peach Nehis at 7-11 to have later in the afternoon. And if all food options failed, there were always the snack machines in the lounge.
Here I am riding Sprite, a school horse that I leased the summer prior to getting my own horse.
And here is my horse, Chico, in the private paddocks to the side of Cedar Ridge.
Of course, there have been rumors throughout the years that Cedar Ridge would be closed down. Prince William County blossomed around it, and being a suburb of D.C. housing is in high demand. I stopped in Cedar Ridge briefly when I was in the area about 8 years ago. Many of the stalls then were empty.
And so, I guess it wasn't really surprising when my old barn friends began posting on Facebook that Cedar Ridge was being torn down. What surprised me, though, was that seeing the current pictures hurt so badly (I was thankful to be given permission to share them with my readers).
Here is a view of the barn aisle, which I swept from end to end by broom many a summer morning, pausing along the way to greet my favorite horses by name.
Back in the day, steel bars graced the stalls, blankets hung on doors, and handsome horse heads peered out from every door.
And here is the indoor riding arena.
Raped of it's wooden walls, jumps, and soft footing. An arena I spent many, many hours in. If I wasn't riding myself, I was often to the side watching others.
It is with great sadness that I say adieu to this landmark of my childhood. When I think of Cedar Ridge, I think "Yes, as a matter of fact, I WAS raised in a barn".
And although it may be silly to miss a cinderblock and metal building, Cedar Ridge will be missed by many - who may be grown now but who still remember, fondly.