Focus on the fun: the Kluz Equestrian Center in Gillette is for learning, having a good time
Ashley Kluz Villmow and her family provide a place to ride, compete and learn about the different disciplines of equestrian sport.
Kluz Performance Horses, located near Gillette, Wyo., Is a family-owned equine events facility run by Ashley, with her husband, Brice Villmow, their son Tyson and Ashley’s mother, Laurie Kluz.
The facility includes a 120 ‘x 300’ heated indoor area, a 200 ‘x 300’ outdoor arena, booths, RV hookups, and more. It hosts several equestrian events each year and is available for hire. Villmow, a former reining trainer and queen, teaches reining and also produces an equine events program.
They have a series of “fun days”, what she calls a combination of gymkhana / small rodeos, with barrel races, pole bending, keyhole racing and more. Three of them take place in the spring, and three more make up the fall series. The entry fee is $ 40 for the whole day, with Kluz awarding fun things like buckles, staples, boots, etc.
They also host ranch horse shows, with six in total: three in the spring series and three in the fall. The ranch horse shows consist of ranch reining, ranch riding, and ranch trail.
The family is also hosting a two-day open horse show on July 11-12, a sort of replacement for the Buffalo, Wyo show. that was taking place. Ashley and her sister grew up taking part in the Buffalo Show, so they are happy to host the event. The equestrian show consists of five age categories, from eight and under to the amateur and open divisions, and this year will add a youth walk / trot class and an adult walk / trot class.
Villmow will also host seven clinics at the facility this year. The April Clinic features Jennifer Bull, a western dressage clinician from Wisconsin. In May, Casey Deary, a trainer of million dollar reining horses, will be on hand. Deary does one clinic a year, and for three years it’s been in Kluz’s barn. “This clinic is great,” Villmow said.
Also in May, Marilyn Randall makes an appearance to focus on ranch reining, ranch riding and the ranch trail. She will judge the first day and teach the second, giving students the chance to learn from their experiences.
June’s clinic is Laurel Denton, one of Arizona’s top ranch riding coaches. July is a month away from clinics, and August includes two clinics: Marilyn Peter who takes care of the ranch’s versatility and Sharee Swartzenberger, a clinician from reining. In November, Justin Henderson is on hand to teach the equestrian shows, and like Randall in May, he will judge the first day and teach the second day.
Spaces in clinics fill up almost immediately, Villmow said.
The building is occupied every weekend from April to early December, when they take a few months off.
4-H children have their horse shows at the Kluz building, with 4-H horse riding challenges every other Saturday as well.
The building can accommodate other events as well, with hourly and multi-day rentals, panels that can be set up for any configuration, and terrain worked every four hours. If Ashley isn’t on the tractor, her mom Laurie is there. “She really understands the dirty side, which is a big help with what we’re doing,” Ashley said.
Each member of the family has their role in the establishment. In addition to ‘dirt stains’ Laurie helps with events, set up, tear down, pick up, door management, ‘anything that needs to be done that you can’t get help with’ , Ashley said. Her husband Brice takes care of the big projects and has carried countless loads of rock and sand to the arena. He also takes care of the “little things”: putting the barrels and operating the door, if necessary. Even her six-year-old son Tyson is jumping into the action. “He’s a good judge and backstroke score sheet runner,” said Ashley. “He spares us a few steps.
A former reining trainer and National Reining Horse Association pro, Ashley now teaches reining lessons every Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday night is practice night, and she tries to keep the number of people in the barn down to eight, so it doesn’t get too crowded.
Kluz’s facility also has an outdoor hiking trail, complete with a pond, steps, large logs, and “Christmas trees used because nothing grows here,” Ashley said with a laugh. “We put them back in the ground and they stay, but sometimes we have to straighten them out because of the wind. People are having a “great time” with the outdoor class, she said. It is used for many ranch horse shows. Last year, they organized with her a trail challenge competition, with different obstacles ranging from simple to “wilderness rider”, the most extreme. “It’s fun,” she said.
The competitions at the Kluz Barn are fun, and that’s the goal, Ashley said. “We think that’s the way it should be. So many competitions are tough, fierce and I don’t want it to be that way. I want it to be fun for people.
Ashley and her family founded Kluz Performance Horses in 2007, with board and tuition. In 2017, they built the new facility.
For more information visit their website at http://www.kluzperformancehorses.com