Research and interviews by Linda Jean Shepherd
From Heidi Kayler: When I was a girl growing up in Mirrormont, we kept horses at the Stables. I took riding lessons there, and rode on the huge trail network that surrounded the property. We had campfire sing-alongs at night, etc. It was a really vibrant place “back in the day.”
I had the good fortune of enjoying Mirrormont stables in its “hay” day. For horse aficionados, it was quite a hub in the sixties and seventies. Beautiful horses and ponies of all kinds were boarded there (including, for a time, my pony Tarowyn). Lessons were offered in the main corral—English Style? Western? Your choice. I took English lessons with the enthusiastic Jen (see photo) and my stepsister, Stephanie (also in photo), took Western lessons on her pony, Velvet. The grounds were pretty amazing, too. A quick ride southeast of the main barn would reveal a vast and beautiful meadow with rolling hills, trails, and an open invitation to gallop!
Vern, a rough and tumble cowboy with a mischievous gleam in his eye, managed the stables during this time. Always bedecked in cowboy hat, boots and bolo, he was the jovial yet commanding force behind the stables. His office was directly above the main barn—you can still see the office window overlooking the corral today through which he would keep watch.
On summer evenings, you’d often find people sitting around a roaring campfire, telling stories or singing with a guitar. Rustic and authentic, Mirrormont Stables really captured the rural spirit on which our area was founded and faithfully served many people (and horses!) in our region. The next time you see the Stables, picture what it must have looked like when it was thriving. As I like to say, the façade may have changed, but all the memories are still there.
From Melinda Codling, who moved to Mirrormont in 1973: In 1967, the summer after graduating from college, I went horseback riding on a guided tour offered by Mirrormont Stables. We went across the road and up the hill on bridle trails into Mirrormont, and the guide pointed out remnants of coal mining – old cables and a coal cart. By the time we moved here in 1973, Mirrormont Stables no longer gave guided tours. But I exercised a horse being boarded there, for a woman who didn’t have the time. I love riding my horses around Mirrormont because I meet a lot of neighbors out working in their yards.
From Mirrormont News, Summer 2004: Years ago, the trails were probably used more than Mirrormont Place: some of the kids in the area had horses and the Mirrormont Stables were very active. There were only a couple of houses up here and the road was gravel. The trails were marked on the promotional literature and are on the plats as “equestrian trails.” As some of your know, back thirty years ago there was no requirement to draw in the exact location of a public right-of-way if it was clearly visible. It is referenced in the deeds and on the plat (there is a dotted line down the property divide). Of course the trail preceded the Mirrormont plat and was in use well before Mirrormont was surveyed for Woodland Properties. The trails generally followed the contours of the land. The trails were an asset and were used almost daily for over 30 years as a right of way.”
From Mirrormont News, Spring 2006: The MCA sponsored a special meeting in February 2006 to discuss issues surrounding Mirrormont Bridle Trails. Many residents were hopeful that opening the existing easements would provide a community-wide trail system to provide safe, natural settings to walk. Other residents raised concerns about possible vandalism, lack of privacy, loose dogs, and trail maintenance. Questions were also raised concerning monies needed for surveys, trail construction, impact on property values, and insurance issues. At the time, the MCA was already busy with the development and construction of Mirrormont Park, and questioned whether they could handle an additional project of this scope. Of those who voted, 11 voted were in favor of developing the trail system, 5 were uncertain, and 23 voted against. The MCA Board decided not to pursue development of the trail system at that time.