CUT BANK — A horse boarding facility that has a long history of horse breeding, racing, and recreation has been gaining some attention as of late.
Previously owned by the Weaver family, and now operated by couple Kalen and Jake McKelvey, the facility is named "Sunshine Stables" with the goal of providing a place for people and their horses. This includes year-round horse boarding, as well as a riding lesson program for students of all ages.
Kalen and Jake started 'Sunshine Stables' in the spring of 2020, and while Kalen always had a passion for horses, she didn't expect it to turn into a business.
"I definitely saw myself working with horses, as it's something I loved for a really long time, and have been passionate about, and hoped that somewhere, horses would fit into my life." Kalen said. "I didn't think it would be a horse-centered business."
The name 'Sunshine Stables' comes from 'Kalen,' which means sunshine." Kalen said it has been her nickname and her neighbor thought Sunshine Stables would be the appropriate name.
Sunshine Stables aims to meet a need in the community by providing a place for horses and their people to thrive in a safe and enjoyable environment.
Over the course of one year, the facility has doubled in capacity, adding paddock after paddock, new fencing, as well as expanding their lesson program. Most recently, they added another service, offering equine massage.
"I'm really pleased and excited to see how things have been growing with our business."
Cut Bank High School senior Addisyn Bengston teaches lessons at the stable.
"What I teach the student completely depends on their level as a student," she said. "For a beginner, the lesson will be how to get the acquainted to the horse, teach them how to halter, teaching them how to lead, groom and how to tack up before they get on. Once they get comfortable around the horse, I'll show them how to get on the horse, how to sit on the saddle properly, and how to hold the reins. Then we move on to the ques, such as how to make the horse walk, how to get them to go where you want them to go."
Involved with 4-H, Bengston explained what got her into teaching lessons.
"I had no idea this would be my summer job," she said. "I was looking for a job, and exploring what people had in the area. Kalen came to me in May, and approached me about the job, explaining to me what it would be. When I said I was more interested in it, she brought me out and we rode together. She gave me a lesson on what teaching a lesson would be just because I've never done it before, but it was exactly what I was looking for in the summer, and I'm really happy I took the job."
After three years in operation, Sunshine Stables is increasingly gaining popularity in town. Most recently, governor Greg Gianforte visited the stables as part of his 56-county tour.
Kalen said her passion for horses along with the community is what she enjoys most.
"To be able to come out every day and be around the horses is therapeutic," she said. "But I think the people are the most important part to me. I really love getting to interact with people from all over and seeing them love what I love so much."
Kalen said the big dream is to use the remaining acreage to build an indoor arena.
"I don't have a time frame on when we would be able to get that done, but I would like to say it would be within the next five to ten years, having that be something that our community and surrounding communities can use."
To learn more about Sunshine Stables and sign up for lessons, click here to visit the website.