February, 2022 – Unicorn Stables
Tammie and Dave Blewett are the owners/operators of Unicorn Stables, an equestrian center right here in West Panorama Ridge. It is located at the bottom of Station Road and bordering Colebrook Road.
Tammie and Dave met during high school in 1985 in England, where they were both born and raised. Tammie, already an established equestrian, just happened to be riding a horse at the time. Dave emigrated to Canada in 1990. It was while on a return trip to the UK 4 years later that they rekindled the relationship, but it wasn’t until he returned to the UK again in 1996 that they made a lasting commitment to each other and eventually married in 1997 in the UK. After the wedding, they moved back to Canada and settled in the west end of Vancouver. The next 24 years has flown by as they established a life together.
Tammie had always been involved with horses growing up and was excited to meet a farrier, someone who works on horse’s hooves, who took her around to see various stables in the Lower Mainland. She eventually started working at Unicorn Stables in Richmond and when they moved to the current location, she moved with them as the Barn Manager.
Along with being involved helping with the business, Dave has worked in the commercial swimming pool and hot tub industry going on 31 years.
After working at Unicorn Stables for 8 years it became evident that it would be beneficial for Tammie to be on site, so a second house was built on the property and Tammie and Dave moved in. About 10 years ago, the opportunity presented itself to purchase the entire operation. With some trepidation and a lot of excitement they jumped in with both feet and haven’t looked back.
There was a lot of hard work ahead to begin improving the property, not the least of which was digging out mountains of blackberries to find long-buried fences and a cedar hedge. They worked closely with the clientele to establish themselves as a reliable and progressive stable and to build a strong community. Many changes have been made to expand the business and to evolve Unicorn Stables into the successful company it is today. They have lived in West Panorama Ridge for 18 years now!
Unicorn Stables has a unique approach to how their horses live, which is different from many other stables. At Unicorn Stables, horses live in groups rather than in individual stables. In essence, they live more in community with each other, which is aligned with Tammie’s and Dave’s values. Clients recognize this as an important benefit to the well-being of the horses.
Along with equestrian lessons and leasing horses, Unicorn Stables offers fun opportunities to create community through camps, birthday parties and special events. They support and utilize the Panorama Ridge Riding club and you’ll often see their horses out and about in the community. They also have a resident Barn Owl who they keep well supplied with rodents.
One of the things that Tammie and Dave love about making their home on the Ridge is that it is such a great location, convenient not only for them but for their clients. It is central to Vancouver, Richmond, the US border, and the ferries. Combined with the beauty of the ocean and the mountains, it is a sweet pocket and they can’t think of a better place to be. The location also offers many options for riders without having to put their horse in a trailer. There are a variety of trails in Joe Brown Park, on the dyke, and all the way down to Tsawwassen.
Dave and Tammie also love the proximity to the trails for walking their dogs, Ripley and Willow. At times, they feel like they are in the English countryside, but with the convenience of proximity to major roads and cities. They like the fact that they have gotten to know so many people in the neighbourhood who they can exchange a friendly chat or a wave with. They feel it is a welcoming and safe community.
Some of the changes that Tammie and Dave have experienced are the roads becoming busier since the new Colebrook Road was put in and with the growing population that goes with the development on the Ridge. This brings with it some challenges for them as an equestrian center.
Some people complain about horses walking through the neighbourhood or on the trails but they forget that this is one of the few places left in the Lower Mainland where it is zoned for horses. For many people, the reason they originally moved to West Panorama Ridge is because of the horses. The original purpose of the Panorama Ridge Riding Club was to serve the community, not the stables. Many people had horses in their backyard and used the riding club to work their horses and come together. Over time, many of these parcels have been sold off, subdivided and more homes built so there are fewer and fewer private homes with horses. Fortunately, Unicorn Stables has grown and, along with other stables in the area, they actively support and use the Panorama Ridge Riding Club. Tammie is a member along with many of her clients who are also on the board. Tammie and Dave know what an important part of the community it is and would be sad to see it gone.
Some people, possibly new to the Ridge, are unfamiliar with a community where we live alongside horses and they don’t realize that care should be taken when interacting with them in a car or on a bike. Horses can be very skittish when encountering moving vehicles or loud noises, just like some dogs. Tammie knows that people don’t mean to cause harm, they just don’t know how quickly it can happen that a horse will spook and jump into a ditch. If you come upon a horse in your neighbourhood, they ask that you have a little patience, slow down, go around or warn of your presence. Bike bells are wonderful and can be heard better than voices over clomping hooves.
Tammie works to educate her clients about proper horse etiquette in the community. They are encouraged to be friendly, polite, pleasant and to thank everyone who tries to be considerate on the trails or the roads. Many of the current employees at Unicorn Stables started out there as eager young riders. They have a strong commitment to the stables and to this community.
While there is the occasional challenge with cyclists or drivers, most often when they do educate people and ask them to slow down or give a wide birth, people are respectful and kind. Tammie has never felt threatened or intimidated.
The other thing that has changed over the years are people’s perspectives on horse manure, which some see as a nuisance. When Tammie and Dave first moved to the Ridge people used to run out and shovel up the manure to put on their gardens. In fact, if you want some, you can still get it directly from the stable. These days, they have changed where they ride, avoiding streets east of 125A Street and, if a horse does drop a load on a road, they will make every effort to go back and clean up after the horse is back in the stable.
The other thing that continues to get worse and is a constant source of frustration for Tammie and Dave is the garbage that is dumped or tossed on the roads. Even with the cameras that were installed on Colebrook, the dumping continues. While they do report it using the mySurrey app, it is disappointing that it does not seem to be getting any better.
When asked what is important to them in community, they both said that they love that people look out for each other. They are looking forward to when we can resume with the community gatherings and events like Earth Day and Ridge Days, a wonderful way to get to know neighbours. They have missed these times over the past couple of years.
Tammie and Dave are interested to see how the new dog park in Joe Brown Park might bring people together as a gathering place to meet and get to know neighbours. Even if you aren’t a dog owner of don’t let your dog off leash, the low fence and trail around the perimeter will encourage this. Tammie has an open offer to dog owners to contact her and she’ll arrange to get dogs and horses together so they can build a level of comfort and familiarity.
When asked what they would say to fellow community members, Dave said “Everyone needs to talk more, be open, have a chat with people you meet. It’s about not locking yourself in your house, get to know your neighbours. We have a lot of new people who have moved into the area and it’s up to everyone, older and newer members, to keep this community connected.”
Tammie and Dave can’t imagine a better location to work and live or a better community to be part of. Check them out at Unicorn Stables and next time you see a horse out in the community, smile and give them a wave.
Please note that Unicorn Stables is a private facility but if you’d like to meet the horses or have any questions, please give them a call at the number found on their website.