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Prior owners return to horse center

Equestrian teams relieved with result

The embattled Northwest Equestrian Center, sold in foreclosure last week, will be managed by a Eugene couple that ran the facility in the 1990s, a development that is music to the ears of high school equestrian teams who are assured a home for their upcoming district meet.

'I'm just thrilled,' said Chris Dinsmore, Northeast District Chair of the Oregon High School Equestrian Teams. 'I'm ecstatic.'

She is even more excited, Dinsmore said, about the new manager - Mike Pfeiffer.

Pfeiffer and his wife, Paula, ran the horse center from 1987 through 1999. When he heard about the Thursday, March 29, foreclosure of the property, he contacted the buyer and worked out a deal to run the facility indefinitely.

'We're here for the long haul,' Mike Pfeiffer said. 'We're going to put it back the way we had it and go beyond that. Just put a sign on the door saying, 'Howdy, Mike and Paula are back,' and people will know what's going on. They remember us.'

The couple had semi-retired to Eugene and was operating a small horse boarding facility there, but now Mike Pfeiffer is living temporarily in his motor home on the equestrian center property off Haley Road in Boring. He said they plan to move back to East County soon.

He and the new owner - Northwest Property Wholesalers - are working together to clean and repair the center, while keeping it open for scheduled meets and shows.

Previous business owners, Mark Broeg and his girlfriend Shelly Curtis, have vacated the property, said Northwest Property's Trevor Burnam on Tuesday, April 3.

'(Mark) signed his tenancy over … to the Pfeiffers,' Burnam said. 'They are no longer on the property. They're in the process of moving their horses out.'

Broeg and Curtis, who live in Ridgefield, Wash., had managed the facility since January 2006. Some community members say they ran the place into the ground, declaring bankruptcy in November 2006 and leading to its recent foreclosure.

Broeg, in an interview with The Outlook last week, said he did the best he could with a financially troubled operation and lamented the fact that community members didn't help him out.

Dinsmore said she couldn't be happier about the turn of events.

'Some of my people know Mike Pfeiffer, and they say he's a stand-up guy and a man of his word,' she said. 'They said if Mike says the center will be clean and ready and our stalls will be clean, then that's exactly what will happen.'

Dinsmore and high school students have been unhappy with the service they've received the last year, citing filthy stalls and Broeg's 'angry' demeanor as detractors to their meets.

The effort to clean and repair the facility already has begun.

'We're getting ready to spend some money and clean the place up,' Burnam said. 'We will basically put a long-term hold on the property. We'll continue to own it, and it will be a joint venture with Mike. The word's out; we're putting together an investment packet; we're spending money to get people back in.'

Pfeiffer said he suspected he'd take over the center's operations again one day.

'We have half a million dollars sitting here; we have a second mortgage on the property, the fixtures belong to us and the trucks too,' Pfeiffer said. 'Nine years we've been fighting this. After the second year, we knew eventually we'd be back up here. I'm just really pleased that we have a partner as good as who we have here, with Northwest Property Wholesalers.'

Burnam gives equal praise to the Pfeiffers.

'When we went to this foreclosure, I was not prepared for such a big deal. We had no idea how important this was to so many people,' Burnam said. 'And there's no way I could do any of this without the Pfeiffers. Without them, this would not have gone as smoothly as it has.'

But the clean-up won't be easy.

Burnam said there is a 'long line of deferred maintenance. Cleaning is the first thing, just getting rid of the garbage, cleaning the stalls, then we'll get quotes on the roof. We have a 60-day goal to make that place pretty fresh, inside and out. It will be a monumental challenge.'

Meanwhile, Dinsmore said the horse community is breathing a collective sigh of relief.

'Some of my high school parents and I had a meeting on Sunday night, before we knew what would happen, and we were talking about where we could go,' she said. 'Everybody left that meeting just really upset. Then I heard about Mike, and I got to call the parents and tell them, 'A wonderful thing has happened.' '