For someone who has done so much for the Douglas County community, Helen Krieble certainly has a lot of humility.
Krieble, the founder and president of the Colorado Horse Park, has decided to sell the world-class equestrian venue south of Parker and is searching for a “like-minded” buyer with an interest in keeping the horse park open.
“A lot of people have put their life blood into creating (the venue), and to turn it into a housing development would be a tragedy,” Krieble said, referring to offers that have already come in.
The facility opened in 1990 as High Prairie Farms. Krieble took over in 2002 and doubled the number of stables and arenas. Colorado Horse Park has hosted numerous international competitions, and last season was particularly successful in terms of attendance and performances from elite riders.
Krieble, 71, is ready to pursue other endeavors. “It's very sad that I have to leave, but there comes a time when you can't continue,” she said. “I'm very proud of what we did. We accomplished something very wonderful, and last year truly was our best year, so it's a nice way to go out.”
Krieble plans to step down Jan. 1 to put a greater focus on her work in immigration reform on behalf of a public policy foundation named for her late husband, Vernon. She will continue delivering speeches on the topic and plans to embark on a nationwide campaign to establish a “sensible program” to secure the nation's borders, she said.
Krieble noted that she has split her time between the horse park and her political activities, but no longer has any desire to work two full-time jobs. She will instead move back to Connecticut, where she grew up, to spend time with her family, including 10 grandchildren.
Looking back, Krieble takes immense pride in her years of community involvement, and said she is thankful that the community has in turn reciprocated the gesture by supporting the horse park. She was “flabbergasted” when the Parker Chamber of Commerce chose her as its Cornerstone Award winner in 2012. In typical fashion, Krieble deflected any accolades, insisting that the selection committee “could have found somebody better,” but she nonetheless characterized the honor as “a wonderful thing.”
When asked whether she might stay on in some capacity if the horse park is kept open, Krieble said she would “love to play a role, but not a big one.”
“The new owner will have their own ideas,” she said. “I'm old-fashioned. I think it needs a fresh look. They don't need an old lady's point of view.”
Although there would be no requirement for the new owner to keep the venue operating, Krieble said it's important to preserve the county's equestrian roots. She is even willing to lower the price tag if a horse enthusiast takes over.
“The history and the heritage in Douglas County has always been associated with the horse and to close this major equestrian facility that keeps that alive would be a tragedy,” said Krieble, who noted that the county had more horses per capita than any other in the nation when she bought the 150-acre park.
The facility was put up for sale in 2009 for $11.5 million. The current asking price is unknown.