Copperas Cove horseback riders are sometimes seen moseying along the isolated trails at Parrie Haynes Equestrian Center, their sunlit silhouettes looking like cowboys from ages long past.
As a few backpackers pitch tents quickly near the Lampasas River, it’s easy to picture the cattle ranch that once dominated the area.
Operating much like a natural park, with winding trails for horseback riders, cyclists, hikers and campers, Cove resident and new proprietor Ona Trubee readily admits that her property, the equestrian center in Killeen, is a bit of the “red-headed stepchild” of the greater Parrie Haynes estate.
“Not a lot of people even know (the center) is here,” Trubee said. “I had a man come out here and tell me that he’s been in the area for years and never knew about it.”
The property, however, is an important piece of Texas history, and more specifically the area’s history. The center sits on what was one of the largest Central Texas cattle empires: the 4,500-acre Parrie Haynes Ranch, now located off North Maxdale Road.
Husband and wife Allen and Parrie Haynes established the cattle ranch around the turn of the 20th century. Trubee said the couple lived a frugal life, putting most of their efforts into the ranch.
“The whole ranch was left to trust in 1957 by Parrie Haynes ... and when she died, she left the entire ranch to the orphans of Texas,” Trubee said, explaining that the lease money goes to help orphans, and much of the land use aligns with similar causes. “You know Haynes Elementary? That was named after her, too.”
Although she’s been involved with the center for years, Trubee, a 20-year military veteran who helped maintain the center’s trails with the Cove Trail Riders, a horseback riding group, said it wasn’t until about 14 months ago that she realized she was taking over the center’s lease.
“C5 offered the sublease to me because they were trying to keep it open to the public. There was a fair chance that it would go to hunters, and that would be sad,” she said.
The property has a history of bouncing around to different lease-holders. After the Texas Parks & Wildlife did not renew the property’s lease in 2011, there was some talk of developing the land.
Currently, however, the Parrie Haynes Equestrian Center inhabits around half of the ranch and C5, a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk youth, uses the other half.
Development is not something Trubee, C5 or the Friends of Parrie Haynes Ranch want to see happen. The Friends of Parrie Haynes Ranch is a volunteer organization dedicated to preserving the area and promoting educational programs at the estate for youths.
Although she thinks getting outside and having a nice quiet day with nature is important, Trubee took up the lease’s challenge because of the estate’s history and civic responsibility, especially in regard to giving back to the area’s youth.
“That’s where our roots are,” she said. “(The ranch and Maxdale village) have only been here for 150-200 years, but as a community with so many people coming in from so many places all over the world, they don’t really know the history of the area ... This is a way we can teach them what’s here.”
The center will host an on-site benefit concert for a new equine therapy nonprofit organization, Star Healing with Horses, which is coming to the center. The event is March 8.
For information or to visit Parrie Haynes Equestrian Center, go to www.parriehaynesequestriancenter.com.
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