Photo caption: BCHBC members celebrate reaching a spectacular lookout point on a ride in the South Chilcotin Mountains. The organization is for riders of all ages and disciplines who want to enjoy non-competitive trail riding events and activities. Photo by Barry Huber, Kamloops Chapter, BCHBC.
Back Country Horsemen Launch a Province-wide New Member Round-up
Don’t let the name fool you! This organization welcomes all types of riders and horses
By Terri Perrin, BCHBC member
Equestrians looking to get out and enjoy beautiful British Columbia on horseback can find like-minded folks to ride with by joining the Back Country Horsemen Society of BC (BCHBC). This volunteer-run organization has 21 regional chapters across the province and more than 600 members. And, despite the name, not all of their members ride mules and head off into the wilderness to camp.
“BCHBC truly is an organization for riders of all ages and disciplines, with any breed of horse … and some mules, too!,” explains provincial president Brian Marriott, member of the East Kootenay chapter. “The majority of our members just want to connect with other people to enjoy non-competitive trail riding close to home. We focus on safety for horses and riders, environmental stewardship, trail building and maintenance … and fun!”
Why join Back Country Horsemen?
Whether you own horses or just want to support the maintenance of the amazing network of multi-use recreational trails in our province, BCHBC is the group for you.
“I love our purpose of saving horse trails and building horse camping areas and how we co-operate with other recreational trail users to make it a safe experience,” says long-time member Rose Schroeder. “And I love how BCHBC members are willing to share their knowledge and skills. We are more than a volunteer organization. We are like a family that works hard and has fun all at the same time … with our horses and without.”
BCHBC was registered as a non-profit society in 1991 and has a proud history of developing, constructing and maintaining existing (and new) multi-use recreational trails, trail infrastructure (such as bridges, signage and maps), as well as equestrian camp facilities. Since the year 2000, their volunteers have given freely of their time with an estimated value in human resources of over $1.6 million. Due to COVID, projects completed in 2020/21 were scaled down somewhat, however, the group still accomplished a great deal. To give a better perspective of activities during a ‘normal’ year, the economic value of BCHBC work bees and projects in 2019/20 alone equaled $111,500. Many projects benefit from funding received from Horse Council BC, Recreation Sites & Trails BC, and other organizations and government bodies, as well as creative fundraising on both the provincial and regional chapter levels.
BCHBC members also work in collaboration with Horse Council BC (HCBC) to create, maintain and continuously update an online trail map database. They had maintained their own trails database since early 2000. In 2012, they partnered with HCBC to host this information on their website. Members assist by uploading photos, writing descriptions and mapping trails using a cell phone app called Avenza. These geo-referenced maps can be downloaded to your phone for free.
This fall, BHCBC is holding a membership drive, in an effort to get their province-wide membership numbers back up to pre-COVID totals of 800+.
Any first-time member joining BCHBC now through Nov. 30, 2021 will get the rest of 2021, as well as all of 2022, with their paid membership. (Memberships make great gifts for the horse lovers on your Christmas gift list!)
Annual membership fees are $45 for adults and are free for youth age 18 and under.
Most chapters host monthly meetings (September through June) as well as group rides, educational events and more. All members must also be members of and purchase personal liability insurance from one one of the following: Horse Council BC, Alberta Equestrian Federation or Canadian Icelandic Horse Federation.
For all NEW 2022 memberships received now through Dec. 31, 2021, there will be random draws at the end of December. Prizes include six Saddle Up Magazine subscriptions, a set of custom-made saddlebags by Dan Taylor, two belt buckles, and a Cavallo saddle pad.
For RENEWING members, additional draws for a set of custom saddlebags by Dan Taylor and a pair of Cavallo Trek hoof boots and pads will be made . (Winners will be contacted by email.)
Learn more, find a regional chapter near you, and purchase memberships online at BC Horsemen.org.
Benefits of Belonging to BCHBC include:
- Non-competitive social activities – with and without horses
- Trail riding with others in urban, rural and back country settings
- Regional chapter and inter-chapter events and the annual ‘Rendezvous’ meet-up (held in a different region each year)
- Discounts with community partners and the BCHBC store
- Educational programs at monthly meetings and clinics focused on horse care, trail riding and environmental stewardship
- Preservation of our National Horse Heritage through the care and upkeep of historic trials.
- Community-focused initiatives and projects.