Leave No Trace Principles for Equestrian Use.

Story by Rose Schroeder, member of BCHBC Shuswap Chapter.     

Two riders practice ‘Leave No Trace’ by watering their horses (and dog) on solid footing along the Vedder River in Chilliwack.

Photo by Dawson Friesen.

On page 33 of the February issue of Saddle Up, we introduced readers to Leave No Trace Canada (LNT). This national non-profit organization is dedicated to promoting and inspiring responsible outdoor recreation through education, research, and partnerships. The Back Country Horsemen Society of BC is proud to be an affiliate partner with LNT.

This month, we expand on the seven basic LNT principles, focusing on equestrians riding and/or camping on public lands. These strategies will help you plan your visit, minimize your environmental impact, and help keep public lands accessible to riders for years to come.

  1. Plan and Prepare
  • Ensure someone knows where you are going, with whom, and your anticipated return time/date. Carry a communication device with you.
  • Limit your equipment by taking only the minimum number of animals necessary.
  • Plan your route carefully, keeping in mind the least experienced participant.  Familiarize yourselves with the trails, regulations, potential hazards, and climate of the area.
  • Plan meals accurately. Repackage into reusable containers to reduce weight and garbage.
  • Prepare yourself and your animals for the physical requirements of your trip.
  1. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces:
  • When possible, choose a designated campsite or an area that is well away ( 200m.)from water sources. Hard sand or gravel surfaces are the best.
  • Use lightweight camping equipment. Fewer pack horses will be needed, minimizing impact.
  • Horses should be high-lined Avoid tying stock to trees except for short periods or in an emergency. Put hobbles on livestock that paw while high-lined. Choose a dry, hard area.
  • Water animals where footing is solid.
  • Stay on established trails and old roads. Avoid shortcuts through the bush.
  • During rest breaks, stop off the trail on a durable surface. Tie horses to sturdy trees for short periods. Tie and hobble restless animals to prevent pawing.
  1. Pack It In, Pack It Out
  • Strip off all unnecessary packaging before you pack. Bring out all your litter/trash/cans, etc. If you see litter left by others, consider packing that out, too. Only burn paper in your campfire.
  1. Properly Dispose of Waste
  • Raw human feces can carry several dangerous pathogens, such as Giardia (Beaver Fever). Use outhouses where they are provided. Otherwise, dig a cat-hole latrine for your group to use. Locate it at least 100m (300ft) from water and well away from camp. It should be a trench 15 cm (6″) deep. (No deeper because the topsoil is where waste is most quickly decomposed.) Sprinkle soil over after each use, and when leaving camp, replace the remaining soil and naturalize it with organic debris.
  • Horse manure can carry viable weed seeds, so start your horses on pelleted feed the day before leaving. Remove manure piles from camp and scatter them in the bush before you move on. In meadow areas, kick the piles apart so they decompose faster.
  • It is important to prevent contamination of water supplies from food scraps or soap. Wash yourself, your dishes, and your clothes at least 100m from water sources. Strain out food particles from dishwater and pack them out with the garbage. Dig a ‘sump hole’ down to mineral soil and pour your greywater into it.  Fill in and conceal the hole when leaving camp.
  1. Use Fire Responsibly
  • Consider a portable stove for cooking, rather than an open fire.  However, there’s nothing like the crackle of a welcoming evening campfire! Respect campfire bans. When permitted, keep campfires small( 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 m.) and either in established fire rings or on non-flammable soils. Extinguish the fire completely with water before you leave camp and check that ashes are cool with your hand!
  1. Leave What You Find
  • It is illegal to remove or disturb interesting objects like shed antlers, colourful rocks, wildflowers, historical objects.
  • Avoid damaging trees and plants.
  • Take only pictures, leave only hoofprints!
  1. Be Considerate of Others
  • Respect private property.
  • Be courteous.  To reassure worried equines, engage in conversation with people that you meet.
  • Dogs must be under control at all times and on a leash. If your dog might harass wildlife or livestock, leave it at home!
  • Respect wildlife. Use binoculars and telephoto lenses to get a good view. If you are close enough that the animals show signs of distress, you are too close. Be aware of the sensitive times of the year for all wildlife.
  • Enjoy the serenity and keep noise to a minimum.

Following and adapting these simple guidelines ensures a cooperative, enjoyable outdoor experience for everyone including your horse! Happy Trails!

Learn more at: www.leavenotrace.ca


BCHBC is privileged to have Saddle Up Magazine as ‘the official voice’ of our province-wide organization. We value this partnership and encourage you to check out Saddle Up magazine online and consider supporting this BC-based publication by purchasing a subscription. You may also pick up printed copies of Saddle Up in 156 cities/towns with 340 outlets, mainly in BC and Alberta, as well as other parts of Canada and the US. It’s free!

Read the July issue of Saddle Up, including the BCHBC story. Or enjoy our feature story here.

BCHBC Members: Want to contribute an article to Saddle Up? Email SaddleUpCoordinator@bchorsemen.org for our writers’ guidelines.