By Garin Fahlman
From from May 30 to June 1, the Back Country Horsemen of B.C. are hosting their annual gathering and fundraiser, Rendezvous 2014 at the Maple Ridge Equestrian Centre, and for the first time are inviting the public to join them.
Previously only open to members of the organization, this year BCHBC is teaming up with the Haney Horsemen association, a local Maple Ridge equivalent, opening the Rendezvous up to the public and corporate sponsors.
The 700-member organization is dedicated to promoting safe, responsible backcountry travel among those who ride horses and mules on wilderness trails throughout B.C.
BCHBC works with government and other trail users to build, maintain, and map trails on public land.
“We just want to share our passion for exploring the
backcountry of BC and for horses with members of our communities, whether they ride or own a horse or not. We also want to give people in the Lower Mainland, especially kids, an opportunity to experience and enjoy some aspects of rural life,” said Peter Thiessen, chair of the BCHBC Rendezvous fundraiser for 2014.
The event features the Super Save Stomp, a Barn Dance on Saturday night May 31st featuring Canadian Country Music Award nominee Aaron Pritchett, opened by CCMA winner One More Girl.
The evening kicks off with a barbeque, and a live and silent auction, a major fundraiser for the not- for- profit club.
Tickets for the Barn Dance are available on line at www.bchorsemen.org or at the Maple Ridge Equestrian Centre.
There are sheep dog demos, renderings of cowboy poetry, and the Preston GM/Sunrise Trailers vendor’s fair offering western bling, saddles, trailers, trucks and crafts.
Event organizers have included lots of activities for kids to enjoy, including horse and buggy rides, a chance to learn how to rope a pretend cow, kids doing acrobatics on horses, and a demonstration of archery on horseback by a Whistler boy attempting to break an archery record set by a grand master in Hungary.
Back this year by popular demand is the Saturday morning Hoof & Woof, a team competition with a horse and rider and a dog and dog handler, each pair navigating obstacles together in a timed and judged event.
Equestrians of any discipline can audit clinics all weekend long.
Featured clinicians include Glen Stewart, a world-renowned Canadian clinician who excels in helping people create willing trailhorses.
Sam Sunderland will teach participants how to make it the horse’s idea, while Debbie Hughes will be helping riders learn about the new sport of Mountain Trail Horse.
As always, this year’s BCHBC Rendezvous will be a chance for trail riders from around the province to show off their backcountry skills, and to learn from experts about horse care, trail etiquette, saddle fitting and packing, colt starting, and how to choose a good trail horse.
Equestrian artist Vivian Harder will give a lesson on drawing horses.
“It takes a lot of knowledge, skill and experience to travel and camp in the backcountry with horses. We have to learn how to pack our gear on a horse or mule, how to make sure our animals stay healthy in the wilderness, and to ‘leave no trace’ behind. Of course, there is a certain amount of fun mixed in with the learning, and a little friendly competition,” said Thiessen.