BCHBC Chapter Profile: Okanagan Chapter
In 1989, a small group of people in the Fraser Valley set out to form the Back Country Horsemen Society of British Columbia. A man named Jim McCrae was the driving force behind this movement. The society received official status from Victoria on June 11, 1991. That year a small group including Peter Obstfeld, Pat Ellis, Frank and Pat Russell, and Isabel Pritchard got together in Kelowna to see if there was enough interest to start a chapter in the Okanagan. The Fraser Valley Chapter (founding chapter) organized a meeting in Kamloops which set BCHBC on its way to being a province wide organization. There were five chapters who committed to the concept. They were Fraser Valley, Yarrow, Kamloops, Okanagan and Kootenay.
The Okanagan Chapter charter was registered in 1992 with Herb Schindelka as president.
The members were from all along the valley from Armstrong to Penticton. Today we still have a wide area of membership from Lavington in the North, to Osoyoos in the South. Our principle membership however resides in the Central Okanagan.
Throughout the last 24 years the Okanagan, like so many BCH chapters, has taken on a wide variety of trail and community projects and sincerely wish to continue to do so. Our most recent work project was assisting with the reconstruction of the Lundbom Lake horse corrals, a Provincial initiative, co-coordinated and lead, from members of the Okanagan and Yarrow Chapters.
In recent years past, the Okanagan Chapter has worked and completed, or assisted on a number of noteworthy projects such as;
Vernon Area - reconstruction of the grandstand bleachers fronting the riding facility at the historic O'Keefe Ranch
Larch Hills above Enderby – purchase and installation of steel panel corrals
Rose Swanson Mountain near Vernon - parking lot and access improvements
Okanagan Mountain Park has been the scene of several work parties keeping the trails cleared of windfalls etc.
Greystokes Area - near the sheep herders cabin we constructed horse corrals and in following years, we cleaned up huge bundles of old sheep fencing which was hazardous to wildlife and, of course, not to mention horses.
Historical Fintry Park – assisted with restorations of the historic barns
201 FSR at the base of Moore Mountain – construction of a horse camp site.
Our current undertaking is in the maintenance and development of the extensive trail network off Hwy 33 and 8 kilometers along the Trapping Creek Main (South East of Kelowna, approximately 30km south of the Big White turnoff); a trail network with an excess of 50 kilometers of various trails and campsites.
We meet regularly on the second Tuesday of each month with warmer season meetings at the Kelowna Riding Club and the cooler fall/winter meetings being held as a "Dinner Meeting" at one of our local restaurants. Our goal with our meetings is to have a fun and social gathering with a strong focus on education and value for the membership. By bringing in a wide variety of "guest speakers, clinicians, and skilled members" we are able to cover a diverse range of topics all prioritized and initiated by the membership as a whole.
Our membership has a wide range of skills from relatively new and inexperienced to those who have logged serious time in the back country. From former equitation, dressage and jumpers to a few rodeo types with a quick hand with the ropes. All having the one great common denominator which brings us together, the simple pleasure of enjoying the trail on the back of a horse!
We are working hard at bringing more rides for member participation ranging from small intimate "share your favorite trail" type rides to larger group rides which may range from a short two hour ride, to an all-day ride and even multi day rides.
For some, we are comfortable out on the trail with the simplest of accommodations, a tarp. For others, the hardship of enjoying the luxury of rig camping which will include everything from small to large and everything in between with all the bells and whistles one could need.
This year we are hosting two pack trips into Manning Park with one on the historic Dewdney Trail, and the other via White Cloud Lake Trail. We we also wish to have a couple of "Rig Camping" opportunities as well.
All rides and events are communicated regularly with the membership via email and the BCHBC Website.
Okanagan Chapter Executive:
Vice Chairs: Juanita Gibney & Malcolm Dion
Secretary: Saskia Dover
Treasurer: Cynthia Walker
Membership Coord: Brooke Haldorson
Board Alternate: Juanita Gibney
Director of Education: Laura Lawrence
Director, Social: Karen Falloon
Directors, Rides: Daryl Ramsay & Karen Stearns
Director at Large: Teresa Gratrix