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Back Country Horsemen of British Columbia

BCHBC Provincial Newsletter



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Articles from Past E-news


BC Coroners Service Urges Use of Equestrian Helmets

June 6, 2012 - Horse Council BC Opinion Piece

On May 27, 2012, the BC equestrian community suffered the tragic loss of another one of its members in a fall from her horse. A 49-year-old woman in the Interior was riding her six-year-old horse in a round corral when he spooked. She was caught up in the stirrup and briefly dragged. She was not wearing a helmet at the time. The death comes less than two months after the death of another rider, thoroughbred racehorse trainer Shauna Ferguson, who was thrown while ponying another horse. Although Ms. Ferguson regularly wore a helmet while riding, in this case she was not doing so.

The BC Coroners Service would like to encourage all horse-riders, drivers, and handlers to wear an approved safety helmet at all times when working with horses.  
After Ms. Ferguson’s death, the Coroners Service undertook a detailed study of all deaths in which horses were involved in BC during the past decade. The results made it abundantly clear that, although not all deaths could be prevented, the wearing of an approved, well-fitting helmet remains the one step most likely to minimize serious injury and death when something goes wrong.  
Now adding in the latest case, the study looked at 26 deaths that occurred during that time period. Of the victims, 14 were male and 12 were female. Over-all, males who died were older than females with an average age of 54.6 years compared to 42.9 years for females. And although horseback injuries are often thought of as a children’s problem, only two of the 26 were under the age of 19.
Riding a horse is often considered the most dangerous aspect of equestrianism, but the study found that only just over half the deaths (14 of the 26) occurred as a result of a definite fall while riding. (In four cases the incident was not witnessed and it could not be definitively determined what the person was doing just before the accident.) Of the others, two occurred while driving a horse, and six while handling or working with a horse on the ground.  
In some cases, the horse involved was known to be young, green or difficult, but in other cases, the horse had not previously caused problems but was suddenly spooked or startled.  
A key finding of the study was that 16 of the 26 deaths occurred as a direct result of a severe traumatic brain injury, including both deaths while driving and four persons who were kicked or stomped in the head by horses while they were on the ground. In only one of those 16 cases was the person known to be wearing a helmet.  
In our investigations, we found that many riders wear helmets when they are doing something with their horses that they perceive to be higher risk, such as jumping or riding along roads, or when they are riding or working with a horse that they believe may buck, spook, kick or the like. However, the study showed clearly that several of the cases occurred while riders were schooling on the flat in a soft-surfaced ring and with horses with no prior history of erratic behaviour.  
The equestrian community needs to learn from these tragic deaths. Helmets need to be worn at all times and with all horses.


Train the Trainer Program Update

May 17 - 20, 2012


By Mary Huntington
VP & Education Chair & Aldergrove Chapter Member   

For several years now I have been admiring the system Back Country Horsemen of Washington (BCHW) has for getting Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics into their chapters. With around 3000 members in the State of Washington, that’s a pretty tall order, but over the years, Jane Byram, BCHW’s  LNT Chair and a  Master Trainer with LNT has steadily guided their members through Awareness Camps held every two years in Randall, Washington,  introducing them to the ethics of Leave No Trace combined with an introduction to Horse camping.  She encourages ones who are interested, to become Trainers and of those, a few to become Master Trainers specializing in Stock Use and Management in the outdoors. A course that is only held at the US Forest Services Nine Mile Remount Camp in Missoula ,Montana.  Along with her very able assistants Lennie Harris and Louise Caywood and the master of the Dutch ovens, Jerry Parsons, this LNT team is able to put on an impressive course, in an outdoor, front-country style setting.

So finally this year I approached her and asked if she could take on a few Canucks for this year’s training.  We were welcomed with open arms.  After putting out an invitation to all our chapters, Rose Schroeder and I were the only members willing to take on the challenge. Not only were we expected to attend the three-day class, but we were also given a topic to research and prepare to give a one-hour presentation.  Remember we were going to be certified as LNT Trainers, so we had to show our stuff!

It was a beautiful day for travelling as Rose and I left her home in Abbotsford, crossed the border at Sumas and travelled down nearly to Seattle before we headed east over the Cascades, through Snoqualmie pass and into the little town of Cle Elum. There we wound our way up into the mountains to the DNR’s Indian Camp Teanaway where the snow had just recently melted and spring was only beginning to make an appearance.  We were greeted by Jane and her crew, and met the other participants from all over Washington.  Realizing we were all members of Back Country Horsemen we felt an immeidate closeness.

That Thursday was set aside for travelling and setting up our campsites.  We would be observed over the weekend as to how we practised the LNT principles, and this is where it started.  To keep our impact on this beautiful parkland to a minimum, Rose and I used her horse trailer as home.  She in her smaller living quarters, me in the palatial trailer, cleaned and set up as a bedroom for me with our stove to warm water for washing and hot drinks.  Did I mention we never climbed out of our long johns the whole time we were there!  Good thing I brought my down winter sleeping bag!.

Large tents had been erected for our classroom and for the kitchen.  A camp fire was kept going pretty much constantly to ease the chill when we had breaks and meals.  The classroom also had a small woodstove that we all had brought a little wood to keep it going.  A very interesting floor covering in the classroom was made of “Scrim “ an open weave fabric similar to the fabric used in some shade umbrellas or awnings. It allowed light and air to pass through to the grass beneath so that when we removed it as we struck camp on Sunday, a little fluffing with a rake and no one could tell we had lived for a weekend over that spot.  Quite amazing.  I’m going to look into that stuff to buy!

We spent the rest of the afternoon talking, networking and getting to know each other.   As members with varying degrees of experience, it was interesting to share ideas and suggestions for anything from lesson planning to packing mules to riding in the Pasayten Wilderness. I was very glad for all this friendly chatter.  By the time I had to give my presentation first thing Friday morning, I felt very comfortable standing in front of everyone including our instructors who were grading us as we presented our topics.

Each participant, upon registration, had been given one of the seven Leave No Trace principles to present.  Mine was “Planning and Preparation”, undoubtedly the most comprehensive of all the principles.  Stressful enough, but along with that, both Rose and I felt we not only needed to do well for ourselves but that in a way, the reputations of BCHBC and Canada in general, were at stake. I sweated over this presentation more than any other one I had done in many years.  So through a combination of talking, brainstorming, group exercise and a couple of games I proceeded to make my point of how very important this first step is.  How it supports everything else we do for LNT and that without adequate planning and preparation we can set ourselves up for anything from an uncomfortable to a disastrous event. In the end, it was well received and I could finally relax. Rose spoke on 'Consideration for other Trail Users'.  Again a very good presentation, especially since Rose has had so much to do with trail user groups here at home.

Four more presentations and some very interesting class discussions and activities took us through to Sunday, our “graduation” day. Fortunately the rain held off as we closed camp and packed everything back into the LNT Trailer.  We all received our certification and a few class mementos, before we said our goodbyes and all made their ways back home. Just to extend a most enjoyable weekend, Rose and I decided to travel north to Leavenworth and home via Stevens Pass. A delightfully scenic route, but just as we approached the summit from the East side of the Cascades, we were hit full on with a 'West Coast Welcome' -- torrential rain all the way home.

So what do I do now?  Well, Rose and I have a bunch of ideas that will mesh well with our Rider Education Program.  It will be a combination of articles in our newsletter and some training opportunities yet to be developed. Like I said at my presentation at Rendezvous, Leave No Trace is something most of us try to do, but as we learn more we can do better at improving our practises and our image as responsible users of our wonderful outdoors.


A Testament to the Benefits of Building Relationships

Gene Peters and Rose Schroeder take a break after the big clean-up.
Following is a 'Thank You' letter that shows the importance of forming a good relationship with private property owners. This couple owns property that gives BCHBC Yarrow Chapter members access to trails on Vedder Mountain. Some people think it's OK to dump their garbage on their private property. We thought we should clean it up. Submitted by Kelly Hawes.

To: BCHBC (Yarrow Chapter)
Dear Clean Up Volunteers,

We wish to thank the many volunteers from your organization who came out on April 22 to help in cleaning up the road and trailside garbage on Vedder Mountain. Its these acts of thoughtful kindness that promote a sense of healthy community and I just want you to all to know it was very much appreciated.  If all recreational users and others who utilize this portion of the mountain would respect and demonstrate this level of responsibility as your group has shown I am certain our community would be a much safer, healthier, and friendly place to live and play.  Again, “Thank you” for your considerable efforts.
Kindest regards,
Tony & Karen Penner



We have not received any West Nile Virus (WNV) reports this year and none have been noted in Washington state. It is very difficult to predict the upcoming risk for WNV, that being said, I’m not aware of any reason to believe the WNV risk this year will be significantly different from previous years. Over the last three years, there have been a total of 23 positive WNV results from all species tested (humans, birds, mosquitoes and horses), including  a total of four equine cases of WNV. All of the 23 positive WNV results have been located in the Okanagan, with the exception of one horse located in the Fraser Valley. All positive results in all species have occurred during the mosquito season.
Brian R Radke DVM PhD
Public Health Veterinarian
Livestock Health Management & Regulation
Plant & Animal Health Branch
BC Ministry of Agriculture


A great article about horse sense:

The Equine Mind: Top 10 Things to Know


An historic look at BCHBC History.

Five Things You Need to Know About Barn Fires

Read more  on the BCHBC website.





Do you know your horse's vital signs?

Body temperature? Respiration Rate? Pulse?
Get the facts from this web posting.

Eternal Members  
Marilyn McCrae, one of BCHBC's founding members sadly passed away July 2011. You will see Marilyn's writing on most of our original filing documents. She supported Back Country from its inception.  Her warmth, knowledge and skills were respected and are missed by all who knew her.  Marilyn is survived by her husband Jim, daughter Cathy and son Rod. Family and friends held a Celebration of Life in October 2011. 

Howard Horel,
a man who 'just couldn't resist a ride across wide open fields', was a founding member of the Vancouver Island Chapter of BCHBC. He passed away on January 2, 2012. He lived on Salt Spring Island at the time of his passing. 


The Scoop on Poop
Important News About Manure Management

Okay, this is not an exciting topic but one that horse owners are reminded of on a daily basis. The Ministry of Environment is reviewing the Agricultural Waste Control Regulation (AWCR) with the intention of revising the regulation. The AWCR describes environmentally sound practices for using, storing and managing wastes, such as manure, byproducts (including composted materials) and other materials used in agriculture (such as wood waste) – this includes riding rings, paddocks that use hog fuel pellets or any wood product, not just storage of bedding or manure.  The proposed changes will impact ALL sizes of operations and properties housing horses.

Industry input as to what will and won’t work, is vital for the regulatory changes to offer a sensible and manageable waste practice. The link below will take you to the MOE policy Intentions Paper.


Videos & Stories

Be Entertained (and Educated): Saddle Fittings & Red Shoes!

Be Educated: Horse/Road Safety Video from HCBC

Be Envious!: Horse Camping in Arizona Kelly Brook Allen's Blog

Have a Hearty Laugh Winston Plays Fetch

Be Thankful Honouring an Old Horse

Just for Fun iPad for Horses?

Giant Hogweed – Don’t Touch

This toxic weed is hard to miss. Originally introduced from Asia, Giant Hogweed is now on the Invasive Plant Council of BC’s “most unwanted” list. It can be found in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands and lower Vancouver Island. The plant is significant, bold, striking, enormous – and dangerous. It is likely to be found in uncultivated areas, disturbed ground, ditches, riparian areas and moist pastures. The danger exists because the sap of the plant contains phytotoxins that cause severe and painful burns upon contact with skin in the presence of sunlight. The scars from resulting welts, rashes and blisters can be so bad that they may persist for several years. If sap gets into contact with eyes it could cause blindness. Handling of the plant or its parts is therefore extremely hazardous.

A member of the parsley or carrot family, Giant Hogweed, or Heracleum mantegazzianum, is primarily known for its distinct size, growing up to 5 metres in height. White flowers are in dome or umbrella-shaped clusters (this formation of flowers is called an ‘umbel’) that may be over a metre in diameter. Plants may not flower for a few years, then bloom in summer after which the plant dies off. Leaves may grow to over a metre across, are shiny, deeply divided like a maple leaf with very saw-toothed edges. The stems are hollow with dark red or purple blotches, and contain bristly hairs. Giant Hogweed is similar in some ways to a related plant; Cow Parsnip.

If you believe you have Giant Hogweed on your property please contact the Invasive Plant Council of BC at 1-888-WEEDSBC or


Article on Winter Horse Care

Download a PDF of this informative story written by BCHBC member Brigit Shutz

Share Your Stories in Saddle Up Magazine

BCHBC has a regular feature in Saddle Up Magazine and all Back Country members are welcome (and encouraged) to consider submitting articles. Topics may vary from trail riding tips, trail 'reviews', general interest stories and more. Articles should be about 600 words and you need to submit at least four JPEG photos. Anyone interested in writing an article for Saddle Up! should contact BCHBC member This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Videos & Stories

Be Entertained:
Kid Goat and Horse

Be Educated:
Inside Nature's Giants - the Racehorse
(Warning: Graphic content!)

Be Inspired:
Fire Survivor to Olympic Champion

Watch this video!
Here is a tricky way to deworm a horse!


Need a new saddle?
  Selling a horse?
Found a new trail?


We now have over 1,100 BCHBC members and friends engaged in conversations, connecting with other members, showing  photos, selling stuff, and bragging about their great rides!
'LIKE' us at:




Watch this VIDEO featuring BCHBC member & RCMP Sargent Peter Thiessen.

Robson Valley member's book now available in softcover (hardcover, too!)
The Rescue of Belle and Sundance: A miracle on Mount Renshaw
By Birgit Stutz & Lawrence Scanlan
Available at chapters.ca or order an autographed copy from Birgit.
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Thank you to the North West Chapter for spearheading this important initiative!

With financial support from Provincial, a colour display advertisement was published on the newest BC Backroads Mapbooks map for the Skeena Bulkley region. These maps replace the old Forest Service Recreation Maps and will have a shelf life of three years. They are available for sale in retail locations province-wide, as well as on their website. A great value advertising and PR opportunity for BCHBC. 



I've spent most of my life riding horses. The rest I've just wasted.
 - Anonymous

A horse doesn't care how much you know until he knows how much you care.
- Pat Parelli


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