Story courtesy of the Back Country Horsemen Society of BC, Yarrow Chapter
Few things feel as good as volunteering. What makes it even better is volunteering with good friends and your horses …plus one mule!
Saturday July 19th was Parks Day. The Back Country Horsemen Chapter of Yarrow, being part of the Friends of Manning Park, participated at the Lightning Lakes day use area for a celebration. The day use area is just up from the Headwaters Corral Equestrian Campground in EC Manning provincial park on the way to the ski hill.
The theme for the day was volunteering on trail work in the park. People who signed up were taught about simple ways to help improve the state of the trails, things they can do while out on a hike. Just before lunch they headed out as a group, to practice those things on the 20 Minute Trails, at the end of the lake. Manning Park Resort provided a free barbeque lunch to all volunteers including us exhibitors, on return.
Back at the day use area: four Yarrow members manned the BCHBC booth and managed the stock for demos. Our theme for the day was teaching the public how to interact safely with horses and mules on the trails. Every horse trail is also a hiking trail so we felt this was a good topic. The two horses and one mule were a hit with the Park Rangers, other booth participants (Wild Safe BC, Mountain Madness, Go Fish BC and the Princeton Historical Society) and the general camping public. We taught them the 3 S’s of meeting horses on the trail: Stop, Stand and Speak. If they were interested we embellished on this by describing how a horse sees things, why they react like they do and how we use them for trail work. We were educated as well! Wild Safe was doing demos on deploying bear spray, Mountain Madness on the Fat Dog Race through the Park and the Historical Society on the historic old trails.
But what the public found most fun was watching the horses graze, being able to pet them or rub the mules’ ears, being able to feed them a handful of long grass by holding it like a bunch of flowers! Many were astonished when I said there were only two horses, the other was not a horse! “Why” they would ask, with raised eyebrows, which led to a whole other discussion on the difference between mules and horses.
Little girls would leave and I would hear them ask “Mommy, can I have a horse?” They then proceeded to the booth where my friends and fellow members Glen and Charlotte would hand out information for the adults and games/buttons and ribbons for the kids. From the other side of the horse trailer I could hear Glen telling children to ask for a pony for Christmas!
Horses still inspire the best in people of every nationality. One visitor will remember for the rest of her life kissing my grey horse Rusty on his velvety nose, while her family took pictures! Many adults fondly reminisced about horses in their childhood. Senior Ranger, Eddie Tennesco, dressed in his official uniform, posed for pictures with Mutah, the mule. I also overheard him giving advice on horses and mules…yah! Even Jerry the BC Parks Moose learned how to introduce horses to scary objects ….like a person dressed up as a moose!
A BC Park is a place where cultural, natural and recreation values are preserved by staff and volunteers like us! We hope that we turned up the volume on volunteerism at this Parks Day and we’ll see more volunteers out there on the trails!