As one of the largest contributors of volunteer trail service in the nation, it seems that Back Country Horsemen of America members have earned a breather for the holidays. But these folks know that not everyone can afford a happy Christmas. They partner with businesses and charity organizations in their area to make the season bright in their own, friendly Back Country Horsemen way.
The Northwest Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico participates in the Corrales Christmas de Los Caballos Toys for Tots Parade. This equines-only event in the village of Corrales collects food and toys for Marines to give to local families who might otherwise go without at Christmastime. The parade typically features close to 100 horses, including some pulling carriages. To the delight of spectators, horses and riders dress in festive seasonal costumes.
People and Pets
Members of the Squaw Butte Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Idaho bring food donations to their annual Christmas party. Last year, chapter members brought so much that they delivered 259 pounds of food items to the Emmett Valley Friendship Coalition. The EVFC services Gem County residents by providing a weekly dinner, a food pantry, and Christmas Cheer food baskets and toy distribution.
Because most horse lovers are also pet lovers, the Squaw Butte Chapter also donated 150 pounds of pet food and supplies to the Pet Adoption League of Gem County. PAL’s promotes responsible pet ownership through education, helps return lost pets to their owners, and finds loving homes for pets that have none.
Right to Ride Representatives
The Front Range Back Country Horsemen Chapter of Colorado works throughout the seasons with the US Forest Service on various trail projects. The highlight of their year is performing ambassador patrol to families cutting their Christmas trees in an area near Buffalo Creek with a Forest Service permit. Chapter members dress themselves and their horses in holiday gear and ride around offering assistance with the family’s chosen tree.
The families love seeing the horses, and parents snap endless photos while the children reach out to touch the horses. Some of the children have never seen a horse in real life before. One year, a boy in a wheelchair asked to pat the horses, and his evident joy at doing that melted every member’s heart.
The Redwood Unit of Back Country Horsemen of California partners with Food for People for the Cowboy Canned Food Convoy as part of the Hunger Fighter Challenge in Eureka. One year they donated nearly 450 pounds of food, and last year 63,000 cans were donated. This event, now in its 11th year, is organized by the Redwood Unit and very popular with the public.
Share Your Christmas
Every year, the High Sierra Chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Nevada participates in Share Your Christmas Food Drive, hosted by their local Channel 2 TV station. Members bring a non-perishable food item to every monthly chapter meeting throughout the year, and bring even more donations to their chapter Christmas party.
They typically donate several hundred pounds of food and always deliver it by pack string. A reporter from Channel 2 rides with the chapter on horseback and interviews members. The public loves seeing the horses, and children and adults alike always want their photos taken with them. Not only does this get food onto empty dinner tables, it’s a great way to educate folks about horses and the mission of Back Country Horsemen of America.
Give a Gift that Supports the Cause
If you’re looking for a unique gift that supports a valuable cause, take a look at BCHA’s logo merchandise. From www.BCHA.org, under the Resources tab, click Country Store. You’ll find the perfect gift for someone who has everything, including men’s and women’s denim shirts, water bottles, insulated lunch boxes, ball caps, safety vests, and even patches to add to your own clothing… all emblazoned with the recognizable logo of this highly respected service organization.
You can even buy someone special a gift membership or give a gift to BCHA in their name. At www.BCHA.org, look under the Get Involved tab to learn how.
by Sarah Wynne Jackson
About Back Country Horsemen of America
Back Country Horsemen of America wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday season filled with peace.
BCHA is a non-profit corporation made up of state organizations, affiliates, and at-large members. Their efforts have brought about positive changes regarding the use of horses and stock in wilderness and public lands.
If you want to know more about Back Country Horsemen of America or become a member, visit their website: www.bcha.org; call 888-893-5161; or write 342 North Main Street, West Hartford, CT 06117. The future of horse use on public lands is in our hands!
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