Olympic National Park’s official mule packer Boone Jones, left, Lily Meyers, Rylie Baysinger, Back Country Horseman Mount Olympus Chapter member Meghan Adamire and Olympic National Park Trail Program Manager Larry Lack at the April 28 Share the Trail event for hikers, runners, bicycle riders, horse and mule riders and packers. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

Olympic National Park’s official mule packer Boone Jones, left, Lily Meyers, Rylie Baysinger, Back Country Horseman Mount Olympus Chapter member Meghan Adamire and Olympic National Park Trail Program Manager Larry Lack at the April 28 Share the Trail event for hikers, runners, bicycle riders, horse and mule riders and packers. (Karen Griffiths/for Peninsula Daily News)

HORSEPLAY: Remember to provide fresh drinking water for horses

IF YOU ASKED me for a glass of water and I handed you a cup that sat in the hot sun a couple of days and had a filmy haze floating on top, would you drink it?

Likely you’d decline it, worrying about getting dysentery or worse, from whatever bugs and/or mosquitoes dropped in it and ask for fresh water straight from my kitchen faucet.

Of course I’d never offer a stale cup of water to my guests.

With that in mind why would I only offer stagnant water for my beloved horses to drink?

We can all get away with not adding fresh water to the trough for a few days during cool winter days, but hotter temperatures decrease the oxygen in the water; no air flow leads to stagnant water.

Adding fresh water to the trough daily doesn’t prevent that buildup, nor deter mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water.

Putting on my ol’ thinking cap I decided to try a little solar-powered water fountain pump to add aeration and flow to my horses’ drinking water.

It worked for one summer and then it went kaput, likely caused by Indy playing with the fountain part that floated on top of the water.

Last summer, I put in a 5 watt solar-powered air bubbler pump with an air stone that lies on the bottom of one of the tanks.

The air is pumped through the stone and released at the bottom of the tank.

This serves to oxygenate the water so doesn’t become full of algae, it stays cleaner and smells better — and mosquitoes don’t lay eggs in moving water.

Now, I’m happy because there’s so much less build-up of scum on the inside (so it’s easier to keep clean) and the horses are happier because their water tastes fresher.

Plus, the little air pump made it all the way through winter, and somehow managed to provide sufficient water movement on those grey winter days to keep the water from freezing over.

Trail day

Last Saturday, I’d planned to join the Back Country Horsemen’s Peninsula Chapter’s annual ride at Salt Creek.

As I have been a full-time caregiver for my mother, who passed away Monday after suffering from late-stage Alzheimer’s, it has taken more planning than usual for me to get out of the house, let alone go for a ride.

I arranged for a caregiver for the day and got my riding gear ready.

Sadly, upon waking it was pouring rain outside and when I went outside to get Lacey ready to load into the trailer in short order my multiple sclerosis-laden body began moving slower, my pain level rose and I realized my body suffering while riding in the rain would override any opportunty of enjoying it.

So, instead I decided to stop by the Upper Elwha Community Center to see the Share the Trail Event hosted by the BCH Mount Olympus Chapter and Olympic National Park.

It’s an annual event that’s free to the public, and if you have any interest in hiking, bicycling, camping or packing in the park — or have a small child who’d enjoy a free pony ride — I highly recommend going to it. In fact, probably one of the biggest highlights of the event was the kids’ activity area.

Even though the weather was a bit damp that day, Bella the pony gave many rides to excited children.

When they were ready to dry out they headed over to the craft tables to create crayon leaf rubs, color and decorate cut-out cardboard horses, and create stick people out of tree branches, twigs and yarn.

To help them start creating their own kit of essentials to take in the back country, smaller children were given whistles as a part of their 10 essentials for the back country and older children were given compasses.

“It was fantastic to see their enthusiasm knowing that they are the future of our backcountry trails,” said Meghan Adamire, Mount Olympus Chapter vice president.

The event had informational booths set up by Olympic National Park, Department of Natural Resources, Olympic Discovery Trail, Clallam Conservation District, and Sound Bikes and Kayaks.

Participants gathered maps on the different trail systems in the area, learned how horses and mules help keep trails open for multiple user groups, and how to safely pass horses and mules on the trail.

They could even try their hand at packing on a seasoned mule.

The BCHW Leave No Trace tent display was set up with presentations and information on all the Leave No Trace ethics to practice while hiking, biking, horseback riding and camping.

Also on display were photos taken by chapter members to hopefully inspire others to go see beautiful backcountry areas for themselves.

Olympic National Park Trail Program Manager Larry Lack oversees maintenance on the trails.

He emphasized how ONP couldn’t possibly maintain the park’s 635 miles of trails without the help of volunteers.

“I really appreciate how well the Back Country Horsemen groups work together with the park to help maintain trails,” Lack said.

Professional mule packer Boone Jones has spent the past five years working as the park’s commercial packer.

From Montana, he said working for the park is one of the most enjoyable jobs he’s ever had.

“I get paid to go riding through the park,” said Boone with a smile.

It’s not easy work though.

He spends hours loading up gear, materials and food on his seven mules.

He needs to ensure each side of the pack is balanced in weight with the other side, and that the load isn’t too heavy for the mule to haul it up mountain trails for the park’s trail maintenance crews and other projects.

Once at the site he does all the unpacking of equipment and tends to the care and needs of his animals.

Event

Patterned Speed Horse game shows — today, and June 9-10 at the Crosby arena, 122 Fransom Road, Agnew.

Saturdays starts at 10 a.m., Sundays at 9 a.m.

Contact Pam Crosby at 360-670-3906 or [email protected]

See www.patternedspeedhorse.com/Calendar for more information.

________

Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also call her at 360-460-6299.

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