Prize ride participant Yvonne Degrassi Craig at one of the trail’s viewpoints. (Photo by Judy Depree)

Prize ride participant Yvonne Degrassi Craig at one of the trail’s viewpoints. (Photo by Judy Depree)

HORSEPLAY: OP is alive again with equine events

ISN’T IT NICE to see folks taking part in group activities again after the pandemic shut down?

Back Country Horseman’s Peninsula Chapter’s been as busy as beavers these past couple of months — and I love it!

Over the past six weeks the chapter’s held three exciting events: The annual Spaghetti Ride at Salt Creek, the Olympic Prize ride and a Youth Trail Clinic. Earlier this week chapter member Linda Morin was so happy to tell me there were five new members at the last monthly meeting! To paraphrase what an astute friend recently shared with me, “Social connectedness is really one of the most important factors in our emotional and physical well-being.” Now, ain’t that the truth!

Oct. 14 was the Spaghetti Ride at Salt Creek Country Park. “It was a beautiful, clear day and we had 12 riders hit the trails with 23 in total for the meal,” said Morin.

At this year’s lunch they gave honor and a hearty thank-you to the Gray Wolf Trail Crew and its trail leader Rebecca Wanagal for restoring old trails and building new trails throughout the 196-acre park, located west of Port Angeles at 3506 Camp Hayden Road.The crew built a new trail at the top.

“Wow! The views are fantastic!” Morin said. “On a clear day you can see beyond Vancouver Island to Salt Spring Island.”

A trail they used to ride, called the Suicide Trail because it was so steep, is now closed because it’s now too unstable. She said the trails there are steep so horses need to be in good condition.

Youth

Over the Sept. 30 weekend, the chapter sponsored a Youth Trail Clinic. Donna Hollatz said in the spring Chapter Vice President Kim Merrick embarked on an ambitious plan for the chapter to host a trail clinic, camp out for youth, and their horses at Sage Hill. She was awarded a grant from BCHW to help fund the event.

Instructors taught four sessions: Riding Skills Needed on the Trail, Navigation of Trail Obstacles, Trail Clearing and Building, and Trail Safety on Shared Trails (the 3S program).

The group was blessed with beautiful weather. The kids and their horses got a lot of individual attention because the classes were small.

“It was a great opportunity for our instructors to work the kinks out of the training and for seeing ways we can improve the program for next year,” said Hollatz.

Linda Morin and Julie Kustura taught the 3S Safety Program (Stop-Stand-Speak) which teaches safe interactions between user groups (hikers, bicycles, and equestrians) on shared trails. The standard protocol for all multi-use trails when approaching others to speak up to let others know you’re there. Hiker’s, runners, bicyclists and anything with a motor are to stop and step to the side of the trail and let them pass when encountering horses, mules and lamas; bicyclists are to slow down and stay under control to allow time for hikers are to step to the side and yield way to them. A US Forest Service motto is Wheels yield to Heels when approaching other trail users. In other words, all users are to stay alert and courteous.

Hollatz and Joan Wildman instructed the group on the tools used to build trails, what to carry as a first aid kit, and how to cut obstacles back far enough for safe clearance. The kids were able to practice using a small trail pack saw, loppers and clippers.

Arianne Raser, an instructor from Port Townsend, worked in the arena with the kids and their horses to help them learn safe trail riding skills, such as proper following distance, being able to turn on the haunch and forehand, and riding with loose, relaxed reins.

Amanda Jackson of Poulsbo helped the riders and their mounts practice the obstacles at Sage Camp with great success for both kids and horses.

Theresa Percy, Stephanie Burns, and Suzanne King then led the mounted group on a trail ride through the Sage Camp property.

A campfire with s’mores completed the day’s activities. The families camped a second night and headed home on Sunday. Another Trail Camp for Youth is planned for next summer.

Prize Ride

Sept. 9 was the chapter’s annual fundraising event, the Olympic Spirit Prize Ride.

Held at Sage Horse Camp off Chicken Coop Road, proceeds are used to help cover the costs involved with performing trail work, providing youth and community education about equine pursuits, trail etiquette and conservation, and for chapter business expenses.

Sixty-four riders turned out with their horses to ride the trails. Most came from out of the area, with about 40 horse trailers camping Friday night, and some Saturday. A barbecue rib dinner was served to 50 people and over 60 prizes were available in exchange for raffle tickets.

Thanks to Sequim and Port Angeles businesses providing sponsorships, prizes for riders totaled $1,150. Sponsors included First Federal Bank, Cole’s Jewelers, Sequim Co-Op Farm & Garden, Sound Equine, Mary Craig, Sound Community Bank and Brown’s Outdoor Store.

The ride itself was about eight miles (taking about three hours to ride) and included a maze of Department of Natural Resource dirt roads, along with forest trails. A few new connecting trails were built over the summer by chapter members, so less time was spent riding on the roads and lovely new views were opened to riders.

“The weather was beautiful and skies were clear to take advantage of the fantastic 360-degree vistas,” said member Hollatz.

Thanks to the helping hands of numerous members the event went smoothly and without a hitch. Many riders expressed their appreciation for the well-organized ride and are planning to return next September. In a follow-up survey, participants overwhelmingly gave “strongly agree” and positive evaluations for all elements of the ride. For more information visit the Facebook page Backcountry Horsemen of Washington – Peninsula Chapter, or website http://www.pbchw.org/.

________

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

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

On Sept. 9, 64 riders, mostly from out of the area, took part in the chapter’s annual Olympic Spirit Prize Ride at Layton Hill Horse Camp (now Sage Horse Camp). Shown are riders signing up to participate. (Photo by Rick King)

On Sept. 9, 64 riders, mostly from out of the area, took part in the chapter’s annual Olympic Spirit Prize Ride at Layton Hill Horse Camp (now Sage Horse Camp). Shown are riders signing up to participate. (Photo by Rick King)

BCH Peninsula Chapter member Linda Morin teaching the 3S Safety Program: Stop-Stand-Speak, the courtesy rule when coming across other trail users, at its Youth Trail Clinic on Sept. 30. (Photo by Donna Hollatz)

BCH Peninsula Chapter member Linda Morin teaching the 3S Safety Program: Stop-Stand-Speak, the courtesy rule when coming across other trail users, at its Youth Trail Clinic on Sept. 30. (Photo by Donna Hollatz)

More in Life

Katie Lee of Port Angeles examines a table of perennial plants during Saturday’s annual plant sale and raffle at the floral barn at the Clallam County Fairgrounds in Port Angeles. The sale, hosted by the Port Angeles Garden Club, was a fundraiser for club projects and scholarships, and it featured a wide variety of plants for the upcoming growing season and beyond. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Plant sale at Clallam County Fairgrounds

Katie Lee of Port Angeles examines a table of perennial plants during… Continue reading

The 2024 Community Service Awards winners gather before Thursday's awards ceremony at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Port Angeles. This year's recipients were, seated from left, Steph Ellyas and Lyn Fiveash, and standing from left, Gordon Taylor, Don Zanon, Carol Labbe and Betsy Reed Schultz. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Six honored for community service efforts

Volunteers provide energy for trails, respite care

Photo by Karen Griffiths

Cutline: A fundraiser for WAG and Open starts Today at 11 a.m. with an English and jumping fun show, followed tomorrow with a Western Games show at Kari Payne’s 4-L arena off Blue Mountain Road, 95 S. McCrorie Rd. Port Angeles.  Fox-Bell Farm owner Shelby Vaughan, and her assistants Sophie Feik and Kaia Lestage (holding Marley) will be there to host. Shown is Tatar Trots, 10. a horse Shelby got from OPEN five years ago when he was a feral, unhandled stallion and, now, after castrating and training,  he’s a docile horse who enjoys teaching kids how to ride.

 

(Rescue dog Rocky laying down if he’s shown in photo)
HORSEPLAY: Rescue program gives horses new life

SHELBY VAUGHAN WAS born into the rescue mindset. She grew up on… Continue reading

A GROWING CONCERN: For garden chores, keep the spring in your step

SO THE DREAM Playground build is going wonderfully. Thank you for those… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Be a gracious and hospitable host

NOTICE OUR ROAD traffic is getting busier? Yep. We are beginning our… Continue reading

The Rev. Larry Schellink will present “Love God and Tie up your Camel” at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Schellink is the guest speaker at Unity in the Olympics, 2917 E. Myrtle Ave.
Weekend program scheduled for Unity in the Olympics

The Rev. Larry Schellink will present “Love God and… Continue reading

Unitarian speaker slated in Port Angeles

Phoenix Biggs will present “Singing of Honor… Continue reading

Jaiden Dokken, at Jeanette Best Gallery in Port Townsend, is Northwind Art’s new exhibits coordinator. (Northwind Art)
Poet laureate takes on new role with Northwind Art

Artist, poet and educator Jaiden Dokken is Northwind Art’s… Continue reading

Author John Vaillant stands in front of the iconic tower at Port Angeles City Pier. (Elijah Sussman/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Author visits Peninsula for Writer in Residence program

Vaillant awarded Shaughnessy Cohen Prize

A GROWING CONCERN: Volunteers a dream for playground

YOU, MY LOYAL readers, have been excellent the couple of times I… Continue reading

Unity in Port Townsend planning for Sunday services

Joanna Gabriel will present the lesson at 11 a.m.… Continue reading