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Make the Most of Winter; A Horseman’s Guide to Surviving Winter

Published in the January - February 2013, issue of The Trailhead News.

Published in the January – February 2013, issue of The Trailhead News.

Make the Most of Winter; A Horseman’s Guide to Surviving Winter

As published in the January – February 2013, issue of The Trailhead News.

Sometimes, despite our best intentions we often hibernate the winter away and neglect the wonderful planning and preparing opportunities that these cold, gray and bleak days provide. I’ll be the first to admit that it doesn’t take much to firmly plant myself in front of the fire and dream about summer’s warm bluebird skies. Unfortunately, dreams don’t come true until you wake up.
Now that the busy holiday season is behind us we can really start to look ahead at the coming year and contemplate long days in the saddle, camp cooking, and of course the camaraderie of our BCHW friends. This is an excellent time of the year to put your ride calendar together and attend as many learning experiences as you can to better prepare yourself for the trails and the back country during the coming year.

Plan (Verb – The orderly arrangement of parts of an overall design or objective.)

Instead of just dreaming of the coming summer’s rides we can start planning and scheduling the year ahead.
A long standing habit at my house is to set aside a few hours on New Year’s Day to talk about where to ride during the year, what we need to do to make that happen, and make tentative dates on the calendar (the BCHW calendar is perfect for this!).
Early season rides will find many of us in the high desert exploring in such places as Escure Ranch and the always popular Burke Lake. As the weather warms we’ll start working our way towards the mountain slopes at places like Audubon Camp and Joe Watt Canyon. Further into summer the highcountry will become our playground. It’s not all play as I’m sure many of us will be converging at Haney Meadow with work parties ready to repair and rebuild from the recent fire damage. And then there’s the PCT on the crest of the Cascades where the window between snow falls is mercilessly short.
No mention of ride planning would be complete without a nod to the many prize ride events that take place throughout the year. From the early Methow Spring ride to the later in the year Wine ride these events are well worth a spot on anyone’s calendar for the food alone if not for the new places to ride that these events open up to us.

Preparing (Verb – To make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity.)

We all have dreams, but for the vast majority they don’t come true unless we focus and work at it. And to make those dreams of the back country a reality we have to work to make them happen.
‘m often amazed at the classes and seminars that our members put on during the winter months. For those of us that want to experience the fullest sense of being a back country horseman there are many chances to learn from the best. Ron Downing’s famous pack clinics, and the annual mule barn pack clinic at the Olympic National Park. You can put your newly honed skills to use at the Great Gravel Pack in at Capitol Forest.

Rendezvous (Noun – A place appointed for assembling or meeting)

In just a couple of months, at the rendezvous, we’ll have the best chance of the year to get together as a group and learn from one another a myriad of skills ranging from Trygve’s packing class, to how to use the map and compass in the bottom of your saddle bags, LNT, and of course the ever popular and extremely useful dutch oven cooking demonstrations. I look forward to seeing you there!

As always, for ideas on places to ride visit the largest horse trail and camping directory in the US