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BCHC Mid Valley Unit

Horse and Mule Pack Clinic, July 26 - 27, 2008

We hosted horse and mule pack clinics for 4-H youth at the Stanislaus County Fair.
All photos courtesy of Photographs by Kathy Zumbrunn.
This is Page 1 of 2; there is a link to Page 2 (503 KB), which covers the Dutch oven cooking demonstration, here and at the bottom. You may jump to the newsletter article below the pictures.

Lady on horseback leading a pack horse
Karen Lopes ready to go

Two women and a mule
Jerrie Ann Thomas and Karen Lopes talking about choosing the right horse/mule

One beautiful mule

Man on horseback leading pack horses
Lloyd Erlandson with his pack string

Two people loading a pack horse
Bob and Jerrie Ann Thomas getting everything ready

Man packing an iron mule
Carl Perry with "Rusty", demonstrating how to pack a mule.

Man weighing a load with a spring-loaded cylindrical scale
Carl Perry showing how to weigh a load

Three people sitting in the shade
Jerrie Ann Thomas, Carol Jo Hargreaves and Larry Schneider

[Ed. Note: We have pictures of the 4-H members; they are attractive, clean, well-groomed, friendly, and their jeans don't sag. All in all, a great bunch of kids. We neglected to get their permission to publish their pictures on the web, however, so we are leaving them off.]

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(Go to Page 2 now (503 KB), and see what Dutch oven cooking is all about, or read the newsletter article:)

Horse and Mule Pack Clinics

By Michael King

On Saturday, July 26 and Sunday, July 27, 2008 the Mid Valley Unit of Backcountry Horsemen of California hosted horse and mule pack clinics for 4-H youth at the Stanislaus County Fair. Participants ranged in age from 10 to 18, and included 3 boys and 10 girls.

Mid Valley Unit President Carol Jo Hargreaves started off each day with a hearty and enthusiastic welcome to the kids, their parents and the 4-H advisors. Her welcome was followed with a presentation about the history, activities and purpose of the Backcountry Horsemen organization tailored to this younger group. She concluded her remarks with the packing clinic course outline and goals.

Following the introduction, individual Unit members presented selected topics pertaining to packing activity and awareness in 10 to 15 minute segments. In order of their presentations, the presenters and topics included:

After the presenters finished, the kids moved from the bleachers down to the grassy presentation area for hands-on instruction and practice in loading and hitch tying. We used `Iron mules', procured from Mid Valley members, for this portion due to liability insurance restrictions on minors working with live animals.

Carl Perry and Lloyd Erlandson demonstrated stringing and leading multiple pack animals. Lloyd Erlandson ended this session by addressing the issue of safety in the backcountry and around livestock.

During the hands-on practice session, Dutch Oven cooks Debra Mason, Susan Erlandson, Vicki Morales and Nancy Gross set up, prepared and cooked several delicious dishes for students and Fair passers-by to sample. It is always amazing to see the dishes that these cooks can turn out with a simple oven and minimal conveniences! [See page 2]

After the instruction and practice, the kids had a two-hour break after which they returned to take a written quiz covering the earlier presentations. In addition to the written quiz, they participated in a hands-on/practical test to demonstrate how to throw a load, cover with a manty and tie a box hitch. Timers carefully recorded total times, not to measure speed but to use in the event of tied aggregate scores. All participants received a participation ribbon and the top point winners were awarded First through Fourth place ribbons as well as gift certificates to Crossroads Feed and Ranch Supply.

On Sunday the presenters expanded on their prior day's topics to include new information for a second quiz. During practice session the youth, coached by experienced adult packers, concentrated on correcting errors made the previous day and increasing their skill levels. A second round of quizzes with new questions and another timed practical demonstration (load throwing/hitch tying) were conducted. Awards were again made according to overall points earned.

All agreed the participants were an amazing bunch of young people! They approached this clinic with enthusiasm, eagerness to learn and a fun-loving attitude. The youth supported each other from the sidelines, encouraging each other regardless of whose turn it was to tie their hitches. The speed at which they picked up the material presented was impressive. Mid Valley Unit members enjoyed themselves immensely and came away enriched by the experience. All agreed this clinic was a HUGE success! We are already planning for the next youth clinic.

Special thanks to Crossroads Feed and Ranch Supply of Modesto for supplementing the prize money awarded. In addition to the presenters, we owe many thanks to Unit members who worked on this project. Thanks to

(Thanks, too, to all the spouses that quietly rendered valuable behind the scenes support!)

Here's another link to Page 2, Dutch oven cooking. (503 KB)

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Backcountry Horsemen of California - Mid Valley Unit
PO Box 1709
Modesto CA 95353-1709

Questions about the Mid Valley Unit? Ask Dennise Davis,
Questions about the web site? Ask Ted Pack,

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