31. May 2010 · Comments Off on 2010 Back Country Skills Day – Some reflections · Categories: Training Events

2010 was the seventh year Squaw Butte has put on a public clinic.  The first time we held a clinic, Bill & Marybeth Conger organized a purely packing event that was well received by our members and a few guests.  Over the next couple of years the clinic was primarily a packing clinic with some added classes in Dutch oven cooking and meal planning added.  Year four we hoped to broaden the offering to draw in more guest by adding classes in first aid (human & stock), knots, and brought outside speakers in to help with the presentations.  This was the first year that Dr. David Hays spoke.  The packing aspect of the clinic became something you could do between presentation, and the clinic started to take on the feel of a multi ring circus.  Years five and six we tried to refine this approach with more presentation offering.

At the 2010 leadership meeting in January, we discussed what we had learned in seven years, what had worked, what didn’t.  A couple of things really stood out.  The first is March, the traditional month we held the clinic, weather was to unpredictable and most years it was cold, windy and often rained.  While the indoor arena provided some shelter, it still could be uncomfortable for our members and guest.  March was also before all the horse shows that BCHI has a booth at, so getting the word out was harder.  The second revelation was that the clinic had too many activates and presentations to fit into a single day.  It felt rushed and at time disorganized.  A decision was made to extend the clinic to a full weekend, to hold it in May and to divide the clinic up in to a presentation day and a hands on day.

Day one was to be a full day on interactive presentations with experts in various fields of interest to Back Country riders.  We choose the theme “Talk to the Experts” and Nancy Harper Schindele took on the responsibility of contacting presenters and organizing the days activates.  Day two we wanted to be completely hands on, with a return to our original packers clinic but we also wanted to pilot the forest services “Defensive Horsemanship” course that is very popular with chapters in the northern part of the state.  Phil Ryan contacted Dale Schrempp of the Priest River Valley BCH. Dale had been teaching the course for a number of year and was willing to help lead our pilot.  We quickly realized that the name was confusing  to our members and the public, so we modified it to “Safe Trail Riding / Defensive Horsemanship”  Rob Adams coordinated the Packing skills clinic.  We broke each clinic into two half day sessions so member and guest could attend both if they wanted, or spend more time refining skills and asking questions.

Saturday – Day 1:  Talk to the Experts (Presentations)

Camping with Stock – Marybeth and Bill Conger

Trail First Aid – When the vet is hours away – Joe Rumsey DMV

Idaho Stock Laws – That you need to know – Larry Hayhurst, Idaho State Brand Inspector

Recreation in the Boise Nation Forest –  Emmett Ranger District

The Mechanics of Movement – David Hays DMV

Healthy Hoofs – No Hoof, No Horse – Julie Mills Womack & Associates

Equine Dental Care – Justine Spencer

Saturday proved the old adage, that you can never count on Idaho spring weather, it was as cold and rainy as any March day. But, we had the indoor arena, everyone dressed warm and all who attended participated in a full day of excellent presentations that generated lively discussions and the exchange of a lot of valuable information.  The youth rodeo association of Idaho City provided an excellent lunch, and by the end of the day all who attended felt the day was a complete success.

Sunday – Day 2 ( Hands on clinics)

Sunday, the weather gods smiled on us some, the sun came out and the rain stopped.  The outdoor arena sand was so saturated with water, that it felt a bit like walking on quick sand, but that turned out to be a plus for the Safe Trail Riding clinic.  Phil and Dale had an excellent turnout for both the morning and afternoon sessions and all who participated talked about how worthwhile the clinic had been.  The packing clinic was also a complete success with thanks going to instructor / mentors Jake Lemon, Bill Conger, Ellen Knapp and Rob Adams.  We had a number of beginner and experienced packers who learned new skills or refined their technique.  We had a range of items to pack, and both horse and mules to practice on.  Lunch was provided by the 4H and was enjoyed by all.

The two day clinic format proved to be a good model for Squaw Butte.  Both days went smoothly, and didn’t have the rushed, often hectic feel of past clinics.  Attendees got the chance to talk at length to presenters and had the opportunity to practice hands on techniques until they were comfortable with them.  I am sure we will be refining the same model when we plan the 2011 Back Country Skills Days.

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