Larry Woodall on his favourite horse

City dwellers not noted for their horse sense

What is it with city folks?

Every time something goes astray in B.C.’s back-country, they want to ban all parties affiliated with the industry in question — the most recent incident being the slaughter of 100 sled dogs after the 2010 Olympics.

Instead of establishing new guidelines and regulations for the industry, you get the Vancouver Humane Society calling for the industry to be banned altogether, and like city sheep herding at the local java bars for their low-calorie latte, it wasn’t long before other city groups were jumping aboard. And not surprisingly, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, was front and center.

And the issue went well beyond the slaughter, from general abuse to paws being shredded due to ice. From personal experience I know most operators use padded boots for their dogs but, you know, those latte-slurping city folks know best from their virtual computerized ivory towers with no real life experiences.

This phenomena goes beyond the dog sledding industry to back-country traveling, hunting, and the horseback industry to name a few.

The Back Country Horseman of BC society was formed for a number of reasons. One pertained to the early seventies, when a group of granola-eating city dwellers in leotards wandered upon a herd of horses up in a sub-alpine meadow and were aghast to see the horses rolling amongst a plethora of flowers.

Well, it didn’t take long for groups to spring up in an attempt to ban back-country horseback travels. Of course it never dawned on the hikers that they were on the historic Dewdney horse pack trail, and the reason for the unbelievable amount of flowers was due to the horses’, politely put, horse scat. But you know, those horses are eroding BC’s meadows at an alarming rate.

And it’s not just erosion. Just ask my buddy Steve, up near Haines Junction in the Yukon, where he does select logging using draft horses. Erosion is one issue, but cruelty to animals is also alleged. As Steve will tell you, his work day is decided by the horses, and as for the cruelty issue, it’s a complete farce. Anyone who works with horses knows the time and effort involved; love would be more appropriate.

There’s a reason why horsemen still carry rifles and it’s not for grizzlies, yet there are still some city dwellers today who want to ban horseback riding.

Of course you can’t leave back-country skiing out of the equation. Just ask city girl MP Heidi Frey, who didn’t want anyone under the age of 15 allowed into the back country following the tragedy of seven skiers killed in an avalanche in Rogers Pass. To this day, ski mountaineering guide Ruedi Belinger, who was in charged of that group, still guides, and to many of us he’s one of the best in the world. I can’t speak for Ruedi, but thankfully he didn’t shut down as many would like to see happen to many of our outdoor activities.

Now if only the latte-slurping city folks would take their own advice and ban their mouths from moving when it concerns the back country.

 

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