Summer is here, and we (finally!) have fabulous opportunities to ride and camp. Hooray!
But amid all the fun, you might encounter people without horses staying in horse camps and occupying campsites that would otherwise be open for equestrian use. The Forest Service and other land managers know people without horses sometimes camp in horse camps, but at the moment there aren’t any rules against this. Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA) would like to change that. They’d like to see land managers issue a formal rule stating that horse camps are for campers with stock only. Non-horse campers have plenty of other places they can stay, while equestrians are limited to official horse camps only.
We have a golden opportunity this summer to support BCHA’s efforts on our behalf and show our land managers just how widespread this issue is. Each time you see someone camping in a horse camp without a horse, take a photo if you can do it without antagonizing the person. Jot down the particulars: date, day of the week, camp name, land manager (Forest Service, State Park, BLM), etc. If you experience anything unpleasant as a result of the non-horse camper being there (kids climbing on the corrals or pestering the horses, having an equestrian turned away because there are no other
empty campsites, etc.) make a note of that, too.
Don’t confront the person or ask them to move. Just take notes.
Then go to the OET website: www.oregonequestriantrails.org, click on the News tab
(or Menu, if you’re on your phone), and scroll down to Horse Camps. Click on it, and the first item you’ll see is Non-Horse Campers. Scroll down to the bottom of the article and click on the Online Horse Camp Incident Form link. Fill it out and submit it. Or download the Horse Camp Incident Form and fill it out and submit it via email.
Either way, your response will go to BCHA. They’ll compile all the reports and present the data to the land manager. And you’ll have helped gather more ammunition in the battle to keep horse camps for horse campers. It’s easy to do, and it strengthens BCHA’s efforts on our behalf. Let’s do it! Happy Camping!
Article by VP of Public Lands, Kim McCarrel, email@example.com
We are a 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose members are dedicated to building, promoting, preserving, and maintaining horse camps and trails in Oregon. For over 50 years, we’ve worked to ensure that horse trails and camps throughout our state remain accessible to riders now and in the future. OET members promote LNT ethics, outdoor ethics, campground etiquette, and trail etiquette.