We gave a pack clinic to 16 4H members at the Stanislaus County Fair
on August 1, 2009.
All photos courtesy of Kathy Zumbrunn and Michael King.
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Dave Moser telling the kids about proper camping etiquette
Doug Dollarhide and Debra Mason
Carl Perry checking out Claudia Parrish and her cake mix
Debra Mason topping off the Mexican Corn Pudding
Debra Mason's Mexican Corn Pudding, made in a dutch oven
Lloyd Erlandson giving a lecture on how to properly saddle a horse
Lloyd Erlandson showing a youngster the ropes
Dennis Serpa showing a youngster the ropes
Dave Moser and student
Lloyd Erlandson seeing how well the lesson sunk in
Doug Dollarhide teaching his son how to tie a hitch
Following the success of 2008, the Mid Valley Unit of Backcountry Horsemen returned to the 2009 Stanislaus County Fair to once again host a youngster's Horse and Mule Pack Clinic. A total of sixteen Stanislaus County 4-H members kids (13 girls and 3 boys) enrolled ranging in age from approximately seven to seventeen. As a number of the attendees had participated in the 2008 clinic, the class was split into `First Timers' and `Seasoned' returnee's from last year.
Mid Valley President Carl Perry started promptly at 1:00 and made quick work on his welcome to the event, a short overview of Backcountry Horsemen and the day's agenda. He ceded his remaining presentation time to Dave Moser who was raring to get into teacher mode at which he excels. Dave made good use of his allotted time to introduce the kids to the Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles and why they are important. He then expanded on the principles by giving examples on how to put them into practice so that others can also enjoy a pristine area. As usual, the kids paid special attention to this topic.
Following Dave was Lloyd Erlandson, assisted by Alvin Baptista, who gave a talk on pack stock selection - horse vs. mule. The uses and attributes of each type of animal were thoroughly discussed, giving the kids an opportunity to consider why one animal might be better suited to a specific job than another.
Without skipping a beat, Lloyd transitioned into the next topic. Assisted by Alvin and Doug Dollarhide, Lloyd gave a very interesting talk on the types of packsaddles, saddle padding, saddle fitting and proper saddle placement. He took the opportunity to introduce the class to the Salmon River Pack Saddle. This is the packsaddle that Lloyd used when working for a commercial pack outfit in the Trinity Alps of Northern California. This was a special opportunity for the kids, as they would not normally see the Salmon River saddle used much in this area. Lloyd explained the Salmon River's features and why they were developed. For the kids to hear from someone who actually used them was a real treat.
Carl took the floor next to talk about the importance of weighing and balancing your loads. With first hand knowledge, he empathized the importance of making sure that the saddle and the load are balanced and centered, and how to check that they are. Using a live animal, Carl demonstrated balancing a load and how to place it on the sawbuck. He then showed the proper way to throw a manty and finished up by showing how to throw the lash cinch and tie the box hitch.
Just before the kids took a short break, Lloyd and Carl, assisted by Bruce DeMott and using live animal props, covered the stringing and leading of multiple stock animals with a very strong emphasis on safety. This includes not only safety for the animals, but also most importantly for the packer. The presenters tried to impress on the kids how fast something can go haywire and out of control, and the need to be prepared in advance for that possibility so as to avoid injury to yourself.
While all of this was going on, Dutch oven cooks were busy preparing tasty treats for sampling. Debra Mason prepared a "Mexican Corn Pudding" dish that drew many back for a second sample. Claudia Parrish prepared a `Wacky Cake' while Bob Thomas baked up chocolate chip cookies. Susan Erlandson produced a very tasty oven full of brownies. The treats were scarfed up so quickly and thoroughly that second batches were soon in the oven!
After the break, the kids moved down to the grassy presentation area for an hour of hands-on practice in loading and hitch tying. Dennis Serpa, Rudy Dezzani, Alvin, Lloyd, Bruce, Carl, Doug and other Mid Valley members were right at hand to help the kids when they became temporarily stuck or to answer questions. `Iron mules' were utilized for this portion due to liability insurance restrictions on minors working with live animals.
At last the time came to take a written quiz and the practical test based on the earlier presentations. The practical test involved balancing and throwing a load, covering with a manty and tying a box hitch. The kids split into their novice or advanced groups, with one group taking the written test while the others completed their practical exam. The groups then switched to take their remaining test. Times were kept in the event of a tie. The top point winners were awarded First through Fourth place ribbons as well as gift certificates to Turlock Feed Store on First Street. All participants received a participation ribbon as well.
The winners, based on their combined scores from the two exams, were: Advanced Section- 1st place: Aspen Kenyon, 2nd Place: Sydney Fultz, 3rd place: Michelle Brazil and 4th place: Alex Broedlow. Novice Section- 1st place: Alyssa Nelison, 2nd place: Valerie Belew, 3rd place: Kimberly Mills and 4th place: Justin Serpa.
Everyone is agreed that these kids are an amazing group. They all tackled the class with enthusiasm and a great fun loving attitude. There was a lot of laughter from the kids' while rooting from the sidelines for those whose turn it was to tie their hitches. They all were quick to absorb the presented material and dive right into loading their "mules" and tying the hitches.
All the Mid Valley Unit members involved enjoyed themselves immensely and came away richer as well. Working with good kids doing good things is always a treat. Everyone agreed this clinic, as last years, was an OUTSTANDING SUCCESS! There are already thoughts being mulled over on the possibility of doing a follow up practice session with these same kids at a later date.
Many thanks are owed to all the Mid Valley Unit members who worked on and supported this project including the Dutch oven cooks. Thanks to Carol Jo Hargreaves for preparing the agenda, preparing the informational booklets, compiling the written tests and lots of other unseen tasks. Thanks also to Carl and Julie Perry for hosting the pre event planning meeting at their home, Jerrie Ann Thomas for doing the on-site leg work to organize the event, Kathy Zumbrunn for the photography and fetching supplies, Lloyd Erlandson for bringing the demonstration riding and pack stock, Carl Perry for developing the scorecards, Lloyd Erlandson, Bruce DeMott and Carl Perry for the practical test judging, Jeannette DeMott, Claudia Parrish and Jerrie Thomas for grading the tests and tabulating the results and all the rest of the Mid Valley unit members that worked as presenters and coaches as well as on the sidelines to make this a very-successful- event!!! Everyone deserves a big hand.
Special thanks also to Turlock Feed for supplementing the prize money awarded.
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