By Birgit Stutz

Houghtaling family from Prince George on the poker ride.
Houghtaling family from Prince George on the poker ride.
Eileen MacDonald photo

The Robson Valley Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of BC (BCHBC) can look back on yet another successful poker ride, which took place on Saturday, September 16. This was the local chapter’s seventh annual poker ride fundraiser, and with 57 riders, the ride was again well attended.

“There were participants and volunteers from McBride, Valemount, Dunster, Jasper, Quesnel, Prince George, and even Penticton,” said Eileen MacDonald, chair of the Robson Valley Chapter.

“Volunteers were many and hugely added to the success. And the caliber of sponsor donations was superb, with many attendees proud recipients of door prizes and very appreciative of the Robson Valley community generosity. The community support at all levels was very evident and appreciated by all attendees.”

As in previous years, the ride took place on the crown lease on Hinkleman Road east of McBride, and followed a well-marked trail along a field with beautiful vistas, through a forested trail, and along the mighty Fraser River.

The Robson Valley Chapter prides itself in rewarding the top three hands with beautiful prizes. The winners of this year’s poker ride were Arlene Haugen of McBride, who won first prize with her poker hand and chose a large cedar planter donated by Cedar 3 Products of McBride. Second prize went to Aisling Ives of Valemount, who chose a set of leather saddle bags hand-made and donated by Reg Marek of Kicking Horse Saddlery of Dunster. Third prize went to Eldon Houghtaling from the Prince George Omineca Chapter of BCHBC, who chose a leather headstall and reins donated by Kicking Horse Saddlery. Prize for worst hand went to Nadine Cape of the Prince George Omineca Chapter of BCHBC. She received the valuable and necessary toilet paper/plunger basket donated by Robson Valley Septic of McBride. There was also a prize for the top youth hand and one for the youngest rider from within the Robson Valley, which was won by Cooper Trask of McBride, and one for the youngest rider from a visiting chapter, which was won by Eli Houghtaling of Prince George. Many riders who attended received draw prizes with were very much appreciated.

The 50/50 draw in the amount of $388.50 was won by Janice Mercuri of McBride, with the other half of the proceeds going to the Robson Valley Chapter.

The ride was followed by a delicious, hearty cowboy dinner and the cowboy poetry competition, which was sponsored by the Robson Valley Art Council.

“About 30 to 40 people attended the cowboy poetry event,” said Sheilagh Foster, one of the cowboy poetry competition organizers.

“It was very well attended, up from last year. People seemed really appreciative of the poems and poets at the event. There was laughing, clapping, and cheering.”

The winners of the cowboy poetry competition were Richard Christenson of Clearwater (first prize), who read original Lloyd Jeck poems of the valley as a tribute to his son Neil Jeck. Second prize was awarded to Sheilagh Foster of McBride for her original poem about the search for the lost McBride horse ‘Dancer’. Third prize went to Dawn Hickerty for her recitation of “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy”.

MacDonald said the poker ride is the Robson Valley Chapter’s biggest fundraiser, and the monies raised will be used to build and maintain trails in the Robson Valley.

The Robson Valley Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of BC was founded in the spring of 2010, and the club currently has 40 members.

The goals of the chapter are the improvement of access to both the front country and back country areas of the Robson Valley, as well as exploration and re-opening of some of the historic pack trails in the area along the Continental Divide, involvement in such activities as improving trail heads and staging areas, GPSing and mapping of existing trails, and encouraging youth to explore the back country.

The Robson Valley Chapter is welcoming new members, with or without horses. Membership fee is $45 for adults and free for ages 17 and under. Active members need to have a current Horse Council BC membership. For more information on the Robson Valley Chapter of the BCHBC contact MacDonald at 250-569-2324.

                                                                   McBride Poker Ride

Fraser River sandbars.
Fraser River sandbars.
Eileen MacDonald photo
Crossing the Fraser channel.
Crossing the Fraser channel.
Eileen MacDonald photo



                                                                                           Cowboy Poetry

Seventh Annual McBride poker ride well attended
Eileen MacDonald photo
Seventh Annual McBride poker ride well attended
Eileen MacDonald photo