A letter from a Back Country Horseman, Have Saddle will Travel author Don West
Friday, August 10, 2018
Posted by: Don West
Dear Fellow Backcountry Horseman,
As I sit down to write a note to you, the words to a song, one I’d bet most of you know and can identify with, are bouncing around in my mind, bringing up fond memories of many horseback adventures and happy trails. It stars out “I grew up a dreamin’ of being a cowboy and loving those cowboy ways”. That song rings as true for me today as it could have described my childhood fantasies. Yes, I did grow up dreaming of being a cowboy; a movie star cowboy like Gene Autrey or Roy Rodgers, the Lone Ranger, or Hop Along Cassidy. Do those names provoke some childhood memories for you? In my youthful mind I was a man with his trusty horse, alone (or with a few friends), out looking for adventure, exploring the wild wide-open spaces, and riding a stick horse through the backcountry of my backyard neighborhood. Strangely enough, the cow never played much of a part in my make-believe image of the cowboy I wanted to be. No, it was the horse, and lots of backcountry to ride in, that captured my imagination way back then, and impelled me as an adult to turn my childhood fantasy into my own personal reality.
And so, who am I today? Well, I’m a backcountry horseman, and I’m a member of Back Country Horsemen of America. Are you a horseman (or horsewoman)? Do you like to ride the backcountry? And, are you concerned that there might not be trails for you to ride on, or that there might not be backcountry left for horsemen of the future to ride through? Then you should be a member of Backcountry Horsemen of America too! As you page through this book, Have Saddle, Will Travel, Low- Impact Trail Riding and Horse Camping, and see the beautiful pictures and read snippets of some of the stories, you’ll gain some insight into the burning desire I experienced back then that drove me to get my own horse(s), seek out remote backcountry, and explore those wild places on horseback, and write about it. As a child, as I watched my old heroes on
horseback wander here and there, wild and free, unencumbered by pack strings and chuck wagons, I often wondered how they did it? And with some experimentation and persistence I did it. In the book I share some of that with you.
Now, as an elderly gentleman horseman heading for my own final roundup, the big coral in the sky, I have high hopes that a younger generation of horsemen will be able to answer the call to adventure on horseback, riding the backcountry. It’s no secret that with an ever- growing population seeking various forms of outdoor recreation (not all compatible with the quest for peace and quiet in unspoiled natural environments), along with the extractive industries that are putting ever growing pressure on the wild country that we love to ride that our rights to backcountry trails is being threatened. Other uses and other user groups declare their rights to the same land that we backcountry horsemen need to pursue our own form of recreation (or recreation!), And many of them are financially able to defend their interests. That’s why we need the Back Country Horsemen of America, an organization able to work to defend our rights to have backcountry to ride in. By purchasing this book, you will be helping to support this organization. By being good stewards of the backcountry, we love, putting into action your own go right – go light and leave no trace principles you are helping to secure a future for the thing we all love – riding backcountry. Remember, “The candle of life burns brightest in the winds of adventure” D.W.