The Aldergrove-based Horse Council of B.C. is happy to support equestrian events and initiatives across the province, including ongoing development and maintenance of riding trails in the Greater Vancouver Regional District – and throughout B.C. (Special to Black Press Media)

The Aldergrove-based Horse Council of B.C. is happy to support equestrian events and initiatives across the province, including ongoing development and maintenance of riding trails in the Greater Vancouver Regional District – and throughout B.C. (Special to Black Press Media)

Still advocating for horse and rider

Decades later, the Aldergrove-based Horse Council of B.C. continues the work of its founders

By Jim McGregor/Special to Black Press Media

At one time, Langley was called the “Horse Capital of B.C.”

No one is really sure where that label was started or what facts it was actually based on. However, there does continue to be a large equine presence in Langley and it is served well by the Horse Council B.C. (HCBC) in Aldergrove.

Jocelyn Adams, marketing and communications coordinator for HCBC, provides some historical perspective.

“HCBC was started in 1980, energized by the shared vision of Bill Archibald and Sherman Olson. Sherman served as HCBC’s first president.”

Jan White, co-author of The Horsemen, wrote about Archibald: “As a founder of Horse Council B.C., his vision of building a strong, provincial equine body, his commitment to this cause, and his dedication and direction as the president for the first 10 years resulted in the strongest and largest of all provincial horse councils in Canada.”

White went on to sing his praises in The Horsemen.

“Bill Archibald was a much-respected teacher, horseman, trail boss and deeply committed volunteer. A founding member of Horse Council B.C., Bill provided his time and expertise to many local organizations, undertaking projects from cleaning up streams and rivers to pushing trails through into Golden Ears [Provincial] Park, for the benefit of all citizens and equestrians.”

The HCBC office was originally located in Surrey, moved to Abbotsford at some point, then was relocated to its current home at 27336 Fraser Hwy., in Aldergrove, in 2002.

Whether a person has a stable of horses or is a novice rider, HCBC offers many programs and much support for its members including:

• The Right To Ride: The right to ride horses on public land i.e. in parks, and on designated trails in BC. HCBC communicates with provincial/local government to support its members in their advocacy roles.

• Horse Welfare in BC: HCBC liaises and collaborates with governing bodies and promotes the importance of the welfare of equines in BC.

• The BC Horse Industry: HCBC strives to provide up-to-date information to horse owners and riders across the province on horse health & care, welfare, land & pasture management, and environmental issues.

• A Nationally Accredited Coaching Program: HCBC administers the Equine Canada coaching and instructor programs for English, Western and Driving disciplines.

• Financial Support for the Industry: Funding programs that help to encourage and support participation in equestrian sport and recreation activities.

• The Preservation of BC Trail Systems: HCBC provides funding, safety manuals, workshops, and guidance to our members interested in building and maintaining the trail systems in BC.

• Quality Science Based Education: HCBC hosts and supports multiple educational events throughout the year along with providing free online courses to members, all based in sound scientific research and data.

The horse council also maintains a database of accredited and Equestrian Canada-certified coaches, which is available on their website and they provide resources for new riders and parents of new riders, online courses, a free Pony Tails Kids Club, as well as liability insurance for its members, Adams noted.

In the horse industry, like many other agriculture-based organizations, there are challenges faced with the cost of land rising and climate change concerns.

Adams points out how HCBC stepped in to help this past year.

“B.C. was hit hard this year with fires during the summer and major flooding in the fall, both disasters displacing hundreds of livestock,” she said.

HCBC’s animal disaster relief fund was utilized to reimburse volunteers involved in hauling livestock out of dangerous areas and provide feed for the evacuated animals.

Approximately $30,000 was distributed to help care for these animals,” she said.

Funds were also there to facilitate the daring equine helicopter rescue of three horses stranded in Spences Bridge, Adams explained, noting that HCBC works with partner organizations to continue to develop resources and disaster response training for volunteers, horse owners, and first responders.

Based on an equine industry economic impact study, Adams said the future looks positive.

“Nearly 20,000 B.C. households are involved in the equine sector, which generates $784 million in economic activity annually,” she said.

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“B.C. is home to nearly 60,000 horses and the equine industry creates 5,620 full-time equivalent jobs. More than 88 per cent responding to the survey say their involvement in the equine industry will increase or stay the same in the next five years.”

Adams is optimistic, not only for the future of the industry, but for the equine community in B.C. and the Aldergrove-based association.

“What Bill and Sherman started in 1980, HCBC, continues to honour with our current vision statement: Horse Council B.C. strives to represent all horse people in B.C. regardless of discipline, breed orientation, or sport. We endeavour to be an association that anyone active in the horse sector is proud to be a part of. We are accessible to all our members and communicate with them on both a professional and personal level.”

To find out more on Horse Council B.C., people can check out their website at hcbc.ca or phone 604-856-4304.

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