Tom Roper with two "borrowed" horses at the Backcountry Horsemen Rendezvous in Barriere in 2019. (Contributed photo)

Backcountry Horsemen rendezvous at Barriere

Tom recounts his experience from the provincial horse-riding club’s annual gathering in 2019

Backcountry Horsemen rendezvous is going to happen in Prince George this year after a two-year closure during COVID times.

This provincial group strives to hold a position in the recreational world with their motto “The Right to Ride.” I was fortunate to be able to attend the last rendezvous held in Barriere, B.C. in 2019. Any gathering of like-minded people usually creates some type of excitement and this event proved to be no different.

As my own horses have all passed on to the great pasture in the sky, I have been hanging with Carl a bit as he has two horses and no matter how hard he tries, he cannot ride them both at once.

Anyway, we decided to purchase our passes and were rigged to go. Unfortunatel,y the day we were set to leave, his favourite Arabian horse Jazzy poked a small branch into her eye and that was that, we could not go. Carl is very connected with his cayuses and would have to stay home to nurse Jazzy back to health.

So what about me? I had paid my fee and, what the heck, I was going. I loaded my eight-foot camper and was on the road the next day.

Going to a rendezvous without a pony seemed like a good idea to me. What else could happen? Well, for starters my front tooth crown came off just outside of Williams lake as I was biting into an apple. Yikes, there go my good looks and out comes my hillbilly style. Hope I can still fit in.

I turned just south of 100 Mile House toward Lone Butte, quite a nice drive through that lake country and down the big hill to the North Thompson River and on to the fairgrounds in Barriere.

Entering the gate, I explained Carl’s issues and it seems they had an issue with Carl also. He had volunteered to man the gate. Would you do it, Tom, I was asked. For sure and before you know it I had met several ladies who oddly enough had brought two horses each and didn’t mention the missing tooth. What a stroke of luck, things were looking up.

These rendezvous are special places with a litany of events, clinics, and rides. You can also sign for the catered meals and browse the western wear and gear boutiques.

Where can you go to spend a weekend with upwards of 150 horses and 70 to 80 people of similar interests?

My introduction to the two ladies at the welcoming booth proved fortunate for sure. They hailed from Cranbrook and were willing to let me ride their extra ponies if I helped groom and water. Perfect, and some great trails were ridden the next day overlooking the Thompson Valley.

I also had a couple of plans to complete for the weekend. The first being the Cowboy Poetry contest. I’ve always wanted to give that a try and had an oddball poem picked out from a book I had gotten for Christmas.

As per usual, I was up against some pretty tough competition and would need a bit of luck if I was to win that buckle.

The first guy up was an older cowpoke from Kamloops. He had memorized the entire poem of the Cremation of Sam Magee by Robert Service. This did not look good as he was quite an orator and funny too.

Next up was a cowboy from the Lumby area.

He was a more serious type and spoke with conviction of the difficulties of ranching that almost brought tears to my eyes.

Now my turn as I attempted to charm the audience with a tale of a rancher in his one-piece longjohns getting his backside stuck in a tractor seat. I did get a few laughs but had to settle for a solid third place finish out of three contestants and no buckle.

Dang.

Oh well, it was lots of fun.

My second goal for the weekend was to sell this pair of Carhart boots I had purchased in P.G. They were selling for half price and I was determined to make them fit. Unfortunately, even with all the stretching and cursing they were not going to cooperate. I could get them on but could not get them off. They had to go.

I placed them in the silent auction and proceeded to encourage the folks to try them on and promote their quality and good looks. By the end of the auction someone had finally taken a chance and purchased this fine footwear for the sum of $15 and I was satisfied.

So after a final windup dinner and dance, I was back on the road with a bootful of memories, some good pics and satisfaction that my new handle I conjured, the “Farrier from Barriere” was going to stick for a while.

Thanks for reading this tall tale and if you would like to feature your own please call me at 877-1806 or email tr.ranch@hotmail.com.

Thanks, Tom.

 

Tom Roper competes in the Cowboy poetry event at the Backcountry Horsemen Rendezvous in Barriere in 2019. (Contributed photo)