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The Purpose of the Back Country Horsemen, or Why we exist stems from our principals established back in 1973 when the Back Country Horsemen were formed in Montana in 1973 about the same time the now Back Country Horsemen of Oregon Chapter, High Desert Trail Riders were formed. They are the reason we exist today and is base on our tried and tested principals each of our Officers and chapters follow.

  • To perpetuate the common sense use and enjoyment of horses in America’s back country and wilderness.
  • To work to insure that public lands remain open to recreational stock use.
  • To assist the various government and private agencies in their maintenance and management of said resource.
  • To educate, encourage and solicit active participation in the wise use of the back country resource by horsemen and the general public commensurate with our heritage.
  • To foster and encourage the formation of new state Back Country Horsemen’s organizations.
North Sister in Three Sisters Wilderness at Sawyers Bar
North Sister in Three Sisters Wilderness at Sawyers Bar

Dan Applebaker of our High Desert Trail Riders chapter said it best, “The first two purposes define what our group hopes to accomplish by our existence. The third and fourth purposes give direction in the manner in which we accomplish the first two principles. The fifth purpose is directed at expansion of BCHO to make it as strong an organization as possible to give us the power to accomplish the first two purposes as well”. 

The Back Country Horsemen of Oregon (BCHO) made up of elected Officers and the Board of Directors with representatives from each Chapter in Oregon. Each BCHO chapter member  is also a member of The Back Country Horsemen of Oregon, and receives the BCHO Newsletter, The Highline. Our Chapter dues include the BCHO dues and dues sent on to BCHA. Each Chapter in Oregon provides one representative that sits on the BCHO Board of Directors. Our larger state level voice means we have more strength in what we say and more power to achieve our principals when speaking to Federal organizations, State organizations, and State Legislators about Equestrian related issues. As a State organization we are well connected to our National Organization, the Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA).

The Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA) organization includes a Board of Directors which is made up of two National Directors from each state BCH organization. This Board is the highest level of our organization. They work to promote our purposes at the national level with the Federal Agencies (Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Park Service), the US Senate and the House of Representatives. They also network with other national organizations that have an interest in the backcountry in order to bring more public focus on issues determined to be in the best interest of the Back Country Horsemen. The list of other organizations that BCHA has partnered with, affiliated with, or joined is a very long and reputable list. They are in part: the American Horse Council, the American Hiking Society, the Wilderness Society, the Coalition of Recreational Trails, American Trails, the Continental Divide Trail Alliance, the National Recreation Trail Training Partnership, and several others.

A leader from the Back Country Horsemen of Alabama once described our mission as, The Back Country Horsemen of America is the national leader for advocacy of private recreational pack and saddle stock use of all public lands and the stewardship of those lands.We are the only national organization that promotes the use of private recreational pack and saddle stock use on our public lands.