The Bill Van Learn How to Pack Stock Clinic will return to Clovis on Saturday, March 26.
Now in its sixth year, the annual event will feature both mule and horse packing lessons and competitions, with sessions led by former Mule Days world champions.
Mules and horses, explained the clinic’s media coordinator and instructor Mike Long, were used by miners to transport goods and supplies during the Gold Rush.
Despite technological advancements, he said, mules are still put to use today: “Sometimes, the only way to get supplies to trail crews is on the back of a horse or mule. [They’ve been] used for rebuilding sections of the John Muir Trail.”
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He said they’re also used to get supplies and equipment to areas afflicted by forest fires, and to take supplies to campers in Yosemite’s backcountry camps. As such, mule packing is taught to students planning to pursue careers in natural resources. Clinics and competitions help them hone their skills.
“This is good practice for them,” said Long.
The cost of the clinic, which includes lunch, is $30 for participants. Spectators can purchase a lunch for $10. All proceeds will be donated to the Church of Tollhouse.
What: Bill Van’s Learn How to Pack Stock Clinic
When: Sat., March 26
Where: Blasingame Ranch Arena, 19606 Auberry Rd., Clovis
How much: $30 to participate, free for spectators. Lunch for spectators may be purchased for $10. RSVP by March 24 to Mike, (559) 917-4472 or Rick, (707) 695-3311.