Our web site includes some of our favorite photographs of rides and other events, information on future rides and events, links to equestrian sites, trail maps, and horse camps. Anyone who shares a passion for horses and wants to help ensure trails stay open is welcome to join Capitol Riders at any time. Check out our meeting time and location along with our contact information or join Back Country Horsemen - find a chapter near you. We hope to see you at our next meeting.
We are a chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Washington (BCHW) since 1988, and are affiliated with Back Country Horsemen of America (BCHA). We are a very active chapter that participates in trail riding, leadership training, legislative activities, fundraising, and meeting with Public Land Managers and other user groups. We are doing volunteer work with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the US Forest Service and the Olympic National Park in maintaining the trails, campgrounds and packing in supplies and materials. Social activities include day rides, campouts, and educational clinics.
BCHW (including Capitol Riders) is a 501(c)(3) organization. To view our IRS Tax Exemption letter,
To join, go to Back Country Horsemen to register online (select your member type and click "Continue" to enter your name and address) or complete and submit the membership application form. For a single membership the yearly dues are $51. ($41 State and $10 Capitol Riders). Family memberships are also available. If you join after October 1st, your membership is good through the end of the following year. Membership includes Trailhead News the BCHW semi-monthly magazine. For membership questions, please contact:
The Back Country Horsemen is a national organization working to protect our historical horseback access (Leave No Trace) to public lands and perpetuate the legal and moral claim by the American people to use horses and mules for recreation on public lands.
BCHW works closely with the US Forest Service, National Park Service, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the federal and state agencies in charge of managing the public lands as well as private landowners.
For the year 2014, Capitol Riders worked over 2,850 volunteer hours.
Capitol Riders was created on February 1st, 1956 and was patterned after the Walla Walla Wagon Wheelers, a dual-type club formed in 1936. The Wagon Wheelers were a Sheriff’s Posse of men who were an Auxiliary to the Sheriff’s Department along with a club of their families. The Thurston County Sheriff’s Posse had been formed in 1951 and Capitol Riders gave the families of the sheriff's posse the opportunity to join husbands and fathers on horseback.
The group originally leased property near the Olympia airport and had an outdoor arena that the posse and club members could use. When the airport and the freeway came through, they lost their lease and moved the riding and meetings to a covered arena on Littlerock Road. It was known as Green Acres.
The club met and the posse drilled and met at Green Acres for about 10 years into the 1960s. Then the group moved to the lodge of the Trails End camp near “The Trails” arena (closed as of June 2010 due to the economy) east of the airport. The group met in the lodge through the 1970s until Trails End sold the camp. The group then moved into a house behind Trails End for several years.
The posse was looking for property about this time, and it was no longer a family group. They wished to have their own club separate from Capitol Riders, and in the late 70s or early 80s the two groups went their separate ways.
Capitol Riders met at Trails End stables in the upstairs room which eventually became the restaurant. When Trails End built the restaurant and bar, the group moved to members’ homes for a couple of years. They also met in a variety of places until settling into a place on College Street in Lacey.
The club was always connected with a state organization. At the beginning Capitol Riders was a part of Washington State Horsemen. When Ken Wilcox set up Back Country Horsemen, there were five Capitol Riders families present. Capitol Riders helped to develop the state organization from the beginning and to which we all now belong.
Back Country Horsemen was an individual type organization for the first few years and members could choose to join or not. When Back Country Horsemen developed the chapter system, Capitol Riders reformed into the chapter we now have and became a chapter of Back Country Horsemen of Washington in 1988.
The group has always been active in the Southwest Washington Horse scene, staging and helping with many different events and projects. Some notable events were a Pony Express Ride in 1958, a Horse Show and Rodeo in 1959, Playdays in 1960 and 1961 at their new lighted Arena and quarter mile track, a Campout at Silver Springs Ranch in 1963 and the Great Train Robbery on Mima Prairie in 1966.
In 1972, Capitol Riders members yearly project was the activation of the Thurston County Noxious Weed Board. They did this by collecting 700 signatures on a petition presented to the Thurston County Commissioners. The Noxious Weed Board was established in 1973.
In 1975 Jim Moe from Washington State Department of Natural Resources told the Capitol Riders that if they did not make more use of the Capitol Forest they were in danger of losing the facilities to other more interested groups. The chapter heeded the call and are now staunch advocates for the use and care of the trails and campgrounds in Capitol Forest, where we contribute many volunteer hours each year.
The chapter currently meets monthly on the third Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Littlerock Fire Hall - 10828 Littlerock Road SW, Olympia, WA 98512