TETRA Supports Santa Fe Trail Ride
On February 18, 2010 we rode into San Angelo with the Santa Fe Trail Ride sponsored by the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo. The ride was composed of 25 horse- and mule-drawn wagons and about 40 riders. We’d left View (outside Abilene) on Saturday, Feb 13 and covered approximately 20 miles a day to complete the 100+ mile journey. Our camps were on ranches and community parks and meals were provide by an outstanding camp crew, who have made the ride a joy for 7 years now.
This ride was initiated in 2004 with Jack Borchers as Trail Boss, Nancy Farmer, Debby Alley, Barbara McKnight and some others as scouts and a number of other TETRA members as ride support. The ride was not large -- 5 or so wagons and 20-30 riders. The camp support crew, anchored by the Baker family, provided food, water for humans and critters, snacks, and portable toilets, to make the ride a pleasure for all involved. The Bakers, along with Lynn Donaho and Tabitha Baker as co-chairmen of the ride committee, continue to provide for the needs of the ride participants.
This year the weather was nice most of the time: sunny, cool temperatures, no precipitation, and moderate wind MOST of the time. The exception was Sunday, Feb. 14, when a cold front caught us just before noon and dropped the temperatures. Most folks had been beguiled by the beautiful day on Saturday and early that morning, so we didn’t have the extra layers of clothing we would normally have carried.
The wagon folk just lowered the sided of the wagon covers, turned up their heaters, and nestled under their lap robes; but riders had little recourse beyond being grateful for the prospect of a warm camp about 10 miles (3 hours) down the road. But the positive side of the experience is having had it - bragging rights, if you will.
The most memorable part of the trip, however, was the sight of 25 wagons, outriders spaced along the line, wending their way up a hill, around a curve, or along the road. Though I’ve not heard a measurement, from my vantage point about 2/3 of the length of the train, I’m sure it was more than a half-mile long. With the sun shining and every animal doing its job, it was a beautiful sight. Mules and horses of every size, shape, and color, drivers and riders representing 8 states, all basking in the recreation of their choice: What an experience!
Some riders had two horses or mules, but most rode one animal the entire distance, and they, too, were wonderful to behold. Six days of comradery and no serious incidents to report made it a most treasured time for all concerned. We were in the saddle about 8 hours most days, but animals and humans do this for fun often during the year. We seriously miss it in the offseason.
Barbara McKnight, Past President, Texas Equestrian Trail Riders Assn., Inc