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The Big Trail Ride Into Houston

Houston Rodeo Trail Ride

When I first moved to Houston in 1981, I was very surprised and excited that people here participate in an annual trek into downtown Houston on horseback. Having grown up on a farm in Kansas and having been around horses all my life, I was intrigued to say the least.

Houston Rodeo Trail Ride

Even though the odds were against me, I never did get those trail riders out of my mind. In 1981, I lived in The Heights (just across the bayou from downtown Houston) and worked in One Shell Plaza. My back yard was a postage stamp, not to mention horses aren't allowed in that part of town.

In 1984, my husband was transferred to Dallas. Again, we lived in the inner city and I worked in a high rise downtown. All that changed when my kids came to live with us. We couldn't afford private school and they were definitely "hairs in the butter" at local public schools. Our only solution was to move and in November, 1988, we chose to come back to Houston, but this time we moved about 35 miles north of the city into a little town called Shenandoah.

Our financial situation had improved and I began to think about those trail riders again. My next move was, as they say, meant to be. I picked up the little local paper and there it was: "Stall Available. Full Board Only. Call Mary." At that time I knew I could afford to buy a horse, but could I afford to stable one? So I called Mary and found out that full board was $200.00 a month. "But don't reserve a spot for me just yet," I told her. "I don't even own a horse."

Houston Rodeo Trail Ride Here's when this gets really interesting and totally meant to be. Mary proceeded to tell me that she had just bought a new show horse and didn't really have time to ride Scotty, a twelve year old palomino quarterhorse. She had been thinking about leasing him. The next day I drove to Mary's, proved to her that I could ride and leased Scotty on the spot.

Trail Riding
As I began to ride regularly at the barn, I met many people. One of them was Marla and her horse, Fancy. Marla had a Suburban and a two-horse trailer. I had a Ford Mustang. As our friendship grew, we began talking about participating in the trail ride into Houston that kicks off the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

We began researching the 13 trail rides sanctioned by the Livestock Committee and settled on a small ride called Valley Lodge that rides out of Brookshire, Texas. Valley Lodge is a well-established ride that is family oriented, well organized and extremely friendly to new riders. Visit their website.

Houston Rodeo Trail Ride

We loved the experience immediately even though the first ride we completed boasted a temperature of eight degrees the first Saturday of the ride (see picture to the left) and 87 degrees the next Saturday during the parade (picture below).

Houston Rodeo Trail Ride

Trail Riding

Time marches on. I bought a truck, then a small two horse trailer. Marla has since quit riding. Trail riding has become a big part of my life. My husband, who doesn't ride, has even gotten involved. When we ride at the park, he rides his bicycle. When we go on the main ride, he man's the beverage wagon.

Houston Rodeo Trail Ride
Over the last few years, I have found ways to upgrade my trail riding experience. I bought a bigger truck and a gooseneck trailer with living quarters. We just completed the week long ride into Houston which makes this my 12th year.

Trail Ride Ladies

Other great things have evolved through the trail ride. I have met many, many good friends.

Cindy, Erin and Jayne

Now both my daughters participate. Erin, the one on the white horse, travels all the way from Seattle every year because the trail ride is such a fabulous experience.

Caysey and Cindy

This year was the first year my six year old granddaughter, Caysey, rode one of the warm up rides. Itís a family affair!

I've come a long way since the first time I saw the trail riders making their way into downtown Houston. It is a Texas tradition that is a truly remarkable experience. It may have taken me 20 years to get to this point, but every step of the way was worth it!

Houston Rodeo Trail Ride Memorial Park

Happy trails,

© 2005, Cindy Staudenmaier & UncommonHorseSense.com

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