Intercepting the Trail Ride

IMG_5993Many people from other states have actually asked me the question “Do you ride horses to school/work?”

What?!?! We’re not backwards. I mean, we are a thriving metropolis 5 million strong. We are a center for the arts and culture. World summits have been held here. It’s not as if there are horses and wagons carrying cowpokes in chaps going down the street!

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Well, except that one time every year.

Let’s get something straight. Texas is, in many ways, a lot like other places. Just because we say it with a drawl does not mean we can’t talk astrophysics, art, history, or politics with the best of them, but for all that, we are still Texas proud. We like our horses, cattle, ropin’, and ridin’, boots and chaps. We like our country music. After all, if we were to lose a musical genre that successfully combines the themes of trains, mamas, trucks, horses, jail, and hard, work-roughened hands time after time, the world would be a little less alive, don’t you think?

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The Trail Ride is actually only about 60 years old. Thirteen different rides start out from various parts of the states just prior to the start of the rodeo in mid-February every year. The farthest one comes all the way from the Mexican border, 386 miles away and takes three weeks. All these trails converge to camp in Houston’s Memorial Park the day before the rodeo begins and parade across town to the rodeo grounds the next day.

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It happens that two of these rides pass about two miles from my house. People go out and line the roads to greet the riders, yet I had never been out myself. The best I had done was to get stuck in a traffic jam behind them some years ago. Thursday of last week, I was aware they were coming into town. The preschool group of our homeschooling association was going to wait for them at the park where they were scheduled to eat lunch, but they were getting together earlier in the day, and when I remembered and looked at my watch, it was already 1:00. Was there still time to catch the riders?

Mustard Seed and I set out like tornado chasers. I was monitoring my GPS to see where around the park the traffic looked backed up. That should be were they were. I knew they were ultimately headed to the Houston Farm and Ranch Club on Highway 6. I started to head there, but at the last second, I made a U-turn and went down the road where the park is where they were supposed to have eaten lunch. Right as I got to that light they blocked off traffic and the first riders began to process out of the park and take a left, so that they’d be taking the road I was on. We were the second car at the light. Everyone turned off their cars, got out, and took pictures. The timing was perfect.

We hadn’t had quite enough of this, so we decided to see if we could make a huge circle and intercept again at a different point. We ended up waiting for them at a cemetery parking lot outside the Houston Farm and Ranch Club, where there were a lot of other families parked to wait for them. We had a lot of fun talking with them and taking pictures.

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Here are some photos from the following day, Go Texan Day, when everyone typically dresses up in western wear. Mustard Seed was ready as ever with her improvised costume. Yeehaw!

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