Itís strange how the rodeo comes to town with
bells and whistles, and trail rides stretching to the horizon,
that brighten the eyes of FFA and 4H club members. It also makes
all of the cowboy and cowgirls wannabes grab their boots and
10-gallon hats. When they leave, the horses, mules and wagons are
loaded up for a ride home in trucks and horse trailers, and there
seems to be no schedule, no parade, no bells or whistles. Some of
the FFAers and 4Híers dreams have been realized; some are
disappointed but plan for next year.
When I was running my traps last month, I came
smack, head-on (whoa!) into not one but two trail rides coming
down Hwy. 90A with several hundred cars stacked up behind them. I
should not have been surprised because I had seen the vangard
earlier in the week at the local laundromat washing washers full
of blue jeans and saddle blankets.
There have sure been some changes in trail
rides since Iíve been watching them and riding in the final parade
through downtown Houston. The riders I saw were all decked out in
bright yellow rain slickers and the horses and wagons looked wet.
Plus it was still raining off and on. Looked like real good
candidates for some of that sheet plastic and duct tape everyoneís
been buying lately.
Some of those early wagons didnít have any
plastic on them. When it rained they got wet, real wet, and if you
have ever tried to saddle a wet horse, you know about wet.
On one of those early trail rides, one of the
wagons lost a mule, I mean that it died, right on the trail. Since
you have to clean up your campsite, they loaded that dead mule
into one of those wagons and carried on as if it happened every
day. Business as usual on the trail.
In January, I saw a picture of my niece Sarah
petting a horse on the nose. She had on a life jacket. Since I
knew that my brother now has horses instead of cows on his place I
gathered that Sarah had been rowing a boat in the lake behind her
and stopped on the way to the house to pet the horse.
I asked my brother, jokingly, if Sarah wore a
life jacket when she rode horses. His quick reply was that, "She
doesnít have a helmet." That blew me away.
Can you imagine Roy Rogers leading a posse
across the screen with helmets on? Looking like refugees from
Motorcross? or Dirt Bike Devils? All the romance and glamour of
the "Ten-Gallon Hat," trademark of cowboys since the beginning,
down the tube? Gross!
Some things must be kept sacred or the next
time I run into those Hwy. 90 trail rides, the riders will be
sporting yellow helmets to match their yellow rain slickers.