216 Miles Ahead; The 65th Annual Old Spanish Trail Ride to Houston
Bright and early Saturday morning Logansport and Joaquin residents and people from all over headed out on the 216-mile long 65th Annual Old Spanish Trail Ride heading to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The Old Spanish Trail Ride, established in 1965, still to this day contains eager riders from all over Texas and Louisiana ready to take on the seven-day ride on horse-back, organizers said. The trail ride is no easy task, and consists of three major groups that make the ride possible and keep it thriving each year.
Jana Barber Green, the Old Spanish Trail’s Assistant Trail Boss’s daughter-in-law, said the event takes a lot of coordination. “We have the riders; the people that ride their horses everyday, we have the riggers; the people that work for the riders, they move the rigs, trailers and everything to all the different stops during the day,” said Green. “And then you have the cooks; the cook shack. They’ve been doing it for years,” she said.
The cooks were not present during the grouping and take-off on Saturday, Feb. 22. Their job is to head to the first scheduled location for lunch, and be set-up and ready to serve the riders as they arrive. They do this three times a day; breakfast in the mornings, traveling to the scheduled lunch stop to prepare lunch and then onto the last stop to prepare dinner, Green said.
Morris Brown serves as trail boss for the Old Spanish Trail’s trail ride. “We eat pretty good,” Brown said. “Two nights is steak night, other nights it's chicken fried steak, pork-chops - we gain weight,” he said.
But in the mornings, there’s one person who is in charge of waking everyone up for breakfast and starting the long day ahead. That is Ray Turner, trail director and driver of the “Sound Van” vehicle. “I start waking everybody up at 5 o’clock in the morning,” Turner said. “I play cattle call to wake them up every morning - sometimes I make them mad but if I gotta get up early, everybody’s gotta get up early - and we pull out at 7.” Turner’s wife, Darla, has an even more important role. “But guess who gets him up early,” Darla Turner asked.
“We ride alongside them and play music for them - you know, try to make it a little more easy for them going down the road,” said Turner. Ray and Darla spend their days on the seven-day ride providing music, water, snacks and roadside safety to the riders on their way to Houston.
Though this week-long ride sounds long and dreadful, the riders are more than prepared and ready for the ride. Some even have flat-screen televisions and heaters in their trailers.
“We have satellite TV, central heat, showers - we don’t exactly rough it no more,” said Brown.
The trail riders met on the Haslam Strip Saturday morning and did their usual loop through Logansport before hitting the road to Houston. “We form up, go through Logansport, make the circle, wave bye and go to Houston,” said Brown.
After Logansport, the riders made a stop in Paxton for lunch, then rode the remainder of their 14 miles to Timpson - where they stopped for the night at Soso Park.
They will continue on to Appleby the next morning, then to Nacogdoches. The third day they will leave Nacogdoches and head for Lufkin, then Lufkin to Diboll. The fourth day will take them from Diboll to Moscow to Livingston, the fifth day from Livingston to Shepard to Cleveland, the sixth from Cleveland to New Caney and then finally, New Caney to North Houston. The seventh day, the riders will wake up to the familiar sound of cattle call, but this time, they’ll be waking up in North Houston - and ride their last 16 miles of the trail ride to Memorial Park.
“When they get into Houston - a lot of the schools are standing alongside the fence waving at them,” said Green. “Kids are either waving and hollering, ‘Hey!’ or ‘I wanna be a cowboy!’ Or ‘cowgirl.'” As riders go into Memorial Park on Friday they are judged on their dress, biggest ride, loudest ride - and they get awards there in Memorial Park, Green said.
“They shut down Houston for this event every year,” Green said. “There’s so many rides coming in and when you get to Houston - it all comes to light. There’s riders coming from every direction.” As the rider converge, Green said they share a sense of pride. “You meet other trail rides that are just as proud to do this as we are,” she said,
“Then they ride through Houston - it’s kind of overwhelming, the buildings are so big,” Green said. “We’re country, everyone is country. You’re riding a horse in a huge city, riding downtown - it’s pretty humbling. It’s a pretty humbling group.”
Trail director Jerry Green said he remembers well his first year to join the ride. “I was the youngest rider in 1962,” Jerry Green said. “I was 17 years old - a senior in high school. I don’t remember even having any clothes or rig or nothin. My daddy brought me right down here (the Haslam Strip) with a crippled horse, told me to ride him till’ he killed out. I got to Martinsville - he brought me a car and trailer in Diboll. I’m 17 years old, never been out of Shelby County,” he said. “I had a car and a trailer and two horses, didn’t know where Houston was.”
His own son was the youngest rider in 1984. “I carried all four of my boys. Two rode, two was in the trailer - and we’d swap horses four times a day,” he said. “Then I was the oldest rider - 50 years later,” he said.
The people may come and go, the many memories come and go - but The Old Spanish Trail Ride will always be the same in those memories, Green said.
Click link for photo gallery of the trail riders exiting Logansport: https://lightandchampion.smugmug.com/The-65th-Annual-Old-Spanish-Trail-Ride-Logansport-to-Houston/