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The first of May 2003, we loaded up the 13 year old Morab mare, Nicky, and borrowed her Morab daughter, Frosty, and drove 600 miles that day and night to SW Oklahoma for the annual Chisolm Trail Ride. This ride has been held for over 100 years, commemorating the cattle drives that came from Texas up into Oklahoma toward Kansas. You can't cross the Red River just anywhere - there are tall bluffs that are impossible to get cattle over. One place had an opening where the cattle could get down into the river bottoms....Doan's Crossing. The ride starts on the bluffs overlooking the river valley on the Oklahoma side, and when you get back later that day, you have gone close to 20 miles....
My sister, Debbie, lives close by and brought her Tennessee Walking horse mare, Sadie, to ride with us. We hadn't even got mounted, yet, before the ribbing started...you see, most of the 40 riders there were local ranchers and their families, all riding Quarter Horses from the ranches. Many of these ranchers had grandfathers who rode the Chisolm Trail so for them, this ride is more than just a tail ride - it's about family heritage. One rancher by the name of "Bull" has done this ride 40 years in a row without missing a single year. When they saw us putting on our riding helmets, and riding *Ay-rabs*, they couldn't resist - "Hey, lady, your hat is going to scare my horses!" We got a good laugh and felt right at home. We were one of the last ones to head out, but it didn't take long before we were passing horses. Our three mares know how to move on out and cover ground. Some of the bluffs were straight up and straight down before we got down into the river bottom. Then it was tall dead weeds wacking you on both sides. Closer to the river we got into the sand - the horses were sinking halfway to their knees with every step and it was really working them. By the time we got to the Red River, many were ready for a good drink. Crossing the river put us in Texas, and Bull showed us where they used to let the herds graze and rest while the cowboys climbed the bluffs above to watch out for Indians who were trying to run off with some of the cattle.

At the half way point, we arrived at Doan's Crossing - it consists of a small building that was built in 1824 and used for a store as the herds went by. There is a historical monument out front, and they hold a big celebration on this trail ride day. This is all about fund raising for the Historical Society to take care of the store/monument. There was a big crowd waiting for the riders to arrive - music, food, entertainment, etc. all had to wait until we got there! We spent an hour looking at everything while we stuffed our faces with bar-b-q, and getting our names put in the historical register for having ridden The Trail.

At the start, our rigs were parked out in the middle of nowhere on someone's ranch high on the bluffs next to the river valley on the Oklahoma side. Our two mares had just trailered 600 miles, and faced a whole day of riding. They did it with ease. Here, Clarence is on Nicky - the gray - as we cross the Red River from Oklahoma into Texas. The river valley was fairly wide, a good couple of miles. It has changed course many times over the years.

Crossing the Red River from Oklahoma into Texas was a real thrill. All of our lives we've sung that song, "Red River Valley", never dreaming that someday we would actually ride across it on the Chisolm Trail! We were ready for a break and some grub when we reached the half way point at Doan's Crossing in Texas. Pictured here you can see the Morab mare, Frosty, with me leading her (I'm on the other side) and her dam, Nicky, in front of her with Clarence. We had no idea there was going to be all those people there and that it was such a big deal! We had noticed when we arrived that there were a bunch of horse trailers - that's when we found out that many of the riders were not doing the other half of the ride.

When it came time to head back, we mounted up and made mileage. Our girls settled into a nice swinging walk, and started passing horses. Every once in a while we would hear horses galloping up behind us to *catch up* again. By the time we got to the river to cross back into Oklahoma, we were up with the leaders who had started back before we did. By this time, it was HOT. That river felt so good! We wanted to stay and swim or something, but couldn't stop. We had to watch for quicksand, too, as we rode. One stretch had beautiful sand dunes. Every once in a while we would see cattle or wildlife. As we got to the last hill up to the gate that led to the parking area, Nicky and Frosty were wanting to go so we let them go into a big trot up the hill - we were one of the first horses to get back to the rigs. Our mares were packing two of the heaviest riders, and Nicky had just weaned a big yearling filly. They handled the trailering, the weight, the miles, the heat, and got us back safe and sound - unlike some of the other riders - and did the almost 20 miles in five hours of riding (walking and trotting). We did the *whole* ride, and not just half like a lot of others did. We were very pleased with the girls.

One thing we noticed when we were unsaddling - cowboys kept coming over and telling us how much they enjoyed riding with us, and would we be back next year? No more teasing about the hats, saddles, horses - just respect. Yup. We want to go back next year....and bring some more friends and Morabs.

UPDATE MAY 2004: Yes! We rode the Trail again this year, and our son, Justin, went with us. We took three Morab mares this time - Frosty, Shoshone (both bred by us but owned by Kathy Danley of Hot Springs), and Shawna (dam of Shoshone). Diane Day of Altus, Oklahoma came with her family and her Liberty Mtn. Morab, LM Classic Cadence, so we had four LM Morabs this year - *double* what we had last year. Nicky sold just the month before so we didn't have her to bring again. There were over 60 horses/riders this year, and we had a real good ride. Looking forward to another year to ride, Lord willing. Maybe we'll have a couple of these palominos ready to ride by then.