I’m still groggy from a 13-hour, all-night drive from Colorado Springs back home. Many Western Horseman staff members left Sunday afternoon from a remarkable gathering and trail ride celebrating our 75th anniversary. It was a whirl-wind weekend of meeting new people, catching up with old friends and making plenty of memories. Here are my favorite moments from this past weekend.
10. Our national anthem.
Cowboy musician Michael Martin Murphey arrived in a stage coach Saturday morning and kicked off the trail ride with a guitar and a moving rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.” With around 150 riders mounted, hats off and Pikes Peak in the background, it was a great setting for us to honor our country and the men and women who have fought to defend our freedom.
9. Rain and cool weather.
It has been hot and dry in Texas all summer, so a few days of cooler mountain air and afternoon rain showers was a nice break.
8. Cowboy church service.
Sunday morning we attended a cowboy church service at the Flying W Ranch. Pastor Scotty Vaughn delivered a great message on the joy of the Lord.
7. Caricatures by Kevin Cordtz.
Each month, Cordtz creates the cartoons that illustrate Baxter Black’s column on the back page of the magazine. Saturday night he was on hand to draw some hilarious caricatures of those attending the banquet.
6. Catching up with former staff members.
Past editors Pat Close and Gary Vorhes, and former editorial assistant Karan Miller joined us on the ride. It was also nice to catch up with former staffers such as Randy Witte and Kim Simhauser.
5. Western Horseman’s display at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
A new display at the “Hall” features several artifacts from the magazine, as well as a sketch of Dick Spencer and covers from January 1936 and January 2011.
4. The banter of famous horsemen.
WH book authors and respected horsemen attended the celebration. The group included Martin Black, Chris Cox, Bob Avila, Al Dunning, Mike Major, Craig Cameron, Marty Martin, Mike Kevil, Jack Brainard, Dr. Bob Miller and Curt Pate. They all said they had a great time and seemed to enjoy each others company. They didn’t hold back from razzing one other, either. When several of them opted to take the shorter route on the trail ride, Al Dunning acted incredulous. “We should make them t-shirts that say, ‘I DID NOT survive the Western Horseman ride,’” he said with a laugh.
3. Riding my gelding.
On photo shoots, I often ride someone else’s horse. This time I got the chance to bring my own. There’s nothing like riding your own horse. My 3-year-old roan gelding handled his first mountain experience very well.
2. Meeting readers.
This event was designed for our loyal readers. Many longtime subscribers had good things to say about the magazine, which is always nice to hear. I met a lot of neat people, including Reinhold and Isabel Pennekamp, who flew all the way from Germany to attend the ride.
1. Conversations with great horsemen.
This weekend gave me the chance to listen to conversations among the industry’s best horsemen. One evening I sat at a table with Brainard, Miller, Black and Pate as they discussed horsemanship. Fascinating.