More than 30 children and adults — some on horseback and wagon — waved and smiled as they rode into town on their to the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo.
The group known as the Mesquite Trail Drivers Association are on their 54th annual trek to the rodeo from Adkins, Texas.
“We have probably 45 riders on horseback and nine wagons,” Mesquite Trail Drivers Association trail boss Craig Coleman said. “We cover an average of 22 miles a day for the first couple of days and then it slows down coming into Seguin because of the night stops. We do about 120 miles all the way.”
The group kicked off their trip in Bastrop on Friday, Feb. 1 before heading to Lockhart on Saturday and staying overnight in Kingsbury on Sunday.
Monday morning they made their way into Seguin, making a pit stop at Lola’s Mexican Restaurant before heading to Pin Twist Family Entertainment where they stayed overnight.
“Wednesday night we will arrive at Mesquite Hall, which is our flagship,” Mesquite Trail Drivers Association public affairs representative Taylor Torres said. “Thursday we will meet with other trail riders and ride into San Antonio to the rodeo.”
Founded in 1965, the Mesquite Trail Drivers Association is based out of the Mesquite Hall in Adkins, where they host dances, play days for kids and roping events. The organization is dedicated to preserving the history of Texas’ early settlers, Coleman said.
“We like to do this because we encourage our kids to keep in mind how the settlers came to Texas and this is the mode of transportation throughout history for our ancient relatives so to speak,” he said. “We like to say we’re riding in the present to preserve the past.”
Some of the those leading the ride on Monday included this year’s Mesquite Trail Drivers Queen Kaylee Houck, 18, 11-year-old Little Miss Cady Bass and Mesquite Trail Drivers mascot Mason Leibham, 11.
Behind them was Patrick Tabor who guided a wagon he restored that once belonged to a former trail rider who passed away.
“This wagon belong to an old member of ours and she was put into the nursing home and the children took the wagon to a lady’s place to try to sell it,” he said. “She actually left it out in the weather and nobody knew about that so when the lady passed I told the children ‘would you mind if I take it in her memory?’”
Tabor stripped the wagon down to its metal and rebuilt the whole thing from the ground up.
“Last year, we drove it and I had a banner on the back in memory of Thelma ‘the cookie lady,’” he said. “I did it as a labor of love. It took me three solid months — every afternoon every weekend I worked on it to get it built back up.”
This is Tabor and his wife Arlene’s 30th year riding. Twenty-eight years ago they even married on a ride, he said.
For many of the members, the annual ride is a family affair.
Torres’ grandfather was one of the founding members in 1965 before her mom became the Mesquite Trail Drivers Queen in 1969 and Torres followed in her steps in 2009.
“My first trail ride I was three months old. Now my husband has fallen in love with it and he wants our kids to continue with it,” Torres said.
Coleman, who is in his second-year as trail boss, joined the pack in 1980.
“We’re pretty much lifelong members. All three of my kids are on the ride and all four of my grandkids are on the ride. They’re all taking part in helping me to preserve what we liked about the past of horseback riding and wagons.
Rider Linda Barnes said she doesn’t know what she would do if she wasn’t a part of the organization.
For Tabor, it’s a lifestyle.
“This is how I dress every day. I mean how many people still carry a pocket watch every day? This is me,” he said. “I want my kids and future kids to know what the old trail ride was like and what the old west was like. I want them to know horses. I want to keep the tradition alive.”