Last night one group of the Dixie National Wagon Train camped at our Livestock Sale Barn. The Wagon Train and individual riders begin riding about 20 miles from our town, then ride all the way to Jackson, which is about 70 miles from here, and finally ride in the opening parade for the Dixie National Rodeo and Horse Shows.
Mules, ponies, and horses pull a mish-mash of homemade carts, wagons, and mini homes. Some of the wagons are meticulously outfitted and decorated while others look as if they won't make the miles. Cowboys, weekend warriors, and wannabes ride the 80 plus miles, camping along the way. The riders spend the week roughing it, yet some rough it more than others. Many have generators or buy electricity from us to run their electric blankets, heaters, and hot showers. No one is completely miserable. Look at the grill attached to the back of the wagon in the second picture.
This morning the wagon train paraded through town with police escort before heading off the paved roads for a more bucolic tour. I believe they try to make 20 miles a day. Not all days are that long, but many are. The weekend warriors aren't prepared for such long riding days and with their sore legs are a sight to watch when they are saddling, hitching, and moseying. The weekend is completely rowdy!, with revellers who are not necessarily part of the organized ride. They follow the organized participants, but only ride the weekend, then pack their trailers and go to work Monday morning.
Not all riders suffer the misery of misbehaving animals and sore inner thighs, many practice with their mules and horses all year. We've played host for four or five years and seen all types of riders - even babies.
Today, while I was taking pictures of the wagon train pulling out, Princess was standing on the other side of the access road and a man with some wild, runaway mules yelled, "Honey, step back!! I can't control these thangs!" He had cleared the ditches on either side of the road before he had gotten to where she was standing. There were only a hundred yards left until the highway. Can the police pull over a swerving mule driven wagon?
If you overlook the rough edges, the trail ride looks like so much fun. I would love to get a team and a covered wagon and join the parade or perhaps just ride a good horse. The owner of our crazy horse felt his top selling point was that he knew the trail (this trail) and if you over imbibed and fell off he would wait for you to recover, then ride on, knowing just where to go. Maybe next year!
In the event you are curious about the Dixie National, here is the link. We usually go to a few of the competitions, especially the Free Style Reining Event.
I'll leave you with another picture or two since my husband, son, and I took over a hundred. The horses, mules, ponies, and people are so mesmerizing we just couldn't stop.
I love this picture even though the cowboy is a touch out of focus. He looks so happy to be riding.