February 12 – 17, 2011


by Redhorse


Frigid Arctic ice, snow and sleet was holding much of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma & Louisiana hostage for days during late January and early February. My main barn doors were frozen up for five days; access was restricted thru the stalls. Extreme Cabin Fever was spreading like wildfire among trailriders!  They started their escape for warmer weather and dry trails several days before the ride was to begin. Once you passed the city limits sign at Marathon, Texas, the skies cleared to breathtaking blue, and the Trans-Pecos Desert sunshine and temperatures welcomed you and your horse or mule.


The Arctic front had even dipped to this remote area several days before the ride, creating havoc on water lines for the Stillwell RV, ranchers and even up into the Big Bend National Park Basin where it was 8 degrees.  By the time we rode out on Saturday, Feb. 12, the skies were clear with gentle breezes to match the 70 degrees temperature. Every day the weather got even better; like it does every year!  Repeat riders expect enjoyable weather and new ones are amazed by it!


The State of Texas honored this year's ride with a distinguished proclamation. An official recognition of the 24th Annual Big Bend ~ Stillwell Ranch Trailride by  Governor Rick Perry was proudly displayed during the ride. 


Rider R. L. Wright from Sulphur Springs spent the first day of the ride at the Ft. Stockton hospital. The cause of his mini-stroke was eliminated and his speech was back and mobility improving. Two of his buddies set a new land-speed record from Sulphur Springs to the hospital in time to pick R. L. up and bring him back to the ride.  They helped get him home safely. Our best wishes to R. L. that he will have a full recovery and join us next year.


Everyone was pleased to have our Official Photographer Claudene Cooper concealed along the trails.  She took over 2,700 pictures, including action at the BBQ & Dance this year.  Earlier the day off, she and I enjoyed a trip up into the Basin we frequently visited FORTY EIGHT years ago with our Grandmother, Twila Elmendorf, from Marfa.


Cowboy Caterer Wally Roberts escaped frozen Hobbs, NM and pulled into camp, got his Canteen white tent up, fired up his rolling kitchen and had dinner ready in no time.  Having Wally’s full Dutch oven breakfast in the mornings and dinners at night can’t be beat. There’s always a pot of Cowboy coffee ready. Some of the appetizers were Bottle Caps, Date Bombs, Tropical Salsa and homemade corn chips. Then bring on the generous servings of Pot Roast, Bacon wrapped Pork Loin, Enchiladas and Chicken Fried Steak with all the side dishes and topped off with a variety of cobblers a la mode!  With food like that, you will forget those little nagging pains you had while riding that day!


Valentine’s Day was celebrated on the “Off” day.  It made the BBQ, Drawing and Dance even more fun. A special presentation of a Customized Country Basket adorned with conchos, cowgirl signs, miniature western décor and braided leather was made to Nanette Potter for her assistance in handling reservations and countless other needs. We thank her for all she does to make this a great ride.  Cowboy and Cowgirl mugs were given to special friends Deputy Sheriff, Lonnie Shelton and his lovely wife, Janice.


 Craig Carter and the Spur of the Moment Band put on one of the best dances to date.  They entertained during the BBQ and following the Pasture Prizes drawing out came the cornmeal!  Once Craig steps up to the microphone, the boots and spurs go into action.  The dance floor stayed busy as the band played the crowds favorite dance music. Check out Craig’s website and listen to some of his music at:  CRAIG CARTER


Pasture prizes included a couple of stick horses with sound effects, earrings, bracelets, buckets & grain scoops and t-shirts from Valley Vet Supply, caps, bird feeders, candles, a Wally Roberts Dutch oven and some pretty fancy horse or mule sunglasses! Thanks to W. T. for some beautiful, custom made buckles and the Stillwell Store for some serape blankets. Thanks to riders for bringing some of the prizes for the drawing too!


Special Thanks goes to the Staff and all the volunteers that work tirelessly behind the scenes getting camp set up for the herd of trailriders that attend the ride.  Many of the volunteers are seasonal "snowbirds" that have become part of the trailriding family. 


As everybody knows, next year is going to be a SPECIAL trailride.  The 25th ANNIVERSARY of the BIG BEND~STILLWELL RANCH TRAILRIDE will be celebrated from February 11 thru 16, 2012. 


We encourage everyone that participated in the 25 years of the ride to come; even if you no longer ride or drive a team.  This anniversary will also be a Memorable Reunion of the trailriding family that grew through those 25 years.


Reservations can be made now (1-432-376-2244), and MUST be reconfirmed after January 1, 2012.  Failure to reconfirm by January 10, 2012 will allow your spot to be given to someone on the waiting list.



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