Sombrero Ranches Great American Horse Drive | TheFencePost.com

Sombrero Ranches Great American Horse Drive

Tony BruguiereGuest Riders and wranglers drive the 600 Sombrero Ranch horses across their first of three crossings of the Yampa River on the way to the Big Gulch Ranch near Craig, Colorado.

Fifty-one years ago, Rex Walker started Sombrero Ranches with 16 rented horses and an old broken down pickup truck. From that inauspicious beginning in Boulder, Colo., Sombrero Ranches has grown to be the country’s largest provider of saddle horses. The main operation is in Colorado, but the extended Walker family provides saddle horses in Wyoming and Montana. All together, Rex Walker estimates that the Walker family runs over 5,000 head of horses.

The corporate offices for Sombrero Ranches are in Longmont, Colo., and the 280-acre hay farm and main distribution ranch is in nearby Niwot. The Sombrero Ranch in Niwot is perfectly positioned to provide horses to the Estes Park Stables, which the Walkers own, and the rental stables that Sombrero has in Rocky Mountain National Park and throughout the West.

Sombrero Ranches is a family operation. Rex and Queeda Walker’s son Cody runs the corporate operation and their daughter Freda and her husband, Mark Bishop, run the operations from the Niwot Ranch. “Mark and Freda’s son Zane is the total future of Sombrero,” said Rex Walker. “That kid is born to be a cowboy – and he wants to do it. That’s the biggest thing. The livestock industry is hard enough – if you don’t really love it, you won’t make it.”

Cowboy tradition runs deep at Sombrero Ranches and 26 years ago Rex Walker decided to share the experience of gathering and moving a large herd of horses from their wintering pasture on BLM lands, 62 miles to the Sombrero “Big Gulch” Ranch located just west of Craig, Colo. The Great American Horse Drive was started and each year Sombrero has to turn away some of the eager guest riders that want to share Rex Walker’s vision of “trying to keep the West alive.”

Although guest riders pay for the experience, they are not coddled and, to the best of their ability, are expected to be participating members of the horse drive. Experience is not required, but it does make the time spent in the saddle a little easier. The real requirement to making it through to the end and receiving the coveted, custom made “Gate to Gate” buckle is determination. If a guest rider shows desire and grit, the trained Sombrero wranglers will go all out to make a success finish happen.

Isabella Goodman, at 10 years old, was the youngest guest rider to ever receive the trophy buckle. The trip was a birthday gift. Isabella is from Colorado Springs, Colo., where her father, Phill Goodman, is a captain in the Air Force. Goodman said, “She wanted to do something with horses for her birthday, and a nose-to-tail ride just doesn’t give you the real experience of being around a lot of horses all day.”

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Isabella’s first day of 32 miles was a little tough because of a normally quiet and gentle horse that decided that it wanted to run and a saddle that was a tiny bit too large. But there is no quit in this tough little cowgirl and the wranglers at Sombrero came up with a solution that would still qualify her for a buckle. “My horse was prancing around and my ankle was sore so I couldn’t really handle him that well” Isabella said, “so I got to ride on the back of Mr. Ed’s horse.” Mr. Ed is Ed Pinkard, the head wrangler at Sombrero Ranches.

The next day, on a new horse and a smaller saddle, Isabella completed the 32-mile ride and rode through the gate of the Big Gulch Ranch at Craig to claim her “Gate to Gate” buckle. “This birthday present will probably last a lifetime,” said Isabella.

At the other end of the experience spectrum was Kathy Sabine, the KUSA 9news head meteorologist. After hearing Kathy talking on TV about riding, Cody Walker called Sabine and invited her to participate in the Sombrero Horse Drive. Walker said, “Let’s see if you can hang with the cowboys or are you just a hairdo on T.V.” Apparently Cody Walker did not know that Kathy Sabine was born and raised on a ranch in Truckee, Calif.

Kathy rode her own horse Midnight Thunder, a 16 hand, gaited Missouri Foxtrotter. Kathy purchased Midnight Thunder from her friend Jackie Rackley, who owns Tumble Creek Ranch in Buena Vista, Colo. Jackie was also on the horse drive riding Midnight Thunder’s sire.

The Sombrero Ranches Great American Horse Drive is not a dude ranch, and involves some long and serious riding. Most guest riders end up sore but happy when it is over. Experienced rider Kathy Sabine said, “My horse is a naturally gaited Missouri Foxtrotter, which made the 62 miles a lot easier and more comfortable. I’m a little sore in the shoulders from holding him in because he really wants to run.”

Phill Goodman, whose experience amounted to some casual riding when he was a boy, had a different reaction. “I don’t think I have ever been this sore. It’s well worth it, though – the people, the scenery, and everything that you get to do on this drive that you don’t get to do anywhere else. It’s been amazing – well worth the time, the effort, and the soreness.”

The horse drive is held yearly during the first week of May – rain or shine, or even snow in the unsettled weather of spring in Colorado. Book early because the Great American Horse Drive is fully booked every year. If this sounds like your kind of adventure, call Lee Peters at (720) 684-6424. v

Fifty-one years ago, Rex Walker started Sombrero Ranches with 16 rented horses and an old broken down pickup truck. From that inauspicious beginning in Boulder, Colo., Sombrero Ranches has grown to be the country’s largest provider of saddle horses. The main operation is in Colorado, but the extended Walker family provides saddle horses in Wyoming and Montana. All together, Rex Walker estimates that the Walker family runs over 5,000 head of horses.

The corporate offices for Sombrero Ranches are in Longmont, Colo., and the 280-acre hay farm and main distribution ranch is in nearby Niwot. The Sombrero Ranch in Niwot is perfectly positioned to provide horses to the Estes Park Stables, which the Walkers own, and the rental stables that Sombrero has in Rocky Mountain National Park and throughout the West.

Sombrero Ranches is a family operation. Rex and Queeda Walker’s son Cody runs the corporate operation and their daughter Freda and her husband, Mark Bishop, run the operations from the Niwot Ranch. “Mark and Freda’s son Zane is the total future of Sombrero,” said Rex Walker. “That kid is born to be a cowboy – and he wants to do it. That’s the biggest thing. The livestock industry is hard enough – if you don’t really love it, you won’t make it.”

Cowboy tradition runs deep at Sombrero Ranches and 26 years ago Rex Walker decided to share the experience of gathering and moving a large herd of horses from their wintering pasture on BLM lands, 62 miles to the Sombrero “Big Gulch” Ranch located just west of Craig, Colo. The Great American Horse Drive was started and each year Sombrero has to turn away some of the eager guest riders that want to share Rex Walker’s vision of “trying to keep the West alive.”

Although guest riders pay for the experience, they are not coddled and, to the best of their ability, are expected to be participating members of the horse drive. Experience is not required, but it does make the time spent in the saddle a little easier. The real requirement to making it through to the end and receiving the coveted, custom made “Gate to Gate” buckle is determination. If a guest rider shows desire and grit, the trained Sombrero wranglers will go all out to make a success finish happen.

Isabella Goodman, at 10 years old, was the youngest guest rider to ever receive the trophy buckle. The trip was a birthday gift. Isabella is from Colorado Springs, Colo., where her father, Phill Goodman, is a captain in the Air Force. Goodman said, “She wanted to do something with horses for her birthday, and a nose-to-tail ride just doesn’t give you the real experience of being around a lot of horses all day.”

Isabella’s first day of 32 miles was a little tough because of a normally quiet and gentle horse that decided that it wanted to run and a saddle that was a tiny bit too large. But there is no quit in this tough little cowgirl and the wranglers at Sombrero came up with a solution that would still qualify her for a buckle. “My horse was prancing around and my ankle was sore so I couldn’t really handle him that well” Isabella said, “so I got to ride on the back of Mr. Ed’s horse.” Mr. Ed is Ed Pinkard, the head wrangler at Sombrero Ranches.

The next day, on a new horse and a smaller saddle, Isabella completed the 32-mile ride and rode through the gate of the Big Gulch Ranch at Craig to claim her “Gate to Gate” buckle. “This birthday present will probably last a lifetime,” said Isabella.

At the other end of the experience spectrum was Kathy Sabine, the KUSA 9news head meteorologist. After hearing Kathy talking on TV about riding, Cody Walker called Sabine and invited her to participate in the Sombrero Horse Drive. Walker said, “Let’s see if you can hang with the cowboys or are you just a hairdo on T.V.” Apparently Cody Walker did not know that Kathy Sabine was born and raised on a ranch in Truckee, Calif.

Kathy rode her own horse Midnight Thunder, a 16 hand, gaited Missouri Foxtrotter. Kathy purchased Midnight Thunder from her friend Jackie Rackley, who owns Tumble Creek Ranch in Buena Vista, Colo. Jackie was also on the horse drive riding Midnight Thunder’s sire.

The Sombrero Ranches Great American Horse Drive is not a dude ranch, and involves some long and serious riding. Most guest riders end up sore but happy when it is over. Experienced rider Kathy Sabine said, “My horse is a naturally gaited Missouri Foxtrotter, which made the 62 miles a lot easier and more comfortable. I’m a little sore in the shoulders from holding him in because he really wants to run.”

Phill Goodman, whose experience amounted to some casual riding when he was a boy, had a different reaction. “I don’t think I have ever been this sore. It’s well worth it, though – the people, the scenery, and everything that you get to do on this drive that you don’t get to do anywhere else. It’s been amazing – well worth the time, the effort, and the soreness.”

The horse drive is held yearly during the first week of May – rain or shine, or even snow in the unsettled weather of spring in Colorado. Book early because the Great American Horse Drive is fully booked every year. If this sounds like your kind of adventure, call Lee Peters at (720) 684-6424. v

Fifty-one years ago, Rex Walker started Sombrero Ranches with 16 rented horses and an old broken down pickup truck. From that inauspicious beginning in Boulder, Colo., Sombrero Ranches has grown to be the country’s largest provider of saddle horses. The main operation is in Colorado, but the extended Walker family provides saddle horses in Wyoming and Montana. All together, Rex Walker estimates that the Walker family runs over 5,000 head of horses.

The corporate offices for Sombrero Ranches are in Longmont, Colo., and the 280-acre hay farm and main distribution ranch is in nearby Niwot. The Sombrero Ranch in Niwot is perfectly positioned to provide horses to the Estes Park Stables, which the Walkers own, and the rental stables that Sombrero has in Rocky Mountain National Park and throughout the West.

Sombrero Ranches is a family operation. Rex and Queeda Walker’s son Cody runs the corporate operation and their daughter Freda and her husband, Mark Bishop, run the operations from the Niwot Ranch. “Mark and Freda’s son Zane is the total future of Sombrero,” said Rex Walker. “That kid is born to be a cowboy – and he wants to do it. That’s the biggest thing. The livestock industry is hard enough – if you don’t really love it, you won’t make it.”

Cowboy tradition runs deep at Sombrero Ranches and 26 years ago Rex Walker decided to share the experience of gathering and moving a large herd of horses from their wintering pasture on BLM lands, 62 miles to the Sombrero “Big Gulch” Ranch located just west of Craig, Colo. The Great American Horse Drive was started and each year Sombrero has to turn away some of the eager guest riders that want to share Rex Walker’s vision of “trying to keep the West alive.”

Although guest riders pay for the experience, they are not coddled and, to the best of their ability, are expected to be participating members of the horse drive. Experience is not required, but it does make the time spent in the saddle a little easier. The real requirement to making it through to the end and receiving the coveted, custom made “Gate to Gate” buckle is determination. If a guest rider shows desire and grit, the trained Sombrero wranglers will go all out to make a success finish happen.

Isabella Goodman, at 10 years old, was the youngest guest rider to ever receive the trophy buckle. The trip was a birthday gift. Isabella is from Colorado Springs, Colo., where her father, Phill Goodman, is a captain in the Air Force. Goodman said, “She wanted to do something with horses for her birthday, and a nose-to-tail ride just doesn’t give you the real experience of being around a lot of horses all day.”

Isabella’s first day of 32 miles was a little tough because of a normally quiet and gentle horse that decided that it wanted to run and a saddle that was a tiny bit too large. But there is no quit in this tough little cowgirl and the wranglers at Sombrero came up with a solution that would still qualify her for a buckle. “My horse was prancing around and my ankle was sore so I couldn’t really handle him that well” Isabella said, “so I got to ride on the back of Mr. Ed’s horse.” Mr. Ed is Ed Pinkard, the head wrangler at Sombrero Ranches.

The next day, on a new horse and a smaller saddle, Isabella completed the 32-mile ride and rode through the gate of the Big Gulch Ranch at Craig to claim her “Gate to Gate” buckle. “This birthday present will probably last a lifetime,” said Isabella.

At the other end of the experience spectrum was Kathy Sabine, the KUSA 9news head meteorologist. After hearing Kathy talking on TV about riding, Cody Walker called Sabine and invited her to participate in the Sombrero Horse Drive. Walker said, “Let’s see if you can hang with the cowboys or are you just a hairdo on T.V.” Apparently Cody Walker did not know that Kathy Sabine was born and raised on a ranch in Truckee, Calif.

Kathy rode her own horse Midnight Thunder, a 16 hand, gaited Missouri Foxtrotter. Kathy purchased Midnight Thunder from her friend Jackie Rackley, who owns Tumble Creek Ranch in Buena Vista, Colo. Jackie was also on the horse drive riding Midnight Thunder’s sire.

The Sombrero Ranches Great American Horse Drive is not a dude ranch, and involves some long and serious riding. Most guest riders end up sore but happy when it is over. Experienced rider Kathy Sabine said, “My horse is a naturally gaited Missouri Foxtrotter, which made the 62 miles a lot easier and more comfortable. I’m a little sore in the shoulders from holding him in because he really wants to run.”

Phill Goodman, whose experience amounted to some casual riding when he was a boy, had a different reaction. “I don’t think I have ever been this sore. It’s well worth it, though – the people, the scenery, and everything that you get to do on this drive that you don’t get to do anywhere else. It’s been amazing – well worth the time, the effort, and the soreness.”

The horse drive is held yearly during the first week of May – rain or shine, or even snow in the unsettled weather of spring in Colorado. Book early because the Great American Horse Drive is fully booked every year. If this sounds like your kind of adventure, call Lee Peters at (720) 684-6424. v

Fifty-one years ago, Rex Walker started Sombrero Ranches with 16 rented horses and an old broken down pickup truck. From that inauspicious beginning in Boulder, Colo., Sombrero Ranches has grown to be the country’s largest provider of saddle horses. The main operation is in Colorado, but the extended Walker family provides saddle horses in Wyoming and Montana. All together, Rex Walker estimates that the Walker family runs over 5,000 head of horses.

The corporate offices for Sombrero Ranches are in Longmont, Colo., and the 280-acre hay farm and main distribution ranch is in nearby Niwot. The Sombrero Ranch in Niwot is perfectly positioned to provide horses to the Estes Park Stables, which the Walkers own, and the rental stables that Sombrero has in Rocky Mountain National Park and throughout the West.

Sombrero Ranches is a family operation. Rex and Queeda Walker’s son Cody runs the corporate operation and their daughter Freda and her husband, Mark Bishop, run the operations from the Niwot Ranch. “Mark and Freda’s son Zane is the total future of Sombrero,” said Rex Walker. “That kid is born to be a cowboy – and he wants to do it. That’s the biggest thing. The livestock industry is hard enough – if you don’t really love it, you won’t make it.”

Cowboy tradition runs deep at Sombrero Ranches and 26 years ago Rex Walker decided to share the experience of gathering and moving a large herd of horses from their wintering pasture on BLM lands, 62 miles to the Sombrero “Big Gulch” Ranch located just west of Craig, Colo. The Great American Horse Drive was started and each year Sombrero has to turn away some of the eager guest riders that want to share Rex Walker’s vision of “trying to keep the West alive.”

Although guest riders pay for the experience, they are not coddled and, to the best of their ability, are expected to be participating members of the horse drive. Experience is not required, but it does make the time spent in the saddle a little easier. The real requirement to making it through to the end and receiving the coveted, custom made “Gate to Gate” buckle is determination. If a guest rider shows desire and grit, the trained Sombrero wranglers will go all out to make a success finish happen.

Isabella Goodman, at 10 years old, was the youngest guest rider to ever receive the trophy buckle. The trip was a birthday gift. Isabella is from Colorado Springs, Colo., where her father, Phill Goodman, is a captain in the Air Force. Goodman said, “She wanted to do something with horses for her birthday, and a nose-to-tail ride just doesn’t give you the real experience of being around a lot of horses all day.”

Isabella’s first day of 32 miles was a little tough because of a normally quiet and gentle horse that decided that it wanted to run and a saddle that was a tiny bit too large. But there is no quit in this tough little cowgirl and the wranglers at Sombrero came up with a solution that would still qualify her for a buckle. “My horse was prancing around and my ankle was sore so I couldn’t really handle him that well” Isabella said, “so I got to ride on the back of Mr. Ed’s horse.” Mr. Ed is Ed Pinkard, the head wrangler at Sombrero Ranches.

The next day, on a new horse and a smaller saddle, Isabella completed the 32-mile ride and rode through the gate of the Big Gulch Ranch at Craig to claim her “Gate to Gate” buckle. “This birthday present will probably last a lifetime,” said Isabella.

At the other end of the experience spectrum was Kathy Sabine, the KUSA 9news head meteorologist. After hearing Kathy talking on TV about riding, Cody Walker called Sabine and invited her to participate in the Sombrero Horse Drive. Walker said, “Let’s see if you can hang with the cowboys or are you just a hairdo on T.V.” Apparently Cody Walker did not know that Kathy Sabine was born and raised on a ranch in Truckee, Calif.

Kathy rode her own horse Midnight Thunder, a 16 hand, gaited Missouri Foxtrotter. Kathy purchased Midnight Thunder from her friend Jackie Rackley, who owns Tumble Creek Ranch in Buena Vista, Colo. Jackie was also on the horse drive riding Midnight Thunder’s sire.

The Sombrero Ranches Great American Horse Drive is not a dude ranch, and involves some long and serious riding. Most guest riders end up sore but happy when it is over. Experienced rider Kathy Sabine said, “My horse is a naturally gaited Missouri Foxtrotter, which made the 62 miles a lot easier and more comfortable. I’m a little sore in the shoulders from holding him in because he really wants to run.”

Phill Goodman, whose experience amounted to some casual riding when he was a boy, had a different reaction. “I don’t think I have ever been this sore. It’s well worth it, though – the people, the scenery, and everything that you get to do on this drive that you don’t get to do anywhere else. It’s been amazing – well worth the time, the effort, and the soreness.”

The horse drive is held yearly during the first week of May – rain or shine, or even snow in the unsettled weather of spring in Colorado. Book early because the Great American Horse Drive is fully booked every year. If this sounds like your kind of adventure, call Lee Peters at (720) 684-6424. v

Fifty-one years ago, Rex Walker started Sombrero Ranches with 16 rented horses and an old broken down pickup truck. From that inauspicious beginning in Boulder, Colo., Sombrero Ranches has grown to be the country’s largest provider of saddle horses. The main operation is in Colorado, but the extended Walker family provides saddle horses in Wyoming and Montana. All together, Rex Walker estimates that the Walker family runs over 5,000 head of horses.

The corporate offices for Sombrero Ranches are in Longmont, Colo., and the 280-acre hay farm and main distribution ranch is in nearby Niwot. The Sombrero Ranch in Niwot is perfectly positioned to provide horses to the Estes Park Stables, which the Walkers own, and the rental stables that Sombrero has in Rocky Mountain National Park and throughout the West.

Sombrero Ranches is a family operation. Rex and Queeda Walker’s son Cody runs the corporate operation and their daughter Freda and her husband, Mark Bishop, run the operations from the Niwot Ranch. “Mark and Freda’s son Zane is the total future of Sombrero,” said Rex Walker. “That kid is born to be a cowboy – and he wants to do it. That’s the biggest thing. The livestock industry is hard enough – if you don’t really love it, you won’t make it.”

Cowboy tradition runs deep at Sombrero Ranches and 26 years ago Rex Walker decided to share the experience of gathering and moving a large herd of horses from their wintering pasture on BLM lands, 62 miles to the Sombrero “Big Gulch” Ranch located just west of Craig, Colo. The Great American Horse Drive was started and each year Sombrero has to turn away some of the eager guest riders that want to share Rex Walker’s vision of “trying to keep the West alive.”

Although guest riders pay for the experience, they are not coddled and, to the best of their ability, are expected to be participating members of the horse drive. Experience is not required, but it does make the time spent in the saddle a little easier. The real requirement to making it through to the end and receiving the coveted, custom made “Gate to Gate” buckle is determination. If a guest rider shows desire and grit, the trained Sombrero wranglers will go all out to make a success finish happen.

Isabella Goodman, at 10 years old, was the youngest guest rider to ever receive the trophy buckle. The trip was a birthday gift. Isabella is from Colorado Springs, Colo., where her father, Phill Goodman, is a captain in the Air Force. Goodman said, “She wanted to do something with horses for her birthday, and a nose-to-tail ride just doesn’t give you the real experience of being around a lot of horses all day.”

Isabella’s first day of 32 miles was a little tough because of a normally quiet and gentle horse that decided that it wanted to run and a saddle that was a tiny bit too large. But there is no quit in this tough little cowgirl and the wranglers at Sombrero came up with a solution that would still qualify her for a buckle. “My horse was prancing around and my ankle was sore so I couldn’t really handle him that well” Isabella said, “so I got to ride on the back of Mr. Ed’s horse.” Mr. Ed is Ed Pinkard, the head wrangler at Sombrero Ranches.

The next day, on a new horse and a smaller saddle, Isabella completed the 32-mile ride and rode through the gate of the Big Gulch Ranch at Craig to claim her “Gate to Gate” buckle. “This birthday present will probably last a lifetime,” said Isabella.

At the other end of the experience spectrum was Kathy Sabine, the KUSA 9news head meteorologist. After hearing Kathy talking on TV about riding, Cody Walker called Sabine and invited her to participate in the Sombrero Horse Drive. Walker said, “Let’s see if you can hang with the cowboys or are you just a hairdo on T.V.” Apparently Cody Walker did not know that Kathy Sabine was born and raised on a ranch in Truckee, Calif.

Kathy rode her own horse Midnight Thunder, a 16 hand, gaited Missouri Foxtrotter. Kathy purchased Midnight Thunder from her friend Jackie Rackley, who owns Tumble Creek Ranch in Buena Vista, Colo. Jackie was also on the horse drive riding Midnight Thunder’s sire.

The Sombrero Ranches Great American Horse Drive is not a dude ranch, and involves some long and serious riding. Most guest riders end up sore but happy when it is over. Experienced rider Kathy Sabine said, “My horse is a naturally gaited Missouri Foxtrotter, which made the 62 miles a lot easier and more comfortable. I’m a little sore in the shoulders from holding him in because he really wants to run.”

Phill Goodman, whose experience amounted to some casual riding when he was a boy, had a different reaction. “I don’t think I have ever been this sore. It’s well worth it, though – the people, the scenery, and everything that you get to do on this drive that you don’t get to do anywhere else. It’s been amazing – well worth the time, the effort, and the soreness.”

The horse drive is held yearly during the first week of May – rain or shine, or even snow in the unsettled weather of spring in Colorado. Book early because the Great American Horse Drive is fully booked every year. If this sounds like your kind of adventure, call Lee Peters at (720) 684-6424. v

Fifty-one years ago, Rex Walker started Sombrero Ranches with 16 rented horses and an old broken down pickup truck. From that inauspicious beginning in Boulder, Colo., Sombrero Ranches has grown to be the country’s largest provider of saddle horses. The main operation is in Colorado, but the extended Walker family provides saddle horses in Wyoming and Montana. All together, Rex Walker estimates that the Walker family runs over 5,000 head of horses.

The corporate offices for Sombrero Ranches are in Longmont, Colo., and the 280-acre hay farm and main distribution ranch is in nearby Niwot. The Sombrero Ranch in Niwot is perfectly positioned to provide horses to the Estes Park Stables, which the Walkers own, and the rental stables that Sombrero has in Rocky Mountain National Park and throughout the West.

Sombrero Ranches is a family operation. Rex and Queeda Walker’s son Cody runs the corporate operation and their daughter Freda and her husband, Mark Bishop, run the operations from the Niwot Ranch. “Mark and Freda’s son Zane is the total future of Sombrero,” said Rex Walker. “That kid is born to be a cowboy – and he wants to do it. That’s the biggest thing. The livestock industry is hard enough – if you don’t really love it, you won’t make it.”

Cowboy tradition runs deep at Sombrero Ranches and 26 years ago Rex Walker decided to share the experience of gathering and moving a large herd of horses from their wintering pasture on BLM lands, 62 miles to the Sombrero “Big Gulch” Ranch located just west of Craig, Colo. The Great American Horse Drive was started and each year Sombrero has to turn away some of the eager guest riders that want to share Rex Walker’s vision of “trying to keep the West alive.”

Although guest riders pay for the experience, they are not coddled and, to the best of their ability, are expected to be participating members of the horse drive. Experience is not required, but it does make the time spent in the saddle a little easier. The real requirement to making it through to the end and receiving the coveted, custom made “Gate to Gate” buckle is determination. If a guest rider shows desire and grit, the trained Sombrero wranglers will go all out to make a success finish happen.

Isabella Goodman, at 10 years old, was the youngest guest rider to ever receive the trophy buckle. The trip was a birthday gift. Isabella is from Colorado Springs, Colo., where her father, Phill Goodman, is a captain in the Air Force. Goodman said, “She wanted to do something with horses for her birthday, and a nose-to-tail ride just doesn’t give you the real experience of being around a lot of horses all day.”

Isabella’s first day of 32 miles was a little tough because of a normally quiet and gentle horse that decided that it wanted to run and a saddle that was a tiny bit too large. But there is no quit in this tough little cowgirl and the wranglers at Sombrero came up with a solution that would still qualify her for a buckle. “My horse was prancing around and my ankle was sore so I couldn’t really handle him that well” Isabella said, “so I got to ride on the back of Mr. Ed’s horse.” Mr. Ed is Ed Pinkard, the head wrangler at Sombrero Ranches.

The next day, on a new horse and a smaller saddle, Isabella completed the 32-mile ride and rode through the gate of the Big Gulch Ranch at Craig to claim her “Gate to Gate” buckle. “This birthday present will probably last a lifetime,” said Isabella.

At the other end of the experience spectrum was Kathy Sabine, the KUSA 9news head meteorologist. After hearing Kathy talking on TV about riding, Cody Walker called Sabine and invited her to participate in the Sombrero Horse Drive. Walker said, “Let’s see if you can hang with the cowboys or are you just a hairdo on T.V.” Apparently Cody Walker did not know that Kathy Sabine was born and raised on a ranch in Truckee, Calif.

Kathy rode her own horse Midnight Thunder, a 16 hand, gaited Missouri Foxtrotter. Kathy purchased Midnight Thunder from her friend Jackie Rackley, who owns Tumble Creek Ranch in Buena Vista, Colo. Jackie was also on the horse drive riding Midnight Thunder’s sire.

The Sombrero Ranches Great American Horse Drive is not a dude ranch, and involves some long and serious riding. Most guest riders end up sore but happy when it is over. Experienced rider Kathy Sabine said, “My horse is a naturally gaited Missouri Foxtrotter, which made the 62 miles a lot easier and more comfortable. I’m a little sore in the shoulders from holding him in because he really wants to run.”

Phill Goodman, whose experience amounted to some casual riding when he was a boy, had a different reaction. “I don’t think I have ever been this sore. It’s well worth it, though – the people, the scenery, and everything that you get to do on this drive that you don’t get to do anywhere else. It’s been amazing – well worth the time, the effort, and the soreness.”

The horse drive is held yearly during the first week of May – rain or shine, or even snow in the unsettled weather of spring in Colorado. Book early because the Great American Horse Drive is fully booked every year. If this sounds like your kind of adventure, call Lee Peters at (720) 684-6424. v

Fifty-one years ago, Rex Walker started Sombrero Ranches with 16 rented horses and an old broken down pickup truck. From that inauspicious beginning in Boulder, Colo., Sombrero Ranches has grown to be the country’s largest provider of saddle horses. The main operation is in Colorado, but the extended Walker family provides saddle horses in Wyoming and Montana. All together, Rex Walker estimates that the Walker family runs over 5,000 head of horses.

The corporate offices for Sombrero Ranches are in Longmont, Colo., and the 280-acre hay farm and main distribution ranch is in nearby Niwot. The Sombrero Ranch in Niwot is perfectly positioned to provide horses to the Estes Park Stables, which the Walkers own, and the rental stables that Sombrero has in Rocky Mountain National Park and throughout the West.

Sombrero Ranches is a family operation. Rex and Queeda Walker’s son Cody runs the corporate operation and their daughter Freda and her husband, Mark Bishop, run the operations from the Niwot Ranch. “Mark and Freda’s son Zane is the total future of Sombrero,” said Rex Walker. “That kid is born to be a cowboy – and he wants to do it. That’s the biggest thing. The livestock industry is hard enough – if you don’t really love it, you won’t make it.”

Cowboy tradition runs deep at Sombrero Ranches and 26 years ago Rex Walker decided to share the experience of gathering and moving a large herd of horses from their wintering pasture on BLM lands, 62 miles to the Sombrero “Big Gulch” Ranch located just west of Craig, Colo. The Great American Horse Drive was started and each year Sombrero has to turn away some of the eager guest riders that want to share Rex Walker’s vision of “trying to keep the West alive.”

Although guest riders pay for the experience, they are not coddled and, to the best of their ability, are expected to be participating members of the horse drive. Experience is not required, but it does make the time spent in the saddle a little easier. The real requirement to making it through to the end and receiving the coveted, custom made “Gate to Gate” buckle is determination. If a guest rider shows desire and grit, the trained Sombrero wranglers will go all out to make a success finish happen.

Isabella Goodman, at 10 years old, was the youngest guest rider to ever receive the trophy buckle. The trip was a birthday gift. Isabella is from Colorado Springs, Colo., where her father, Phill Goodman, is a captain in the Air Force. Goodman said, “She wanted to do something with horses for her birthday, and a nose-to-tail ride just doesn’t give you the real experience of being around a lot of horses all day.”

Isabella’s first day of 32 miles was a little tough because of a normally quiet and gentle horse that decided that it wanted to run and a saddle that was a tiny bit too large. But there is no quit in this tough little cowgirl and the wranglers at Sombrero came up with a solution that would still qualify her for a buckle. “My horse was prancing around and my ankle was sore so I couldn’t really handle him that well” Isabella said, “so I got to ride on the back of Mr. Ed’s horse.” Mr. Ed is Ed Pinkard, the head wrangler at Sombrero Ranches.

The next day, on a new horse and a smaller saddle, Isabella completed the 32-mile ride and rode through the gate of the Big Gulch Ranch at Craig to claim her “Gate to Gate” buckle. “This birthday present will probably last a lifetime,” said Isabella.

At the other end of the experience spectrum was Kathy Sabine, the KUSA 9news head meteorologist. After hearing Kathy talking on TV about riding, Cody Walker called Sabine and invited her to participate in the Sombrero Horse Drive. Walker said, “Let’s see if you can hang with the cowboys or are you just a hairdo on T.V.” Apparently Cody Walker did not know that Kathy Sabine was born and raised on a ranch in Truckee, Calif.

Kathy rode her own horse Midnight Thunder, a 16 hand, gaited Missouri Foxtrotter. Kathy purchased Midnight Thunder from her friend Jackie Rackley, who owns Tumble Creek Ranch in Buena Vista, Colo. Jackie was also on the horse drive riding Midnight Thunder’s sire.

The Sombrero Ranches Great American Horse Drive is not a dude ranch, and involves some long and serious riding. Most guest riders end up sore but happy when it is over. Experienced rider Kathy Sabine said, “My horse is a naturally gaited Missouri Foxtrotter, which made the 62 miles a lot easier and more comfortable. I’m a little sore in the shoulders from holding him in because he really wants to run.”

Phill Goodman, whose experience amounted to some casual riding when he was a boy, had a different reaction. “I don’t think I have ever been this sore. It’s well worth it, though – the people, the scenery, and everything that you get to do on this drive that you don’t get to do anywhere else. It’s been amazing – well worth the time, the effort, and the soreness.”

The horse drive is held yearly during the first week of May – rain or shine, or even snow in the unsettled weather of spring in Colorado. Book early because the Great American Horse Drive is fully booked every year. If this sounds like your kind of adventure, call Lee Peters at (720) 684-6424. v