Running their course

Cowboys, 'city slickers' drive herd to Big Gulch

It wasn't exactly a thundering herd that strolled down U.S. Highway 40 -- after all, sprinting along a paved road isn't good for the hooves.

Nonetheless, the clip, clop, clip, clop of 600 Sombrero Ranches horses of every size shape and color captured the gaze of area residents Sunday morning in Maybell.

"When they come through here, there's no way you're going to miss 'em," Maybell resident JoAnn Simmons said.

Twenty cowboys and 37 "city slickers" took part in the 2006 Sombrero Great American Horse Drive by steering the team of horses through 60 miles of open Colorado range, from Browns Park to the Sombrero Ranches corral near Lay. The herders took the horses 30 miles Saturday and the remaining 30 miles Sunday.

The horse drive has been a ranch tradition for more than 40 years. "City slickers" pay $1,750 to participate.

Sombrero Ranches owner Rex Walker said a wide range of people take part in the drive.

"Doctors, lawyers and Indian chiefs -- we get the whole works here," Walker said. "They come from all over."

Perhaps none came farther than Barry Poulson, a second-year cowhand from Toronto, Canada. He participated last year by winning a contest. This year, he returned with his buddy, Dave Dorland.

"As long as I can get on a horse, I'll do it every time," Poulson said. "It's just a good experience. It's an adventure."

The drive provided a family-friendly event as residents from across the area bunkered down along the highway and Maybell Park to catch an up-close glimpse of the animals.

"It's a nice outing," said Meeker resident Jack Mohnhaupt, who went Sunday with his girlfriend, Sharon Clapper. "It's an inexpensive weekend out for kids and young families. It starts out the summer camping season for us."

Many families caught the horse drive for the first time Sunday, and many said it lived up to their expectations.

"It's the first time we've been here and we liked it," said Craig resident Karina Weiman, who took her 2-year-old son, Elias. "He didn't want to leave."

Val and Jeff Pleasant, of Craig, also attended the horse drive for the first time. They took their sons, 4-year-old Luke, and 6-year-old Cody. The horse drive may have two future ranch hands in the Pleasant brothers.

"Too good," Cody said about his time watching the horses. "I want to be in the parade next time."

The horse drive runs each year from May 3 to 8.

For more information, visit www.sombrero.com or call (303) 442-0258.

Josh Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craig--dailypress.com.

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