The Sombrero Great American Horse Drive makes its way through Maybell from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday.

File photo

The Sombrero Great American Horse Drive makes its way through Maybell from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday.

Flashback to the Old West

Today's Sombrero Great American Horse Drive gives city slickers taste of life on open range

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To watch

What: Sombrero Great American Horse Drive

When: From 9 a.m. to noon Sunday

Where: Horse drive comes through Maybell

Call: (970) 824-3468

— It started in 1959 with two men, a truck and five horses.

Now, the Sombrero Great American Horse Drive consists of numerous cowboys and cowgirls saddled alongside 30 so called "city slickers," who are on vacation to Northwest Colorado in search of some big city respite, and the opportunity to feel like a rancher.

"It's such an incredible thing to share with the folks," said Cody Walker, who is the son of Craig Ranch owners Rex and Queeda Walker. "We figured something like this, if you don't share it, you don't really deserve it. So, we figured it was a good way to make an awesome experience for everybody involved."

The Sombrero horse drive has been a tradition for more than 40 years as the Walker family moves its herd of more than 300 horses each spring, as participants drive a large horse herd across 60 miles of open Colorado range.

The event begins today, as the horses have been rounded up, and the drive leaves the corrals at Brown's Park Ranch, headed north to Craig Ranch.

Rex and Queeda's brother Pat Mantle were the two men who started the event, and Queeda said although it appears easy, driving horses really isn't.

"It's pretty hard on some of these people who come out each year," Queeda said of the vacationing ranchers. "Sometimes, they come back and their bottoms are all bloody. But, let me tell you, rain or snow, they drive those horses through 100 percent of the time. They always go and tough it out."

Cody has been around since the organized drive's inception. Ranch hands call him "the heir," since he's family, and he's seen all kinds come through his realm with the drive to drive.

"We had a guy come by private jet once and want to get a cab from Hayden Airport," he said. "We've had a guy whose friends told him they were going on a fishing trip and when they showed up, he couldn't ride a horse. We also turned a vegetarian, in three days."

Many of those on hand Friday admitted the reason they were there was to feel the "freedom" provided on the open range.

Donald Broom came to the ranch when he was 14 years old - he stayed - and the ranch manager said every year brings different people, but with the same result.

"People come out here to experience what the Old West is really like. They all want that freedom that you can't find behind a desk, or in an office," Broom said.

The herd - and those driving it - passes through Maybell on Sunday morning, offering spectators the best opportunity to catch a glimpse of the event.

"We stay overnight out on the range," Rex said "When we go through Maybell, it's a really big deal to them. It's like Maybell's biggest event of the year."

Queeda said Pat was the "horse man" (he's since passed away) while Rex is the "business man" and together "they had the perfect idea."

"Why drive the horses when they have feet and can walk,' Pat used to always say," Queeda said. "Now, we've been doing it so long, it turned into a great event.

"An event you don't want to miss."

John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793, or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com

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