A Sombrero Ranches employee pauses to look onto the herd grazing along U.S. Highway 40 during a rest stop. The annual Sombrero Ranches Horse Drive takes place this weekend. Organizers said they expect to pass through Maybell with the horses about 11 a.m. Sunday.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

A Sombrero Ranches employee pauses to look onto the herd grazing along U.S. Highway 40 during a rest stop. The annual Sombrero Ranches Horse Drive takes place this weekend. Organizers said they expect to pass through Maybell with the horses about 11 a.m. Sunday.

Annual horse drive coming through Maybell

If you go

What: Sombrero Ranches Horse Drive/Maybell Heritage Day

When: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Maybell Park, in the center of Maybell, about 30 miles west of Craig on U.S. Highway 40.

Oh, how he loves horses.

Donald Broom, 42, has worked at Moffat County's Sombrero Ranches for about a quarter century, and is now a member of the tourism business' management team.

"I love them," he said about the roughly 1,600 colts and mares spread across the ranch's several pastures. "If you want to know the truth, I think some horses are smarter than some people."

His adoration makes it easy for him to love work, as well, especially when he can share the "West experience" with those it may be foreign to.

The annual Sombrero Ranches Horse Drive begins Saturday. Cowboys and city slickers who want to experience the lifestyle plan to drive about 700 head from Sombrero's winter pasture in Browns Park to its spring pasture about 12 miles west of Craig.

It will be a 62-mile trek, one that Broom said has been going on for about 40 years.

To the general public, that journey will culminate Sunday when the herd passes through the center of Maybell, about 30 miles west of Craig on U.S. Highway 40, sometime around 11 a.m.

Lisa Balstad, 40, has lived in Maybell for eight years after moving from Minnesota. She can remember the first time she saw the horses clip-clop through town.

"I thought it was pretty amazing," Balstad said.

She is now part of the five-member Maybell Cultural Heritage Group, which seeks to build a family event around the horse drive's arrival in town.

Maybell Heritage Day will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, and organizers have planned more than food sales, Balstad said.

About 17 local vendors will be hocking their wares, from homemade soaps to handmade jewelry.

There also should be a steady supply of live country music with the Gerber Boys and Greg Scott taking the stage during the day.

Lastly, there will be a horse-drawn wagon ride and guided history tour of Maybell, which includes such tales as the haunting of the Victory Hotel.

"We really try to gear it toward being a kind of family day," Balstad said, noting that this year's event falls on Mother's Day.

She added that local vendors not already a part of the event are welcome to call her at 629-1712 to set up a booth.

Broom said he looks forward to this weekend every year, mostly for the city slickers.

"We all look forward to this," he said. "We have people from Chicago, New York, and most of them are business people. To be able to go out and show them what it's like to be in the wide open, like it is in this country in Moffat County, we like that."

Although registration for this year's horse drive is closed, Broom said he doesn't expect the event to be going away, even with the horse industry in steep decline.

Sombrero Ranches rents its horses around the region for dude ranches and children's camps, so it should be able to weather the country's changes.

"We're a bunch of believers in doing this," he said. "Something would have to take a big turn for us not to do it."

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