City slickers, saddle-worn caballeros and all levels in between will be joining up for a memorable weekend of scenic Sonoran desert horseback riding to raise funds for the Arizona Blind and Deaf Children’s Foundation.
Los Vaqueros de la Tierra Trail Ride, held the last weekend in April, attracts riders from around the country, including a group of women from Wisconsin who have come for about 15 years, noted ride director Myron Donald. Participants may trailer their own horses or rent them for the event.
Plenty of activities and amenities are part of the fundraiser, which is organized annually by Tucson Sunrise Rotary. All meals and beverages are provided, as well as happy hours with hors d’oeuvres and entertainment. Befitting of the Old West atmosphere, dancing and campfire storytelling are a regular part of the after-dinner scene. And riders always welcome the hot showers and dorm tents available at base camp each night.
Wanna-be cowboys can show off their equestrian skills by participating in Gymkhana Day on Saturday, featuring barrel racing, relay races and musical chairs with horses.
Those more inclined toward resting their backsides when not on the trail will have the chance to play blackjack for prizes and bid on trips during the live auction. Hiking is also an option, and anyone wishing to bring an RV for more comfortable accommodations may do so.
According to Donald, base camp is established and riding takes place at the Rosemont / Thurber Ranch about 45 miles southeast of Tucson near Sonoita. "The ride should be fairly easy with no hard climbs or descents. The terrain is gently rolling hills with views of the mountains to the west. Right now the trees are in a nice bloom. It’s hard to predict how the wildflowers will be, but spring is usually one of the most colorful times to ride," he affirmed.
Escape from everyday life is what Donald most looks forward to during the ride — four days without TV, cell phones or radios. "And the stars are clear. It’s just peaceful at night in the desert," he added.
There are still openings for the ride, as well as for this weekend’s Boots 'n Spurs Dinner Dance at Skyline Country Club, which will also benefit Rotary’s charities.
Boots 'n Spurs
WHEN: 5:30 p.m., Saturday, April 11
WHERE: Skyline Country Club, 5200 E. Saint Andrews Drive
COST: $70/person, includes dinner, country band and auctions
17th annual Rotary Trail Ride
WHEN: April 23-26
PARTICIPANTS: All levels welcome, must be 21 years of age
COST: $695 plus horse rental
CONTACT: Myron Donald at 327-4893 or firstname.lastname@example.org.