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Texas trail riders stop in Victoria (video)

Feb. 15, 2013 at 7 p.m.
Updated Feb. 15, 2013 at 8:16 p.m.

Salvador Ramirez unharnesses his mules as trail riders stop for lunch at H-E-B on Rio Grande Street in Victoria on Los Vaqueros Rio Grande Trail Ride. Ramirez and his wife, JoAnn Ramirez, have ridden on the trail ride for eight years.

Sounds of old Victoria resonated down Water Street on Friday like downtown had reverted to the late 1800s.

Horses clomped down the road in unison, and wagons squeaked at a slow crawl as Los Vaqueros Rio Grande Trail Ride riders ended week two of its 21-day trek from Hidalgo to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo - a 386-mile effort.

"It was hot down in The Valley," said Paul Trevino, from Conroe, as he and about 30 others stopped at the H-E-B on Rio Grande Street for a lunch provided by the store. "It was warm for the first few days."

This is the 40th trek for Los Vaqueros Rio Grande Trail Ride, said Larry Ramirez, 78, of Houston, the founder of the ride.

The trail riders participate in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo parade along with other trail rides in Texas.

Ramirez enjoys the journey though he can no longer ride because of his age.

He exited the wagon with a brace on one knee, holding steady to a walker.

Now, his son, David Ramirez, 52, of Houston, leads the ride. Before that, his other son, Sal Ramirez, 55, of Livingston, was the leader.

"I make it every year," the eldest Ramirez said. "I hope I can continue another 40 years, but I don't think so."

Ramirez started with only a handful of friends. Eventually people asked to join in, and the next thing he knew, he received a permit from the state to make the trail ride official.

Several other trail rides across Texas make the trek to the Houston Livestock Show as well, but this particular trail ride is the longest.

"It's a good ride," said Ramirez, who started the ride because there was no Latin-American leadership in other trail rides.

David Ramirez has done the trek before. He started when he was 13, riding with his father and brother. David Ramirez, who is a mechanic, takes off three weeks from work just for the ride.

His 27-year-old son, David Ramirez Jr., will one day take over. And after that, one of his grandsons will lead.

The memories of trail riding at 13 are ones he constantly carries with him.

"It's just learning how to deal with horses and mules while at the same time learning responsibility and respect for your elders," he said. "I learned respect, family values and morals."

But you don't have to be part of the family to enjoy the ride.

George Tumleson, or Oklahoma George as fellow riders call him, has ridden on the trail ride about 25 years.

"I just know everybody down here," said the 80-year-old, who rides his mule in the caravan. "It's just about the friendships and meeting everybody. They are all there for me, and I keep coming back."

Then there are the new riders, like Lloyd Moreland, of La Grange.

Moreland heard about the trip from Tumleson and said he enjoys the challenge of riding 20-25 miles per day in the three-week trek.

"It's been tiring but fun," he said. "The fun part for me is seeing different people from different communities. It's amazing."

The ride should reach its final destination Feb. 23, but Friday night they camped near the Victoria Regional Airport.

Bob Ort, a friend of the riders, had been housing them for the past 20 years at Victoria Marine, but this year, they will stay near the airport.

On Saturday morning, the riders continue their trek, stopping in Edna.

The Ramirezes are excited to reach another milestone in their trail ride and know it will continue for years to come.

"We want to keep it in the Ramirez family," David Ramirez said.



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