Horsemen Find Fellowship, Adventure With Equestrian Trails
HORSEMAN’S PLEDGEBy HONEY FELLERS
Realizing the privilege that is mine is having the great outdoors to enjoy with my good steed and my congenial companions, I solemnly pledge that I will not abuse this privilege by any willful act of discourtesy; that I will respect all private property rights, keeping to designated trails, and observing sane and accepted
rules of good horsemanship.
Frequently one hears the question, “What is ETI?” ETI is the abbreviation for Equestrian Trails, lnc., “a non-profit organization dedicated to equine legislation and the acquisition and preservation of riding and hiking trails throughout the state of California.”
To this end, ETI has been working assiduously, within the framework of the organization for more than 16 years. Organized in 1944-5 by a group of very wise horsemen who foresaw an era of rapidly expanding industry, suburbia, trailer parks and motels, expressways and airports, in fact expansion of everything — except a place to keep and ride a horse.
Further and still further, the horseman must trailer his horse to find good riding trails. More and more the encroachment of industry and development into areas formerly used by horsemen. The goal of these men forming ETI was to acquire and preserve trails for riding before it became too late and horses and horsemen be pushed into “Never, Never” land.
Organization and Offices
Again, with keen foresight, the originators of ETI established a businesslike, wellfounded organization, incorporated under the laws of the state of California, with solid constitution and bylaws. The administration is vested in a president, two vice presidents, secretary, treasurer, board of directors and a state trail coordinator.
Everyone knows that things don’t “just happen,” and ETI is no exception. It has taken an immense amount of work in creating, organizing and coordinating by the officers, who give unstintingly of their time and serve with no compensation. This indeed, must be a dedicated group!
heir duties are endless, and many times onerous: meetings with legislative and planning bodies to insure zoning and rights-of-way; with highway departments for protecting old trails or acquiring new. They are the constant watchdogs, many times forestalling a challenge before it becomes a problem. Only conscientious loyalty and appreciation can be their just due. Space does not allow for the recognition of all those who have worked unselfishly for the organization, however a few must be mentioned. Sydney Mason, long term president has served wisely and well. His responsibility is a great one, and he has met it admirably. Betty Corwin, secretary, is a well known and well liked hard worker. W. A “Bill” Carpenter, ditto. And their are many more who deserve a halo instead of their battered old stetson!
State Trail Coordinator
There is one. and only one Jim Hester, state trail coordinator since the ETI was first formed and this office created. Hale and hearty Jim, lover of horses, friend of horsemen, he’s here, there and everywhere, all over the state, wherever, he‘s needed — and he’s always needed! The amount of work this man, does could kill a healthy mule, But Jim survives, and loves it. He is the “Big Propulsion.” It is impossible to estimate the number of miles he rides in each year; the many meetings attended, the continual search for and acquisition of new trails. while holding fast to the old. We doff our hats to Our Jim!
Equestrian Trails, lnc.. divides, the state into nine areas, each with a director. In these areas are chartered units known as Corrals. Corrals have their own officers and bylaws which must not conflict with the parent organization. Any 25 or more persons may apply for a charter to form a corral. The originators of this idea must be pleasantly surprised at the phenomenal growth of the organization, for there are now 60 chartered Corrals in the state and more forming.
Corral 38 And The Hi-Desert
One such Corral, the Glendale River Riders, Corral 38, has done much for the Hi-Desert area. Two of their members Kris and Ken Steiner, first visited Pioneertown in December 1955, spending Christmas with Anne and Clarence Johnson in their ill-one street home. They fell in love with the town, with its beauty and fine climate but mostly they were simply “sent” with the possibility of trails through the hills. They lost no time in bringing others of their Corral to Kris and Kens “Paradise.” The entire group was sold on the area. and two years later, 1957, Corral 38 put on a whopper of a gymkhana at the rodeo grounds on Pioneertown’s Mane street.
It was a gigantic undertaking, since their Corral was so far from the Hi-Desert but undaunted, everyone pitched in and helped. Among the hard workers were Kris and Ken Steiner, Jean and Carl Kratzer, Nick and Wynne Raveglia, Jo and Norm Johnson, Betty and Lou Armalino, Ann Armitage, Mel Gelland and many. many others. To say the celebration was a huge success was putting it mildly. The
Golden Stallion was overflowing
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with the dance. The gymkhana on Sunday was an extra special event. Jim Hester, guest of honor, thought it great, and he loved Pioneertown. One more recruit! Jim had been through here many times before, having reconnaissanced it in 1954, but until this show, he just didn’t realize we had so much!
It was fine to have Jim plugging for us, for at the State Meeting in Los Angeles in December 1958, it was voted to have the state convention and trail ride in Pioneertown. Whadda ya know, cities were bidding for this event, a colossal one, and here li’l old Pioneertown got it! There was great celebrating that night. Kris Steiner called a group of friends at Callahan’s in Yucca Valley and gave out with the “Big News.” On the phone, watches were synchronized, and at exactly 12:30 p.m., glasses were hoisted to Corral 38 in Los Angeles, and at Hody’s the Corral toasted Pioneertown and the Hi-Desert, with whoops and cheers for the
Work, work, WORK must be done if the Hi-Desert hosted the thousands of ETI members who attend these affairs. Jim Hester and Sydney Mason made numerous trips to Pioneertown setting up schedules, programming, arranging accommodations. It was a gigantic undertaking for so small a community. But Pioneertown came through, with glory, with the help of the local Corral, the Dusty Trails Corral, 46, Yucca Valley. John Hamilton, Corral 46 president, laid out the trails for rides and Ken Bonser, the Spark Plug, zoomed around like a missile to the moon!
“The Big Ride,” an annual affair, but this one long to be remembered, started in Los Angeles Civic Center, May 10, 1959 with fanfare! VlP’s all over the place. President Sydney Mason, Supervisor Frank Bonelli and Monty Montana were among the notables who saw them off, not into the “Wide Blue Yonder,” but into the rugged San Bernardino Mountains, led by Jim Hester, trail boss, on the long 350 mile ride. Hoss Back, Podner.
Through sweet smelling pine, I through scratchy scrub oak, into, valleys, over mountains, through canyons . . . days and days . . . Straight up on the left, straight down on the right . . .. grab that saddle horn . . . close your eyes, don‘t look down . . . if the horse should stumble! . . . If, IF . . .11 long days . . . and nights! Those nights, unpack, set up camp . . . rub those sore spots . . . cook dinner . . . rub those sore spots . . . make beds, those blasted sore spots!
An estimated 200 riders joined in along the way. Most rode only a few days, then either flubbed out or had to go back to a dull business. “Adios, see you in Pioneertown the 22nd.” But a small group went on and on. Kris Steiner tells it this Way in her story, “Trailing Along Behind Jim Hester.”
“This was my first trail ride and I’m here to say it was a most wonderful experience. I never knew such beautiful trails existed in those mountains. Not ink nor painter’s brush can reveal the beauty along these trails. It was a little rough our fourth day out into South Fork, dropping several thousand feet, we ran into shale slides and narrow trails.
“With one stirrup dangling over a ledge, two miles down, l died a thousand deaths . . . Thunder, my mountain goat, did a Tennessee waltz all the way. The altitude got the better of us. Here words cannot do justice to the help and encouragement of a great trail boss. Jim Hester . . . On the 7th and 8th days I suffered dry cleaning poisoning from my wool trousers and had to stay in camp. . . But after two days I was back in the saddle again. We owe thanks to the forest rangers and many ranchers along the way who helped in making our camps pleasant.
. . . I tip my hat to the wonderful Pioneertown welcoming committee: Honey Fellers, Nell and Harry Althoff, the Ken Bonsers, the John Hamiltons, and Val Jones . . . along with many others. What a time we had. Long live ETI.”
The last night on the trail, the pack riders pulled into the Hamilton Ranch. And there is where, the welcoming committee met, them . . . They were a sorry and soiled looking bunch! After, a few refreshments (bottles, cans, and what not), a regular cook-out supper and a “sing” around the campfire, the girls all needled Jim Hester to let them get into town for a shower. But Jim was adamant. “Were due in Pioneertown tomorrow at 2 pm. and that’s it,” he said. Weeping and wailing were to no avail. The girls from Corral 38 ‘on this ride were Jean Kratzer, Anne Bowers, Kris Steiner and Betty Armelino. Good sports, all, they crawled, dirt and all into sleeping bags for that last “hitch.”
Sure enough at 2 p.m. right on schedule, Jim Hester in the lead, with “Jonsey” at the Red Dog to receive them, they came tearing into town,.. down the wide dirt street, they whooped, hollered and “shot—em—up,” circling the street, then back to the Red Dog for pictures and refreshments, long denied. The town was already well packed with ETI members from Corrals all over the state. Hundreds of cars, trailers and horse trailers lined both sides of Mane street, where hundreds of persons milled like a huge amusement park, but with horses, horses, horses. All was very gay and colorful. The trail rides were splendid. Praise was high. The dance in the big 60 by 100 sound stage was a real hoe-down, and the crowd filled it to overflowing. The parade was handsomely well done and the gymkhana a most lively and interesting one. What the serious minded ones did at convention meetings no one will ever know how, but somehow, along with all the fun. they managed to accomplish some good work. The final report was “a good time was had by all,” and they hope to come back again.
Dusty Trail Riders Corral
The local corral, Dusty Trail Riders Corral 46, of Yucca Valley was formed late in 1957. Joe Lopez, long interested in ETI was active in forming the new Corral, and its first president. John Hamilton was the second president, Ken Bonser the third, and Lou Holland is now president. They hold regular meetings and enjoy many trail rides into the fine trails in rugged but beautiful country. A call to Lou will give you all information.
California—A Horse State
Says an ETI bulletin: “California has more horses. more trail rides, more horse shows. and more people interested in horseback riding than any other states in the union. While we are the horseback ridingest state, we have a vital need for more and better trails. Let’s preserve, elbow room in our cities. counties and throughout the state for the tens of thousands who enjoy riding or hiking, without making it necessary to travel great distances in order to reach the trails.”
A cordial invitation to anyone interested in any of the activities of ETI is extended. The dues are nominal and a free subscription to the ETI magazine goes with it. Contact your nearest Corral. They’ll be happy to have you.
Each Equestrian Trail Corral fosters and encourages a junior program, Quotes from a brochure state: “The by-laws provide that juniors may commence voting at ‘the age of 13, the main purpose being to teach them parliamentary procedure, responsibility and respect for private property. Statistics available to this organization indicate that the group of teenagers represented by the Equestrians and 4-H clubs have the smallest percentage of delinquents of any other groups in the country. These facts clearly indicate that equestrian activities are a definite deterrent to juvenile delinquency.”