RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — Every New Year’s Day for 20 years riders with the Black Gum Saddle Club and other organizations have been making the slow, long ride to Richmond’s Chimborazo Park from Charles City County.
Years ago, after it was started by Arthur “Bootsy” Jones, as many as 100 riders from this region would saddle up and hit the trail – or the pavement, as it were – while most everyone else started their year with all the modern conveniences in their climate-controlled homes.
This year, there were 10 or so riders. The economy took its toll, for sure. But times have changed.
“People are so quick to (say) ‘I want it now . . . and they want to get up and go and do their thing,” said rider J.L. Martin of Martinsville. “When we ride the horses, it’s all about patience and thinking about the old times, and that sounds of horses clickity clacking on the highway, it’s one of the most wonderful sounds anyone would want to hear.”
It took the horses and riders seven hours to cover that 22 miles.
They all said how respectful motorists were, how they made way, stopped, waved, took pictures and wished them a happy new year.
“It’s just a wonderful thing to see the people enjoying and loving the joy of horses,” Martin said.
It was like everyone felt the old-timey goodness of folks making a trek on horseback.
“That’s part of what we are as cowboys, man – we ride,” said Kevin Jennings of Little Star Horse Club. “It’s real good luck to mingle and get together like this.”
The horses and riders ending their trail in Chimborazo Park made for a welcome New Year’s Day sight for many adults and children in the neighborhood. They flocked to the horses to get in the saddle, pet them and offer them treats and sweet words for their hard New Year’s Day work.
When it was stated back in the day by Arthur Jones, there was as many as 100 riders. The economy has scaled back the ride, but the spirit remains.
One of their favorite parts was the end of the ride in Richmond’s Chimborazo Park, where children and adults come out to greet the horses after the long ride.