PONY EXPRESS:Annual event rides into Fall Festival

For more than a decade, the annual Pony Express Trail Ride was associated with the Bob Baker Wild West Extravaganza, an event set for Oct. 4-6.

However, this year Pony Express Trail Ride organizer Doug Shaw said that for the first time, the ride will be part of the Pahrump Fall Festival which begins next Friday, Sept. 27.

Shaw also said the Pony Express Trail Ride began as a way to preserve the history of the American Southwest and have some fun at the same time.

“It started as an idea of getting people of like minds interested in having horseback trail rides. Then the idea of using this as a fundraiser came about. The first ride started in Tecopa and came into Pahrump. A few years later it began at the Longstreet Inn in Amargosa Valley and came this way. The rides vary from 12 miles to 40 miles. We probably won’t be doing 40 miles anymore,” he said. The last 40-mile ride commemorated the 10th anniversary of the event in 2010 and only one rider made the entire course.

Three PETR members made a special trip recently, doing what they do — delivering mail.

Residents at Inspirations Senior Living community received messages of hope and well wishes when riders delivered the messages on horseback to the Java Avenue location on Monday.

Inspirations Senior Living is a major sponsor of this year’s ride and Shaw said, “After our breakfast here Saturday morning, we will join the Fall Festival Parade. Following the parade we will start our ride and return to the park (Petrack) at about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. We just thought this year we could possibly get a little more support being a part of the Fall Festival and maybe attract some more riders. The number of riders we have varies from year to year, and we have had anywhere from 30 up to about 120. This year we will probably have around 30 to 35,” he said. Lunch is being provided by Arrow Over X Feed Store. The ride will cover about 14 miles.

Shaw said the special ride was a precursor to the upcoming Pahrump Fall Festival.

“It was all in preparation of the 13th annual Pahrump Pony Express Trail Ride. Inspirations Senior Living has been gracious enough to be one of our sponsors and they are providing a breakfast for our riders on the 28th. They purchased the envelopes for a special delivery to the residents here just as the Pony Express would have done,” he said.

Inspirations Marketing Director Tonya Brum said the personalized messages truly raised the spirits of the residents at the brand new community.

“They really didn’t know this was happening. They knew the Pony Express was coming but they didn’t know about the letters. It was nice to be able to get them all out and see the horses actually ride up to Inspirations and they really enjoyed that. I think 10 to 12 of our residents got a letter which welcomed them to Inspirations. The envelopes have the logo of the official Pony Express stamp. They were all surprised and thrilled,” she said.

I wanted to make sure that all of the residents living here received a letter. We had a few residents who were not feeling very well so they stayed in their rooms but they will still get their letter,” she said.

Priscilla Fulton is a fairly new resident at the senior living community.

Following the “special delivery,” Fulton said she will most likely have her letter framed.

“I thought it was pretty cool. I saw them riding up from off in the distance. The letter was so cute and for them to do that for us and I’m going to keep mine forever,” she said.

Brum also agreed that the letters were unique keepsakes for the residents at the community.

“You are not going to have this all over the country even though the Pony Express operated all over the country. We are in the West and this is where it’s so important because we are thrilled to be part of history. Again, they really got a kick out of the horses being here. One of our residents mentioned that we don’t really get a lot of horses here at Inspirations,” she said with a laugh.

Brum also said that the annual Pony Express Trail Ride will also serve as a fundraiser for another area organization.

“Doug and his team decided to do this to benefit Pioneer Territory CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). All of the envelopes that have been sold through his organization, PTCASA and what we purchased here at Inspirations will benefit CASA,” Brum said.

The trail riders hope to raise at least $1,600 for the children’s advocacy program which aids the courts in gathering sufficient information for making sometimes life-changing decisions for underage youth.

Without CASA volunteers many children would be inside of the foster care system unable to possibly be reunited with family members. The organization is always seeking additional volunteers to act in the best interest of the child.

Envelopes are still available through CASA and in the Pahrump Valley Chamber of Commerce offices on the second floor of the Nevada State Bank Building. The cost is $5 to send a piece of mail in the specially marked envelope. The price hasn’t increased since the original Pony Express was in operation between St. Joseph, Mo., and San Francisco, Calif., in 1860. Entry fees for the Pony Express Trail Ride are $30 per rider.