Cenizo Journal Winter 2023 | Page 14

Confessions of a Saddle Tramp

BY SHANNON KING Be safe they say . My time on a horse was short compared to some , and always with a group . Surrounded by the camaraderie of equestrians who knew more than me . A community willing to assist if needed , and they did . Many of my first rides took place within this safety net . Helping me learn horses , which in turn helped me learn myself .
My fellow riders were there when I took my first fall on an old asphalt road from the back of a borrowed mare . They helped when I took my first horse to Bandera , only 2 ½ years old , nosing him up against the back of a wagon so he couldn ’ t run from what were surely monsters at every turn . When I didn ’ t know how to slow my second horse down , they helped again , and we rode backwards through much of that trail ride . It seemed to fix the problem .
But in 2020 , COVID reared its ugly head , and for a minute we were scared to be together , even in those wide-open spaces . State parks closed their doors , trail rides were canceled , businesses shut down . Many horses and trailers sat idle – all in an effort to be safe . But somewhere still , under all of this , is the sun , the wind , the sound of leaves rattling , and a horse breathing . If only we could step outside to hear it , find a place away from the noise and anxiety , just a moment to soak in and let the silence speak .
Fort Davis was my first touch of West Texas . A proud town where yes ma ’ am and sir still roll off the tongues of children as easily as adults , locals know each other ’ s trucks , and cowboy hats are normal attire not fashion . Fort Davis is a place where locals greet each other with the casual twofingered wave of a draped hand over the steering wheel and a quick nod . As with most west Texas towns , guns are second nature here . Even the school exclaims proudly via signage that staff are armed and will act , a reminder to whoever needs it . This is a town with a long history of defending our frontier .
Once one of the largest posts in the west , Fort Davis boasted over 400 enlisted men between 1855-56 providing safety for travelers along the old San Antonio-El Paso Road . The fort served as a base of operations for the same camel tours championed by Jefferson Davis in Big Bend and Camp Verde outside of Bandera , and in 1859 became a stop on the same Butterfield Overland Stagecoach route that traces its way through many state and national parks , including : Ray Roberts , Jacksboro , Franklin Mountains , Guadalupe Mountains , and Barrell Spring near the famous Mt Livermore of Davis Mountains Preserve .

14 Cenizo Winter 2023