Help needed to keep the trail ride the cheapest fun around

By LISA BRITTON Baker City Herald May 22, 2009 12:00 am

I was a bit worried, all those years ago, about the horses.

I was 12, and my friend had convinced me to join her on the youth trail ride held every June by the Baker County Mounted Posse.

She’d been around horses, and I had not. Yes — even growing up in rural Eastern Oregon I hadn’t really sat astride a horse, except for a certain bareback experience I won’t relate here. Let’s just say my cousin still laughs about that wild ride through her field.

My trail ride with the posse happened in 1991, and I still remember looking at those horses and hoping beyond hope that I’d draw a nice one.

I needn’t have worried.

A volunteer asked about my riding experience, and when I replied with “not much,” I was handed the reins of a horse named Joker.

He was a rather boring old horse, actually. All I had to do was sit and hold the reins and he just plodded along at an easy pace like he’d been following the same trail every day of his life.

Who knows — maybe he had.

Now, 18 years later, I hold in my hand that original registration for the trail ride with my mom’s neat cursive. The price was $2.

The price is still $2 thanks to the dedicated members of the Mounted Posse who hold fundraisers and solicit donations to keep the cost affordable to everyone.

But they need help, and are asking for donations from the community to help support the cost of about $200 per child.

Jodie Radabaugh, posse captain, says even $1 could help.

Members of the posse sorted through documents of past trail rides recently — that’s where my own registration form came from — and they discovered a bundle of thank-you notes written over the years, testaments to the memories made on the trail.

On Aug. 15, 1966, Debi Bennett wrote: “I want to express my thanks to all of you for the nice time I had on the trail ride. ... The scenery was beautiful and the water clear and cold. I hope you will continue this program as long as there are kids to enjoy it.”

Aug. 4, 1966, from Penny Piper: “This year was the third time I have gone on the Sheriff Posse Trail Ride and I think they get better every year.”

Aug. 19, 1966, from Donna Haight: “I thought that this year’s ride was even better than last. I had loads of fun and I hope to be able to go again. Thank you for everything.”

Aug. 2, 1966, from Barbara Marshall: “It is a truly wonderful thing you are doing for the youth of Baker County. May the best of luck come to you in future years!”

I’m not sure if I sent a thank-you note, but I would have echoed these sentiments.

The horseback rides were wonderful, of course, but the scenery of the Wallowa Mountains made the experience even better.

And the food was pretty good too, as I recall.

This year the posse hopes to again offer the ride to 50 youths ages 12 to 15, and applications will be available starting June 1 from any Posse member or at The Record-Courier office, 1718 Main St.

Anyone wishing to contribute can call:

• Jodie Radabaugh, 524-9358

• Carol Guthrie, 519-8263

• Dennis Hanby, 523-6200

• Deania Corrigan, 541-742-4584

Donations can also be mailed to: Baker County Mounted Posse, P.O. Box 934, Baker City, OR 97814-0934.

Lisa Britton is a reporter for the Baker City Herald.