I’m back in the saddle again, riding a sure-footed horse along a rocky path that twists and bucks through cedar-strewn hills south of Bandera. My teenage daughter Erica trails along behind me on a feisty mare while a mustachioed wrangler, clad in dusty leather chaps and a weathered cowboy hat, leads the way. Soon my imagination wanders back 130 years to the grueling Longhorn cattle drives up the Great Western Trail to Dodge City. After more than an hour on horseback, thirst sets in under the blazing sun and my aching legs beg for solid ground. Still, I’m loving every minute of my trail ride at the Silver Spur Guest Ranch.
Pat the horse served for 26 years with the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division. After “enlisting” in 1912 at age four, Pat served as a cannon-pulling horse. During the first half of this century, horses (and mules) pulled guns, as well as wagons loaded with ammunition. Pulling teams consisted of three pairs of animals, each pair performing a different function. Though no one now remembers Pat’s position in the team, they do recall his disposition: Pat displayed a benevolent temperament.