KARNES COUNTY – As warm gusts of wind blanketed the grounds of the Karnes County Show Barn, 35 riders and nine wagons made their way to Falls City Feb. 4.

Michael Dunn is the Trail Boss for the second year in a row but has participated in the trail ride for 22 years.

“I enjoy the fellowship on the ride and seeing all of my friends,” Dunn said.

“My number one priority is to keep everyone on the trail ride safe.”

Dunn mentioned his favorite food throughout the trail.

“All of the sweets,” he laughed.

“Because I’m not supposed to have any.

“But it’s okay ... it’s my cheat week.”

William and Stacey Goldman, from Corpus Christi, are attending for the second straight year.

“We are newbies,” Stacey laughed.

“We wanted to try it out last year and planned on doing some of the ride.

“But we knew after we started riding, we wanted to continue and we stayed the entire trip.

“We came back last year and love it.”

Bill Rogers and Ruben Phillips are on their third ride together.

Rogers, a Mathis resident, reflected on his experiences throughout his 50 years on the trail.

“We have a lot of fun and enjoy the ride,” Rogers said.

“I’ve seen just about everything you can on the ride over the years.”

Phillips is from Missouri, which forced him to arrive one week prior in order to help his animals adapt to the warmer weather.

“I came down a week before with three other wagons,” Phillips said.

“We put around 80 miles on them (mules) to condition the animals to the weather.

“They have their thicker coats on right now because it’s much colder up north,” he laughed.

Phillips and Rogers both solely participate in wagons rather than riding a horse the entire trail.

“You’ll see stuff in a wagon where you wouldn’t in a car,” Phillips said.

“It’s something different everyday.”

Rogers’ reason is a bit different from Phillips.

“Back in the beginning, on the way to San Antonio, we left a river bridge, and it just started pouring down,” Phillips said.

“Everything you owned was wet.

“There wasn’t a dry spot on you, and I was miserable.

“I said after that I would never ride a horse again.”

The South Texas Trail Riders Association began its 61st annual ride from Edroy Jan. 30 and headed to the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo where the riders will wrap up at the grand entry at the 71st Annual SA Stock Show & Rodeo Feb. 8.

The purpose of the South Texas Trail Riders is social and the association is formed to stimulate, promote and encourage the love of horses, riding and good fellowship, to perpetuate the memory of the original trail riders, and to promote the interests of livestock raising and agriculture.