The 23rd annual Cowboy Capital MS Trail Ride will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 4, at Tarleton State University’s Hunewell Ranch.
Each year, the event raises funds for victims of multiple sclerosis, a chronic, disabling disease of the central nervous system.
“It’s for such a worthy cause and MS is such an unpredictable disease. It strikes anybody, young, old, the symptoms are different all over the board, the treatments are all over the board, it’s just a very unpredictable, unfriendly disease,” said Diane Tidwell, co-chairman of the MS Trail Ride. “A lot of us have all sorts of friends, neighbors, family that have been touched by it so it’s near and dear to a lot of people’s hearts, I think. I’ve had friends that have had it and some are still around and some aren’t. It just makes all of the efforts for putting this thing together very worthwhile.”
This is also the first and only trail ride in the nation sanctioned by the National MS Society.
“Mary Howard started it 23 years ago and the National MS Society approached her about doing a walk in Stephenville and she said, ‘Well we don’t walk, we ride’ and so that’s how the first trail ride got started,” Tidwell said. “I rode in the very first one and I've ridden in all of them since.”
Trail ride check-in will begin at 8 a.m. the day of the ride with a free breakfast provided by the Cowboy Church of Erath County.
There is also a 5K Trail Run and a one-mile Trail Walk for those who do not ride. Registration for both events begin at 9 a.m. and the run and walk will start at 9:30 a.m.
During the ride, free snacks will be provided by Saint-Gobain Abrasives at rest stops and at noon, a free barbecue lunch will be provided by the Knights of Pythias.
The cost of the ride is $50; $30 for children 12 and under; $25 for run/walk. All participants will receive an official Cowboy Capital MS Trail Ride T-shirt and goody bag.
There will also be a live and silent auction and Tidwell said that area merchants have donated some wonderful items.
“We have an official autographed football from the Dallas Cowboys that we will auction off,” she added.
Individual awards will be given to the top fundraising participants – first, second and third place – who traveled the furthest as well as the oldest and youngest riders.
Tidwell said the youngest rider they had over the years was 4-years-old and the oldest was 80.
“We encourage participants to raise additional funds and to help you get organized and keep track of donations collected, a donation form can be downloaded from the Trail Ride website, www.ccmstrailride.com,” Tidwell said.
Last year's event raised $15,000.
Team trophies will be given out for groups of three or more riders. There will be team trophies for the top fundraising team, the largest team and the most spirited team.
Current negative coggins are also required for all horses.
Participants can camp out for free Friday night before the ride at Tarleton’s Hunewell Ranch. It is primitive camping so campers must be self-contained. The “call before you haul” number to make a reservation for camping is 254-485-4416.
A free chuck wagon dinner Friday night and breakfast Saturday morning will be provided by the Cowboy Church of Erath County.
Riders can either sign up the day of the event or register online on the Trail Ride website at www.ccmstrailride.com.
Participants can also register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Other trail ride rules for riders are listed at www.ccmstrailride.com/ride-details.
“It makes you feel really good (participating in the ride) and if you like to trail ride and if you like being out on open country with your horse, that’s fun to begin with, but it just makes you feel so much better knowing what you’re doing, that you’re raising money for people that are unfortunately afflicted with this so you can enjoy your riding and be grateful for the blessings that you have, but then raise money and try to raise as much money as you can for the cure,” Tidwell added.