Fiesta de los Vaqueros

Cardinal Climber -- Just one of the many species of wildflowers that will be on display this spring

I am looking forward to a riot of wildflowers due to the lovely rains in January, and I wonder how many of you know that a seed can live in this desert earth for up to 200 years without germinating – and then, when it gets some rain just at the right moment, it bursts out with a flower you’ve never seen before! I remember one year when almost overnight all the bushes on the mountains became entwined with long, thin tendrils of green covered with the most delicate, tiny mauve bells, so that each manzanita bush looked like it was shrouded in gauzy veils. Another year the pastures turned into a solid carpet of yellow and gold Mexican poppies as far as the eye could see, as if someone had spilled liquid gold all over the countryside. This year, seeing as our rains came at the right time in early January, the manzanita bushes should be blooming soon, and fill the mountains with their delicate perfume – and then, hopefully produce those tasty berries which are so good to eat in June, especially if you forgot to bring your water bottle!

Some time ago I happened to see a card at the post office advertising four horses for sale. I contacted the owner, who is moving out of the country and who wanted to sell all four to the same place, as they are very attached to one another and he didn’t want to see them separated. So, having made the deal, Annie and I went to pick them up. There was a gelding, a grey mare, then another young mare with her four year old, totally unbroke filly who had never been taken off the place since she had arrived there as a weanling. We thought we might be in for some fun in the loading. Annie picked up the rope with the momma mare and the gelding, leaving the filly free, and I took a-hold of the lead rope of the other mare, thinking to load her first. She came up to the trailer willingly enough, but then, ah no! no way – she threw her head up, ran backwards, balked, jumped around and Annie and I both thought the day promised to become exciting. While the mare was dragging me backwards from the trailer, Annie led up the momma mare, who, it happened, had also cut her leg the night before, having got caught on some barbed wire – amazing how horses, who have been in a pasture for four years without mishap, can suddenly, the day before they are due to load out, manage to get caught in a fence and appear all mangled for the new owners! So there she was, hobbling on a back leg with blood and medication slopped all over it – but yet, hobbling towards the trailer. She got to the gate, took one look at it, measured the distance between her and the opening, and them, to our utter amazement, hopped into the trailer as sweetly and lightly as a ballet dancer …. Following this, her four year old “baby” leapt right in alongside of her momma, and then, without any more fuss or bother, here came the other two, almost running me over in their eagerness to get in! Amazing what a good lead horse can do! Quickly we slammed the gate shut and hightailed it for home – and would you believe, all the way home there wasn’t a wiggle out of those horses – they stood as if they’d been trailered every day for the last four years, not a peep out of them. So now they are in the quarantine corral, waiting out the obligatory 30 days before we let them fraternize with their new corral mates. The filly will, of course, have to go in for training, but we hope to have all four on line in the near future. Their names are Isha, the momma mare, daughter Ivy, Reno, the gelding and Juanita, the other mare.

Team Roping at the Fiesta de los Vaqueros (Tucson Rodeo) in Tucson, Arizona

Team Roping at the Fiesta de los Vaqueros (Tucson Rodeo) in Tucson, Arizona

And talking of horses, I want to remind you of that famous and totally exciting event, the Tucson rodeo, called poetically “Fiesta de los Vaqueros” – the fiesta of the cowboys. That has to be one of the most fun rodeos in the west, and, being Tucson, it’s generally during wonderful weather, where you can sit and watch the events in pleasant sunshine, munching on Indian fry bread and other slimming goodies. I remember one year, at least 25 years ago, when Gerry and I went to the Fiesta, and sat in the bleachers watching the parade in blazing sunshine and 70 degree weather. The following year we booked a box and took some guests – and, wouldn’t you know it, the rain came down in buckets and the arena was so deep in mud that the horses were sliding in it as if on ice. It provided more excitement for the spectators, but I don’t think it was too much fun for the competitors, especially the trick riders, who had to wallow through all that mud while leaping on and off their horses at full gallop! Anyway, if the rodeo is in your future, give us a call – we can book the seats for you, and you can go watch it and then come to the ranch and practice some of that equestrian art here. Book for the Rodeo ’10 Special, and after the rodeo, bring your ticket stub and get 10% off your stay. I know that, having seen all that fun stuff, you’ll want to come and live the life – try for yourself the team penning, roping, and generally the great horseback riding. But sorry! No saddle broncs, nor the bareback or bull riding available here!! It’s just too much excitement. I remember some time ago our veterinarian telling me of his exploits in the bull arena. There is a bar in nearby Benson, appropriately called “The Arena Bar” which has an adjoining arena and bulls available to patrons, their senses no doubt somewhat dulled by the contents of their stomach, eager to try their skill. Our vet did – he said they brought out a bull, and to his amazement and thrill, he rode it. “Bring on a tougher one!” he said, and they did – and, he told me, when he hit the ground, he hit so hard he couldn’t remember his wife’s name for 10 days after. He said it cured him of his desire to ride bulls.

And now I have a request. As I am sure many of you know, we have recently lost a very dear friend of Grapevine, Dave Hendry, who added so much to our music evenings with his tremendous musical talent, great singing and unforgettable jokes. We miss him very much, and Bonnie wants me to ask if there is anyone out there who has Dave and his famous sock trick on a CD? If so, we would so like to have it – he was a most special guy, and a dear friend. If you do have it, please call Bonnie at 520 826 3185 or e-mail her at Thank you so much in advance!

And finally don’t forget out hot summer special at our cool 5,000 ft! To my utter amazement I found out recently that many people around the Phoenix area – and for all I know, in the rest of the world as well – are under the impression that, as we are south of Phoenix, we must be hotter! Nothing could be further from the truth – we may be further south, but we are also over 4,000 ft. higher – and that makes all the difference. We are some 15 degrees cooler than Phoenix, and about 10 degrees cooler than Tucson in the warm months, so remember – this summer, saddle up at a cool 5,000 feet and beat the heat, while enjoying our awesome sunset rides!

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3 Responses to Fiesta de los Vaqueros

  1. Sue Coen says:

    Eve, It was good to get some additional facts about the arrival of your adopted group of horses.
    Can’t wait to see the mountains in color. Sue

  2. Eve says:

    Hi Sue – yes, they’re doing very well. We have shod them all, no problem, and the only things remaining is to take the filly in for training. Good to hear from you!

  3. bushire says:

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