Rodeo Cattle Drive – 2005
the early part of June, each year since 1991, the Reno Rodeo Association
Committee has hosted an authentic old-west cattle drive as the
kickoff event for the Reno Rodeo. Paid guests and drovers ride
horseback and trail 300 head of Corriente rodeo steers over 100 miles.
Seven 1800s-style wagons, pulled by teams, carry the guest’s gear. This
cattle drive starts near Doyle, California along the California/Nevada
border northwest of Reno and ends five days later at the Reno
Livestock Event Center and Rodeo Grounds in downtown Reno.
Reno Rodeo Association Committee invited Lee Raine and I to ride along
on this historic cattle drive. We loaded our bedrolls, saddles,
and tepee and headed west from our summer camp on the west slope of
Ruby Mountains in northeastern Nevada to the “Biggest Little City in
the World,” Reno, Nevada.
arrived in Reno that evening and met up with Ira Gostin, Marketing and
Media boss for the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive in 2005. Ira has been involved
with this cattle drive for a number of years and proved very knowledgeable
and informative. Ira gave us an overview of what we might experience
on the drive. Ira said, “We try to make this event a REAL cattle
drive. There may be significant hardships involved along the way.
The weather can be hot or cold; it may rain or snow. All of this
is possible in northern Nevada any time of the year.
break camp early each morning, ride out with the cattle and camp that
night at places where there are corrals and water to pen the cattle
and horses. You must remember that the cattle and horses come first
and they need to be well taken care of each day. Without the livestock,
we would not be here. To reach a new campsite each night we will need
to ride 12 miles or more each day and 20 miles on one day. The
altitude is between 4,000 and 6,000 feet depending on where we are in
the ‘high desert.’ Folks who come from sea level are prone to
dehydration and need to drink lots of water. It would be well to be
in good physical shape and do some horseback riding in your area at
a riding stable or on your own horse. Rental horses will be provided
on the drive for the paying guests and no private horses will be allowed.
the drive, we will attempt to teach you about buckaroo etiquette and
tradition. You will need to bring along a positive attitude and a willingness
to learn about some history of cattle ranching, and cattle handling
skills in the ‘high desert’ and a buckaroo lifestyle that is in danger
of disappearing forever.
remember our crew is 100% volunteer. Our sole purpose in our endeavors
with our guests is to present an authentic, safe and very western buckaroo
experience. We will take a vacation from our lives to give you the vacation
of your dreams.”
Day One – Sand Corrals,
Near the California/Nevada State Line
arrived at the corrals on Sunday morning and looked around the area.
Three hundred Corriente steers were being held in the corrals. Some
of the guests and drovers were busy setting up their tents. Lee and
I pitched our tepee in the sagebrush near the corral and unrolled our
bedrolls. We were introduced to Dave Dohnel, the Jigger Boss,
from Frontier Outfitters out of Bishop, California. Dohnel provides
the horses for the guests on the cattle drive. The saddle horses used
for this drive were tied
a “high line” near the corral.
then were introduced to Bobby Ingersoll. Bobby had come along
on the drive to help answer horse questions from the paying guests and
to assist with handling the cattle. He has won everything there
is to win on a horse in performance-horse shows around the country since
1971. Bobby was camped near us and rolled his bedroll out in the sagebrush—no
tent for him.
cook wagon was being set up to feed the crowd that was gathering. In
no time, tables, chairs, and a cooking “fly” were set up and the call
“come and get it” was given.
feed a large group of people such as was gathering near the cook wagon
is no easy chore. We visited with Danny “Pockets” Iudicella,
the Chuckwagon Boss. He gave us a run down on the food situation.
Danny said, “This year we will cook for 45 paid guests, a crew of 35
volunteers, and several folks dropping in. During the 5-day drive, this
group will consume over 600 pounds of meat, 50 gallons of strong coffee
and over 40-dozen eggs.” The official coffee for the 2005 Cattle Drive
was Starbucks. Only cow camp we were ever around where they served
continued, “A typical day’s meals may go like this:
Breakfasts: Eggs, Hash browns, Variety
of meats (Ham, Sausage, Bacon), Biscuits & Gravy, Muffins, French Toast,
Sourdough Hotcakes, Fresh Fruit and Strong Coffee.
Lunches: Cold Cut Sandwiches, Fruit
& Veggies out on the trail.
Dinner: Prime Rib, Chicken, Dutch-Oven
Potatoes, Black-Bean Corn Stew, Dutch-Oven Rolls, Peach Cobbler.
All dinners included beverages, fruit, salad, & bread”
told “Pockets” after hearing about the food that he and his crew were
going to prepare, his menus sounded much better than the sowbelly and
beans I had read about on the 1800 cattle-drives.
lunch, all the guests gathered around the horses that were tied to a
“high line” or “picket line,” as it sometimes called, and the outfitter,
Dave Dohnel, assisted by his wranglers, started selecting horses for
the paid guests. To match up people you have never seen before
with a strange horse is an “art form. Believe me, Lee and I have
been there and done that!
of the guests brought their own saddles. Others used saddles that
the outfitter provided. When everyone had a horse, we went on
a short “shake down” ride to see how everyone got along with his or
her horse and tack. Afterwards the horses were unsaddled and each
person was told to remember their horse. (The wranglers had the names
of the people assigned to each horse in case someone forgot.)
We then moved back to the corral area and visited with some of the guests,
drovers, and committee members
The Cattle Drive Committee:
Boss: Howard Weiss
notice right off that this entire organization is run with military
efficiency and effectiveness. This might have something to do
with the fact that the Trail Boss, Howard Weiss, is a graduate of the
United States Naval Academy and is the CEO of a large California corporation
specializing in electronics technology. Howard was also the Past
President of the American Quarter Horse Association and is one of the
Directors of the Reno Rodeo Association. Howard brings fiscal
savvy and corporate leadership to the committee--from the saddle. We
asked Howard to explain to us how this Cattle Drive has lasted for 15
years and what were some of the reasons for it’s continued success.
Howard said, “ My first involvement with the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive
was 15 years ago. Steve Millstein and Alan Capurro initially started
this drive. They decided to hold a cattle drive to help promote
the Reno Rodeo and have some fun. The first drive lasted three days,
$150 was the charge for each guest, and 150 head of cattle were used.
The third year, the cattle were increased to 350 head with more paying
guests, and, again, I went along as a paying guest. The drive improved
each year until one year they lost their major sponsorship. Without
a major sponsor, the cattle drive was doomed.
loved this drive so much, I decided to be the major sponsor. My company,
Whitmor Wirenetics, of which I am the CEO, became the major sponsor
for this event and remained so until last year. This year Signature
Landscapes has taken over our major sponsorship and we sure do thank
them for their support.
must have strong leadership and surround yourself with good, qualified
people who come back year after year to help out. This event is only
as good as the people who work with you want it to be. This drive has
become a vacation destination for many people from around the world.
We have had paying guests from Great Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Canada
and all over the United States. We do very little advertising on a national
level. The best advertising we have is from people who experienced
the drive and had a great time. Most of our paid guests come from
‘word of mouth’ advertisement. Folks who have participated in
the drive tell their friends about it.
of the biggest problems we had in the beginning was the rental horse
issue. You must have horses that are in shape, acclimated to traveling
at higher elevations in sometimes-adverse weather conditions, and that
inexperienced paying guests can get along with. We tried several different
horse set-ups. We finally found a horse outfit (Frontier Outfitters)
that has solid horses and this horse/people problem is much better today.”
had noticed that Howard was riding a gray horse that looked familiar.
asked Howard, “Where did the gray gelding come from that is standing
‘hip-shot’ tied to the corral?” Howard smiled and said, “I am glad you
asked that question. You folks are very observant around horses.
That horse’s name is Pepper and I bought this horse for $3,500 from
a guy who furnished horses for the movies. You may have known
this horse by its other name, the ‘Hell Bitch.’ Actor Tommy Lee
Jones rode this horse in the original “Lonesome Dove” movie. This horse
is a gelding, but they shot around that fact in the movie. One of the
main reasons they sold this horse to me was that gray horses are very
difficult to ‘double’ in the movie business. I am still looking
for the ‘hole’ in this horse after I bought it and never found one.
I rode this horse soon after I bought it to lead my group in the Rose
Bowl Parade in Pasadena,
California. Pepper has been
a great horse and I sure have enjoyed him.”
is my last year as Chairman and Trail Boss of this event. The
years are catching up with me. However, I still would like to
be evolved to some degree. I have never missed a Cattle Drive in 15
years. I hope that the cattle drive continues and improves. I am handing
over the reins to Marie Gaspari-Crawford after this drive and am certain
she will make a great Trail Boss. My association with this event
has been one of the highlights of my life.”
Vaquero: (and 2006 Trail Boss) Marie Gaspari–Crawford
was born into the buckaroo life. Her family ran cattle in what now is
Spanish Springs, north of Sparks,
Nevada. Her uncles taught Marie
the old-vaquero ways of handling horses. Marie is married to Cody
Crawford who is also involved in the Cattle Drive as the Cow Boss.
They live on the Rafter 66 Ranch in Palomino Valley, north of Reno.
Marie is an administrative assistant at the veterinary tech program
at Truckee Meadows Community College. Her responsibility as head vaquero
on the drive is overseeing the Guest Drovers, the Jigger Boss, and the
camp crew as well as administrative functions. Marie is full of energy
and makes the drive go.
Cow Boss- Cody Crawford
grew up on a California ranch where his father was the manager.
He grew up learning the buckaroo ways with horses and cattle. He also
made a swing through Texas and Montana and many riding jobs in between.
He presently runs the Rafter 66 ranch with his wife Marie. Cody oversees
the drovers, the cattle feeding operations, and the chuckwagon on the
Camp Boss: Buck Fenlason
is the one who sees to the moving and setting up of the camp and chuck
wagon each day along the trail for 5 days. This sounds like an easy
deal until you have done this for 5 or 6 days. What a job!
1800s-style “bed wagons” that were used to carry the paying guests bedrolls,
tepees, tents and other personal gear traveled with the herd on the
drive this year. A team of mules or horses pulled each wagon.
Each had a “swamper” to help the driver with his team and harness and
there were four outriders on horseback. The Wagon Masters for this year’s
drive were sisters, Julie Jepson and Janet Moore, who are identical
twins and who enjoy dressing alike in their period costumes. These sisters
grew up on their family’s ranch in Southern Wyoming. They have been
coming on the cattle drive for eight years with their children and wagons.
There were several real working buckaroos heading each team of guests
to help them with their cattle work, horses and team games in the evenings.
first evening in camp, Head Vaquero Marie assigned the guests into seven
teams. Each team was assigned a different color “wild rag.” There
were several reasons for this wild-rag color assignment. When we broke
camp each morning, the wagon where you placed your bedroll and other
camp gear had a colored wild rag tied onto it. If you were assigned
a green wild rag, you looked for the wagon with green tied on.
This was a neat way to keep track of all the gear for 45 paid guests.
Each evening different games involving the teams were played and each
team had a different position assignment on the cattle drive itself.
Each evening excellent entertainment was provided around the campfire.
Day Two – Headed
for Campbell Springs Corral Camp
broke and folks were busy rolling their beds and loading their gear
on the bed wagons. After a great breakfast, the guests headed for their
horses. Wranglers had the guests’ horses saddled, so they mounted up,
and the 2005 Reno Cattle Drive began. The teams that had been assigned,
the night before in camp, by the Head Vaquero Marie, were told where
they were to ride near the trailing cattle. Out in front were
Cody Crawford, Cow Boss, and Trail Boss Howard Weiss, who would lead
the way on his horse Pepper. Three hundred head of cattle were let out
of the corral and the 100-mile cattle drive headed out for Reno. The
drovers positioned some guests on each side of the herd in the “swing”
position and some riders were placed in the back or the “drag” to push
the cattle. While trailing the cattle, the guest drovers assisted the
paying guests with their questions about the country and their horses,
and showed them where they should be in relationship to the trailing
cattle were “fresh” but handled quite well and the miles slipped by.
The camp crew met us towards noon, the paying guests stepped down and
stretched their legs while the drovers held the herd, and lunch was
served. Some minor adjustments to stirrup lengths on guest saddles were
needed but nothing major.
arrived at the Campbell Corral Camp in the afternoon, cattle were corralled,
and horses were unsaddled, watered, and fed. The portable bar was opened
and some of the folks took care of the “trail dust” in their throats.
evening, after a great supper, Joe Guild, former President of the Nevada
Cattlemen’s Association gave a inspiring talk to the group assembled
by the open campfire about the history and tradition of the Great Basin
ranching industry and how the guests could be great emissaries for the
ranching industry upon returning to their respective home states. Afterward,
drovers introduced the guests to handling lariat ropes.
Day Three- Marshall
Corrals, Warm Springs Camp
day dawned and the weather held. You could smell the bacon cooking in
the early morning air and hear the cattle bawling. Beds were rolled
and breakfast was eaten. Horses were saddled and we headed out with
the cattle. This was to be the long day on the drive, so we got an early
start. We needed to cover a good 20 miles, so the drovers encouraged
the guests to keep the cattle moving. We stopped for a short lunch break
and then headed out again. Along toward evening we could see the camp
were penned and horses taken cared for. Some folks were a little
saddle sore but, for the most part, the guests held up well.
were several very educational displays of how to read brands, horse
shoeing, types of buckaroo gear, etc, for the guests and roping practice
a fine meal, that evening in camp
Gasper-Crawford was officially appointed
new Trail Boss for 2006. The guests also elected an honorary
trail boss from among themselves. For the last two days of the
drive, the guests would be in charge of trailing the cattle. Kim
Mandekich from Chicago, who hadn’t been on a horse for 20 years
going on this cattle drive, was named Honorary Trail Boss. She
said about her experience on the cattle drive, “I have never done a
cattle drive before. In my life, I deal with computers and people, not
cows and horses. Imagine what that did for my ego. I am
not sure what I will do next year, it will be hard to top this cattle
Basin buckaroo favorite Dave Stamey provided musical entertainment around
the camp fire.
Day Four- Lemmon
weather was still great. We rolled up our beds, took down the
tepees and tents, and had a big breakfast and lots of strong coffee.
The drovers let the cattle out of the corral and the guests took over.
They were on their own trailing cattle. We were going to find out what
they had learned about cattle handling in the last couple of days. Everyone
did just fine and the cattle strung out across the valley and headed
up Hungry Canyon where we stopped for lunch.
spindle broke on one of the wheels on a wagon in the wagon train and
the personal gear that wagon held was placed on the other wagons.
Help was sent to repair the broken spindle.
arrived in the Lemmon Valley
camp in the late afternoon. We had moved up in elevation out of the
sagebrush and onto a juniper-covered hillside. That evening there was
a roping competion to see who had mastered the art of handling a lariat
rope the best. There was also a talent-night skit put on by the twin-sister
Wagon Bosses Julie Jepsen and Janet Moore.
Day 5- Into Reno
the night the wind came up as a storm moved in, the temperature began
to drop. Morning came and the cattle were restless. We moved out after
breakfast trailing the cattle. This was the last day of the drive and
the destination was the Reno Livestock Event Center and Rodeo Grounds.
Wayne Lund, 2005 President of the Reno Rodeo Association Committee,
arrived in camp with his saddle horse to assist in getting the cattle
down through the streets of Reno.
well could be the toughest part of the drive when the cattle leave the
open country and start down the paved streets of Reno.” advised Cow
“Stepping on a manhole cover is enough to spook the cattle or your horse.”
despite the obstacles such as manhole covers, cars, road construction,
spectators lining the streets taking pictures, and a few rattlesnakes
along the way, this drive, like the 14 before, ended up where it was
headed. It had come 100 miles from the Sand Corrals on the California/Nevada
line to the Livestock Event
Center corrals, in downtown Reno. What a journey!
Alive and Well in Reno:
visited with several of the paying guests as we were waiting for the
motel shuttle near the corrals.
and Angela Cole from Danube, Minnesota were unique in that they
were on their
Angela said, “We had a choice of the Bahamas or the Cattle Drive and
we chose the Cattle Drive. I am a horse person. My husband
is not, but he was nice enough to take me on the Cattle Drive.
We had a wonderful time.”
Erb from Ohio said this was her first year on the cattle drive and she
summed up her experience in one word, “Superb!” She did not grow
up around horses. One of her co-workers had come on the drive
last year and advised her to sign up. The thing she liked best
about the drive was the “cowboy atmosphere.” She also commented,
“The food was beyond my expectations. I would definitely come
Ihle, who is from a city environment and works in an office each day,
said, “It was scary, but I will do it again. This is the real deal.”
This was Matt’s third year on the drive. Matt went on to say, “Everyone
thinks it’s a City-Slicker adventure, but it is not. We were up
before sunrise each morning and on our horses and gone with the cattle
by 7:30am. We were horseback most of the day, trailing cattle.”
Ihle and his fellow guests did a lot of work driving the cattle while
the regular drovers supervised. Ihle summed up his trip by saying,
“On this drive you learn a lot about horses, the whole western experience,
and how the Old West used to be. Very educational!”
was the first drive for Pamela Rowe from California. Pamela said, “I
sit at a computer every day. I did this for a challenge. We have been
up since 5:30 am, it was hot, cold, dusty, and I am full of dirt. It
was excellent fun, however I am looking forward to a warm shower.”
Cattle Drive Banquet:
evening after every one had washed off the “trail dust” a banquet was
held for all the paying guests and Cattle Drive personnel. Awards were
handed out and the new Trail Boss for 2006, Marie Gaspari–Crawford,
said about the drive, “This was one of the best years ever. All of you
guests were fantastic, and you quickly picked up the art of being a
buckaroo, handling your horse, and being a cattle drover.” Marie went
on to point out the paying guests were ahead of schedule every day and
drove the cattle without incident or injury. 2005 was a great year for
the Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive.
closed by saying, “We hope to see all of you horseback next year for
the 2006 Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive.”
2006 Reno Rodeo Cattle Drive will be held June 11-15, 2006.
cost is $1,600.00 per person, which includes your horse rental, ground
transportation in Reno, all meals and bar, some cool goodies and an
amazing Western vacation experience.
For more information,
contact Reno Rodeo at 800-842-7633, ext. 101 or
www.renorodeo.com and click on “Cattle Drive”
Reno Rodeo 2005
a personal interview with Alan Kingsley, Excusive Director, Reno
Rodeo Association, said about the 2005 Reno Rodeo, “This is the 86th
year for this rodeo. We are called ‘The Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the
West.’ This rodeo is ranked number two for the richest payout
to professional rodeo cowboys and cowgirls in North American outdoor
rodeos. The tradition of the early rodeos were outdoors and we take
great pride that this rodeo is still an outdoor event. This year (2005)
the rodeo has nine evening performances and we have added two new events,
Extreme Bull Riding and the Pace Picante Shoot-Out. The current top
twelve in each sanctioned PRCA event will be here to compete in the
Shoot-Out. This will be like going to a mini–National Finals Rodeo with
the caliber of stock and cowboys competing. These added events will
have national exposure with TV coverage by OLN, ESPN, and ESPN2 and
CBS. We are flattered that the PRCA asked us to host these events.
two richest one-day team ropings in
will be also be held here during rodeo week. Perry Di Loreto hosts an
amateur team roping and Bob Fiest hosts an Invitational Pro-team roping.
1986, the Reno Rodeo Foundation has been committed to enhancing and
enriching lives of Northern Nevada families by donations to children
with extraordinary needs, building community partnership, and providing
scholarships to the University of
Reno. Funding for these various
projects comes from contributions from the annual all-volunteer Reno
Rodeo, Reno Rodeo invitational team roping events, sales of the Nevada
‘Rodeo State’ license plates, ‘Rhythm and Rawhide,’ a fund-raising event
produced in conjunction with the Reno Philharmonic Association, and
grants and donations from foundations, organizations, individuals, and
corporations. There is an estimated 33.2 million dollar impact on the
total Reno/Sparks community during Reno Rodeo Week.”
David, 2006 Reno Rodeo Association Committee President, says, “This
is the 20th anniversary of the Reno Rodeo Foundation.
This will be PRCA Hall of Fame rodeo announcer Bob Tallman’s 30th
year announcing the rodeo. Bob says, ‘To the contestants who enter this
rodeo, if you win, it will change your life economically.’ Stock
contractor Cotton Rosser of the Flying U Rodeo Company, has been involved
in the Reno Rodeo for over 50 years, both as a contestant and a stock
contractor. Every year there are some event changes and it is going
to be a great rodeo in 2006. We look forward to seeing all of
you in Reno at the ‘Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West.”
would have to say that Reno, Nevada, and the Reno Rodeo Association
and Foundation have captured the Professional Rodeo market in a big
For information concerning
Reno Rodeo 2006 contact:
Steve Schroeder, Synergy Communications
Alan Kingsley, Executive Director, Reno Rodeo Association
775-329-3877 ext. 104
Photos by Lee Raine