I just returned from a 3-day ride organized by Tom Seay of Best of America by Horseback. We stayed at a palatial estate that was originally built by Don Imus of morning talk show fame. There were ten guests at this event. Tom and Pat Seay were our hosts. Del Shields provides the music for BOABH TV shows, and he and his wife were in attendance. Additionally, there were 2 other couples and 3 single ladies.
This ranch is absolutely incredible. Originally, Don Imus convinced corporate America to build this facility to provide a 2-week summer respite for children suffering from cancer. This program operated during the summertime only from 1998 to 2014. Citing health reasons, Imus put the ranch on the market in 2014 for 31 million dollars. In 2017, Patrick Gottsch, founder and president of RFD-TV parent Rural Media Group Inc. purchased it for 12.5 million. Gottsch apparently has no plans to open it to the public but instead uses it for events associated with RFD-TV, of which BOABH is one.
All of the guests stayed “in town”. That is to say, in the Old West Town. There was a saloon where three guests resided, including Alan and me. To be sure, I can state with conviction that I have never before slept in a saloon! Besides the saloon, there was a mercantile, sheriff’s office, bunkhouse, dance hall, apothecary, and guns & ammo shop. The mercantile had an old fashioned cash register and weighing scale. The furnishings and items that adorned this blast-from-the-past town were truly amazing. Old telephones, jail keys, antique furniture… even Dale Evan’s taxidermied horse Buttermilk! Apparently, the new owner also owns Roy Roger’s taxidermied dog Bullet and horse Trigger. To be honest, that was a bit much for me.
Although it rained horrendously on one of our days, we did manage to ride 3 different times. The scenery is amazing and we rode over parts of the Santa Fe Trail. Our wrangler, Donny, showed us the large ruts in the dirt created by countless wagon trains passing through. When Don Imus owned the ranch, it boasted a herd of at least 25 nice horses used for the children’s program. However, Imus sold those horses when he offered the ranch for sale. An operation that provides horses for hunters and other short term needs was the source of our trail mounts. They were nose-to-tail trail horses that knew little else. Our hosts trailered their horses over 2000 miles for this event, but Alan and I opted to leave ours at home. Unquestionably, we missed our boys!
On the day it rained, we practiced swinging a rope. All things considered, I think it is very safe to say that no cattle are in danger of being snared by any lariat in my hand. In addition to our roping practice, Donny gave us a horsemanship lesson. I asked him for advice on correcting some of Finn’s less-than-desirable behaviors and he suggested disengaging his feet. He demonstrated both on the ground and in the saddle, and then provided me with an opportunity to do the same with his horse.
The ranch provided utility vehicles for us to use as we needed, or to tool around the ranch if we so desired. Alan took me on one wild ride, over a “road” that was very rocky and hilly! Sometimes we used the UTV to commute between Old Town and the hacienda, where meals were served. However, we soon decided to walk as much as possible. We ate entirely too much rich and amazing food, most of it with a Southwestern flair.
I strongly encourage you to read the links about the ranch and Don Imus. It is pretty interesting information. At our last gathering Saturday night I provided all the guests with complimentary Emergency Tags. Some of the guests don’t actually own a horse! They get their “horse fix” by attending events like this one. Everyone got Rider tags, and those who owned horses received Horse tags as well. We became “a family.” I hope you enjoy a snippet of the wonderful music provided by Del Shields.