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For more than 50 years — over 2 days in early May — Colorado’s Sombrero Ranch has moved hundreds of horses that winter on Bureau of Land Management ground. From the grazing ground near Colorado’s Brown’s Park, the horses are driven 62 miles to the ranch west of Craig, Colo.
This year’s Great American Horse Drive included 600 horses that are leased out for the summer and fall. Some 1,800 horses are leased out each year in seven western states. They are leased to dude ranches, scout camps, church camps, by religious groups, pack trains, at livery stables, by folks that just want a horse for the summer and at seven stables the Rex Walker family operates in several national parks and other locations.
Following the summer rentals, these horses are returned to one of the family’s ranches in mid-September. Many of these horses are then rented out a second time during the same year to elk and deer hunting camps from October through December.
Leasing a horse from May 10 to Sept. 17 averages around $900.
This spring’s horse drive started at gathering pens located 30 miles northwest of Maybell, Colo., where 600 horses were gathered from 60,000 acres of winter pasture. The horses were driven 62 miles along backroads and U.S. 40 to the ranch, located 10 miles west of Craig. Some 32 miles of the journey took place on asphalt roads.
A native of Texas, Walker started the business with brother-in-law…