It's time to rodeo, Houston: Trail riders embark on 16-mile ride to Memorial Park

HOUSTON – Hay, horses and covered wagons are on their way to Memorial Park, which can only mean one thing: the rodeo is just around the corner.

The Salt Grass Trail Ride is the oldest trail ride and it has plenty of characters, including 87-year-old John Heineike. This is his 36th time hitting the trail and he has no plans to stop.

Heineike said he does it year after year to "get away from the wife at home, come out here and have fun."

It’s an event for all ages and the bond between trailer riders that will last for a lifetime.

“We only see each other once a year, and it’s like we hadn’t hardly left," Heineike said. "Everybody is like, 'What have you been doing? What have you been doing?' just like we never left each other.

The trail ride started in 1952 with just a few cowboys making their way to Houston to promote the livestock show.

“Within a few years, it was just hundreds and hundreds of people doing it,” said Heineike.

Heineike has driven wagon No.10 for over three decades. He said because of the weather, this has been the roughest ride he’s ever had.

“If you had false teeth it would have shook them out of your head,” said Heineike. 

It’s a Texas tradition that will live on. Children, parents and grandparents hit the trail together and while dirt roads may be gone, the wooden wheels will keep on spinning.

Friday’s journey to Memorial Park is about 16 miles, which will take about six to eight hours. The trail riders will also be participating in the Downtown Rodeo Parade Saturday.

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