Riders hit trail on way to Houston for rodeo parade

Hundreds of trail riders are on the trail tonight making their way to Houston. The final destination is Memorial Park, where Saturday's Rodeo parade will take place.

KPRC reporter Chip Brewster is with the Prairie View Trail Ride. They started the day in Prairie View and tonight they made it to Zube Park in Hockley.

The Prairie View Trail Ride has a rich and important history.

The ride is celebrating its 60th year and the trail boss has good reason to keep its tradition alive.

“I started when I was 2 years old,” said Myrtis Dightman Jr.

For the last six years or so, Myrtis has been the trail boss for the Prairie View Trail Ride and, yes, you read it right, he's been a part of it since he was 2. That's a fact he cherishes.

“Just being a part of history, even with my father -- he done made history. The first black to qualify for the national finals. And now the founder, one of the founders of the Prairie View Trail Riders Association -- how great can that be,” said Myrtis.

Before the ride ever began, Myrtis Dightman Sr. was a well-known rodeo competitor.

“His best friend was James Francis ... My father was a bullfighter at the rodeo back then, and he was fighting bulls at the rodeo, so they got together and said, 'Hey, let’s do, let us do a trail ride,'” said Myrtis.

The ride has been going ever since, thanks in large part to riders such as George Charles.

“People like me stayed on 50-some years, you know, to keep this alive, continuing, going. That’s all we wanted to do,” said George.

George, who is nearly 80 years old, has ridden every year for the last 54 years, and even acted as trail boss at one time. It's fair to say he's seen some changes.

“It changed a lot because, you see all these mobile homes? We didn’t have no mobile homes back then. We had to sleep on the ground,” said George.

“They didn’t have no cellphones and now we have smartphones,” said Myrtis.

“We’d take our old saddles and bags and sleep on them then we’d spread a rope all the way around the camp where we’re sleeping at, that would keep the snakes away,” says George.