WATCH: Trail riders make their way to Houston ahead of the Rodeo as part of decades-old tradition

HOUSTON – It’s finally Rodeo season and trail riders are making their way to Houston to participate in the annual parade for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

The trail rides mark the beginning of the Houston Rodeo season, but why are the trail rides such a big part of the festivities?

How did the trail rides start?

The trail rides started in 1952 when four men rode from Brenham, Texas to raise awareness for the Rodeo, according to the Rodeo website.

Why are they important?

Texas history is no stranger to trails and cowboys whose limited methods of transportation included riding in wagons hitched to oxen or traveling by horseback. According to the website, the trail rides are a way for modern cowboys to recreate the days of the Old West and ride on the highways that took the place of many of those former trails.

How many people participate in the trail rides?

In 1953, the trail ride went from four men to 80 people, and the next year, there were about 800 people signed up for the Salt Grass Trail Ride, according to the Rodeo. Now, more than 3,000 riders from all walks of life participate in the trail rides.

How many trail rides are there?

There are 12 trail rides and they cover over 1,300 miles. The longest distance traveled is by the Mission Trail Ride, which begins in San Antonio. They travel about 240 miles. The Valley Lodge Trail ride begins in Brookshire and travels a short 72 miles, according to the Rodeo.

What about the animals?

According to the Rodeo, many of the horses on the ride are rescued animals. Trail Bosses are in charge of making sure those animals, as well as all the other participants and equipment, are safe. They are also in charge of keeping the visiting public safe.

How can you see the trail riders?

They will be participating in the Downtown Rodeo Parade on Saturday, but people can also see the trail rides at other locations around town. Visit RodeoHouston.com for a look at maps and schedules for the trail rides.

Watch: The Southwestern Trail Ride travels through Houston

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