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Hillbillie Willie and the Magic Bubble at City of Rocks 2023

June 9 2023
by Merri Melde

Best! Ride! Ever! (Again!) on Hillbillie Willie the Standardbred!

I spent two hours in the middle of the night before Day 1’s 25-miler at City of Rocks*, when I should have been sleeping, worrying about the start. We’d be starting on a single track for a hundred yards - not ideal with a crowded field of 20 or 30 horses. Was Willie going to be a firecracker or would he be calm? I want calm starts. Would other riders be running up his butt? I don’t like that and it’s not safe. Would he be trying to run up the butt of the horse in front of him? I don’t allow him to do that because it’s not safe, but sometimes it takes a lot of conversation and effort with Willie to give the horse in front of him space, and sometimes miles for him to calm down.

And what about that gnarly awkward 4-strand barbed wire gate right by a nasty cattle guard, which was just another hundred yards up the single track trail? I could see all kinds of pileups and accidents there if nobody was manning the gate. (Every other year at City of Rocks, we could leave that gate open. This year, some renegade cows on the wrong side of the fence deemed the gate had to stay shut.)

And, Willie’s bestest bud DWA Barack would also be doing the 25-mile ride*, and Willie can get a little squirrely when he knows Barack is on the trail and not right with him. And so I worried, while my prime sleeping hours ticked away.

Really. I just wanted a good safe fun ride. That’s it.

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