Four days on horseback in the Flint Hills

Yoga in the morning. Trail riding during the day. Friendships for life. The Saddle and Sirloin ladies enjoy their annual outing.

Saddle and Sirloin riders go for a trail ride in the Flint Hills. 

Ladies Fall Trail Ride 

By Sue Loudon 

Peggy Wright has been going on the Saddle and Sirloin trail ride for 30 years. At 81 years of age, she is the oldest of 44 women to have made the September 25th to 28th  trip this year to Rock Springs 4-H Ranch, near Junction City, Ks. There they ride their horses through the scenic Flint Hills area of Kansas. 

“We used to haul not only our horses but also camping gear on these rides,” she says. “But after some thunderstorms and a tornado warning, we decided the camp was a better, more comfortable place for us and our horses.” At the camp, horses have a barn with stalls and the riders have rooms with a comfortable bed and dining room. 

Near the Rock Springs 4-H camp.

The women range in ages 40 to  81. All are members of the Saddle and Sirloin Club at 14401 Holmes Rd, where they ride their horses regularly. Some members rent horses to ride, including for this event.

A staff member from the club goes on the trip to care for the horses. This year that staff member had to take a sick horse to the Veterinary School at Kansas State University which was nearby. Fortunately, the horse was fine. 

This Rock Springs 4-H Ranch is 75 years old and is spread over several thousand acres, providing plenty of room to explore.

At the camp, women start their day at 6 am with yoga stretching and a nature walk before a 7:30 am breakfast in the dining hall. The morning ride lasts from 9 to 11 am followed by lunch at noon. An afternoon ride continues from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. If two long rides a day are too much, other activities are offered, such as canoeing, archery or a Prairie Restoration tour led by a US Fish and Wildlife Biologist. One night a bonfire with s’mores was held after dinner. 

Peggy Wright at the age of 81 rides her horse Bueno at a Saddle and Sirloin ceremony.

The male members of Saddle and Sirloin have two organized trail rides a year to different destinations. Some years there have been couples trail rides. 

The Trail Boss, the woman who organizes the event, was Jennifer McGonigle this year. She also chooses the accompaying staff member.

“The horses have to be fed, groomed and checked for burrs ,” said  McGonigle. “Checking their feet for stones is important after a ride and some of the women have trouble doing that, so we have the staff member to help.” She is quick to point out that 81-year-old Wright does all of that herself, even lifting the saddle above her head to get it on her horse.

 “She is an inspiration to all of us to keep riding and enjoying it!” 

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