Stranded trail riders are upset

February 27, 2009 4:19:29 PM PST
The Prairie View trail riders have had a long and emotionally exhausting trip. During their 102-mile trail ride from Sunnyside to Houston, a pregnant woman died when she was overcome with carbon monoxide fumes.[SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

After a disagreement about whether to continue the trail ride, dozens of riders said they felt stranded.

As hundreds of trail riders converged on Memorial Park, there was one group clearly missing. Miles from the park, Prairie View trail riders were stranded in Acres Home. The remainder of their ride was canceled.

The problem stems back to last year when issues on the trail led to the group being put on probation. An internal finding and an ousted trail boss didn't help to make things better. The final straw reportedly came this past week when a member died on the trail from carbon monoxide poisoning.

"It affected the entire trail, really," said Nannie Francis, the current trail boss.

Francis said she has reappointed that position by the rodeo after the accident. She claimed the rodeo trail riders committee told her that one more infraction could mean the group would be banned for life. Fearing the worst, she canceled the trail ride late Thursday night.

"You have to make that decision. It was a big decision. I didn't sleep," said Francis.

Rodeo officials deny giving Francis an ultimatum. They said it was the group's decision.

Some members, however, are challenging the move, demanding a new trail boss, and the ride to continue. The rodeo committee ruled that a change in leadership has disqualified the group this year.

"Once a trail boss calls the trail ride off, they are no longer a sanctioned trail ride. Only sanctioned trail rides are allowed into Memorial Park and in the trail ride parade," said Rudy Cano of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

The trail boss said she will hold a meeting with her members with the hope of resolving the issue so they don't have any problems next year.

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