For the second year about a dozen head of Martin Red Angus cattle and about thirty riders made an old fashioned cattle drive from the Diamond M Ranch pasture to the Soldotna Rodeo Grounds. Unlike the cattle drives of the old west from which the image of the American cowboy was etched and took between four to six months on the trail, the Diamond M drive only took about two to three hours and rather than one cowpoke for every hundred or so cattle there were at least three riders for every cow.
"There are a lot of horses on the Central Peninsula and having horses and animals are good for people, calms them down and teaches our youth a good work ethic," said Diamond M owner and head cowboy Carrol Martin. "Now Mark Hall for instance has had horses for years and is now retired from HEA our sons grew up together but he told me this is the first time he's had his horse this close to a cow," said Martin.
According to Martin the equestrian association and Soldotna Rodeo folks were responsible for all the riders showing up and getting the word out to the State Troopers and Soldotna Police, "I grew up doing this when we had more cattle than we could load on a truck, but last year I got the idea when the mud was so bad we couldn't get a truck in so we thought it would be easier to just drive them and it's turned into a real experience for the riders and their families and we've never had any problems. These cattle are descendants of the ones I originally brought up here on a barge over fifty years ago and have been in our family now five generations. The bull is a pure bred Red Angus out of Alberta, he's a coming four year old and weighs a little over a ton, so that's going to be a lot of hamburger. They're mainly a beef cattle and being used at the rodeo is just an added benefit," Martin told the Dispatch in an interview.
Some of the riders took special monikers for the cattle drive like Carrol's grandson "Lucky Luke Martin who rode double behind Bull Dog Hansen who headed the drive that went down Poppy Lane to College Heights Rd. then along the K-Beach Rd. to the rodeo grounds where they are waiting comfortably for the first rodeo to start May 23rd.
For a complete schedule of Rodeo events check out the Soldotna Equestrian Assoc. website and to learn more about the Diamond M Ranch Resort go to www.diamondmranch.com.