Trail ride brings Christmas to Sebastian

Trail ride brings Christmas to Sebastian

SEBASTIAN — The horses move with that vitality that only a cool morning with flawless sunshine can create.

The riders have with their horse have gathered at the San Ignacio Ranch to create a fresh memory from a long tradition to bring toys to kids in the town of Sebastian.

It’s the 26th annual Sebastian Christmas ride/parade and the party trailers are filled with bicycles, dolls, bags of candy and other emblems of Christmas joy for the community. Numerous organizations and individuals donated all manner of gifts in great numbers to serve more than 100 children.

“It has been a good year,” says George Tovar, president of The Cowboys Horseman Association as he clenches the bridle of the horse he will ride to Sebastian. The Cowboys Horseman Association organizes the event each year.

“It’s going great,” he adds. “We are all ready to give back to the people of Sebastian and from all over.”

He speaks as other riders move about with their mounts in the grassy field of San Ignacia bordering the frontage road of South U.S. Highway 77. In past years the horses and their riders and the horse trailers met in the parking lot of the Valero in Combes on North Hwy. 77.

Sandra Tovar, who owns San Ignacio along with her husband Juan, says some sort of quarantine involving horses in Cameron County had required them to begin farther north of the usual gathering place. The Valley Morning Star at news time could not verify the existence of a quarantine.

The riders will ride south on South Hwy. 77 to an overpass and they will ride under the overpass to ride north to Lyford to a small store and then head back to Sebastian to deliver toys and take part in a Christmas parade.

Juan Tovar, founder of the trail ride and the Association speaks with the warmth of the present joy and the adulation of the sweet memories of successful beginnings. In the beginning of this annual event the riders would leave from St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Sebastian. From that time it has changed and transformed in many ways and reaffirmed the generosity of people and communities far and near.

“My dad said you plant a seed and it will grow,” Juan Tovar says as he prepares for the ride.

Both he and his wife Sandra give a special nod to the generosity of Matt and Julie Dorman on the next property from San Ignacio.

“They are very nice people,” Juan Tovar says.

He agrees that beginning the trail ride at the San Ignacios makes things much easier.

“We don’t have to haul the horses and trailers,” he says.

Beginning a trail ride on the grassy field of a ranch does seem to be more fitting than starting in the parking lot of a convenience store.

But, that’s not the first purpose of the trail ride as many people revealed.

“It’s really not about where we start,” says Sebastian Tovar, 26, the son of Juan and Sandra Tovar, who was named after the town in which he was raised.

“It’s about what we are doing, giving back to the community of Sebastian to the kids and their families,” he said.

Others agree. Trinity Hill, 18, sits atop her horse in a bright red shirt glistening in the sunshine and she is all smiles about participating in the trail ride. She has done this her entire life, she says proudly.

“I absolutely love it,” she says. “I look forward to this trail ride every year. I love being able to be out here with my friends and my family and helping out the kids in Sebastian.”

She doesn’t mind where the ride starts, she says. She’s glad she can ride again with the association.

Same with Bea Martinez, 55.

“I think it’s a really good day this year,” she says. “Last year it was rainy and cold.”

Her horse Charro moves restlessly, eager to start on whatever journey Martinez has planned for him. On a cool and sunny morning patience is not an option for horses or people.

“It doesn’t matter to me where we start,” she says.

The horses and their rides and the trucks and the party trailers and Santa Claus now move down the road of San Ignacio Ranch to the frontage road. The drivers in the approaching vehicles seem to know exactly who they are and their mission. They stop and idle their engines as the riders hang a right and begin their ride to bring Christmas to the children of Sebastian.

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