VERNON,TX(RNN Texoma) - While the city of Vernon is preparing to kick off its 73rd Annual Santa Rosa Roundup, so is the Santa Rosa Palomino Club.
Monday night was one of the member's last practice before the parade and rodeo.
"We are trying to do something that would be beneficial to our community," said Gene Tyra, president and drill captain of the club.
The group started almost 70 years ago, three years after the first Santa Rosa Roundup.
Those with the rodeo felt like Vernon needed a riding club to promote it.
So, 16 men and their Palomino horses made it happen in 1949. A few years later precision drills were added.
"Square dancing on horseback was popular at the time and they combined the two and developed a precision drill that's been the same specialty act that we've used for years," said Jeff Bearder.
Since the beginning over 200 riders have called themselves club members.
Now there are about 26, including Bearder who has been in the group 35 years.
He said it is a family tradition.
"My dad made his first ride as a member 50 years ago last month, and so I've grown up around here like several of us had," he said.
He calls it a fellowship, a comradery.
"A number of us have raised our kids together and made a lot of family vacations together," said Bearder.
He adds it is a special feeling to be able to do this.
Tyra one of the veterans said he feels the same, and has 51 years with the club under his belt.
In that time he and his horse have tracked some miles.
As a member, he has traveled all over the country, to place like Wyoming, Indiana and even the Rose Bowl a couple of years ago.
However, one show is closest to their hearts.
"There's no place like home, if we can put on four good drills this week it will make for a successful year," said Bearder.
That is why training is important, but they are not just for these cowboys. The horses are also warming up for the big rodeo.
Bearder said they have to make sure the horses are comfortable around the others.
"There have been several bringing in new horses, and so it just takes practice and patients and a little bit of work," said Bearder.
He adds they also have to make sure the horses look their best.
The Santa Rosa Palomino Club also does a lot of work with a number of Texoma charities, and a few years back they were named official ambassadors on horseback for the state of Texas.
People can see the Santa Rosa Palomino Club in action Wednesday during the parade in downtown Vernon at 4 p.m.
There will be about 70 floats to check out as well.
After the parade, there will be a BBQ at the fairgrounds and day one of the rodeo gets rolling for at 7:30 p.m. and continues until Saturday at the Santa Rosa Rodeo Grounds.