MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.-Horseback riders with the De Anza Trail Caballeros depart from Rancho Las Flores to begin their six-day trail ride, April 14. The 74th Annual De Anza Trail Caballeros Ride allows riders to disconnect from their daily routine and reconnect with the solitude of the outdoors, while experiencing 200 miles of historical trails. USMC photo by Lance Cpl. Derrick K. Irions
Historic trail takes horseback riders through Pendleton hills
by Lance Cpl. Derrick K. Irions, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Horseback riders from across the nation arrived at Rancho Las Flores, April 14, to participate in a six-day trail ride through the hills of Camp Pendleton.
The 74th Annual De Anza Trail Caballeros Ride (DTC) allows riders to disconnect from their daily routine and reconnect with the solitude of the outdoors, while experiencing 200 miles of historical trails.
The De Anza Trail, named after the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista De Anza, covers approximately 1,200 miles of rigid terrain, extending from Nogales, Ariz. through the California desert and along the Pacific coastline.
In 1774 De Anza embarked on a daring and rigorous journey with 300 colonists in hopes to reinforce northern colonization.
Every year, up to 175 members of the DTC travel through different portions of the renowned trail, reenacting the hardships of horseback travel that De Anza and his followers once endured.
"Our mission is not only to commemorate Juan Bautista De Anza, but also to encourage the development and use of the De Anza trail and the other historical trails between Riverside and the Mexican border," according to the official DTC website. "In our opinion, trail riding is a noble and fascinating sport, a way to share companionship, horsemanship, love of nature and love of history with friends old and new."
After two years of prerequisite riding through the explicit trails, the dedicated riders earn the title of "Gentlemen on Horseback."
"All newcomers have to be sponsored by a full-time member," said retired Master Sgt. Lynn D. Mattocks, a 26 year DTC member. "A full-time member is someone that has already gone on two trail rides and has already been voted in by the board of directors."
Upon completion of the riders six-day expedition, the DTC members reunite with their wives at Etchandy Farm where they enjoy a specially catered dinner and dance, marking the end of their journey.
"Fifty-eight years ago I went on my first ride from Calexico to Riverside and that's about 200 miles. As soon as we rode into town, I was so tired that I got off my horse and told my wife that I would never do that again," said Louis Tavaglione, the DTC organization president. "As the year went on, I realized how much fun I truly had; I haven't missed the chance to ride the De Anza trail since."