Horse trail ride benefits youth

Scholarship is awarded at Routt County Fair

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— Quarter horses represent not only a Western tradition, but also a way of life for Jo Semotan.

Semotan, who grew up cattle ranching with her parents, started the Quentin Semotan Memorial 4-H Benefit Range Ride three years ago to help fund a 4-H scholarship that encourages area youth to continue Routt County's rich tradition of quarter horse breeding.

The benefit ride, now in its third year, sets off Saturday on a trail Semotan's quite familiar with.

The ride follows the path Semotan and her parents used annually for cattle drives.

"The whole Western world of cattle ranching started to use quarter horses," Semotan said. "They've been a part of the West because of their use to ranchers and cowboys. They were pretty much my life."

Quarter horses, distinctive by their short, broad heads and large, round jaws, became associated with Routt County in the 1930s and 1940s because of the work of local breeders.

Today, Semotan hopes that tradition will live on through area youngsters.

She started the benefit ride -- named after her father -- to raise money for an annual scholarship awarded at the Routt County Fair.

The $225 scholarship helps provide funds to cover the costs of stud fees, among other things.

"(The scholarship) is just to prolong and continue the quarter horse breed," Semotan said.

She said she hopes the scholarship encourages children and young adults to continue breeding and raising quarter horses.

"I was brought up on horse history. A lot of the good quarter horses I know are long gone, but their lines are still continuing. I'd like to continue to see that."

Semotan started the ride three years ago when money for the scholarship dried up.

The day-long ride begins at 9 a.m. Saturday past Clark on Routt County Road 62A. Tickets are $40 for kids and $60 for adults.

The range ride isn't for beginners, Semotan said.

"It's definitely a challenge," she said. "It's all day. Horses and riders should be in good shape."

A lunch will be provided during a stop at Lilly Lakes.

People who love to ride but too often find themselves stuck in an office or some other type of work should rediscover their passion for riding and join the group Saturday, Semotan said.

Horses can be rented from Steamboat Lake Outfitters by calling 879-4404. Tickets for the ride must be purchased at Elk River Farm and Feed or the Routt County Extension Office.

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