Mule train crosses the Rez<br>
“Not only did we teach them to ride, but they are using Calvary saddles,” Ogden pointed out. Though this style of saddle has its following, it is not as padded and comfortable as a western saddle. It lacks a horn and holds a boy in better, though, but it is easy to imagine some saddle weary young men during those first days on the road.
“They like how their time is spent with us,” Ogden said. “A lot are extending themselves [beyond the court-ordered time] because with us, they have a choice.”
To participate in the Vision Quest experience, each boy is interviewed and evaluated as to whether he is fit to make this long journey.
For the kids on this wagon train, Saturday was their last opportunity to be in the saddle, and without enough mules and horses for each boy, a couple walked around the camp obviously upset that for them the ride was over. One boy asked to spend a little time with his favorite mule before another climbed in the saddle.
This morning the boys are polite and playful, but there have been some disputes on the journey.
“We’ve had a couple of fights,” Ogden admits. “But that’s all a part of natural consequences too.”
“What’s really cute is how they think they’re real cowboys once they’ve gotten in the saddle,” said Timothy Woods, another hand on the train.
Each animal is given two days off a week to rest, and several spend the day relaxing in camp before being trucked to meet the rest of the train.
Vision Quest staff members are asked to commit for at least a year, and work seven days on, seven days off. Ogden loves the life, and has committed to two years.
Only a couple of hours after rising, the boys are all in their proper places, heading in to Flagstaff where they will begin an even longer journey home—hopefully better prepared to face what life may bring.