Horseback Riding Off The Grid

by Carolyn Handler Miller

Because of a silver-colored horse named Concho and a notorious outlaw named Billy the Kid, my tether to the digital world got snapped. And, as it turned out, I was grateful. I’ll explain.

It all started about a year ago, when I heard about an intriguing trail riding vacation called the Tunstall Ride. It had a Billy the Kid theme and was based in southern New Mexico, major Kid territory. According to Beth MacQuigg, the ride manager, there would be three days of trail riding and we’d be traveling over some of the same rangeland that the Kid would have ridden over.

Riders would be housed in guest rooms on a private ranch adjacent to the property where the Kid once worked as a ranch hand. Known as the Tunstall Ranch, it was owned by his boss, Englishman John Henry Tunstall. Billy was riding with him one day when Tunstall was gunned down, was the first person to be murdered during the infamous Lincoln County War. 

That bloody conflict aside, the land we’d be riding over was reputed to be some of the Kid’s favorite country. Beth told me that most people would be bringing their own horses, but for those of us who were horseless, like me, rental horses could be provided. As someone who loves horses, trail riding, and Western lore, the Tunstall Ride sounded immensely appealing, and I signed up. I signed my husband up, too. Though Terry doesn’t ride, he could hang out at the ranch and join us for meals and explore the historic sites with us that we’d be visiting without the horses.

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