CENTREVILLE, Mich. — In the early days of mail delivery, it took several months, many miles, and numerous handoffs from one Pony Express rider to another. Today’s information is delivered within seconds of being sent and people have more opportunities to communicate than ever before.
One group has reintroduced the idea of the Pony Express for one day a year as a way to raise money for needy families with children suffering from medical issues and requiring high-priced care.
The Michigan Sheriff’s Mounted Assoc. celebrates those officers who are willing to work on horseback to get the job done for their departments. Unfortunately, their numbers are decreasing every year – when the group was first started in the 1960s, there were approximately 2,000 members from counties throughout the state.
There are currently fewer than 10 counties that have mounted divisions on their rosters. That said, these men and women are passionate about their animals and about participating in the annual Pony Express ride.
Every June, they meet in the host county, which will put on a weekend full of activities, meals together, and, of course, the traditional Pony Express ride that Saturday morning. For 2019, the St. Joseph County Mounted Division was responsible for organizing and putting on the event.
The main feature was the countywide passing off of mailbags. Some of the larger units, such as St. Joseph County’s, were given longer routes of up to 12 miles, while some of the smaller groups helped by riding a couple miles.
After the mail was delivered to the local post office, participants made plans to compete in the evening speed show with traditional contests like barrels and speed and action. A unique offering for the show was the Mail Run, in which a team of four riders from one county recreate the morning run as quickly as possible within a show arena.
The 2020 fundraiser is being planned, with the host county to be publicly announced at a future date. Learn more about it at https://msma.us