HOLBROOK — This month marks the 63rd ride of the Sheriff’s Posse — Hashknife Pony Express. The 200-mile route typically takes place every February but was moved to April this year due to the pandemic.
The historical ride began in the late 1950s. Today, the riders travel along the highway shoulders from Holbrook to Scottsdale.
To set the stage, so to speak, a Hashknife Pony Express parade is scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m. in Holbrook.
The riders travel from 9th Avenue in Holbrook to Hopi Street and then to Navajo Boulevard. They end up at the Old County Courthouse for the swearing in ceremony at 12 p.m. or “high noon.”
The riders will be sworn in by the post office as Official Mail Carriers of the US Postal Service.
The actual ride doesn’t begin until 8 a.m. the next morning.
There are approximately 30 local riders that participate, working as a coordinated team as they carry and hand off the mail from section to section.
There are also about 30 support crew members who organize, coordinate and assist with every aspect of the ride, according to Ride Captain Mark Reynolds.
“We could not do this year after year without their amazing talents,” said Reynolds. “Navajo County Sheriff’s Office provides security, medical assistance and dispatching for emergencies. We also have a specialized mail crew, a cooking crew and multiple vehicles that drive in front of, and behind the riders, for added safety. We have people to open and close gates as the riders enter and exit.”
In addition, there are two farriers that ride in the Hashknife posse. If a horse throws a shoe, they can fix it on site.
“The posse also has a truck and horse trailer that follow along to transport any horse that sustains an injury — no matter how minor,” said Reynolds. “Several riders bring two or three horses so they can switch out as needed.”
They trot and gallop over the route as safety dictates, covering each mile in 7 to 10 minutes. Each rider goes a mile and then hands off to the next rider. This methods makes the ride go faster and stress and overexertion said Reynolds.
“Our horses are conditioned for the ride and we make sure everyone stays fresh and alert,” said Reynolds.
2021 Rider schedule
Apr. 14, 8:00 a.m. — Hashknife Pony Express riders leave the Holbrook Post Office with the mail.
Apr. 14, 11:30 a.m. — Riders arrive at Heber-Overgaard Post Office.
Apr. 14 -Lunch in Heber — Riders Only.
Apr. 14, 1:30 — 2:30 p.m. — Mail pick up at Creekside Cafe, Christopher Creek & Pine, Az.
Apr. 14, 4:45 p.m. — Riders arrive at Payson Post Office.
Apr. 15, 9 a.m. — The ride resumes with riders and mail leaving the Payson Post Office.
Apr. 15, 3 p.m. — Riders arrive at Fountain Hills Post Office.
Apr. 16, 11 a.m. — Program begins at Scottsdale Stadium, Home of the San Francisco Giants, 7408 East Osborn Road, Scottsdale, Az.
Apr. 16, 12 p.m. — The Hashknife Pony Express Riders and the mail arrives at the Scottsdale Stadium!
The Hashknife Pony Express Captain Mike Reynolds and the riders welcome the public and thank everyone for their continued support.
If you attend the swearing in or any of the mail stops, please practice social distancing and wear a mask or face-covering if social distancing is not possible.
Special Hashknife mailers are available at The Pet Food Warehouse at Shanty Town, 2001 East Deuce of Clubs in Show Low.
For more information, visit the website: hashknifeponyexpress.com or call Hashknife Captain Mark Reynolds at 928-587-5742.