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Saddled up for love: Riders deliver valentines
From left, Vannessa Powell, 15, Rachaelle Hill, 18, Heidi Powell and Stanley Bean delivered Valentine's Day cards by horse from Kinnear to Pavillion on Feb. 9. Photo by Eric Blom

Saddled up for love: Riders deliver valentines

Feb 14, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Snow falling Friday did not stay six Fremont County couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, even if it was all just for fun.

The riders were part of the National Pony Express Association and were delivering 17 Valentine's Day cards from Kinnear to the Pavillion post office.

From there, the U.S. Postal Service would deliver them to addresses across the country.

Stanley Bean, brothers Seth Bonham, 16, and Jacob Bonham, 11, and Heidi Powell and her daughters Vannessa Powell, 15, and Rachaelle Hill, 18, rode the eight miles from the fire station in Kinnear, up Kinnear Spur Road and Wyoming Highway 133.

The Valentine's Day ride was a fun warm-up to the NPEA's annual Pony Express trail re-ride.

The original Pony Express carried mail on that route from 1860 to 1861.

Every June, the NPEA runs the original route to deliver mail from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif. A portion of that route runs through Fremont County.

The local chapter is responsible for the section from Jeffrey City to Atlantic City, which they will cover on June 21.

"This is going to be a relaxed ride," Bean said before the ride Feb. 9. "It's a nice time to get together and ride with each other again."R32;Before the group set off, Troy Bonham, father of Seth and Jacob, carefully stamped each envelope twice, marking it as delivered by the Pony Express.

The group carried the letters in a mochila, just like in the summer ride. The mochila is a special leather bag that has four pouches for mail and fits on top of a saddle. During the full re-enactment, the governor of Missouri padlocks the mochila closed and it remains locked until it reaches Sacramento where it is unlocked by the governor of California.

Those carrying the mochila in the summer re-ride must be at least 14, but everyone was welcome on the Kinnear to Pavillion run.

Seth Bonham said he had been carrying the mochila for two years and riding along for fun for another year. On Feb. 9 he came outfitted well for horse work, with chaps, blue jeans, spurs and a cowboy hat.

He said he likes the Pony Express because it is relaxing.

"I get to ride my horse, and the route we do -- it's a little more rustic and challenging you could say (than the Valentine's Day route)," Bonham said.

His brother scoffed and said, "If you call the Pony Express relaxing, I'd like to see what you do for fun."

Locals ride the 50 miles from Jeffrey City to Atlantic City in six hours in the middle of the night.

Jacob Bonham is still too young to take part in the summer ride, but he said he plans to do so when he is older.

Bean is a rancher and the co-captain of the local NPEA chapter.

He has been carrying the mochila for 15 years, but it has been his dream since childhood.

"When I was a kid I always liked the Pony Express," he said. "When I heard of the re-ride I thought that would be exciting to be a part of it."

Roughly 600 couriers cover the 1,966 miles from Missouri through Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada to California with groups riding around the clock for 10 days.

For more information about the national group or to join the NPEA, visit xphomestation.com.

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