Tag Archives: Shadow Horse Gang

Shadow Horse – Man, Myth, Legend

15 Jun

Long time visitors to this blog have read about the Shadow Horse Gang, a pack of desperadoes that roamed northern New Mexico. The gang was legendary but has dwindled in recent years. Trader Dave tired of the trail and disappeared into the hills of Tennessee. Doc Pete settled down in Santa Fe but can still be enticed into the occasional adventure.

However, Shadow Horse, the legendary leader of the gang, has not given up his life of outlawry. He is rarely seen, but, last month, there were several sightings of Shadow Horse. It made people wonder.

Were there patterns in his movements?

Is he building a new gang?

Only time will tell.

One of the first sightings of Shadow Horse was at the end of the Tent Rocks Trail. After making his way through the slot canyon, he performed the Medicine Wheel ceremony. Using the knowledge of his Indian heritage, Shadow Horse called upon the spirits to protect those who were traveling with him.image-20

Next, he was spotted in the vast reaches of Chaco Canyon, home of the Ancient Ones and the perfect hideout for a gang of outlaws.image-21

It was in Chaco Canyon that Shadow Horse was seen conversing with others who had made their way to that distant locale. Was he trying to recruit them?image-15

Shadow Horse is afraid of no man, but, at Acoma, he ran into conditions that were almost unbearable. It was raining, and high school kids were everywhere. As I wrote, Shadow Horse is afraid of no man, but rain and kids make him extremely uncomfortable.image-16

For years, Frijoles Canyon has been a place of refuge for the Shadow Horse Gang. Old habits die hard. Almost as hard as old outlaws. Visitors saw someone who looked like Shadow Horse in one of his favorites haunts. They did not want to get close, but they swear that it was him.image-17

Shadow Horse may have thought they were too close. It was not long before he fled the canyon and made his way to Tsankawi, a side trail that only he and a few others would know about.image-18

The last appearance of Shadow Horse was at Pecos. He made his way through the Pueblo ruins along the old Santa Fe Trail.image-19

Shadow Horse was not seen again. Some say he left northern New Mexico under the darkness of early morning. Others say he remains in the area and is trying to rebuild his gang. The certainty is that he will make an appearance next spring. Doc Pete might be riding by his side. The Kid might be leading the way.

All I know is that the good people of northern New Mexico need to stay on the lookout for the return of Shadow Horse and the reemergence of the Shadow Horse Gang.

The Faded Dreams of Kit Carson and Cactus Slim

23 Oct

My wife and I just returned from a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and it was fun to experience with her the things I usually experience with students. It was also fun to visit Santa Fe in a more relaxing way. We hit a bunch of the cool spots that I have written about before.

Acoma Pueblo

Tent Rocks

The Santa Fe Plaza

We also ate at some fantastic restaurants.

Maria’s

Horseman’s Haven

Santa Fe Bite

Along the way, we found time to go to an awesome movie theater, and my wife spent some time in the spa at our hotel, the Inn at Loretto. We also visited a former member of the Shadow Horse Gang.

Oh yeah, we also bought a piece of Native American art that dates back a couple of thousand years.

It was a great trip, and I am glad that my wife and I spent some time in one of my favorite places. Two people driving around in a regular vehicle allowed us to do some things that are not possible with a bunch of students in a 15 passenger van, and a couple of those things led me to some deep thinking.

On Saturday, we made our way to Madrid, an abandoned mining town that became home to some people who wanted to get away from the bonds of society. I have been there many times, but this time was different in one respect. We got to sit and have a beer. While drinking that beer, we listened to a band called Cactus Slim and the Goat Heads.image-3

As we listened, I realized that the band was made up of locals who had, as I wrote earlier, made their way to Madrid to find freedom from the stresses of our world. One table was filled with other locals who had done the same thing.

The table in front of us was filled with people who looked for freedom in another way. There were two couples who had ridden their motorcycles to town. Madrid has become a destination for those weekend riders who want to spend Saturdays and Sundays on the roads with the wind in their hair. After all, helmets are not required in New Mexico.

Listening to the music and watching the people made me think about the larger city down the road. Santa Fe has also become a place where people want to be free to pursue their dreams without society getting in the way. Artists come from all around to be inspired by the environment and make a living off of that inspiration.

On Monday, we went to Taos and explored the town. The stop that I had to make was at Kit Carson’s home. He is one of the great characters of the American West, and I wanted to walk in his footsteps. Before going into the house, we watched a movie about him, and one scene struck me to the core.

The narrator said that Carson went into the West to escape American civilization and society. However, the trails he blazed would be used by others to bring that civilization and society into the West. In essence, he could not escape the bounds of his world because he brought them with him.

That made me think of Cactus Slim and the citizens of Madrid. Like Carson, they moved there to be free of society and the stresses that go with it, but that same society followed them there. My wife and I brought it with us. The man in the blazer who my wife thought was Robert Redford’s brother brought it with him. The bikers at the next table brought it with them.

Madrid is no longer an escape from the outside world. It is an attraction to the outside world.

The same can be said of Santa Fe. It was a place for artists to live a life unnumbered. Now, it is a place of art galleries filled with expensive pieces. It is a place of nice hotels with spas and fancy restaurants. It is a place for people like us to walk around the streets and find our own sense of temporary freedom.

The dreams of Kit Carson and Cactus Slim were to escape the world. Those dreams were shattered by the fact that it is an impossible feat. No matter where they go the rest of us are going to follow.

There is one other sad part of those broken dreams. The people who went into the corners of the West to left one society and ran into another. Madrid, Taos and Santa Fe sit on land that was once the domain of Native Americans. Now, those Native Americans are on reservations and come to those towns to sell their wares.

The dreamers looked for freedom by taking that freedom from the people who were already there. Then, the freedom they thought they had achieved turned out to be temporary.

Kit Carson and Cactus Slim come from different times, but their dreams turned out the same.

 

 

The Legend of the Shadow Horse Gang

14 May

For the past several years, I have joined a team of professors on a field trip course to New Mexico. Heck, I have been going for so long that I do not even know how many times I have been. This year, I have other duties at work that are preventing me from going, and it feels weird. It is as if going to New Mexico every May has been programmed into my DNA.

Tonight feels especially strange because they are leaving in the morning. I should be finishing up with packing around this time, but I am typing a blog post instead. Well, I will not have to get up at 5:00 in the morning. That is one positive thing. Another positive thing is that I will not be away from my family for 12 days.

However, I will still miss the experience of the trip. Four professors and a group of students build a community of experiential learning that cannot be matched in the classroom. I have said many times that there is nothing like teaching history at the place where history happened. Hopefully, there is nothing like learning history in the same way.

The group will head out in the morning filled with anticipation. Some people will not know each other, but they will by the time they reach Sallisaw, Oklahoma for the first night of rest. The students think that the first days of riding are just a way to get to New Mexico. However, they are wrong. The learning and the experience begin as soon as they leave campus.

Over the next couple of weeks, the group will do all kinds of cool stuff, but it all adds up to one thing – an experience that they would not have if not for Dr. Heifner, the man who puts it all together. It is also an experience that can never be repeated. We have had students go more than once, but each trip is its own entity.

After last year’s trip, I wrote about the Shadow Horse Gang, the name I gave to the group of teachers that go on this trip.BB-New Mexico 105

The ride of the Shadow Horse Gang is changing. A couple of them have retired. One feels like his time is coming to a close. I am sitting this ride out.

Dr. Heifner would like for me to take over the trip, and that is something that I would like. However, I will need to recruit new members to the gang. Our dean is taking my place on this run. Maybe he will like it enough to join. We have other teachers who would be great additions.

The trip is legendary around our campus, and I hope the Shadow Horse Gang is just as legendary. I have no idea what the future of the gang will be, but the legend will continue.