I was twelve years old, 72 years ago, when they held the very first Leadville Ski Joring event. Everyone was very excited as we anticipated this forthcoming contest. We were blessed with drifts and drifts of snow that were required for the success of this competition on Harrison Avenue. I was bursting with pride because my older brother Don, who was eighteen years old, would be riding his horse Midnight. The other three riders who formed the nucleus of the horsemen were Albert “Bart” Bertolas riding his horse Singlefoot, Jim “Mugs” Osman and Fritz Hauser. The performances by all were even more exciting than we could have ever anticipated as we watched and cheered the horses, riders and skiers compete for the prizes.

At the conclusion of the races an unusual even took place. Don, Bart, Mugs and Fritz decided to ride their horses into some of the bars. First they entered the Manhattan Bar, but had to do that one at a time going in and backing out because it is so narrow in there. Then they went on down to the Silver Dollar and rode all four horses around in circles in there for a while. Next they went down to State Street and entered the bars there, as well. After that, the Four Horsemen galloped back up Harrison Avenue to the cheering and clapping of the vast audience.

I am so delighted and grateful that this tradition has continued over all these years. It is a wonderful experience for everyone who is fortunate enough to either be involved in it or have the opportunity to observe it. Personally, I shall never forget the first one 72 years ago, followed by that once-in-a-lifetime bar-hopping extravaganza.

Emmett O’Leary

Pueblo West

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