'To thank them for their service': Trail ride on Navajo Nation honors veterans

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

LITTLEWATER — They rode horses down a hill on a trail ride to honor veterans who served in the United States armed forces.

About 30 riders followed Elvira Arviso, who carried a large U.S. flag, southbound on the east side of U.S. Highway 491 near Littlewater. 

This is the fourth time the T'oAltsisi Horseback Trail Ride to Honor Veterans was held on Veterans Day.

The event attracted riders like Felix Yazzie, of Toadlena, who waited with his stepson for the ride to begin at mile marker 73.

Horses wait to start the T'oAltsisi Horseback Trail Ride on Nov. 11 in an area north of Littlewater.

"To honor all the veterans that served for us and to thank them for their service," Yazzie said was his reason for participating.

Johnson Nephew readied his horse, Rusty Gold, after arriving to the starting point with his companion, Viola Bitsilly. The couple traveled to the location from Upper Fruitland.

As Bitsilly watched Nephew saddle his horse, she explained that her late father served in the Army and her nephews and her niece served in the Marines.

About 30 riders participate in the T'oAltsisi Horseback Trail Ride to honor veterans on Nov. 11 north of Littlewater.

Her nephews were deployed during Operation Desert Storm, she said, adding that all her relatives came home safe from military service.

The couple said while they recognize the sacrifice and service of veterans, they miss participating in trail rides because the activity halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Iden Morgan exercises his horse, Macho, before the start of the T'oAltsisi Horseback Trail Ride on Nov. 11 in an area north of Littlewater.

While the heart of the trail ride is to honor veterans, it also provides them time to socialize and to enjoy the holiday outdoors, event organizer and Army veteran Elouise Brown said in an interview this week.

"A lot of us enjoy being out in the open and riding horses," Brown said.

The trail ride attracted riders from communities such as Littlewater, Shiprock, Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle and Whitehorse.

Johnson Nephew readies his horse, Rusty Gold, before the start of the T'oAltsisi Horseback Trail Ride on Nov. 11 in an area north of Littlewater.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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