The Orozco family keeps tradition alive

Tradition began with 15 horse riders at the Lienzo Charro Madera grounds on Avenue 17 just west of Highway 99 and ended with more than 60 riders three days later at Halfway Store near Cantúa Creek.

The 34th annual Joaquín Murrieta Horse Pilgrimmage -- coined 'Tradición y Cultura' (Tradition and Culture) -- was the smaller of the two cabalgatas in honor of the Mexican outlaw/Robin Hood held last weekend.

The number of participants mattered little to Juanita Orozco, who continued the same horse ride her father, Julián Orozco began more than three decades ago to help bring attention to the plight of homeless farmworkers in Three Rocks.

"No matter what, we promised our dad that we would continue the ride," said Orozco, referring to her father who died two years ago.

Juanita's brother, Ignacio 'Nacho' Orozco, was one of the 16 riders who began the 60-mile route on Friday morning. The turnout was greater than last year, when the majority of riders started in the opposite direction to finish in Madera where more amenities were available to the participants.

"We're not going backwards," said Orozco, who vowed to continue the same route -- and direction -- his father and Sigurdor 'Mexican Sigui' Christopherson began.

Juanita Orozco has been involved with the horse ride for as long as she can remember.

"We were the women who would go behind and cook the food," said Juanita, who helped her brother organize this year's ride.

Sunday, horse riders and supporters enjoyed banda music at the Half Way Store following a mass at Three Rocks.

Juanita Orozco was happy.

"We feel very fortunate we can continue the tradition the way it should be done," she said. "We have accomplished what my father and Sigui started.

"We will continue it as a family."

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