Neither rain nor sleet nor dark of night (nor traffic, highway construction or weekenders) shall stay these riders, and their mounts, from their appointed rounds.
This year however, is a very special year for this ride. The Hashknife Pony Express ride has been chosen by the State of Arizona as one of the official events to celebrate Arizona’s centennial.
The first leg of the 200-mile trip over the Mogollon Rim will start at the Holbrook post office. Each year the Hashknife Pony Express riders receive the oath of office from the Holbrook postmaster authorizing them to carry the U.S. mail by Pony Express.
The familiar cry of “Hashknife!” will be heard in the chilled morning of Wednesday, Feb. 8. Members of the Hashknife Pony Express will then mount up for the 54th annual ride of the Hashknife Pony Express. Not all riders will start from Holbrook. Many of the riders will proceed to predetermined stations along the route to wait for a rider to approach to transfer the mailbags. Each rider carries the mailbags for approximately one to two miles at a full gallop. When he connects with the next rider in the relay the receiving rider spurs his mount to take the bags from the hand-off rider without breaking stride.
The annual posse route takes the riders from the Holbrook post office onto Dry Lake Road to Heber and over the Rim for an overnight in Payson.
In addition to those who ride the trail and carry the mail, there are numerous support people. The safety of the riders and their mounts is key to the success of this ride.
For more than 50 years the Hashknife Pony Express has carried the U.S. mail from Holbrook to Payson to Scottsdale (with outriders going to Pine and Strawberry) under the oldest continuous and official contract with the United States Postal Service.
The Hashknife Posse was organized in 1955 as a search and rescue team for the Navajo County Sheriff. In 1957 the posse borrowed the style of the country’s original Pony Express and 27 posse riders carried an invitation to then-governor Paul Fannin to attend the posse’s annual Hashknife Stampede in Holbrook.
That first ride was in March and took 26 hours of straight riding. It was from this ride that the idea of an annual Pony Express ride was born.
In 1959 Holbrook postmaster Ernest Hulet helped the posse acquire an official contract with the U.S. Postal Service. This was the birth of the Hashknife Pony Express and it has since become an endearing part of the history of Arizona from Holbrook to Payson to Scottsdale. The athletic ability of these riders and their mounts is a testament to the stamina of the Hashknife as well as the original Pony Express riders team.
The riders will arrive at the Payson post office at approximately 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8. There will be entertainment provided by DJ Craig starting at 4 p.m. Upon arrival the riders will be available to sign autographs on posters and bandanas as well as picture taking. Parents, bring the kids out to this event because the Hashknife Pony Express riders will be giving out free Hashknife Centennial bandanas to all children 12 and under. It’s not too late to purchase your official Hashknife mailer to send letters to friends and family anywhere in the world.
Hashknife Centennial posters, mailers and bandanas are available for purchase at the post office. Posters and Centennial souvenir coins are available at Bob’s Western Wear at 605 S. Beeline Highway, (928) 474-9586.
Hashknife is a non-profit and all proceeds from sales, donations and sponsorships are tax deductible and go toward the mounted search and rescue effort.
For more information on the Hashknife Pony Express, visit www.hashknifeponyexpress.com