"It's all about promoting the equestrian way of life. We do an awful lot of work with various agencies to keep trails open for riders," says Maureen Kirk-Detberner, a member of the County Line Riders, with her horse, Winn.


The County Line Riders of Catalina work hard so they and others can ride easy.

The group, a federally registered nonprofit, helps create and maintain horse-friendly trails and arrange frequent BYO-horse camping events.

"It's a group with a mission," said Maureen Kirk-Detberner, 67. "It's all about promoting the equestrian way of life. We do an awful lot of work with various agencies to keep trails open for riders and help to build staging areas where you can park vehicles and be able to access horse trailers."

Kirk-Detberner, who runs the group's website, as well as her business, FastWinn Photography, lives north of Tangerine Road, where she tends to horses Enrique de Dragoon (Rickie), JR and Winn.

The group formed in 1994 to shore up support for maintaining trails and trail access in Catalina. The group maintains and builds the Apache Peak section of the Arizona Trail, and does the same for Catalina State Park's 50-Year Trail, as well as others in Pima and southern Pinal County.

It also runs an adopt-a-ranch program, volunteering to gather ranchers' stray cattle and ride around perimeters to mend broken fences.

Founding board member Bev Showalter, 59, said the Line Riders are out to make things easier for anyone who enjoys nature.

"We formed our group because we were seeing access to trails disappear," she said. "Nineteen years later we're still working to keep trails open for all users and to maintain access to those trails, to build trails when we can and maintain them where we're allowed. We want to help get more trailheads out there so all trail users have more places to go."

Showalter lives in Catalina and rides her three mules: Katie, Ruthie and Stevie.

Rudy Marquez, a 56-year-old retiree, organizes many of the camping trips.

"We do campouts with the horses. They are usually Saturday-Sunday things," Marquez said. "We ride Saturday, then come back in the evenings for a campfire and social hour, then we ride a couple more hours Sunday morning."

Marquez, who lives in Catalina, rides his quarterhorses, Canella and Cimarron, two or three times a week.

Kim Goodman, president of the organization, said the group is unique in its dedication to trails.

"We are one of the only groups I know of that works with the county, state and federal agencies to do trail maintenance," she said. "We make sure that we have public trails for equestrian use. A lot of trails are designated for hiking or bikes and do not include equine use."

Many of the 210 members are from Catalina or surrounding areas, with some from as far away as the Phoenix metro region.

"We all help each other," said Goodman, who lives north of Catalina and has six horses: Ranchero, 2 Bitts, Cheyenne, Smokey, Snip and Shadow. "We have different levels of riders that come, and we just enjoy the trails."

Members say camping with horses is a unique experience. The group camps monthly, except for June, July and August, when it's too hot to be enjoyable.

"Nothing is better," Goodman said. "It's great. You've got your best friend with you, out in the middle of nowhere. We do primitive camping."

Shared love of horses may be the group's main draw, but human companionship is what makes it endure.

"It's such a wonderful group of people, and we all have a connection with horses in one way or another," Kirk-Detberner said.

"We keep connected and have the same kinds of interest. They are really lovely people. It's almost like extended family."

If you go

• What: County Line Riders of Catalina meeting.

• When: 7 p.m. May 16 at Catalina Community Services, 3535 E. Hawser St.

• Dues: $10 for individuals; $20 for a family membership.

Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or pvillarreal@azstarnet.com