Historic New Braunfels trail ride could not be stopped by weather or COVID-19

David Wiedenfeld and his granddaughter sit atop their horses while talking to Wiedenfeld's son-in-law, Wade Zaeske. (Warren Brown/Community Impact News)
David Wiedenfeld and his granddaughter sit atop their horses while talking to Wiedenfeld's son-in-law, Wade Zaeske. (Warren Brown/Community Impact News)

David Wiedenfeld and his granddaughter sit atop their horses while talking to Wiedenfeld's son-in-law, Wade Zaeske. (Warren Brown/Community Impact News)

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The eleventh Founders' Trail Ride was one of the few New Braunfels 175th Anniversary events not canceled due to COVID-19. (Warren Brown/Community Impact News)
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A historic trail ride was completed on the 175th anniversary of the founding of New Braunfels while many residents were staying home under government orders. (Warren Brown/Community Impact News)
David Wiedenfeld rode his horse through downtown New Braunfels on Friday, March 20, at the head of a small group of horse-drawn wagons and other horseback riders participating in the Eleventh Founders' Trail Ride, one of the few New Braunfels 175th Anniversary events not canceled due to COVID-19.

"It just means a lot for me to do it because I was asked to be trail boss," Wiedenfeld said. "They left it up to me to carry it on. I didn't think it was worth canceling."

There was little fanfare under the afternoon's scattered showers. Gov. Greg Abbott and New Braunfels Mayor Baron Casteel both signed executive orders a day earlier which require people to avoid leaving their homes except for essential needs.

"It's just something that we just thought we would do anyhow," Wiedenfeld said. "No matter what."

Due to their isolation, Wiedenfeld's daughter, April Zaeske, believed the participants were safe from coronavirus infection. Gatherings to celebrate the ride were canceled, and participants had been on the trail since the preceding Friday, March 13.


Despite the new rules and the early departure of several riders due to weather, the caravan of roughly 18 people completed their seven-day, 149-mile journey with support from Comal County's constables, who provided an escort through town.

175 years ago, Wiedenfeld's ancestors completed the same ride with the other founding families of New Braunfels, who set out from Indianola on the Texas Gulf Coast. It took the German settlers three-and-a-half months to complete their journey.

"It's history to the community," Wiedenfeld said. "Some people don't know anything about it, and other people come up to me, and they say, 'Thank you for carrying it on and doing what you're doing.'"

Wiedenfeld rode across the Guadalupe Bridge in 2015 with four generations of his family—his granddaughter, his daughter and his mother.

"[My mother] came across in a wagon when she was a year old," Wiedenfeld said.

This year, she rode alongside him on horseback.

"She knew half the people here—she'd ridden with them before," Wiedenfeld said. "She enjoyed it a lot."


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