Los Caballeros Camp

Setting the Standard for the Ride by Ken Loyst

Thankfully, the Los Cab camp sets the standard for the ride, from our cushy Cabela cots (and matching chairs) to our Bordeaux wine glasses. Often heard quotes from other camps include the most frequent “all they do is drink wine and read the Wall Street Journal.” While somewhat true and to the point, Los Cab has a real cowboy tradition tied to the creation of the ride.


Dating back to the first DC ride on March 26, 1947, Dallas Gant, Rusty’s dad, was one of the Charter Members of the Desert Caballeros. Wickenburg was known as the “Dude Ranch Capitol of the World,” post World War II. A handful of local ranch owners and businessmen got together to create something that would be “of promotional value to the locality, and yet something that would provide business and professional men with a few days escape from the normal tension and worry of everyday living.” It also extended the season for a couple of weeks and was a financial boost for the town of Wickenburg. The first ride had 67 members and guests. It didn’t take long before the logistics of the Ride dictated that smaller groups of riders would make the experience even better. Camps were formed that consisted of Los Cab, Remuda, Colorado, Honkers, Poor Boys and Cheapskates. In the early 80’s the California Camp was formed, and the Colorado Camp disbanded. The Desert Caballeros Ride soon became one of the most famous rides in the country attracting guests from all over the World.

Through the years the Los Cab Camp has sponsored many notable and remarkable members, such as Dick Spencer, publisher of Western Horseman magazine; Astronaut Wally Schirra; Circuit Judge Moose Dunne; Rancher Hugh Ingels; Minnetonkan (and camp Injun) Charley Belgarde; Developer Alex Boyd; Agent Jack Gibbons (CIA); businessman Rodney Fitch; and Doc Bill Shankel. The good fellowship that these men brought around the campfire swapping yarns was contagious, the stories always riveting. Those that were lucky enough to hear these guys when they were still riding with us are truly fortunate indeed.

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Rusty Gant is our Camp Boss (though we don’t call him that). Rusty still organizes all of our camp needs, including our bat boy and our horses. Amazing, after 53 years Rusty is still dealing with these Urban Cowboys. Our Top 10 riders with the most miles under their belts include Rusty Gant (1968), Dan McNeill (1976), Rob Reed (1977), Dino Bulleri (1981), Ronnie Thrasher, (1987) Ken Loyst (1988), Pat Hayman (1991), Joe Heaney (1995), Ronnie Sprague (1996), Chris Torgerson (1997) and Don Lawson (1998). Some of our guys may not be riding the full ride as father time tends to slow things down a bit, but being there is what counts. It wouldn’t be the same without any of them in camp. For those that can (and do) count, there’s 11 names here. Top 10 sounded better than Top 11, so let’s just go with it. 

Like most of the camps, Los Cab manages a number of Ride functions during the week of the ride. The first is the Silent Auction held during the El Presidente Party. Over 120 items are cataloged on bid sheets for the partygoers to bid on. Bargains are to be had while the popular auction raises additional funds for the Ride to help offset growing expenses. 

Early morning of Day-in-Camp our camp volunteers are setting up the shooting stations and organizing signup sheets for the Trap Shoot. Donning ear plugs, launching clay pigeons, and wrangling shotgun shells for each station fills the early hours quickly. The morning’s undertaking means that two custom buckles are to be won, one for a guest and one for a member’s best score. 

The Duck races are the brainchild of Rob Reed who spent hours (presumably weeks) creating Duck names and Duck stats like each were a thoroughbred at the Del Mar Racetrack. Rob manages the Calcutta and the dumping of the ducks into the river (or canal if necessary). The camp manages betting and retrieving ducks down the Hassayampa. Payouts can be extraordinary, with most over 20 to 1 and some as high as 80 to 1. The duck races have become a Dayin- Camp favorite occurring right after the horse races and always attracting excellent crowds. 

During the first year of the pandemic (2019), our camp felt obligated to help some of the businesses in the Town of Wickenburg because of our absence and therefore lack of spending. So, our camp reached into our pockets and we raised an impressive $4,400 that we donated to some favorite local businesses that included El Ranchero, Riata Saddles, and Rancho Bar 7. We also took good care of our Bat Boy, Tommy, who was greatly affected by the pandemic. 

Bringing class to the DC Ride is a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. That’s why Los Cab steps up every year. Though, clearly, enjoying a good Cab with a steak dinner demonstrates that Los Cab has raised the bar. Look for us at dinner, we’ll be the ones with the wine glasses and several bottles of wine. And, we’re always ready to share… 

Ken Loyst 

Desert Caballeros Trail Los Caballeros 2
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