Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Best of America by Horseback - and Muleback!

by Karen Troncale

Tombstone, Arizona

(above) STEVE TRONCALE on left, and BRENDA and MARK LANEY, far right, travel through the streets of Tombstone

The town of Tombstone, Ariz., recently received an awesome accolade. It was named a “Choice Best of America by Horseback Premier Tourism Destination” by the television show Best of America by Horseback. So how did this come about?

The events that lead to this honor began a couple of years ago when I bought a great saddle online. Several months later, I called the saddle-maker with some questions regarding my mule. He happened to be on his way back to Arizona from a hunting trip in another state. “I’ll stop by and see you,” he said. I was thrilled! Steve Edwards, the nationally known mule trainer, was coming to Tombstone, Ariz., specifically to visit me!

At this point, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Tombstone’s award. Well, it turned out that Steve Edwards was a friend of Mark Laney, the CEO for Best of America by Horseback. A while later, when Mark mentioned to Steve that he was interested in visiting Tombstone, Steve gave Mark my husband’s phone number because he knew that my husband was a city council member.

When Mark called, my husband discovered that Mark and his wife Brenda both love and own mules, as we do. He invited the two of them to our home. They accepted the invitation and in 2010 they arrived in our driveway in their motorhome with their mules in tow.

Showing off our historic town is one of my husband’s favorite activities. It didn’t take long for Mark and his wife to fall in love with “The Town Too Tough To Die.” They returned home determined to do a television show from Tombstone.

For the next several months, Steve worked diligently with Mark by phone and email. The Best of America by Horseback television crew arrived on April 8, 2011, along with Tom Seay, the national TV show’s host and executive producer. Although The Best of America by Horseback usually films scenic trail rides around the country, Tombstone was selected for its “rich cultural and Western history, the friendliness of its people, and the creation of a safe environment for visitors from all over the world,” according to the proclamation the producers of The Best of America by Horseback presented to the city of Tombstone.

For three days, the production crew filmed different venues and historic sites throughout the town. They also taped a western performance starring Dell Shields, a professional cowboy singer, songwriter, and poet, on the stage of our historic Schefflin Hall. Local townspeople and tourists loved it!

The most exciting part for my husband was riding our mule Tonya alongside Mark and Brenda Laney and Tom Seay as they were captured on film riding along the streets of Tombstone. The show will air sometime in the near future, but the date has not yet been set. Steve and I are eagerly waiting to see it. Watch for it on the RFD channel!

So Tombstone ended up on the receiving end of a great honor because of a simple phone call I made to Steve Edwards. It’s funny how one little thing can lead to something great and totally unrelated. If any Mules and More readers are interested in visiting Tombstone, please check out our Chamber of Commerce website at You’ll fall in love with Tombstone, too!

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