Annual Ride

Florida Cracker Trail Association

Cracker Trail Annual Cross-State Ride

The Annual Cross-State Ride is a re-enactment of the return trip from Bradenton on the west coast back to Fort Pierce on the east coast after cattle herds were safely on their way to Havana. It commemorates the dedication the Florida Cracker Trail.

This ride is open to advanced riders and trained horses. All horses in camp or on the ride must be able to handle traffic, noise, bridges, water, parades, whip cracking, etc. Do NOT plan to condition your horse or to train your horse while on this ride. Please familiarize yourself with the ride rules prior to completing the annual ride package. The ride rules will be strictly enforced on the ride. No refunds will be given after the start of the ride if you cannot complete the ride or you, or your horse, are removed from the ride.

Please note these important deadlines for the 2016 Annual Cross State Ride:
01/10/16 — Deadline to get Ads in the 2016 Annual Cross State Ride Book
01/30/16 — Deadline to submit completed ride package, including payment for both ride and catering fees.
02/01/16 — Late fees apply for Membership and the Annual Cross State Ride

No cattle accompany the riders nor are driven during the re-enactment ride.

Covering approximately 110 miles, the Cross State Ride begins just east of Bradenton, Florida on the third Saturday of February (the last full week of February) and ends with a parade through Fort Pierce on the following Saturday. Riders and horses travel about 20 miles each day, some days less, some days more, in the saddle 5-8 hours, with mid-morning and mid-afternoon water breaks. A break for lunch around noon each day allows time for riders to be transported by bus back to their rigs so they can move them to that night’s camp.

The ride consists of both on-road (major and back country roads) and trail riding. Escorted by county law enforcement, the ride crosses through five counties, private cattle ranches, Florida State parks and South Florida Water Management areas. All meals and snacks are provided by a chow wagon (aka. a wonderful catering company). Horse water and port-o-lets are provided by the FCTA, as well as entertainment in camp most evenings.

2016 Annual Cross-State Ride Fees (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

Membership in the Florida Cracker Trail Association, Inc. is required for participation in the annual cross-state ride.

  • Family – $35.00
  • Individual – $25.00

Register early as space is limited. Register by 1/30 to avoid a late fee.

Riders may register to ride as many days as they wish, or may elect to ride in the mornings only. Full fees may apply.

IMPORTANT: Check in with the ride secretary as soon as possible upon arrival at any site for Coggins check and proper identification.


  • Adult/Youth Rider: Full Week – $75.00 (Day Rate – $15.00)
  • Non-Rider/Camping Fee: Full Week – $40.00 (Day Rate – $12.00)
  • Late Fee (after 01/30/16) – $20.00 per person



  • Adult (16+): Full Week – $245.00 (Day Rate – $50.00)
  • Youth (9-16): Full Week – $203.00 (Day Rate – $40.00)
  • Child (under 9): Full Week – No charge
  • Optional Steak Dinner (not included in meal fee) – $25.00
  • Late Fee (after 01/30/16) – $25.00 per person

Any rider or camper under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult (parent, legal guardian, family member) and a notarized Contract of Release, naming the responsible accompanying adult.

Daily Schedule (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

NOTE: Changes to the schedule may occur at any time at the discretion of the Trail Boss. Look and listen for daily announcements.

7:15 AM – 7:45 AM & 5:00 PM – 6:00 PMRide Registration – See Ride Secretary
6:00 AM – 7:00 AMBreakfast
8:00 AMRide Out – Rigs packed and ready to move
Varies dependent on ride paceMorning water break – snack and port-o-lets available
12:00 PM (varies dependent on ride pace)Lunch on the Trail – Rigs moved
Varies dependent on ride paceAfternoon water breaks – snack and port-o-lets available
6:00 PM to 7:00 PMDinner
After DinnerEvening Activities

Week’s Itinerary (SUBJECT TO CHANGE)


These Official Rules were developed over time for the safety of all participants, landowners, and animals and apply to the Annual Cross State Ride and any FCTA camp-out, ride or function.

  1. All participants do acknowledge and agree that each and every aspect of their participation is by Florida law, an equine activity, and the FCTA, their agents, licensees, landlords, invitees, landowners, and permitees are all individually and cumulatively deemed Equine Activity Sponsors and not subject to liability under the Florida Statute.
  2. All participants must comply with the Laws of the State of Florida and FCTA Official Rules.
  3. The designated Trail Boss and Outriders are here to assist you and your animals. Give them your utmost respect and attention. Be courteous and respectful of your fellow riders. All participants are under the direction of the Trail Boss. The Trail Boss will enforce these rules singularly and exclusively in line with his/her responsibility for the overall safety of all participants. Any deviation in behavior from the Trail Boss’ authority will be grounds for immediate expulsion from any camp-out, ride (including the Annual Cross-State Ride) or function. If you have a concern or a problem while in camp or on the trail, notify the Trail Boss, an Outrider or Board Member.
  4. WARNING: Under Florida Law, an equine activity sponsor or equine professional is not liable for an injury to, or the death of, a participant in equine activities resulting from the inherent risks of equine activities. (Florida Statutes 773.01-773.05)
  5. WARNING: In reference to helmets, the Association will NOT be held liable per “Nicole’s Law” as an “Agricultural Practice or Pursuit, Historical Reenactment, or Parade” (Chapter 2009-105, House Bill #169, Section 4(c), Section 6(a)).
  6. Every participant (rider or camper) must be a valid FCTA member to participate in the Annual Cross State Ride.
  7. The Annual Cross State Ride is open to advanced riders and trained horses. All horses in camp or on the ride must be able to handle traffic, noise, bridges, water, parades, whip cracking, etc. Do not plan to condition or train your horse on this ride.
  9. No whip cracking after dark unless in designated areas. Designated areas to be picked daily and will be announced.
  10. There will be a Mandatory Riders’ Meeting on Saturday morning at 9:00 AM before ride-out.
  11. Registration is an absolute MUST if you plan to ride on ANY DAY.
  12. All persons in camp or on the Cross State Annual Ride must be registered and must sign a Contract for Liability Release and Indemnification. This includes all riders, campers, guests, ride staff and entertainers. It is the responsibility of the participants to maintain their event identification with them at all times.
  13. Any riders or campers under the age of 18 must be accompanied and supervised by their natural parent or legal guardian AT ALL TIMES, in camp or on the Ride. The natural parent or legal guardian MUST become a member prior to the start of the Annual Ride and MUST provide a notarized Contract for Release naming the responsible accompanying adult.
  14. A record of negative test for equine infectious anemia (COGGINS) conducted within 12 months is required. This 12-month period must be good through the entire ride. An agricultural inspector will be present at all camp locations to inspect your animals.
  15. All riders MUST stay behind wagons, unless otherwise designated by the Trail Boss. Only riders assisting the wagons are allowed alongside the teams.
  16. When riding along the roads, the grass right-of-way is the designated trail. Do not ride on the pavement unless obstacles dictate or as directed by the Trail Boss. Do not cross to the other side of the road unless supervised by the Trail Boss or Outrider.
  17. The FCTA provides water for horses in camp and on the trail. Do NOT crowd wagons at watering sites. Wagon horses are to drink first. For safety, stay mounted when watering your horse. Do not mount, dismount, or tie your horse to the horse wagons, pick-up wagon, port-o-potty wagon, water wagon or logo wagon. The FCTA does not provide water for human consumption or bathing or showering purposes.
  18. Glass containers are prohibited on the trail. Do NOT dispose of your garbage on the trail, in campsite or at the water breaks. Dispose of trash in the appropriate receptacles. Do not take your trash to the caterer. There will be dumpsters provided along the trail at designated night camps.
  19. Consumption of alcohol during ride hours is prohibited. Refrain from excessive use of alcohol at camp. Public intoxication will NOT be tolerated.
  20. No unnecessary running past other riders.
  21. Refrain from riding close to pasture fences, where livestock is kept, especially loose horses. NO running through pastures or land on the way into campsites where there are or might be pastured cattle of horses. DO NOT CHASE LANDOWNER’S LIVESTOCK.
  22. Stay off people’s lawn and out of citrus groves. Do not pick fruit or vegetation along the trail.
  23. If you or your horse has a problem, notify the Trail Boss or an Outrider. Drop to the rear if you need to load on the pick-up wagon. Horses showing undue stress will be pulled from the ride. The pick-up trailer is for the relief of the distressed animals and riders only, and it must be made available for true emergencies and distress situations.
  24. All horses must have bridles, reins and saddles while on the trail. THERE WILL BE NO:
    • Double riding
    • Halter-only riding
    • Ponying of un-ridden horses
    • Bareback riding on the trail
    • Stallions allowed
  25. All riders must act and dress appropriately for riding. NO:
    • Alcoholic beverages while on the trail
    • Sneakers, sandals or bare feet
    • Wearing of bathing suits or inappropriate apparel (shorts, flip flops, etc.)
    • Wearing of clothing with inappropriate or offensive language
  26. No dumping of holding tanks (grey or black) in camp or anywhere on the trail. Find and use legal dump stations.
  27. Horses known to kick, or horses that begin kicking on the trail, must wear red tail ribbons at all times.
  28. Quiet time is designated as 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM. No unnecessary loudness or activity during this time. No generators running during quiet time, except in vicinity of cook wagons. While in camp, be courteous to your neighbors and fellow campers.
  29. All pets must be confined to the owner’s camp site. No pets allowed on the trail, lunch or water breaks or in food areas. Be a responsible pet owner. In camp, dogs must be kept on a leash.
  30. No equine that stands less than forty-two inches (42”) at the withers will be allowed to participate in the Annual Cross State Ride.
  31. The Bus is for RIG DRIVERS ONLY. All others (spouses, children, etc.) must wait at the lunch stop.
    • At each day’s lunch site, a bus awaits the rig drivers to transport them back to their rigs
    • Drivers are served first and must board the bus immediately
    • Rigs must be packed and ready to move prior to ride out in morning
    • Rigs are moved to that night’s camp site
    • Upon arrival at night camp, do not setup or build camp
    • Drivers board the bus immediately to be returned to the lunch site
    • All others (spouses, children, etc.) must wait at the lunch site
    • If not riding in the afternoon, notify the bus driver and/or other riders, so departure is not delayed by waiting on non-riders



  • Start exercising well before ride. We travel approximately 20 miles per day and horses should be able to travel this distance comfortably each day without any signs of lameness.
  • As a rider, be sure to be physically prepared for long days in the saddle.
  • Shoe horses one week before the ride – on the front feet at least if riding for the whole week. Some people shoe all the way around.
  • Consider rubber type shoes, which are good on pavement, crossing bridges, etc. Steel shoes can slide.

Securing Your Horse

  • To secure your horse you will need one of the following: Picket line, ground stake rig, temporary electric fence, panels-tied to your trailer or a tree, if a tree is available.
  • If planning on tethering, it is recommended that you train your horse to tethering at home. Bring a good book and sit with the horse for the first several hours. It is important that you do not unhook the horse if he becomes tangled in the tether. Guide him to back up and untangle himself. If you unhook, he will continue to look to you to solve his problem instead of thinking his way out of his entanglement.
  • If using a portable corrals or hot wire (portable electric fencing), be sure they are stable and your horse is accustomed to being confined by it.
  • If using a HiTie system, be sure to allow enough room around your trailer.


  • All horses need to be familiar with sudden, loud noises (cow whips, backfiring, car horns, firecrackers) or traffic and truck engine and brakes sounds.
  • Expose your horse to riding in a large group. Be prepared for unusual behavior as they get used to the large group environment.
  • Suggestion: Expose them to these noises – firecrackers, gun shots and cap guns can be quite effective.

Feed, Tack and Supplies

  • Horses will be working and not grazing much during the day. Provide ¼ to 1 bale of hay per day per horse; smaller amounts if you tether, as grass will be available in the cattle pastures where we camp.
  • Either eliminate or greatly reduce grain intake a week or so prior to start of ride to reduce hyperactivity. People often come in with well fed, heavily supplemented horses, who definitely ‘feel their oats’ at the beginning of the ride, which provide some unexpected excitement. As the horse behaves on the ride, his grain can be gradually increased.
  • Do not change horse feed during the ride. This can cause colic. If changing feed, introduce it slowly weeks prior to ride.
  • Bring saddle or cantle bags, gall salve, medical supplies of all types including bute, Banamine and electrolytes.
  • Bring tack repair supplies, extra lead ropes, halter, tack, blankets, fly spray, buckets for feed and water.
  • Account for extended riding by using extra padding behind buckles or wicking blankets to prevent excessive rubbing or chafing. Watch for hot spots!

Keep identification on horse at all times to ensure speedy return in event of runaways

  • dogtags with cell phone numbers on halters or horse collars are helpful

Riders have needs too

  • Bring a rain slicker, sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, hat, jackets (light and heavy), gloves and your bathing suit.
  • Bring a medical kit, flashlight, lantern, folding chairs, drinking water, ice, snacks, libations, wet wipes, a hose.
  • Provide your own sleeping arrangements: tent, truck, trailer, or motor home. Motels are few and far between and in every case, a significant drive.
  • Showers are available off-site at Peace River/Zolfo Springs, Hickory Hammock and in Fort Pierce camps. Ask for directions from ride staff.
  • February in Florida is unpredictable, so pack accordingly.

Bring something to sit on during lunch breaks

  • Be careful where you sit! Fire ants or chiggers habitate in logs on the ground or in tree roots
  • Little to no seating is available, so a small blanket, sheet, rug or camping stool comes in handy


  • Do not ask any ranch personnel how many head of cattle the ranch owns. It is comparable to asking how much money they have.
  • In the event of trail course changes, transportation for horses may be required. Plan accordingly.
  • Renew your membership early.
  • Register for the Annual Ride early as space is limited and discounts may apply.


Trail Boss Responsibilities

  • The main responsibility of the Trail Boss is the safety and welfare of riders, horses and mules, while guiding them safely throughout the ride
  • The Outriders work under the direction of the Trail Boss to assist riders and their animals for a safe and enjoyable ride and deserve utmost respect and attention
  • All participants will be under the directions of the Trail Boss and the Outriders
  • Any deviation in behavior from the Trail Boss’ authority will be grounds for immediate expulsion from camp or from the Annual Cross State Ride
  • The Trail Boss will enforce these rules singularly and exclusively in line with his/her responsibility for the overall safety of the ride

Campground etiquette

  • Leave campsites cleaner than you found it – Carry in/Carry Out
  • If dumpsters or trash disposal are not available, do not dispose! Do not dump trash near the Port-o-lets!
  • When moving rigs, watch for bull holes and sandy areas. Four wheel drive comes in handy. Drive accordingly.
  • The Port-o-lets follow the riders, so if staying in camp during the day, no facilities are available. Plan accordingly.
  • All rigs, campers, trailer, containment systems and tethers need to be packed up and ready to move prior to riding out in the morning to make the mid-day move quicker and smoother.
  • Turn off generators 10:00 PM – 5:00 AM
    * Chow Wagon, at their discretion
    * Medical necessity (i.e. CPAP) – park near chow wagon
    * Extreme overnight temperatures – below 35°, above 85° – park near chow wagon

Ride etiquette

  • Be courteous
  • Pay attention
  • Be aware of horses with red tail ribbons
  • Stay behind lead wagons
  • Do not crowd at water troughs
  • Do not litter
  • Be social and helpful
  • Listen to the Trail Boss, Outriders and other riders
  • When the Trail Boss says it’s time to leave, leave, don’t straggle
  • When an Outrider says to tighten up the line, tighten up the line, don’t straggle
  • Bandanas come in handy as sometimes we go through dusty areas
  • We stop for breaks and lunches in safe locations with lots of places to secure the horses. Always have halters and lead lines with you on the ride.

Bus etiquette

  • Board quickly
  • Leave bus cleaner than you found it – Carry in/Carry Out
  • Bus driver sets the rules
  • Listen for updates and announcements


  • Silent and Live auction – lots of fun!
  • Proceeds go to the Scholarship funds
  • Cash or checks accepted
  • Custom saddle raffle
  • How Can I Donate?

The Logo truck offers Cracker Trail merchandise for purchase (hats, shirts, bags, travel mugs, bandanas, cow whips by the foot and more)

  • Cash or checks accepted
  • Shop early – quantities are limited
  • Open every night and day of parade


  • The horse water truck and troughs follow the riders along the trail
  • Keep hydrated – water and iced tea is available at all meals and breaks, carry your own
  • Keep your horse hydrated – water troughs are available at all breaks, lunch stops and in camp
  • Half day riders may find that no water is available in camp and water may be unavailable on Saturday and Sunday at Harbour Pointe – Plan accordingly.

Fill your rig or camper up with fuel prior to arriving at first camp, as there is not much time during the week to fill up.

Kids are always trying to earn money to purchase merchandise at the Logo truck. They could sponge or hose wash, shampoo, brush or swim horses. Support their entrepreneurship, if possible.