Five lucky cowboys with connections to rural Tulare County will skip the spring roundup this year to entertain the Queen of England at the Diamond Jubilee Pageant at her Windsor Castle home.
More than 100 countries have been invited to show off their equine cultures for the monarch considered by many to be the world's most famous horse connoisseur.
The jubilee pageant May 10-13 is part of celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's reign.
Robert Borba, 24, of Visalia, a former rodeo bull rider who cowboys on ranches from Tehachapi to North Fork, will re-enact a Pony Express ride by racing a horse into the arena on the castle grounds, dismount, then hop on a fresh horse -- all in front of the Queen and a crowd of thousands.
"I'm pretty excited," Borba said. "I figured I'd be shipping cattle in May. Just to go to England is not something I figured I'd get to do."
Others with Valley roots who are part of the 61/2-minute American segment are cowboys with ties to Exeter-based Gill Livestock Inc. who will herd Texas longhorn cattle, and four members of the Riata Ranch Cowboy Girls of Exeter performing trick roping.
Exeter native Clay Maier, 60, son of the late Riata Ranch founder Tom Maier and an ex-saddle bronc rider, got tapped as producer of the American segment.
Now living in Lexington, Ky., Maier managed opening day ceremonies at the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Lexington, including a Wild West show segment. During rehearsals "this Englishman came down and asked me if I'd be interested in being part of the American segment of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee," Maier said. "They wanted Americana."
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