As regular readers know, I regard the deceased Judy Ann Magers, an interesting woman nicknamed the Burro Lady, as something of a local icon.
She was self reliant and stubbornly insisted on maintaining her life of solitary wandering.
The following article draws a compassionate portrait of Judy and her wanderings. Thank you to author Mike Capron and the editorial staff of Highminded Horseman for allowing me to excerpt it.
The “burro lady” and I spent a lot of time together in West Texas. We never rode together but I spent a lot of time thinking about her while we traveled similar trails. She was always on her favorite burro and I was in my pick-up going up and down the highway. The burro lady showed up in west Texas around 1980 and I aways wished I could trade vehicles with her.
I first saw her at Tommy’s Town, east of El Paso, and for the next twenty to twenty five years we crossed trails from Ft. Hancock to Alpine to Lajitas. She was always alone, she always looked comfortable, sat very tall in the saddle and she was always outfitted for a long ride. She was one with her burro and seemed to be a queen on a mission. I doubt if any other animal could have kept up with her; both were as tough as the country they rode in.
I never saw her build a fire. I can ride a burro all day, any day, but come nightfall, I am going to build a fire. The luxuries of life never entered her mind it seemed. I’m not sure how she obtained some of the basic survival essentials like water for herself and her burro. It’s a long way between towns in this part of the world and I don’t know any rancher that puts water next to the highways. I never knew her real name, where she came from or where she was going. She didn’t want to be bothered or be a bother. I never saw her with anyone or ever stop at any house, except on one occasion in Valentine. She didn’t show any fear, not for the weather or her surroundings.