Submitted Photo
The Lansford Ghost Riders learned to perform marching drills and routines like the U.S. Marine Corps squad, but on horseback.

The Lansford Ghost Riders, organized in the early 1950s, was a group of young men and women ranging from 6-18 years of age. Jack Sidener, a young rancher, farmer, and horseman came up with the idea of a horse club with student riders from the Lansford area. Jack had served in the Marines as a second lieutenant during World War II and thought young people could perform the same marching drills and routines as the Marine Corps drill squad performed, but on horseback.

He enlisted 20 young riders and they practiced until they had learned the routines. Most of the group lived on farms and would ride their horses to Lansford for practice. Once ready, they wore white shirts with black fringe, white pants and black hats. Many mothers assisted in sewing on the fringe.

The Ghost Riders were led by Jack and his beautiful Palomino stallion, Laredo. This polished group performed their skills at various venues around northwest North Dakota. They debuted in Lansford for a Gala Days celebration and went on to perform for numerous events in the area, including the Sherwood Jubilee, Maxbass 50th Anniversary, Bottineau County Fair, Minot State and Ward County Fairs, at the inaugural North Dakota Championship Rodeo held in Minot in 1955 for the Y’s Men and other venues. The troop was featured in Horse Lover’s Magazine in 1954.

The Ghost Riders went on to host horse shows annually in the Lansford area. The highlight of their time in the saddle came when Walt Disney studios visited Lansford to film the group for a segment on the Walt Disney television show.

As a sign of goodwill and friendship, some of the older members went over to Powers Lake to search for 4-year-old LaVerne Enget. LaVerne went missing from his parents’ farm, and the Ghost Riders searched for 5 days on horseback for the youngster. Sadly, LaVerne was not found until the next spring.

Tragically, Jack Sidener and his only sibling, R.T., were killed in a car accident in 1956, leaving behind 10 children. Another local rancher, Harold Tarvestad, led the group for one more year before it disbanded. It was a sad ending to a glorious time. The Lansford community had lost two leaders, and the parents and riders were devastated.

The Ghost Riders were very proud of their accomplishments over the years, and they brought zest and vigor to this tiny community in Bottineau County. These young boys and girls loved being a part of something bigger than themselves, and the riders, still living today, beam with pride when the Lansford Ghost Riders are mentioned.

On Saturday, June 17, 2023, the Lansford Ghost Riders were inducted in the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame in the Special Achievement category.

— Information from North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame

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