November 10, 2018 | 6:45pm
Over the next six months, Bernice Ende, author of the new book “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback” (Farcounty Press), out now, will embark on an unusual sort of book tour: on horseback. She set out from Montana in mid-October and will end in April 2019 in upstate Fort Edward, speaking mostly at local libraries and traveling with truck, trailer and her two horses, Montana Spirit and Liska Pearl.
It’s a fitting tour for Ende, a Minnesota native who has ridden more than 28,000 miles across America on horseback. She is at her happiest with horses, a tent and an open space in which to set up camp.
Ende, who now lives in Montana, has been riding horses since she could walk. “They put me on a pony’s back at 3 and by the time I was 4, I could put a bridle on a horse and ride it myself,” she says.
For more than two decades, she lived in Seattle as a ballet teacher; she did not ride very often. Something was missing from her life; she just didn’t know what it was. “It made me miserable and I didn’t realize how far away from who I really was,” she says. At age 50, newly retired from her job, she started saddling up again and long-riding — and got back in touch with a great love.
The most she has ridden is 60 miles in a day; these days, she might log 20 or so miles and has a finely choreographed routine she follows. She forages daily for food and cooks it on a single camping burner. “I’ll make quinoa in a pot and boil it,” she says. “Then I wrap it in the sleeping bag. I unpack my gear, come back and it’s done — it’s like my own slow cooker.”
And to those who say she’s nuts for all this time spent alone? Ende couldn’t care less. When you’re out on these long rides, she explains, “It’s life, raw. You find out you’re touched by things you didn’t know existed . . . I just want to be in nature. I love being in the storms, looking at the horizon and knowing, ‘I can ride over there.’ It’s the coolest, most empowering thing. It’s life without fear. That’s called freedom.”
For Ende’s book tour schedule, visit http://www.endeofthetrail.com/book-tour/