Rain poured from the sky’s leaving an inch of much need moisture and smiles on local ranchers and farmers. Gene Hartsock, manager at the Valley County Fairgrounds opened a building for us and let us put the horses in stalls,. With much gratitude we were warm, safe and dry as the sky’s unleashed wind, rain and cold.
Today I gave a talk at the Senior Center, full house and liver and onions for lunch.
My guest rider Emily McKee has joined me and the past week has been spent preparing for our Canadian crossing, going over tack, food, sleeping arrangements in the tent and so forth. Much to do. Always much to do. I am often times asked ” what do you do out there don’t you get bored” , and I smile to myself because there is a constant line of work that needs to be done daily. Brushing horses, brushing saddle pads, washing cinches, feeding,( all of us). Checking hooves, writing, journal. Just the setting up of the tent and evening chores is a full 2 hours. Morning is a bit less. But there is always “much to do”.
The ride up from Forsyth through spectacular open spacious cattle country. Plenty of water in the reservoirs, plenty of grass coming up even this early in the spring. Horses ran off twice, and there is nothing more embarrassing than having to say, “Uh, excuse me could you help me I seem to have lost horses”, I found them both times after several agonizing hours. Nothing worse than waking up and your horses are gone!.Three horses is a good deal more to handle, the logistics of leading them, of what happens if one shy’s ,how to tie up, how to stake out. I had my hands full, and fortunately the land I was traveling thru was open barren country where few cars wish to travel. I deliberately chose this route for the sole purpose of training and introducing a new horse safely to the roads. I simply can not say enough for this young new start, Montana Spirit. Here she is only 3 months with this tribe she has found herself in. She came knowing how to lead and load, but had a wonderful gregarious personality that draws her to people. She is now riding and packing and traveling out as lead horse. She has much to learn of course and I feel it takes years to develop a truly solid trust between horse and rider for the often times challenging situations a horse traveling across country will encounter. But she is probably the best long riding horse that I will ever take out. Her short back, thick skin and heavy hair, her hairy feathered draft horse legs, her calm yet very alert mind and her willingness to move forward are all skills and characteristics that I look for in a horse for long riding.
We head out in the morning. making our way north to Ophiem and crossing into Canada just 10 miles north of there. We have our international papers secured from the the Valley Vet Clinic here in Glasgow. The Tucker Saddles are oiled and cleaned. The packs from Outfitters Supply are clean and ready. Skitco Saddle Pads are fitted and ready. Ariat Boots are soft and feel good for a few more hundred miles. Sunbody Hats sent out a beautiful hat for Emily. I welcome Source Micro- nutrients to the ride. The horses love this mineral supplement and it has made a very obvious effect on the horses hoofs and coats. Welcome to all of you at SOURCE PRODUCTS, glad to have you riding along.
I must stop here and thank, once again my much appreciated sponsors. They have provided me with the finest in equipment and bring a wealth of credibility to my rides. When I first began long riding I looked very much like a tramp!! You will see the list of sponsors on the SPONSORSHIP Page, check them out let them know you met me. They keep me riding in style. Their products are the best, after 17,000 miles I do know that for certain.
Ok I am off Emily is going to fill you in with a few words from her side of the show, and then a few Photos. Until next time….Happy Trails Bernice Ende
What an incredible opportunity it is to be able to ride with Bernice Ende on her 2000 mile Canadian ride. My name is Emily McKee, born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, and lived in Ontario and Quebec, Canada for 6 years. I moved to Forsyth, Montana two years ago to work in rural and regional planning, and truly fell in love with Montana. Instantly I was welcomed in Forsyth: learned a bit about stick welding, helped to brand and vaccinate cows, shoot old Winchesters, and of course, learn how to ride a horse. Everyone was eager to welcome me to Eastern Montana, tell stories, show me around; and I was eager to learn.
A co-worker, Pam Hill, invited me over for lunch to meet Bernice Ende, who was at the time ‘wintering’ north of Forsyth, camped out in a small old barn. Bernice has a charisma that is hard not to love, and a love for riding that is hard not to want to understand the depths of. She needed to update her website and I was happy to help. I’ve known her for about a year and half now. She invited me up to her ‘Forsyth home’ to ride horses. It was the first time being on a horse, and what an incredible thing it was! A little odd at first being so far off of the ground, but what a neat thing to see the world from a panoramic, 3-D perspective, from a horse. We went out riding a number of times, but after we decided I would go with her for a number of weeks she trained me more on technique, as well as got me used to the horses, and the horses used to me. Still however, much, MUCH to learn. And I appreciate Bernice for taking the chance and having the patience to bring me along.
I had been planning on going for a cross-country road trip for a while, so I had saved up a bit of money and was already finishing up work. What perfect timing, and what an ideal time in my life to do such a thing. Bernice has been doing this for over eight years. Different than most long riders, this is not just a ‘trip’ for her, this is her way of life. She has such knowledge about weather patterns, plants to eat and not eat, and of course knowledge and expertise with the horse. To be able to learn from her, work with her, and share this experience with her seems like an opportunity young adults in 2012 don’t normally get, and I feel grateful. Also, what an incredible way to travel. At 4 miles per hour, we truly get a chance to see the countryside, talk with locals, hear stories, experience various small towns through Montana and Canada. We will also be working with Lise Swenson to develop a documentary. I will be taking footage of the trail, and then once we are finished, work with Lise and Bernice to edit and develop a documentary of Bernice Ende.
Friends, family, and strangers… thank you for your support on this adventure!
Washing clothes in Glasgow, Montana
Gene Hartsock at the Valley County Fair Grounds.