We are and have been for 5 days at the Mt. Pleasant Horse racing Training Center, near the fairgrounds north of town. We are having a much needed rest, I think this is the best rest stop my two girls have had since we left Montana four months ago. I must thank Alison, Bob, Mario, Dennis for making us feel so welcome.
When I rode in on Tuesday July 28th I was not sure what to expect. I’d sent word ahead but as happens no one received my message and no one knew anything about my riding to Mt. Pleasant. So when I received smiles and a welcome from Alison and her friend Joe I was indeed grateful, tired and dirty as I was from a
long week of riding. This facility is where horses are prepared, trained and conditioned for the race track and I will say that I have been very impressed with the care of these exquisite looking thoroughbreds,
(Essie and Spirit are not in the least bit intimidated by these lean, sleek, fast, fancy thoroughbreds they simply keep their heads down and EAT, they look like tanks next to rockets). Outsiders are not always welcome to places like this but this facility is family orientated and clean
and well organized and quite obviously the trainers/owners like Alison care very much for their fancy long legged beauties. I have stalls for the horses and I have
a nice spot right next to them and we have been given grain and hay and just made to feel “stay as long as you need and rest” so we have. The newspaper reporter from Mt. Pleasant caught me coming into town and that meant a front page photo which has meant many people stopping in to say hello. Its been busy that much I will say.
SO….let me update you on the ride thus far. We are at the end of the first stretch, Montana to Michigan. In five days I will haul over to the Pennsylvania/ Ohio border to begin the last stretch which should land me somewhere in northern Maine for the winter lay over. I have had a glorious ride thru Michigan and I can
not tell you what a thrill it has been to see the Great Lakes by horseback. I have learned about “Youpers” and “Trolls” and pasties and “party stores”, I have ridden long flat easy to ride Rails to Trails that any equestrian rider would love to travel. The Michigan people have been all and all out friendly and interested and
smiles and handshakes pour forth from this state. It’s been delightful, unexpected. I really did not know what to expect but I did not expect to get such a warm reception from the Michiganians.
Essie Pearl and Montana Spirit are in excellent condition!!. I have never ridden so many miles in so short a time. Four months we have been out and we have traveled give or take 2000 miles. BUT the conditions have been right, lots of grass, water and good roads. I have kept the packs very light and gone without so as
not to burden my two girls with luxury items like food for myself. I have never taken out a finer team and as most of you know this is also the first ride I have done with out my beloved Claire dog who I can report is enjoying her “retirement” life at Theodora’s Garden back in Fortine, Montana (near Trego) with my big
gelding, Hart. Both are doing very well and deserve the rest and retirement they now enjoy.
So it has been unlike any ride I have previously ridden. I trot a good deal then get off and walk. Every ten miles I pull the gear off the horses and cool, wash, dry brush both horses and pads. I travel easily 30 mile days, 130 miles or so a week. Spirit is now for the most part my ride horse and Essie packs. I am so proud of these two, we are, all three of us so bound together with miles and experience that when one disappears for a minute a kind of anxiety sets in. Which is why it is necessary to have stalls when leave them for interviews, talks or to pick up supplies. The horses are not only safe here at this facility but also watched over when I go into town.
A few stories…
This Gail Foguth and Beth Hamilton riding. IT is not unusual for Gail Foguth to receive a call reporting “two horses loose in the ditch” happens often, she is after all the animal control officer for Crawford County. But when Gail arrived she did not find two loose horses but rather a lady with a big hat on saddling and packing her two Fjord mares. I thought she was with the military or perhaps a police officer checking up on me. “NO, No” she said you’re OK, just had reports of horses loose. that’s all” Little did she know how much I did need her help as several roads were closed due to military maneuvers at Greyling Military Reservation which I was trying to get around and couldn’t.
WELL Gail figured a way around using trails which I would not have EVER found. And Beth led the way. I even rode a portion of the “Shore to Shore Equestrian Trail” a 220 mile trails stretching from Au Sable on Lake Huron to Empire on Lake Michigan. I had already ridden from Mackinaw City to Gaylord, 61 miles on part of the North Country Scenic Trail. Michigan has TRAILS!! goodness do they have trails.
So thanks to Gail who then came out as she even found an equestrian campsite east of Greyling, MI. for me to over night at. She then came out with food as I needed supplies. She went above and beyond the call of duty that day!
I had heard about COPS & DOUGHNUTS way back in the Upper Peninsula. Then I began seeing T-shirts with Cops and Doughnuts logo and sayings like “we frisk our fritters” and “cream puffs for handcuffs” and “cereal killer” with a etching of a doughnut dropped into a bowl of cold cereal… I had to check this place out.
I’d already learned that 9 policemen from Clare, MI. had started this cafe. I in my innocence imagined a kind of funky old place where a few policemen were hanging out and I would go in and say hello and thank them for all the work they do for us as officers of the law. WELL…. surprise surprise, this was a kicking
place, holy cow was what I said. Bubba and Greg were there, they are 2 of the 9 that began the enterprising Cops and Doughnuts. Its gone viral and it was so busy that I thought Ok, just get a c up of coffee and get out. But Bubba walked by and said, “can I help you?” I said something like, ” I, a well, I just rode my horses from Montana to see your coffee shop”…Well that was all it took… I had a grand ole time visiting with dozens of people and then stayed over at the park
even though it quite clearly states “no horses” I was a guest… In the morning I stopped to say good bye and the place was still hopping. I left with a sticky bun!
Came thru Roscommon, MI. and screamed when I heard my name called out. It was Janna the friend from Seattle on her way home from her Detroit visit. SIMPLY unbelievable that we ran into one another again, we had not planned on it.
I stopped in Rosebush to use the Library and Carolyn (in the photo) works there. Now this is another cute story… When I was making my way on those trails
that Gail and Beth had set me on I came across a road and was not at all sure I was on the right path so I flagged a car down. A nice clean newer suburban with 3 nicely dressed middle-aged women riding in it, hesitating to stop but did, as I nearly laid in front of them! not really. They were not quite sure what to make of me, I was I must admit dirty and ragged looking, I’d slept in the ditch the night before. Well anyway they got into it, trying to decide just where I was on the map and which way I should go, they even tried to use the GPS in the car. Then Carolyn who was sitting in the passenger seat stopped talking and apprehensivelysaid slowly, “you’re not that woman that rides around on a horse with her dog are you?” The three of them look at each other and were very quiet, “well yes I am”how do you know about me? I asked, ‘We call you the crazy lady” “well that is sensible” I said “we were just talking about you over the campfire last night, we talk about you all the time when we get scared or something”… We heard about you on the Today Show! Well out they came with screams and smiles and laughter and it was just one very short but lively meeting… Then I said I would be stopping in at Rosebush library to email Mt.Pleasant to let the folks at PBS Radio know that I was near as they were looking for an interview. And that elicited more screams because low and behold “Carolyn works there!!!”.
I was not at the Racetrack Training Center more than an hour and here comes Dee Dee Carter walking up. I have never met Dee Dee before but Dee Dee has been emailing me for nearly 8 years. She taught grade school in Black Canyon school in Arizona and her classes followed my rides for years. So Dee Dee was like a “trail angel” falling into my lap. I needed help with boxes and routes and the haul around Detroit and she has been running around seeing to my every need. She was like an old friend I had never met.
I leave in the morning will pick up my haul somewhere west of Ann Arbor where I shall say good bye to Michigan. It’s been a great ride.
Many, many thanks to all of you who so kindly helped in one way or another, I could not have possibly made it without your support.
Sincerely, Bernice Ende your lady long rider
THANK YOU SPONSORS
Again I must say thank you to my sponsors for their continued support.
This week I received packages from Theodora’s Garden with products I use every day. The Kool-Arnica for sore muscles also repels insects and stops the itch in a bite. Theodora’s lip balm and solid lotion I carry in my front bags to use through out the day.
Outfitters Supply sent out new Panniers, a Toklat WoolBack Pack Pad, thread, Pack saddle cinches, mink oil for saddle and hoofs and…cookies and a bag of chocolate covered nuts!! goodness.
Roger from The Blacksmith Shop is helping correct the uneven wear on Essie’s horse shoes.
The new cinch from Tangelo Customs is working great on Spirit who I ride for the most part and needed a softer cinch.
I slipped into a new pair of Ariat boots, the Roper line which I have been wearing for years.
Tuckers Saddle the Black Mountain is now equipped with tapaderos (stirrup covers) and I can’t help but wonder WHY I have not used them before. My feet stay dry! and protected from the packs that rub up against my leg. I’ve been using the Black Mountain Saddle since 2011, could not be happier with it. I feel like it turns into a piece of art work after time and travel shapes and shades the saddle. I have often thought how I looked when I first began long riding, like a hobo, it has made a world of difference to have the best of best equipment, nutrient supplements, a vet to call with questions, skin care products(a girls got to look good) all adds up to one thing, THANK YOU.