Because the return ride home from New York became so very difficult I did not get this story posted sooner. I met Pat Wolfe in Ontario about a month into the 2015 ride home. Little did I know just whom I was talking with when he called asking for an interview. Following the article check out his website see what a difference his Fjords are from Essie who is not so refined. Essie is, as Pat pointed out to me from an older Canadian Fjord foundation line of breeding. Also look at Pats remarkable list of accomplishments. It was an honor to have met him and I can never repay him for all the help he offered when I came close to Sudbury, Ontario.
LADY LONG RIDER BERNICE ENDE
By Pat Wolfe
This spring I heard of a Lady Long Rider traveling from the east coast to the west coast riding Fjord Horses. I looked up Bernice Ende’s web site and found out she was leaving Fort Edward, New York at the end of March and crossing into Canada. I thought this would make a good article for our newsletter. Unfortunately for me, her online map showed her going through Quebec which was a little too far away from me to do an interview.
However, at the end of April I received a call from a friend who mentioned a lady riding Fjords and traveling across Canada had camped at her neighbor’s a week ago. My friend only lives 10 miles from me! I couldn’t believe I had missed meeting Bernice on my own doorstep. I found her website again and emailed her. By the time I got a reply back, she was 150 miles from me, heading for Sudbury. Unfortunately I was working at the time and couldn’t get away for another week. I did contact her again though and she asked if I knew of anyone that could truck her horses around the City of Sudbury because of some major road construction there.
Sudbury is 500 kilometers north of me but I’d just got a new truck in the winter and wasn’t sure how it would handle my horse trailer. Here was an opportunity to find out. I made arrangements to meet Bernice on Hwy 255 near the corner of Hwy 69, 50 miles south of Sudbury, in the late afternoon of May 13th.
After five hours driving I started seeing horse tracks on the side of the road. One hour later I spotted a lady wearing a wide brimmed hat with two Fjord horses traveling down the road. Wow! What a neat site. As I drove by her to find a place to pull over, I received a huge, welcoming smile.
Pat and Bernice finally meet near Sudbury.
I stopped along the side of the road,
loaded her horses and gear and we were off to Sudbury. There was no way she could have traveled along Highway 69. They were widening the two lanes to four. There were rocks being blasted and heavy machinery moving earth. We drove through Sudbury and picked up my brother-in-law and he found a great place just outside of town where Bernice was able to set up camp. Going north was also a good excuse to visit family.
Being a Fjord horse enthusiast, when I first stopped to give Bernice a ride I checked out the quality and fitness of her horses. At first glance I knew I was looking at one Canadian bred Fjord. If you look at the pedigree of Essie Pearl, one of Bernice’s two mares, it takes you back to the Buck line. The other mare, Montana Spirit, is a 3/4 bred Fjord with Percheron the other ¼.
Both horses are totally fit and their feet are in excellent condition. These horses travel on a lot of pavement so Bernice has them shod with corks on all four feet. She uses barium studs on the shoes. The only maintenance is to change shoes every six weeks or when the shoes wear out. Keeping the horses from getting saddle sores is a challenge. Sheep skin saddle pads help.
When she is not on the trail she will hobble or tether the horses. When hobbling she uses three hobbles, two front feet and one back foot. When she sleeps, she tethers the horses with a 25 foot rope tied to a stake or a tree and to the left front foot. When I asked Bernice how far her horses have traveled with her, I couldn’t believe it. 13 year old Essie Pearl has traveled 18,000 miles and 7 year old Montana Spirit has traveled 8,000 miles. Bernice has been Long Riding for eleven years and has traveled 25,000 miles on horseback. Bernice told me she likes to travel 30 miles a day. She begins her day in the dark at 5 am and is in the saddle by 6:00. She walks the horses for ten miles, and stops for an hour and a half. She takes off all their gear, brushes them down, and lets them dry if they are sweaty. At this time they get a chance to nibble grass and tank up with water. During this break, she makes herself a cup of tea, writes in her journal, and enjoys the countryside. Then she saddles up again and goes for another ten miles. This second ten miles is often done at a slow trot. She takes another break and completely brushes and cools down her horses, sometimes takes a nap, and then leads them at a walk for an hour and a half or so. She has this walk herself every day. In the early evening she rides again to make up the 30 miles total for the day. She’s pretty self-sufficient, even to doing her own shoeing.
Although she has taken other horses in the past, she says after experiencing Fjords, she would take nothing else. “They’re exceptional,” she says. “They have a train brain- steady and forward.” She’s always getting questioned about the Fjords and feels Essie Pearl and Montana Spirit have opened a lot of eyes and hearts to the Fjord breed.
Bernice takes as little with her as she can manage, a total of 80 pounds: her small two man tent with a thermal blanket on the top (she heats the tent with three candles and uses cut off pop bottles for vents); a small propane burner; one pot; farrier supplies and prefitted horse shoes; a pooper scooper; small folding water pails; and her food. She carries rice, beans and tea, and forages for the rest: nettles, lambsquarters, wild leeks and asparagus, and dandelion greens. She will be invited occasionally by people she meets for meals, but always sleeps in her tent near her Fjords. She alternates horses, riding and carrying.
To Bernice, her horses are her traveling partners. Every minute of the day she is thinking of their welfare.
Bernice sold her dance school when she decided to do long riding and she finds traveling more physically demanding than even ballet. She is totally engaged when in the saddle, always attentive. For this reason, she doesn’t encourage anyone to ride along with her. There is no relaxing as she travels highways.
All gear is out and ready to pack.
Trip number one was in 2005, from Trego, Montana to Edgewood, New Mexico, 2000 miles, at that time with one horse and her dog, Claire, now retired. After that trip, the Long Riding bug had bitten and there was no turning back. In 2006 and 7, she did a 5000 mile, 18 month ride, with her horse and Claire (l6 months, 14 sets of horseshoes, 12 pairs of dog booties.) Then in 2008, Bernice bought her first Fjord, Essie Pearl, and did a 3000 mile trip. Bernice says that even when she’s home, she finds it very difficult to be indoors and so she still sleeps outside in her tent, to keep herself in the right frame of mind. Then she gets bored and needs to be on the road again. 25,000 miles later she’s now on a trip from Montana to Maine (she camped in Maine last winter) and on through Canada from east to west, then home again to Montana in 2016. I asked her whether she’s nervous being alone on the road. She says she carries a gun when she’s in the states, a Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum, although she does feel safe. In all her years on the road she’s met wonderful people, and has had a few scares, but they weren’t from people.
On her second trip she came as close as possible to being killed. She was in the NW corner of New Mexico and it was freezing. “I had no tent with me, just a sleeping bag and a tarp. I broke one of my own rules, which is never to sleep near water. Too many animals coming down to drink.”
She had pulled off the road through a gate into a large fenced area and had ridden about a quarter mile off the road. “I didn’t realize there was a big drum of shelled corn put out as wild pig bait near the water. I set up a 25 foot picket line for my horse and got into my sleeping bag. At midnight the wind picked up, the moon was down and the weather suddenly got wild. About a half hour later I smelled a herd of wild pigs, then 15 minutes later a herd of wild burros. Then I heard a scream. It was an old black stallion with five colored mares. Suddenly he was over me on his hind legs with his yellow teeth bared. My dog Claire was covered in cactus and crying. The stallion was trying to kill me to steal my mare.” Bernice said she was fighting for her life and terrified. She kept hitting the stallion with a rope at the same time trying to get her things packed and on the horse. He bit her mare, and came at her low, almost creeping, over and over again in a circle. “I was throwing things together and hitting him with the rope every time he got in close enough to attack me. I was leading the horse and I couldn’t find my way to the road. I was lost but Claire found the path, and all the while I was trying to lead the mare, the stallion was mounting her and tearing off the pack. Eventually, I found the gate and got through. Then I sat on the ground in the white frost and cried. When I finally got going again, he followed along on the other side of the fence until daylight.” There have been other close calls including a few grizzly bears she’s been able to scare away by noise made from flapping her tarp in the air, but nothing quite as frightening as that night.
Bernice is a member of the Long Riders’ Guild, an international association of equestrian explorers from 45 countries. It represents men and women who have ridden more than 1000 continuous miles on a single journey. She has more than fulfilled the requirements. There aren’t many men or women out there who are as dedicated to their animals and to life on the road as Bernice is.
- OFFICIAL ELEVATOR FOR FJORD BREED IN USA AND CANADA
- OFFICIAL JUDGE FOR THE GYPSY VANNER BREED IN USA AND CANADA
- CURRENT MEMBER OF THE MOUNTED SEARCH AND RESCUE TEAM, WORKING WITH THE ONTARIO PROVINCIAL POLICE
- JUDGED GYPSY VANNER HORSE SHOW, SEPTEMBER 2013
- PRODUCED EVALUATION CD FOR THE CFHA, 2013
- HALTER CHAMPIONSHIPS MULTIPLE TIMES- NORTH EAST FJORD HORSE SHOW, FINGER LAKES FJORD HORSE SHOW, MANY LOCAL SHOWS
- DRIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS MULTIPLE TIMES- NORTH EAST FJORD HORSE SHOW, FINGER LAKES FJORD HORSE SHOW, ST. LAZAIRE, QUEBEC, MANY LOCAL SHOWS
- PONY PAIR CHAMPIONSHIP, WALNUT HILL, N.Y. 2012
- PRESENTED DRIVING CLINIC, NOVA SCOTIA, MAY 2012
- JUDGED GYPSY VANNER HORSE SHOW, MAY 2012
- INSTRUCTOR, MULTIPLE SKIJORING CLINICS, WINTERS, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
- INSTRUCTOR, WEEK LONG BUTTERNUT FARM DRIVING AND DRAFT CLINICS, ALL BREEDS, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
- TRAINED 50 PLUS HORSES, ALL BREEDS, FOR DRIVING AND DRAFT FROM 1970 TO 2014
- PRESENTED PRE-EVALUATION AND DRIVING CLINIC, NOVA SCOTIA, 2011
- EVALUATOR AT HERNDON, VIRGINIA, JULY 14, 15, 2011
- JUDGE, LIGHT DRAFT ALL BREED, FJORDS, DALES, HIGHLANDS AND BLACK FORST, HERNDON, VIRGINIA, JULY 16, 2011
- JUDGE, DWYER HILL RIDING CLUB DRIVING SHOW, ALL BREEDS, RICHMOND, ONTARIO, AUGUST 2010
- ATTENDED NORWEGIAN STALLION SHOW IN NORFJORDIED, NORWAY 2010, 2001, 1996. 1986
- EVALUATED AT FJORD INTERNATIONAL EVALUATION, CALGARY, AUGUST 2010, IN WISCONSIN, 2009, IN VIRGINIA AND COLORADO, 2008, IN WISCONSIN, 2005
- JUDGE, FINGERLAKES, NEW YORK FJORD HORSE SHOW, JULY 2010
- REPRESENTED CANADA IN NORWAY AT ANNUAL STALLION EVALUATION, MAY 2010
- PRESENTED, “FJORD HORSE AS DRAFT HORSE”, NORWEGIAN FJORD HORSE ASSOCIATION, HERNDON, VIRGINIA, JANUARY 2010
- ORGANIZER OF FIRST EVER FJORD INTERNATIONAL EVALUATION IN CANADA, ALMONTE, OCTOBER, 2009
- PRESENTED PRE-EVALUATION CLINICS IN ALMONTE 2009, SASKATCHEWAN 2008, NOVA SCOTIA 2008
- INSTRUCTOR, SKIJORING CLINIC TO ICELANDIC PONY CLUB, MARCH 2009
- JUDGE, NORTH EAST FJORD HORSE SHOW, VERMONT, AUGUST 2009
- JUDGE, DRAFT PONY SHOW, DALES, FJORDS AND HAFLINGERS, HERNDON, VIRGINIA, AUGUST 2008
- IMPORTED AND TRAINED FOUR AWARD WINNING FJORD STALLIONS: HOSTAR, MARNIX, FELIX, AND PRYDARSON, 1987 TO 2007
- GUEST JUDGED IN DENMARK, 2006
- IMPORTED AND TRAINED PRYDARSON, TOP EVER EVALUATED FJORD STALLION IN NORTH AMERICA
- BEST GENTLEMAN DRIVER, CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIP, 1996
- TRAINED PRISCO AS A THREE YEAR OLD STALLION, FOR RIDING AND DRIVING
- HIGH POINT AWARD WINNER AT THE 25th ANNIVERSARY FJORD HORSE SHOW IN MINNESOTA USA, 2006
- MEMBER OF ORGANIZING COMMITTEE OF 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE USA NORWEGIAN FJORD HORSE REGISTRY, 2005
- MEMBER OF THE NORWEGIAN FJORD HORSE REGISTRY EVALUATION COMMITTEE 2000
- DIRECTOR, NORTH-EAST USA FJORD HORSE ASSOCIATION 1997
- CANADIAN CHAMPION PONY PAIRS DRIVING, 1997
- CANADIAN CHAMPION HORSE AND PONY PAIRS DRIVING, 1997
- INSTRUCTOR, LEEDS COUNTY DRAFT AND DRIVING WORKSHOP, ALL BREEDS, 1985, 1986
- TRAINED 4 MORGAN STALLIONS: ADANAC MIKE, DIAMOND, NICK AND BRUCE, 1980 TO 1995
Pleasure meeting you Pat. Hope to see you in Sandpoint, Idaho-USA at the International Fjord Horse Show 2016. Many good memories!