“Your Horse Farm” Blog Post

RAMM Horse Fencing & Stalls

April 26, 2019

By Debbie Disbrow

30,000 miles in the saddle. Owner of RAMM Horse Fencing & Stalls, Debbie Disbrow, looks back on her time meeting Lady Long Rider.

RAMM Horse Fencing and Stalls hosted a presentation and book signing event for “Lady Long Rider”, Bernice Ende. She started her first Long Ride in her 50’s traveling 2,000 miles to visit her sister. Currently, she is still long riding with 2 horses, no cell phone, some maps and minimal provisions. After meeting her, here are some thoughts and memories from Debbie.

I had never met a long rider before. I didn’t know what to expect. Bernice Ende has ridden over 30,000 miles across the United States from coast to coast. And I felt privileged to meet her, we all did.

As simple as life is for her, no extras of any kind and little to no possessions, her life is actually very complex. We take our homes, barns, cars, closets, storage – all for granted. When you only have your horse and pack horse, there isn’t much room for extras. Her tent is almost extravagant. With little more than blankets and a tiny cook stove, her tent is her home. And because of her mother, she has a few doilies to make it seem more like home. She did say that there is nothing better than being in the desert with a crackling fire, your horses close and a sky full of stars! Simple.

Bernice is a woman that is very disciplined. After teaching ballet for 23 years and giving many kinds of horse riding lessons including dressage, she maintains her strength for riding. In her sixties, she does exercises daily and advanced yoga along with chin ups, standing on her head, standing on her hands…well, you get the idea. Not so simple.

Because life goes by at a horse’s walking pace, approximately 4 miles an hour, her days are long. Bernice is always in the moment. When you’re riding horses along highways, on roads and around all kinds of noises, distractions and things flying in the air, you have to be ready with your horses for anything – all the time. Packs on the horses must be in good order and balanced evenly. It takes her about 2 hours to get the horses ready to head out and then 2 hours at night to set up camp, clean tack and eat too. Simple yet complicated.

Eating could consist of rice and greens, rice and dandelions, or rice and plants from foraging. Nettles being one of the things she finds. Even her horses can eat dried nettles. She said that she gets her tent readied in the evening, gets her rice cooked, throws in anything else she can forage or find in the way of vegetables. She wraps her pot with several layers of cloth and then into her sleeping bag to make a slow cooker. While her food cooks she is cleaning tack and blankets, readying anything for the following ride, including shoeing. Lots of work.

Her outlook on life is more than beautiful. She believes in keeping a positive outlook on everything. Negativity has no place with her because she knows how damaging it can be to a person. She also knows that it takes a leadership role with her horses in order for them to have great respect for her. If she does not have the horses’ full respect, it’s a matter of life or death for a long rider. She is confident that her horses know how to ride behind each other, ride astride, can turn both directions and stand in one place, can pivot and turn together, will stop and stand, will ground tie, can side step together, etc.. If not it would be dangerous for her horses and herself. Training is imperative for the long rides. Not simple.

After talking with Bernice Ende, I realized all that I take for granted. That the apparently simple things really are not simple and that the difficult things can really be simple in life. That each one of us can look at our own accomplishments, on our own journey, and take appreciation for what we accomplish. That each and every one of us has our own long ride and we decide how long, how far and how often we go.

There is so much wisdom in this Long Rider, Bernice Ende. And for those that wish to be like her, it will never happen. The long rides require much solitude, which she enjoys. It requires discipline, which many do not have. And giving up all one owns and leaving it behind for many years of the long ride.

It is her life and she can not stop riding–going from place to place and gracing those she meets along the way. She does not know why she has this strong desire to ride, or did she ever expect to do this, but she knows that it is her journey. Simple yet complicated, the life of Lady Long Rider.

Bernice Ende can be found on Facebook and on her web site. Her tour and riding schedule can also be found there. Her Lady Long Rider books may be purchased at her website, Ende of the Trail or at Amazon books.

Lady Long Rider Wins IBPA Award for Best New Voice – Nonfiction

Bernice’s book won the Silver Award of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best New Voice – Nonfiction, from the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). This is great! Congrats, Bernice!

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Statement from FarCountry Press, Bernice’s publisher in Helena, Montana.

Farcountry Press is pleased to announce that two of our 2018 titles have received Silver Awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) in it’s prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award™ program, recognizing excellence and innovation in independent publishing. Bernice Ende won the Silver Award for Best New Voice: Nonfiction for her incredible memoir Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback Lady Long Rider – Bernice Ende. And our handsome book of wildlife photography, Donald M. Jones Wild Montana, brought home the Silver Award for Best Coffee Table Book! Congratulations to our authors, photographers, production staff, and the entire Farcountry Team.

“Michigan Madness”

April 18 – 24, 2019

I will call this week “Michigan Madness.” When I rode through this part of the country in 2014/15 I experienced the same enthusiasm and interest, it’s been fast and furious and I say that with a big smile.

2014/15

The grass is SO GREEN! This is in stark contrast to the densely forested naked trees bedded down with a thick layer of brown leaves from last year’s shedding. The grass looks fake, Fake Grass like Fake News!! Ummm

This is Ford country. My truck receives a good deal of attention. There are no trucks this age (Bill’s Old Blue Truck is 50 years old). Here in Michigan, they all have rusted back into the earth.

Deveraux Memorial Library Grayling, Michigan

I can’t help but think that in 1969 this old Ford rolled off the assembly line in Detroit, destined for Whitefish, Montana, where my friend Bill Griffin purchased it new at DePratu Ford dealership.

The only reason I am driving this truck is because Burton Robson who lives in Portland, Michigan, told me, “That’s a good truck, it will make it, you keep that truck.” I lamented not having a better vehicle for the book tour. Now here I am nearing the end of my travels with this old trusty truck and not one, not one problem has presented itself! I tell it repeatedly, “You are a champion,” and pat the dashboard.

Last Saturday I spoke at the Portland District Library, Portland, Michigan, to a full room–many of whom were the Robson Clan. I had a lovely sunny afternoon with Sharon and Burton’s family on Easter. Watching an exhausting kite flying exhibition from a grandson brought back memories of those little kites we purchased for 99 cents with a match stick (balsa wood?) like frame and tissue paper thin structure. The kite hardly held up in the wind before coming crashing down, breaking to bits!

The Robson Clan. I met Burton Robson (beard in back) on my 2015 ride. He’s been my main contact for MIchigan providing me with a car to drive, a mechanic to look at my precious truck and a stable to safely board my beloved horses while I run a muck in Michigan.
Easter Dinner with Burton, his wife Sharon, and their daughter’s family in Portland, Michigan.

I also drove south for talks in LaPorte, Indiana, at the La Porte County Public Library where I spoke at another well-attended gathering. Susan Bannwart, Adult Services at the library, introduced me–herself being a horsewoman.

The next day I drove to Swanton, Ohio, where I spoke at the restored Beach Ridge Wheelhouse, Oak Openings Preserve Metropark. This was hosted by Debbie Disbrow, owner of RAMM Horse Fencing & Stalls, https://www.rammfence.com/. Now I have to laugh because I thought all this time I would drive up to a feed store that sold fencing. Instead, I drove up to a complex of buildings that manufactures and distributes fencing from which many of you who are horse people have purchased fencing. The Divine Equine Stables where my horses are stabled have RAMM stalls!

Bernice and Debbie Disbrow, Host and President & CEO, RAMM Horse Fencing & Stalls.
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Mikey Disbrow and Bernice.

I think I can now honestly say how it feels to be a celebrity because these women went all out in cutting a huge slice of hospitality for me!! My goodness and such a turnout!! The entire event was as they say, OVER THE TOP. Thank you!!

Last night I spoke in Hesperia, Michigan. Hosted by Chris Hubbard, an avid horsewoman and packer who has put many miles in riding Michigan over the past years. We had a good showing at the library and then I had a good rest in her renovated living-quarters horse trailer before heading north for Traverse City, Michigan.

Traverse City is a beautiful, innovative, charming historic town located on West Grand Traverse Bay. From the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake shore to the vibrant downtown with cultural diversity, arts & fine dining, Traverse City is a place I must return to for a longer visit. It’s the Cherry Capital of the World!

Staff at Grayling Public Library, we had a nice afternoon turnout. Thankyou!

The horses are safe and sound at Divine Equine Stables eight miles north of Portland, Michigan. The owners are Denise and Roger Arnesen. Although not quite ready for boarders, Denise and Roger have accommodated my two girls. The dairy farm they are renovating into a boarding stable once belonged to her father. I simply can not thank them enough as I feel the horses are far better off safely tucked away at Divine Equine Stables than with me on this very busy last leg of the book tour. I truly miss them already!!

Weather is on and off again, Spring rains mixed with warm sunny days. This week I have talks everyday. Sunday I leave for New York for three weeks. I end the book tour on May 22. Nearly done. More later.

Bernice

I call this week Michigan Madness because when I rode through this part of the country in 2014/15 I experienced the same enthusiasm and interest, its been fast and furious and I say that with a big smile.

Upper Wisconsin & Michigan, April 2019

Butternut and Park Falls, Wisconsin.

The John & Kathy Schroeder Farm, a century home where John and Kathy, third-generation owners, kindly hosted my stay for two nights when I gave my talk at the library in Park Falls, Wisconsin.

The John & Kathy Schroeder Farm

Beautiful old weather vane.

Schroeder cattle, with horses nearby.


Iron River, Michigan.

For those of you concerned about the snow… Well, I did indeed get stuck right in the middle of it–but, the folks in Iron River, Michigan, helped me through it. From Gina Giuliani whom I had met in 2014, to the librarians, and the road department–all came to my aid and put me up at the Iron County Michigan Fairgrounds where the horses had shelter and we had support. I remained warm, safe, and dry for which I say again and again, “Thank You!”

Not much snow, but when you’re pulling a trailer….

Chains on.

Chains off.


Lake Michigan, Mackinac Bridge, Lake Huron

As we traveled eastward from Park Falls, Wisconsin, toward the Mackinac Bridge between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, the snow lessened, green grass began to show, and there it was, Lake Michigan. It was a thrill to see, even if it was not on horseback as it had been in 2014. I could not help but wonder if Spirit could smell and remember the area. Little Liska is on quite the adventure, as is Bill’s Old Blue Truck!

Bill’s Blue Truck meets Lake Michigan.

Ice on Lake Michigan.

Roiling ice waves!

Mackinac Bridge. I was grateful for the pilot car which led us in trucks and trailers across on this windy day.


Fairgrounds in Cheboygan, Michigan

Leigh Lasley welcomed me to the Cheboygan County Fairgrounds. I met Leigh in 2014 when she stopped as one of the curious and interested. She brought hay and we have remained friends ever since. And again this visit, she brought hay. Oh my, to be through the worst of the weather, I do believe!

Leigh Lasley.

All the stalls to ourselves!

Liska Pearl and Montana Spirit.

E-Book Now Available!

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From Ylime Marie,
” Hi Bernice!!! Guess who is in the airport boarding to Buenos Aires…..and guess what I’ve got with me!!! Thank you for being a bright and inspiring part of my journey!!!

The eBook of “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback” is now available from the publisher, FarCountry Press, https://farcountrypress.com/details.php?id=815 and Amazon (internationally). Especially awaited by international followers of our favorite long rider, Bernice Ende. Above is a lovely photo of Ylime Marie and her Lady Long Rider book on the way to Buenos Aires! (that is, before the e-book was available).

“Author and Long-Distance Horse Rider Bernice Ende to Share Tales from the Trail”

Price County Review – Park Falls, Wisconsin

April 4, 2019

By Anna Maria Hansen

Trail team

Author and long-distance horse rider Bernice Ende stands with her stalwart companions from earlier rides: Honor and Claire Dog.

Bernice Ende shares a moment with one of her horses while traveling through New Mexico.

In 2005 at the age of 50, Bernice Ende mounted her horse and rode south, starting an odyssey that would take her 2,000 miles away from her starting point of Trego, Montana, to Edgewood, New Mexico. The experience that unfolded over the following five months would have been the journey of a lifetime for most people, but for Ende, it was just the beginning.

Over the past 14 years, Ende has essentially adopted the life of a nomad, riding 30,000 miles through the United States and Canada. While she still owns a log cabin in northwestern Montana, Ende spends the vast majority of her life traveling with her horses, constantly outdoors, ever on the move.

Ende’s life wasn’t always this way.

Before her first ride in 2005, Ende grew up on a Minnesota dairy farm, riding horses from the time she could walk. When she grew up, Ende pursued an education in ballet, teaching dance for her entire career. In 1992, Ende moved from the west coast to Trego, Montana, where she opened a small dance school and began giving riding lessons and training horses.

Then it happened.

“I just suddenly had the realization that I had to move, had to change, had to do something,” she said. Although horses and riding had been a lifelong passion, riding across the country had never been something she’d considered. Until now.

As Ende tells it, she saw a window of opportunity open and climbed through.

With nothing but her horse and her dog, Ende set off, aiming for New Mexico. The journey was exhausting, both physically and mentally. With a horse determined to return home to the safety of his pasture, Ende felt she couldn’t safely take her hands off the reins. For two weeks, she never let go of her horse. The only way to keep them both sane was to keep moving, so they rode — 30, 40, 50 miles in a day. Ende recalls her legs collapsing when she tried to dismount. She slept in ditches. During the few hours of sleep she got in a night, the only thing that kept her warm was the body warmth of her faithful dog. Ende cried as she rode, often only able to focus on taking one step after another.

Yet, eventually, horse and human found an equilibrium. While that first long ride was a challenge from start to finish, Ende rode into New Mexico with the realization that she could never return to normal life. The experience had forever changed her.

“It was as if, at 50 years old, I had crawled into my own skin for the first time,” she recalled.

Only months after returning to Montana, Ende was on the road again, which is where she has found herself ever since. Many things have changed since that first ride, both in how Ende personally approaches the experience and in the country she is riding through.

After 14 years of moving at a walking pace through the country — traveling east, west, north, and south — Ende has gotten a taste of the world she could never have experienced if she had stayed in her “normal” existence. She has experienced both true danger and true kindness on the road, from encounters with grizzly bear and people pulling guns to perfect strangers welcoming her into their homes and greeting her with a hero’s welcome.

Perhaps the most surprising realization for Ende is the fact that so many people long for such adventure in their own lives, and how many people she now brings vicariously on her rides.

“This is a unique way to travel in the modern world,” she said. “Not just the physical experience, but the romantic image people hold in their head of a lone person crossing the country on horseback. I realized I wasn’t just on a journey for myself — I am out here for hundreds, maybe thousands of other people who want this.”

By her own choice, Ende’s life is one different than most. Year-round, she lives outdoors with her horses, sleeping either in a tent or sometimes her horse trailer. Her days are not as simple as riding from one point to another; horses, even those well trained, are still powerful and unpredictable animals. Every moment Ende is riding, she must remain alert to the possibility of something unexpected occuring. While she maintains that the vast majority of her interactions with other humans are positive, Ende does carry a gun for her own safety.

As she rides, she navigates her routes along small highways using state maps that she carries with her. The routes she chooses are based on a litany of variables: weather, food, people, and road conditions.

In a life stripped to its bare essentials, Ende lives on about $3 a day. Every day she is on the road, her focus is in finding food and shelter. At the end of day, there are often quiet moments, when Ende might find time to read or write in her journal as her horses graze nearby.

“Living this way has changed my sense of space and time,” explained Ende. “My awareness of other people, animals, the weather, has all broadened. To leave behind your walls and stalls, all the things that separate us, is an experience so unique and intimate.”

Yet such freedom always comes at a price.

“It is a trade-off,” Ende freely admitted. “To live like this, you give up community and relationships. I don’t have a home or a job or a town. There are times when that’s hard. But what I have in an expansive group of people that believe in what I’m doing, and have been so generous to me.”

Perhaps the hardest experience Ende has had to face in all her many years of riding has been the loss of some of her longtime companions. Her faithful first companion, a mix-breed dog of unknown origins that answered to Claire Dog, passed away at the age of 16 in 2015 after covering 17,000 miles with Ende. While her first long-distance horse is happily retired on a Montana ranch, Ende lost her beloved second horse to a freak accident. A third horse passed away in retirement, and a fourth horse died of a brain parasite. Through the strong bonds forged after years and countless miles spent together, these are losses Ende will always carry.

The gumption that comes from a long line of strong and independent women is part of what has given Ende the inner strength required to stick with her way of life. Ende dedicates each of her rides to her mother, who she describes as a capable woman that always encouraged her daughter to seek adventure. In turn, Ende hopes that in some small way, her own journey will encourage other women to surmount challenges and become strong leaders.

Since October 2018, Ende has been on the road traveling once again, this time with a trailer for her horses and boxes of books in her truck as she tours the country sharing her story with others.

Ende’s eight long-distance rides have become her first book, “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback.” Ende will be visiting the Park Falls Public Library at 6 p.m., Monday, April 8, to tell her story, which will also be the topic of a documentary released later this summer.

While Ende’s journey has taken her across the country, it is still far from over.

“I think I still have several good rides left in me,” she said. “At this point, my trips operate a lot more smoothly than they did when I started. I’m not sure where I’ll be heading next, but I have a couple ideas in mind.”