A Lesson in Devotion

This is a very touching article Bernice wrote for the Central States Horseman online newsletter. Permission was given to re-post. I hope you love it as much as I do. Enjoy!
— Sarah

Honor, Claire, & Bernice.

The Holiday Season inevitably reminds me of my beloved gray Thoroughbred, Honor. Why? you might ask. Because Honor was a lesson in devotion, perseverance, and most of all kindness. She traveled with me nearly 11,000 miles. Her limitless, nervous energy challenged me every day. “She’s going to kill me,” were daily words that rang through my head for nearly eight months before she finally settled down.

Honor’s pedigree included Native Dancer bloodline, the famous gray stallion who raced in the 1950s. He sired hundreds of horses. She was registered “Native Tail.” I changed her name to Honor when I thought, “Well, I am riding “on her,” Thus came “Honor.”

I purchased Honor from a horse trader in Washington state and prepared her for my second ride in 2006-2007, a 5000-mile ride, my hardest journey. I answered an ad in the paper and found her standing ankle deep in mud, shaking from a cold downpour of coastal rain, thin, wormy, and rain-rot down her back. “I’ll take her,” I said. Never rode her, never looked twice, never asked any questions. Wish I could have taken all the horses and knocked the guy in the head.

She had papers which recorded her as having been raced in the southwest—won nothing; purchased as a dressage horse—too hot; then became a broodmare and had two foals, but became much too fierce and protective to have in a herd. She simply did not fit anywhere and I knew if she didn’t work with me this mare would end up for slaughter.

She wanted nothing to do with me. She was literally crazy. At least by my standards, I had never worked with a horse like Honor. She had been bred for speed for cryin’ out loud. She rocked and spun circles in her stall, she was distraught and anxious.

I moved in with her at the stable and two months later after much 24/7 work with her, a diet upgrade, worming, new shoes, and as much road work as I could possibly do with her, we set out on a 5000-mile, a two-year journey. How ever did we do it? I ask my self. Claire Dog offered her enormous companionship, she would follow Claire anywhere. Needless to say, this helped.

From the northwest corner of Montana, we struggled across the great plains of Montana into the sweltering heat of North Dakota. Minnesota, where I stopped to visit family, nearly ate us alive with bugs. The ride south through Iowa, Nebraska, and Oklahoma were simply days and weeks of “getting by.” When I finally reached New Mexico we were exhausted—all of us—Claire Dog, Honor, and myself. But something else had happened. We had bonded!

Shortly before Christmas, this scene unfolded. Honor’s behavior brought me to tears, as it will many readers who are of kindred spirits when it comes to horses. It was a common scene. Honor grazed 30 feet away while I sat in the brown grass with my arms wrapped around my knees. At my feet sat Claire on her hind-end, with her head up, stoically watching, listening, smelling. A sunny, warm, breezy afternoon passed slowly as I remembered the weather I’d avoided back in Montana this time of year. I’d reached my sister’s in Las Vegas, New Mexico a week before Christmas. This was a scheduled rest stop.

From the right, I could see the neighbor Daryl West walking down the hill towards us with his two big shepherds, Bently and Maggie. I waved and said, “Come on over and visit.” As his two dogs moved closer to Claire, I could see Honor’s attention following them. Daryl said as he approached, “Be nice you two,” speaking quietly to his dogs. Our dogs were fine together–they’d met before. But the usual shuffle of dogs at first contact ensued. This brought Honor to our side, her head dropped, her nose now inches from the ground, and with a low deep nicker, she moved quickly but carefully.

First, she nuzzled Claire, then my shoulder, before she pushed the two shepherds away. I never moved from my seated position. Daryl kept on talking as he stood a few feet to my left. Honor never laid her ears back, nor moved in a way that disturbed us. She went about all of this as if she were a careful mother tending to her young. Daryl never thought anything of it. Honor moved in such a quiet and careful way he never suspected her of doing anything. I held my breath, watching this horse offer protection—caring enough, careful enough, not to disturb anyone as I followed her every move with disbelief.

Daryl talked, I nodded. As soon as the dogs tried again to move closer Honor moved in. She circled slowly, ever so slowly, round and round, until the two big dogs had no choice but to move further away. Daryl stayed, with his two dogs, for 20 minutes or so. Honor could have left at any time. We were in a large pasture, She was not tethered—no halter or rope on her, but she stayed with us.

After Daryl and his dogs left, Honor resumed eating as if nothing had happened. We stayed there—the three of us in silent harmony, tears streaming down my cheeks. The hard struggles she had known in her past life had now led her down a road with a family. Dog, woman, and horse, united. This beautiful gray mare would make it, I thought. She would make it. We walked together back to the house through the still trees and at that moment, I loved her more than anything in the world. I’d never had a horse do something like this before–never. Honor, my beloved Honor, truly a lesson in devotion—devotion given, and devotion returning to me and Claire.


For more photos of Honor and Claire which accompanied this article, go to the link below. It will open a tab with the Central States Horseman January newsletter. Bernice’s article is on pages 12 and 13 (click or scroll).


“7 Montana Books to Start Your Year Right”

Great Falls Tribune – Great Falls, Montana

January 21, 2019

By Kristen Inbody

Excerpt and link to article, below.

Here's seven Montana books to start your year right.

1. “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback” by Bernice Ende 

"Lady Long Rider" by Bernice Ende

“Lady Long Rider” by Bernice Ende (Photo: COURTESY PHOTO)

A retired teacher from Trego, Ende set out in 2005 to ride from northwestern Montana to New Mexico. She kept riding, putting 29,000 miles on her saddle and seeing the country (even the book tour for “Lady Long Rider” is by horseback). 

Eleven years later, she became the first person to ride ocean to ocean in both directions on the same journey, a trip she used to talk about the role suffragettes and previous lady long riders played in American history. 

Her goals are to learn, to explore, to grow and to encourage female leadership. 

Quotable: “Long riding is not a pleasure ride. There is much to fear and yet no place for fear.” 


“5 Interesting Montana Writers”

January 14, 2019

By Issa Rabideaux

This blog by the Montana Gift Corral features Bernice and “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback”. Exerpt and link to full article, below.

5 Interesting Montana Writers

Bernice Ende

Montana Novelist Bernice Ende, author of Lady Long Rider on 5 Wonderful Montana Writer's at the Montana Gift Corral

Photo courtesy of Olivia Harlow

    On a small dairy farm just outside of Rogers, Minnesota a young girl grew up riding the wind and chasing her dreams. Bernice Ende was born to a knarl-handed dairy farmer and his wife, a woman who encouraged taking life by the reigns. Bernice grew up riding horses around the 100+ acres of land, imagining what it would be like to be riding through the wild west alongside the Lone Ranger and Hop-a-Long Cassidy. After Bernice was inspired by the grace of the horses, she went to Portland to study dance. From there she learned the Royal Academy of Dance method and went on to teach ballet for twenty-five years. In 1992 she moved to Trego, Montana where she opened up a dance school. Ten years later, Bernice Ende retired.

    However, retirement didn’t bring inactivity, it brought a window of opportunity. It was only after retiring Bernice felt the pull of the open road, the desire for adventure, the need to go, to see, to experience. So in 2005, after an epiphany and a battle with her desires, Bernice Ende started a 2,000-mile journey on horseback. Since then, Bernice has logged more than 30,000 miles in the saddle. Her book, Lady Long Rider is a beautiful account of her journeys, her hardships, her hopes, and fears. If you want a raw and wonderful story, her’s is one I highly recommend. 

Quote by Montana Novelist Bernice Ende, author of Lady Long Rider on 5 Best Montana Writer's at the Montana Gift Corral


“Run Away”

Edgewood, New Mexico

Honor and Essie Pearl near Sedona, AZ, heading east. 2008, 3000-mile ride.

I suppose I should not admit it, but I am… running away.

I remember running away when my mother, while in the hospital to have my younger brother, had been gone just a little too long for my 5-year-old heart. I was found not far down the country gravel road with my wagon and blanket.

By now my sister must be quite tired of me, where I am staying here in Edgewood, NM. I’d planned on staying three days. Three weeks later I am preparing to leave, snow being the reason. But, three weeks well spent with my older sister and her friends–more talks and much rest.

Honor and Claire Dog. 2006-2007, 5000-mile ride.
An oasis! 2006.

I am half-way through the Lady Long Rider Book Tour. Half-way! Four months ago I looked south on my map with trepidation. I am taking THAT (eyes upon my 50-year-old ’69 Ford, a truck that has scarcely been out of Montana!) on this book tour? But here we are, Bill’s Old Blue Truck having gallantly pulled my girls up and over the mountains of Montana into the green of Washington and across the plains and rolling hills of Oregon. We followed the east side of the Sierra Nevada’s south then eastward over the flatland of the Mojave Desert and finally, my loyal Ford conquered the high town of Flagstaff before dipping south through Silver City, and arriving in Albuquerque three weeks ago.

Pecos Wilderness. 2008.
My faithful companion Claire Dog. Her first year riding, 2008.
A tar-paper shack will a million-dollar view. Caught in snowstorm after snowstorm.
PieTown, NM. 2007.

I’ve decided to forgo Texas until the documentary is completed, when there’ll be more time for the big state. We have been doing much additional filming while I’ve been here. I also look at a serious need for a break and time to ride. Thus comes, a “Run Away”.

Cowboys, end of day. Ranch north of Magdalene, NM. 2007.

I return and begin the second half of the book tour on February 15th. Sunshine, miles of open road, the absence of cell phone and computer. The horses and tent await me. A sincere heartfelt “Thank You” to all who have hosted a talk or who have responded with kind words after reading the book, Lady Long Rider. To all of those who have traveled miles to hear my words and stories. Thank you to those who have helped coordinate the presentations. And thank you, thank you, to my publisher, FarCounry Press, for the support you offer.

Long straight roads across New Mexico. 2006.

Sarah Wilson and Zach from FarCountry Press will be holding the reins while I am riding. I will continue sending book and DVD orders and will check in with Sarah once a week.

 Until then, Happy Trails, Bernice

Edgewood, New Mexico

That is my sister, Mary Ann, working the snow blower without much luck.

I have been accused of bringing Montana with me!

No one is complaining however. The moisture is much needed. But this much at one drop, with single-digits weather is more like Montana.

No matter how fast or slow I travel, the days consistently pass by as we near the end of 2018. Bill’s Old Blue Truck gallantly pulls me on and on. I remember thinking way back in Oregon, “I’ll be halfway through my book tour when I reach Santa Fe.” Well here we are!


Lone Pine, California. I said goodbye to Claiborne Mitchell who helped facilitate the California stretch as snow-covered Sierra Nevada’s reminded me, winter is coming, winter is coming.

A strong westerly wind pushed us quickly across the Mohave Desert. I’d intended on traveling across Death Valley following the route I’d taken in 2007. But weather, time, and the fact I was pulling a horse trailer (plus nearly everyone said, don’t go across Death Valley with a trailer) had me reconsider.

Triple Farms” has been a repeat stop since 2007, on the 5000-mile ride with Honor. The owner, Suzanne Evans, and her partner Jake have had their hands in a dozen different adventures. This time it’s a produce stand! Incredibly successful and how pretty with an enormous selection. I wished I’d taken more of their produce with me when I left after a two-day stop over.

Her daughter, Brittany Pennington, is a partner in this adventure.

Next stop – Flagstaff, Arizona. Snow greeted me as I drove into Mary Williamson’s home who kindly hosted my stay. Like I said earlier, this has become a reunion book tour. I stayed with Mary and her partner Chris Mcintosh in 2008 on my 3000-mile ride with Honor, Essie Pearl, and Claire Dog. Mary made all the arrangements for the Flagstaff talk which was standing room only, by the way.

Mary & Chris in Flagstaff, AZ.

Ran down to Prescott, Arizona for a talk, where Sharon Christopherson and Gary Hammond surprised me. I stayed with them back in 2007 and 2008!

With Gary & Sharon in Prescott, AZ.

St. Johns, Arizona. I met Kay McDevitt in 2008. She has been caretaker of the fairgrounds in St. Johns for I think she said, 27 years. From St. Johns I ran over to Holbrook for an evening talk before moving on to Silver City, New Mexico.

Kay still moving from here to there with her dog and golf cart!

Silver City, New Mexico was non-stop talks thanks to Pat Wolph who made all the arrangements AND hosted my stay in her pretty casita. We may have been busy but we had a great time and good turn-outs for the talks.

Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Grapes Gallery hosted my talk and Grace Bryan provided one of the loveliest settings in her colorful gallery that I have spoken at.

More photos – Between Lone Pine, CA. to Truth or Consequences, NM.

This young gal, her name was Jessie. She so reminded me of myself at her age. She took my tires off and replaced the valve stems. Not many gals could do this.
Abandoned gas station.