Huson, Montana – June 23rd, 2017

New Tent from Burton Robson
New Tent from Burton Robson

Here’s a cute story. Last year when I spoke at the International Fjord Show in Sandpoint, Idaho I walked past a woman and turned and said, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” Something familiar caught my eye. “No,” she said, “I don’t think so.” Then again later visiting with the folks attending the show I said, “Are you SURE we have never met, you look SO familiar.” And again she replied, “No, don’t think so.”  Well she went home looked up my website, looked at where I had gone to school and well turns out Nancy Beech then Nancy Olsen and I had gone to all 12 years of Elk River Elementary and High School together. There is even a photo in our year books of us on the basketball and volley ball teams together. Good Golly Miss Molly!! And now here I am visiting Nancy in Paradise, Montana!!


How’s that for a cute story?

Rode over Siegel Pass 6300 feet, nice ride on my way to Huson, Montana where I have met up with Carol Guthrie author of  Glacier National Park: The First 100 years and other books on Glacier Park. Carol is putting the finishing touches on my book, “In My Own Skin” to be published by FarCountry Press released this winter.

Nice ride across Siegel Pass
Nice ride across Siegel Pass
Weather was quiet enough to camp on top.
Weather was quiet enough to camp on top.
Carol and I at her lovely home in Huson taking a break from editing.

Horses are fat and content. This is vacation riding, I’d never consider this “long riding.”

Trego, Montana – June 2nd, 2017

Montana Spirit simply cannot keep her hoof off my Benchmark Maps."Lets go to Washington, she says..Ok, Ok"
Montana Spirit simply cannot keep her hoof off my Benchmark Maps.”Lets go to Washington, she says..Ok, Ok”

Little Liska Pearl’s report card

                                    April, 2017                                  June, 2017

Leading…………….. C _________________ B+

Bridling……………. D- ________________ B+

Hoof trimming……A ________________ A+

Shoeing…………….. F _________________ C

Standing still when saddling

                                       D-________________ B+

Catching …………..  C- ________________ B+

(she can sometimes “play” – smiles)

Backing ……………  D-_________________ C+

But Spray bottle…    F _________________ C+

Wearing fly mask… C ________________ A+

Picketing on rope skills.. F _________________ B+

Road skills………………….C+ _______________ B-

Brushing………………….     A ________________ A+

Friendliness ……………..    B ________________ A+

Eagerness ………………….. B ________________ A+

Willingness………………..   A ________________ A+

Beauty……………………….   B+________________ A+

I have taken to calling her Little Liska Pearl, next to Spirit she is little and seems so young and puppy-ish. They have taken on a definitive Big/Little sister relationship. They are a delight to work and live with.

I love watching the transformation from uncertainty to knowing to partnership to contentment. She’s a character, a little live-wire and trots everywhere she goes. She has developed a curiosity and attentiveness I would never have expected from her a couple of months ago.

The first ride out was hard for her, its always hard. But we traveled slow and after a week you could tell, you could just tell she liked it, she liked the travel, the grazing, the newness. She likes to move, she likes change. There is a brightness in her eyes, her ears, she has a lively step. She has filled in and rounded out with muscle….. AND Spirit likes her! I can picket Montana Spirit next to me and Liska Pearl will not leave! They scratch each others backs with vigorous bites and nuzzle  rubbing, accommodating from one side to the other. This afternoon Liska Pearl dashed back and forth with whinnies and bucks because Spirit wandered away from her and ended up on the wrong side of the fence. After our tragic loss of Essie Pearl this past winter I can only smile at the lovely transformation they are making, it’s a joy having them in my life. Leaving soon for Washington.

Burton Robson from Michigan is visiting, Liska thinks he has something for her.

Trego, Montana May 25th, 2017

Should be out be next week. New shoes going on today.

When I am not long riding I am longing to long ride. smiles

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The first saddle Lady Long Rider Bernice Ende used in 2005 will be offered at the upcoming auction June 24th  located 3 miles north of Eureka, Montana. The 40 pd Simco…. Saddle in good condition also comes with the following: an original hand-out card Ms. Ende used on the ride, a DVD “the first 10,000 miles,” photos and story about the ride AND a signed copy of her upcoming book “In My Own Skin,” when the book comes out this fall. Early bids can be submitted on line at……. Photos and contact information:

Workman Auction
 Auction Zip Auctioneer ID # 18263  
Mike Workman
PO BOX 1289
Eureka, MT 59917Phone: 406-889-3822

Trego, Montana – May 23rd, 2017

Getting ready to head back out.

This time we ride west for eastern Washington. The Okanagon Area.  Meeting up with Lynx Vilden for a short 2/300ride with her. The two of us are planning a 1000 mile ride in France next year. WE SHALL SEE. We shall see.

THe girls new spring attire, colorful don't you think? It is my own specialty, bed sheets from the 2nd hand store, keeps the bugs of my beloved and its inexpensive!
The girls new spring attire, colorful don’t you think? It is my own specialty, bed sheets from the 2nd hand store, keeps the bugs of my beloved and its inexpensive! Flymasks by Cashel, these are the best as far as I am concerned!
Sewing new riding pants on my treadle machine.

Trego, Montana May 18th, 2017

Is that a elk out there?
Is that a elk out there?
Why no its a Montana Spirit!
Why no its a Montana Spirit!

Reflections on this years first 300 miles

Poor little Liska Pearl was soft as butter when we left nearly 4 weeks ago. She is returning stronger and having acquired a fair amount of experience, she did well. The two mares have bonded in a way Montana Spirit and Essie Pearl never did. Montana Spirit has taken on the role of big sister, little Liska Pearl well she is of course the little sister. It’s a pleasure working with the horses when they are quiet together and not bickering.

While in Plains besides speaking at the Back Country Horseman meeting I spoke for the 6th grade classes, mostly about the long ride they were on, SCHOOL! I then had the pleasure of meeting up with the students once again on their class outing at the Bend Guard Station this is my reflection from that stop.

A Good Thing or One more reason to keep our Public Lands PUBLIC!

Two 6th grade classes, from the Plains grade School, 30 plus enthusiastic and rambunctious students on a class field trip swarmed the Bend Guard Station for two days. The restored historic Bend Guard Station also known as The Bend Work Center was once a Ranger Station for the old Cabinet National Forest. The original log ranger cabin which was constructed in 1911 is still on the site. It is located 25 miles or so north of Plains and graciously accommodated the lively, curious students.

In 1989 Jean Nemeth a teacher, forged ahead with her idea of taking the children on an outdoor hands-on experience. Now twenty-eight years later the 6th grade class continues making this yearly trek into the National Forest discovering, learning and growing in a classroom of blue skies and tall evergreen trees. With-out cell phones, I-pads, and social media conversations jig-jaged back and forth while a full moon enhanced the ambiance we all experienced. They were IN LIFE not just watching it. They learned survival skills, ecology, packing a horse, beading and roasted wild game while circled around a large fire pit. You could see it, you could hear it in their voices when they played a Native American game called the “screaming warrior.” You could feel their excitement of being so close to the earth. But there were also moments of reflection as they relaxed into a story told by Native American story teller Dennis Burt.

They quietly boarded the yellow school bus exhausted. It was as if they’d replaced the frantic life they came with – a life we are all to familiar with. They had replaced it with the calmness of cold creeks and wind whistling through tall trees. A bit humbled.

I say “Bravo” to Jean, Sandra and Lisa. To the school for encouraging and continuing the 6th grade outing and to the parents and volunteers that helped to make it happen. This is but one more reason to keep our public lands – public.

L to R. Kisa Brown, Yours truly, Jean Nemeth, and Sandra Jirasko at Bend Guard Station
L to R. Kisa Brown, Yours truly, Jean Nemeth, and Sandra Jirasko at Bend Guard Station
Natural - A very impressive Horsemanship demonstration by Cheryl Burt, Her husband is Dennis Burt
Natural – A very impressive Horsemanship demonstration by Cheryl Burt, Her husband is Dennis Burt
waiting for  a snow/sleet/rain squall to pass on the ride home
waiting for a snow/sleet/rain squall to pass on the ride home

Plains, Montana – Monday May 8th, 2017

we rode out with the melting snow, 2nd night out a set of corrals and a hay drop
We rode out with the melting snow, 2nd night out a set of corrals and a hay drop.
Website update may 2017

As I made a 20 plus mile descent off the long winding road from historical Bend Ranger Station, the snow covered Cabinet Mountain’s rising at my back, I had the good fortune to meet up with BACKCOUNTRY HORSEMAN of Plains, Montana. Trucks and trailers loaded with horses and mules heading home from a mountain ride, first one of the year. John Errecart stopped with his two big sorrel mules quietly standing in the horse trailer, heads and long ears poking out the windows as we talked. Montana Spirit is quite use to all this but little Liska Pearl is encountering newness at every step. If you are not familiar with BACKCOUNTRY HORSEMAN – ( I have written about them often and spoken at many of their meetings) they are in my opinion one of the best horse organizations if you want equestrian camaraderie or want to learn about packing or doing a back-country ride these are the folks to hook up with. I’ll be speaking at their meeting Monday evening here in Plains. I look forward to it.

Fairview work station a historical site not available for rent. I made camp on the front porch
Fairview work station a historical site now available for rent. I made camp on the front porch

If I am sore from our first 100 miles, then for sure the horses must be. Little Liska may be wishing she had stayed home. But I really do not think so. She has an eager look and excitement in her fast long stride. No more circles and arenas. These are long straight (or winding) roads she now travels, stretching out miles and miles and miles before her peaked ears and bright black eyes. She’s part of a team and seems very attached to Spirit. But oh my oh my what a radical change it must be for her.

Happy Inn behind the bar camped on their outdoor stage.

We are put up, (thanks to BACKCOUNTRY HORSEMAN who helped with the fees, a bit high for me) at the lovely and I mean they are lovely, Sanders County Fairgrounds. I do not complain about the cost it does take time and money to maintain these fairground facilities. I was headed away from the fairgrounds for a rough patch of open land near the Thompson River that is swelled and raging with spring waters when once again John Errecart pulls up next to us. This time with his wife, looking for me, bearing gifts of hay and grain! I must admit I’d been looking forward to staying at the fairgrounds. The horses needed the rest, free from ropes and tether lines. I needed a hot shower and corrals which are like having a baby sitter for my horses, allowing me undisturbed sleep. And so it happened a restful, very pleasant stay, “like the Hilton,” at the Sanders County Fairgrounds. Thank you BCH.

Rain and snow followed me most of the way from my cabin to the Libby stop over where I also had the good fortune of once again running into Judith Hemphill, a fine horsewoman in her own right who seems to always .lend a hand when I come thru Libby. She lent me a car so I could run errands while the horses remained safely at the J.Neil rodeo grounds.

I love this view of Libby I have seen it many times

Sixteen days – about 130 miles, not far, not fast, we must go slow. My back felt like it did the first year I rode a long ride. I thought I’d damaged my kidneys. I lay in my tent thinking “I can’t do this, I want to go back.” It does I must admit, take a fair amount of determination to long ride. “Well,” I said to myself – as I said to myself 13 years ago, “just how bad do you want to do this?” It hurts sometimes and it’s not fun nor easy as many imagine long riding to be. At not so young an age of 63 I must use more brain than brawn. I am glad Liska is small when I pack up. I am grateful everyday for the ease, the willingness and skills that my Montana Spirit offers me. But oh my, oh my, not a day goes by when I think, “How is it, how is it I get to do this?” The beauty, the people, this life of long riding. Each time I ride out I am filled with gratitude for our public land I have access to enjoy. We all must support this national treasure. Once again I am swept up by the enormity of the country I live in. A country that has filled my spirit these many years. A joy I thought I may have lost this past year.

Thank you I say, thank you and again thank you.

The girls having a good rest at the beautiful Sanders County Fairgrounds.