“Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback” made the list. Thank you, Debbie Disbrow!
“Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback” made the list. Thank you, Debbie Disbrow!
Horseback riding thousands of miles across parts of the U.S. multiple times over the past two decades has given Bernice Ende of Trego, commonly known as the Lady Long Rider, experiences of a lifetime.
She took her first “long ride” in 2005 and since has been on eight major rides accounting to over 30,000 miles traveled atop a horse. In late October the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame announced the 2020 class of inductions and chose Ende as the honoree from the 10th district, which includes Flathead, Lincoln, Lake and Sanders counties.
Inductees are chosen from a field of candidates nominated by the general public.
“The Hall of Fame exists to honor those who have made an impact in their part of the state and represent Montana’s authentic heritage for future generations,” said MCHF and Western Heritage Center President Bill Galt.
Ende says she’s honored that the organization recognizes both the sacrifices she made and victories she celebrated with each pursuit.
“It’s a legendary romantic, iconic image — this horse and rider, riding across the country,” she said. “And I never took it for granted, I understood how fortunate I was to be able to do it. But it was hard, it was damn hard.”
Her journeys always began from Trego and she said Whitefish was a usual venue to pass through as she headed out or returned from each ride. She said there was never a truck and trailer for these 3,000 to 4,000 mile trips, just always her horses and dog to keep her company.
Ende grew up in Minnesota on a dairy farm with five other siblings and was riding horses on her own by age 3. Ende taught classical ballet for 25 years before ever becoming a long rider. She lived and taught dance in several places before calling Trego home.
All while teaching dance though she kept horses near to her heart. She taught dressage and trained horses even while keeping up with her dance instruction. While training some thoroughbreds one day, she reached the horizon and thought one day she’d like to ride to see her sister who resides in New Mexico.
That was her first long ride, to Albuquerque. It didn’t go exactly as planned, and she ran into some hardships as she has on several of her thousand-mile treks, but she was already planning her next trip before she safely arrived in New Mexico.
According to the Hall of Fame, no other living woman has ridden as many miles or completed as many journeys as Ende; the Long Riders’ Guild recognizes Ende as an “outstanding ambassador for long-distance exploration on horseback.”
Ende completed her first couple of long rides by sleeping in between her packs on just a tarp with her dog, she’s since upgraded to a tent and a small propane stove to boil water. She said she still lives in a tent whenever she’s away from her home in Trego.
Ende’s longest journey began in 2014 when she rode coast-to-coast for 8,000 miles which took two and a half years to complete. She began in Trego, riding to the east coast of Maine and returned by riding through much of southern Canada to the west coast, riding back through Washington and Oregon to finally make it home.
“I didn’t really have anything, I gave up a lot to do it,” Ende recalled. “You give up your community and your family, really, and any sense of security.”
This past July, Ende was planning a “Lady Long Rider Suffragist Tour” in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote. She was due to travel, by truck and trailer this time, to New York and then ride to several sites and give talks at those places. However due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tour was cancelled.
Although disappointed, Ende said her work to encourage women will never end.
“I ride to encourage female leadership,” she said. “After the first ride I realized that I really want to encourage women not be afraid of doing something that scares them. We need female leadership, we need women who have the courage to step out.”
Ende isn’t exactly sure what the future will hold, but she’s leaning toward doing shorter rides — and by shorter she means 400-mile trail rides instead. She said there is much of the country that she hasn’t seen yet because on these cross-country rides her only transportation was by horse.
“Like when I rode to the East Coast, it took me eight months to go there; so when you set out, you don’t get to go sightseeing, you’ve got to go there, you’ve got to keep it moving,” Ende said.
According to the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame, Ende leads a life that closely matches the spirit of the state’s original founders which led to the honor.
“She embodies the pioneer, can-do spirit characteristic of those who have created our great state — Bernice has put Montana on the map from astride her horses,” her induction says.
To follow Ende’s adventures and future rides, visit endeofthetrail.com.
District 10 (Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, & Sanders Counties): Living Award – Bernice Arlene ‘Lady Long Rider’ Ende, Trego. Legacy Award – Wilderness Worn – A Government Packers Legacy, Eureka.
Great Falls Tribune, October 17, 2020.
Link to article:
Tri-State Livestock News, October 13, 2020.
Link to article:
Full biographies for past inductees are available on the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center’s website, http://www.montanacowboyfame.org. This year’s inductees will be added to the website soon.
The Tour had originally been planned for July and August this year, but like so many things in the year of Covid, the tour had to be cancelled. Barbara Moore, Sarah Wilson, JJ Prill, and Lisa DeMasi had all contributed much time to the event.
Starting in Montana, we (Montana Spirit, Little Liska Pearl, and I) would have traveled eastward making many stops, eventually making our way to Seneca Falls, Rochester, Fayetteville, and many other towns, events, and parades. Ford Motor Company had provided a new pick-up truck. Barbara had made arrangements for a living-quarters horse trailer. The International Museum of the Horse at the Kentucky Horse Park would have stayed connected to us with an interactive display. So much to celebrate, so many historical figures to thank, so many women to encourage.
I want to thank all of you who put much time and energy into the event. Barbara Moore truly was the master mind! She pulled strings, moved mountains, and kept at it until we had a route, stops, and vehicles for the celebration tour.
These photos will have to do. Discouraging and disappointing as it all is, it does not mean we can stop! We can not stop reminding women of the date we now celebrate, 1920, the year women finally, finally took the right to vote into their own hands. Once hundred years ago! And to think it took 77 years, from the Seneca Falls, NY convention in 1848 to 1920 when the 19th Amendment was ratified.
Let’s take a look at a married woman’s conditions in 19th century America.
First of all, a woman had no autonomy over her own body. A married woman had no claim to personal possessions or money, including anything she brought into the marriage or any money she might somehow have earned. She also had no claims of custody of her children in the unlikely case of divorce. In fact, her children could be taken from her by her husband at any time–for any reason, or for no reason at all. She could not sign a contract, sit on a jury, bring a lawsuit, or leave her possessions to anyone but her husband upon her death.
Where did they get such ideas?
Early suffragists were influenced by Quaker morals which advocated for women’s equality, and also by tribes of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy/Nation who gave women agency in property, power, and the right to vote in tribal decision making.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, and later Matilda Joselyn Gage were greatly influenced by both Quaker philosophy and the freedom they saw first hand in tribal law. When the Seneca Falls Convention took place in 1848 the idea of women voting was preposterous!
Courage and perseverance prevailed.
As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, we must remember equitable access to the ballot box did not happen for all. Racism played a role, as only white women would have that privilege. Black women in particular, suffered disproportionately from voter suppression tactics. Black women and all other women of color did not receive voting rights until half a century later, even though they were well organized and played an important role in the decades of struggles for women’s suffrage.
To name just a few of these women of color: African American women such as the writer and orator Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, the community organizer Juno Frankie Pierce, and the journalists Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who championed both suffrage and civil rights; Native American women such as Susette La Flesche Tibble and Zitkala-Sa; queer women like the poet Angelina Weld Grimké and the educator Mary Burrill; Latina women like Jovita Idár, who protected her family’s newspaper and the rights of Mexican Americans; and Asian American women like Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, who led thousands of marchers in a 1912 suffrage parade in New York.
They all fought for the vote as part of a broader struggle for equality, but their stories aren’t nearly as well known as they should be. Revisit your history and a new, more complete story will emerge for you.
The 19th Amendment was not an end but a beginning. After its ratification, it would take four more years for many Native Americans even to be considered citizens with voting rights in this country, and for some Asian Americans it would take even longer. Many Black women, while possessing suffrage on paper, could not freely exercise that right until 1965, when the Voting Rights Act barred racially discriminatory voting practices, such as literacy tests. Disenfranchisement at the polls, of course, continues today.
Let us join hands in solidarity as we celebrate the passing of these monumental changes that women over the years and the women of today continue to fight for. VOTE, express yourselves with your VOTE. The importance can not be understated. PLEASE VOTE!
Thank you, Bill Bright, International Museum of the Horse, Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, Kentucky.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which guarantees & protects women’s right to vote. IMH planned to cover Bernice Ende, Lady Long Rider’s long ride commemorating 100 years of women’s suffrage. Due to the global pandemic, the ride was cancelled. Regardless, the International Museum of the Horse celebrates Bernice’s spirit and passion for history with a new long riding exhibit on display until November 2020.
I met Angela Bates in 2006, my second year out on the 5000-mile ride, coming through Kansas in late September. The weather remained hot, and I rode with a great deal of inexperience – it became the hardest ride of all. It was here that I met Angela, who introduced me to the life and history of Nicodemus, Kansas, an African American settlement of newly emancipated men, women, and children who had been enslaved their entire lives by, of course, white people.
Through Angela, I discovered the story of people searching for a new life, with almost disbelief, that they were now freed from slavery, but not free from the target of racism.
It was my experience in Nicodemus that set my mind on, “Life without fear is freedom.” Where that phrase came from I do not know, but it came to me the more I rode and traveled, as I did for so many years. I remember riding from that town and thinking, “Could an African American woman ride around the country like this?” and if she was determined to do so, what would HER experience be? Or, an American Indian, or Latina, or any woman not white and Christian? Would they be welcomed at mostly white folks’ homes as I had been day after day?
I thought so much about the stories Angela shared with me. Her own ancestors who were once enslaved, “Freed” in the failing period of Reconstruction. And I thought, “No they were not free.” They lived knowing that at any time, people–white people, could come, lynch, imprison, beat, burn out, or run off. This they lived with and yet, AND YET they survived and thrived in towns such as Nicodemus. They loved and flourished until their success was seen as a threat, as in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where they burned Black Wall Street in the Tulsa Race Massacre, with over 300 lies lost. IF life without fear is freedom, then how could it have been for them?
During this Covid-19 pandemic, we see the best in people and the worst in people. It is a time to ask ourselves, “How would we feel if we had this history?” — a history of being subjected to the worst of humanity — and it continues to be so.
Systemic racism is real, and facing inequality is not easy — because, it requires white people to think outside our own white experience to become aware of racism, especially systemic racism which will at times require us to give up something in order to have equality for all. We must give up our ignorance of ALL of American history. We are not a “White America.” We are a rich and diverse country that can be much more if only we come together as one united nation. Everyone benefits from giving up discrimination — value added in human talent and participation. And truly, no one is free, including white people, when anyone is oppressed.
It is time time as white people, to look at more than Our story. This is a time of reconciliation. A time of change. Finding a new way of living together, embracing diversity. And really, isn’t it past time? Or, we could continue with…. “Let’s just keep quiet for another 400 years and see if inequality, injustice, and racism will, as we have heard, ‘just magically go away’.”
My years of long riding are filled with continuous examples and lessons of generosity — people who could have easily slammed the door in my face but did not. THEY DID NOT.
Once I rode past a house in mid-construction where several Hispanic workers (I was in Arizona riding the 6000-miles ride) sat taking an afternoon break, eating rice and beans wrapped in homemade tortillas their wives had made, warmed on a Coleman stove. My Spanish was as limited as their English but they so wanted to share food with me and see my horses, that I did stop. Hospitality rolled from their enthusiastic voices, welcoming this stranger.
Or, the time on that very same ride when the Gwinn family invited a pretty shook-up lady long rider into their home near Yakima on the Confederated Tribes & Bands of the Yakima Nation. Days earlier I’d nearly gotten myself killed crossing Mount St. Helens. Seriously dehydrated and shaky, I came walking (with permission to cross their tribal lands) from the west in 90-degree heat when Margre and her daughter Elizabeth stopped on the road. The rest is history for me. The Gwinn family welcomed me into one of the warmest, friendliest, multi-generational families on my rides. Hosting me for the entire week, they fed me, Honor, and Claire, and we set up a bed outside so I could sleep with Claire and Honor in the backyard until I was healthy and strong enough to resume my ride. I mean, how easy would it have been to tell this stupid white girl to keep going. We have not exactly given Native Americans good reason to like us.
AND I will never forget being rescued by the Gonadanegro Family, having been caught in a winter storm while crossing the Alamo Navajo Indian Reservation lands west of Albuquerque on my second ride. Once again, here a complete stranger looking and feeling pretty stupid for getting caught in yet another snow storm, is welcomed into a private home, introduced to other tribal members, fed and kept safe – my horse and dog included – while winter weather dropped over two feet of snow. And I had to think again, would I have offered such hospitality? Would I as a white woman have invited in a person of color that may have made me uncomfortable? Would I have welcomed them into my home for a week? When you are a person who “has” as opposed to one who”has not,” you see the world much differently, and it’s worth considering empathy for all sides.
Angela Bates continues with her work in Nicodemus — continues to educate, continues the struggle to keep Nicodemus’s history alive and available. Angela is one of my dearest friends who has more than once graciously opened her heart to my questions about race issues. She offers insight and understanding to historical events which have consistently brought us again and again to this place of conflict we once again find our country in.
Angela returned an email after I sent my condolences of John Lewis’ passing. I share this with all of you.
“… Yes what a great loss, but his work was done! Others have to emerge in these times. It’s individuals like you who have touched the lives of so many who have the greatest impact, people will listen to you, so speak the truth loud, clear, and wide. Let your voice be heard. Share your thoughts on your site to all that will listen to you.”
White hands must join hands of color in solidarity, welcoming people of any color or creed who come to the door, as you would a lady long rider. We all are just travelers.
Let us fill the Senate and House of Representatives with a colorful diversity that represents the entire nation, and from there form a better union of equality. It is time! Young people are calling for it. The world is calling for it. It is time!
Let’s make this the UNITED States. Let’s find out, “How much more we are.”
Link to website for the Nicodemus National Historic Site: