Trego, Montana September 28th 2016


Essie Pearl  –  2001 to 2016

This American Life, a radio podcast many of you may be familiar with presented a story about a Japanese phone booth last night, the folding door kind with a non working rotary phone …….. on a beach. Where one can call their beloved and much missed deceased family members and friends taken by the 2005 tsunami. I listened as Japanese widows and widowers came and went, how moving. They’d found a way to stay connected, a place to talk and shed tears. Such a good idea, call them up and talk. If I could do that and could call Essie I would tell her… “I am so sorry I could not save you. I am so sorry. It will take a long time before I stop calling your name to come.”

I miss her terribly.

She was a fat, dumpy looking Norwegian Fjord with a “don’t bother me” look in her eyes standing alone in her pasture when we first met. I didn’t pay much attention to her really. But then I looked again and again and….

I bought Essie from Mark and Theodora Rice in the winter of 2007/08. Theodora, now Theodora Brennan many years a dear friend assisted at Essie’s birth, imprinted her and loved her as much as I did, well almost. She spent her first 6 years at the Rice home which has now become Theodora’s Garden (see sponsorship page). She had a beautiful home but little exercise. Her brother and mother had already been sold. Essie remained unsold because of her pushy attitude. She really did have a no nonsense, “leave me alone” look when I cast eyes on her the first time. I’d decided my Claire Dog who had walked 7000 miles (enough already) needed a horse of her own. Requirements for such a horse?….SAFE. A wide flat back – not to tall, SAFE. Six years old, perfect age. Not much training but willing, SAFE.

“Essie Pearl you beautiful girl,” that’s what I called her, “Essie Pearl you beautiful girl.”

Traveling with her always felt like traveling with something ancient. She was different, her look, her gaze, her attitude like a wise old impatient woman. The cave drawings in France? That is Essie Pearl! Twenty-one thousand miles later, my first pack horse, my first Norwegian Fjord became irreplaceable, at least I can not imagine ever having another horse as good as her. Her combination of temperament and physical attributes specific to long riding makes me think so. It also takes a lot of time and years. Damn she was good. Whether pack or lead horse she had it down. She knew what to do. She preferred being in front next to me. Her favorite traveling position had Claire leading the troupe, me at her left side walking with her (not to fast, slightly behind her ears) and Spirit, packing, at her right rear. There came over her a look of pure contentment, like everything is just as it should be for Essie. Ears forward, alert, interested. We were doing it right.

Her picket and rope skills – astonishing. Her traffic skills – second to none. Nine years we traveled together. She was easy to pad and pack and treated her most precious cargo, Claire dog, with great care. She was an “easy keeper.” But my oh my she could be cantankerous. Down right vicious when it came to food. She had her own way of doing things and just as soon it be kept that way.

She swam in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, three of the great lakes, crossed Death Valley (Mojave Desert) the Sonora Desert and the Little Red Desert of Wyoming. She made two Canadian trips, traveled from Texas to Calgary. She crossed the United States twice the Rocky Mountains nine times the Cascades four.

I like to think it beat a long, slow, uninteresting life as a pasture potato.

Essie Pearl you beautiful girl! To me you shall remain the greatest long riding horse that ever lived!

Thank you.

And Thank you, to all you who have sent condolences, cards and reassurance. Thank you

Kennebunk, ME 10/11/14 Parsons Beach
Kennebunk, ME 10/11/14 Parsons Beach

Trego, Montana September 21st 2016

The price of living is that we lose those we love.

photo by Alien

I am so deeply sad to tell all of  you who follow my rides and share my stories that I buried Essie Pearl on Sunday September 17, 2016. Dr. Nancy Haugan DVM assisted with putting her down quietly and dear friend Theodora Brennan was there to keep me from falling apart. She was buried in her pasture at my Montana cabin in Trego.

Test results have ruled out West Nile. A neurological disorder, virus, stroke, a kick?  Dr.Haugan will run more tests but most likely this tragic loss will remain a mystery. She went so fast that I find myself completely at a loss with few words to offer you at this time.

She traveled with me more than 21,000 miles, second to none in her abilities she’ll remain in my heart…the greatest Long Riding Horse that ever lived.

She was my right hand gal
first week out ...tired

Trego, Montana – September 3rd, 2016

This is how I feel sometimes when I come in, just plain hard to readjust to stationary life, life without that constant change and surprise.  But I am settling in. My Mountain Cabin is a respite a place to rest and find peace in stillness.
I had a wonderful time at the Fjord Horse Show in Sandpoint, Idaho last week. Not only was it a good turn out for my slide-show presentation but many folks I had met from previous rides attended. Always gets me screaming with delight. I did not ride over as I had planned. Essie Pearl had health issues (she is fine now) but I could not take her so I drove over. The show was well attended, a very friendly down to earth group of Fjord enthusiasts. I could not help but admire the show Fjords, so different from my girls who are roughed and tough looking.

Below is the Thank – You letter I have sent out to my sponsors.

  1. Outfitters Supply Tucker Saddles
  2. Sunbody Hats
  3. Skito Saddle Pads
  4. Source- MircoNutrients
  5. Cashel Company
  6. Montana Mountain Horses
  7. Mt. Vista Veterinary Clinic
  8. Ariat International
  9. The Blacksmith Shop
  10. Climb-On-Skin Care Products
  11. Soroptimist Foundation
  12. The Blacksmith Shop
  13. Benchmark Maps
  14. Tangeleo’s Cinches

Dear Sponsors,                       July 24th, 2016
I have completed my 8000 mile 2 ½ year international ride. I set out on this adventure in the spring of 2014 and completed the ride June 17th 2016! I write with saddle bags full of gratitude and appreciation for both the support and encouragement you have shown me on this epic journey. I must say it was by far the most successful ride I have thus far ridden. No injuries, no accidents, and the horses returned liked shinning stars. I returned filled with a sense of accomplishment, seasoned as never before. According to the International Long Riders Guild a round trip coast to coast continuous ride had never been done before. Add to that story- I rode solo, with no support vehicle what so ever, no cell phone or GPS, a 62year old woman. The east coast surprised me with their bountiful enthusiasm. I gave 32 talks thru out the New York winter. (2014/2015.) I had hoped to ride more of Canada but circumstances prevented it. But I swam the horses in 3 of the great lakes, raced on the sands of the Atlantic Ocean and touched salt water in the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the Washington coast. We crossed for the 8th time both the Rocky and Cascade Mountains and made more friends than anyone deserves. The year I embarked on my ride – 2014, marked the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote in Montana. In collaboration with the Montana Historical society I paid homage to three of the most prominent historical suffragettes in New York State. A highlight of my ride. I continue to remind people of the freedom we enjoy in this country and the goodness I find in its people. I also sincerely hope my rides inspire and encourage female leadership. Now at the end of 12 years and 28,000 equestrian miles I do not feel “finished.” Already my head fills with plans for the 2017 ride, another east coast ride. A short 1500 mile journey from Southern Virginia north to Massachusetts or ? with talks scheduled through
out my route. I will most definitely ride a few more years. I know I have that much left in me. The rides are arduous, and never easy and of course there are many times when I ask myself, “how much longer can I do this?” Even more the reason I appreciate as I do your continued support and knowing I have someone backing me, that you are there if I need a saddle-pack replaced or a veterinary question, horseshoes or more supplements. You are there and I count on you. Besides providing me with your products and services your businesses also add credibility to my rides which leads to more speaking engagements, ie my bread and butter. I take having your support seriously. I want YOU also to shine. I want you also to benefit from sponsoring me on these lengthy equestrian journeys I make. Believe me when I say I appreciate your support each and every day I am out there making my way across the country. With sincere appreciation for all that you have done for me, I send a hearty thank you!
Your lady long rider,
Bernice Ende P.O. Box 284 Trego, Montana 59934
I begin teaching ballet classes next week at the Creative Arts Center in Eureka. I am looking forward to working with the young dancers. Last year I taught a few classes. It had  been 15 years since I had set foot in a dance studio. I wondered if I would remember how! But after nearly 30 years of teaching it all came flooding back so easily.
I am busy making wood and getting in hay for the horses. Russ Barnett owner of Outfitters Supply (and long time sponsor) has been up to the cabin a few times. His business is located 50 miles south of here in Columbia Falls. He’s helped with wood and hay. Winter is not far off. The horses are thickening this is their kind of weather, northern bred girls that they are.
I have had guests from back east last month. Jane King from Sutton, New Hampshire stayed a week as did friends from Minnesota. John Adamski a professional photographer from New York, (he did a beautiful story and lay out for The Finger Lake Magazine) a friend from Vermont and another from Boulder, Montana are coming in this month. I must admit I love the company, it reminds  me that I truly did do the ride as these are people I met in 2014 and 2015.
All for now,

Trego, Montana – July 19th, 2016 —– HOME

photo by Lydia Hopper

Reflections of an 8000 mile journey

It was not the route I had originally planned. No, I had hoped to ride more of Canada coming back. I thought I would ride south of Minneapolis not come from the north as I did. I’d planned on riding further north into Maine and I certainly did not plan on wintering in New York. Three months into the ride Cuchullaine from the Long Riders Guild informed me… “Bernice no one has ever ridden a continuous round trip coast to coast ride.” Well of course I thought, “oh put a little pressure on the ride.” I had know idea I’d be attempting a first time ever ride, alone as a single 62 year old woman. I had no idea it had not been done, nor would I have set out to prove myself. Huh, who would have thought?

We are home now, truly home at my Montana cabin for the first time in 12 years and I must say I am not entirely sure who I am right now. Already I turn and see our trail of hoof tracks disappearing with the incoming tide. It hardly seems possible I accomplished such a trek. I rode in on Wolf Creek Road one week ago, a road I left on 12 years ago in 2005 riding a nervous, dancing Tennessee Walking horse named Pride. My first ride, such a novice. How did I do it? That first ride changed me more than I think anything ever had in my life. I felt for the first time I had, “climbed into my own skin.” And now riding in on Wolf Creek 12 years later on two of the finest (in my humble opinion) long riding horses that have ever lived, I feel seasoned, accomplished as I have never felt in my life. This ride has changed me again, more than even the first ride had.

It takes years, it takes experience, trials and many, many errors. It takes pushing yourself beyond that which you thought impossible. One must stretch and reach, find humility and great gusts of appreciation before you uncover, strip off the layers of gunk to reveal what you are truly made of and where you’re going. And even then is it not an ongoing process of self discovery? That is what I feel this 8000 mile ride has done to me. It has left me feeling “seasoned.”

The horses are trimming the lawn. One week and they are restless. Spirit nearly ran me over yesterday with one of her fits of joy and delight as she rounded the cabin with bucks, farts and squeals. She is into everything, pulling on table clothes, attempting to open gates, enter the cabin and feed shed. She wants to move. Of all my horses Spirit has displayed a natural instinct to long riding. She has a natural instinct to keep moving. Essie takes a more laid back approach to life. She waits with diligence for hand outs at the cabin door, an apple will do or crackers or bread or… well it matters little just so she gets something before returning to graze at Spirits side.

Reaching my final east and west coast destinies brought tears to my eyes. “The people.” I thought, “so many people who helped in one way or another.” And my horses, my beloved horses who stood knee deep, their first time ever, in salt waters. I thought of the miles they walked, packed, tolerated with willingness as we passed thru state after state. They are the true champions of this story, my horses. I must not forget my sponsors for they provide more than equipment, they also give me credibility. Tuckers Saddle and Outfitters Supply gave generous financial contributions and I dare say the ride would most likely not have happened with out their donations. There were also many private donations that kept me going. That is all I ask, please just let me keep going.

I often times hear remarks made by observers and its funny they think my life so independent so free and it’s anything but. I could not possibly do these rides without the help, kindness and generosity of others. I am for the most part completely dependent on the people I meet who offer food, shelter, directions, a hot shower and most importantly encouragement.

How do you end an 8000 mile 2 ½ year ride? Gracefully as one can. This is by far the hardest part, the reentry. Where I must find my footing on stationary ground without the daily packing and moving without the, “Ok girls lets go,” a fresh new road sprawled out before us. I can hear my mother calling, “Bernice, come on in now, it’s getting late, put those horses away  come in and get ready for bed or supper or…” I will admit I have pulled maps out already in search of a short, few hundred mile, ride this fall. Next years east coast ride is already filling my head. But right now I have much to do. I speak next month, August 26th in Sandpoint, Idaho at the International Fjord Show. And the book must be finished! I have been asked to teach a few Ballet Classes in Eureka at the Creative Arts Center, that I will do.

I shall see what it feels like to once again, live a normal life.

Judith Hemphill of Libby, Montana. She has helped me so many times in the past years, this time it was with a sign for the Troy, Mt. 4th of July parade
Judith Hemphill of Libby, Montana. She has helped me so many times in the past years, this time it was with a sign for the Troy, Mt. 4th of July parade.
4th of July Parade
4th of July Parade
coming into Trego, ran into more freinds
coming into Trego, ran into more friends
The next set of photos were taken by Lydia Hopper of Colville, Washington – June 17th, 2016 lovely

To each and everyone who’s path I cross a hearty thank you for the interest the support the encouragement, I could not have done it with out you.