Regardless of a winter reluctant to “give it up already” the birds are glorious in Spring song. The loudest being the Red-Winged Blackbirds! Oh my, oh my, shout it out one and all, shout it out!!
Only a hint of green presses out through the brown leafless landscape, reaching for sun and Summer. Rivers and creeks rage with coursing flood waters, “Look out, we’re coming through.” It’s like watching a miracle happen, movement everywhere, winds, water, birds, even people move more freely with discarded heavy winter coats. Welcome to Spring in the Midwest.
Casey and Doyle Sandman provided a place for my girls and myself a couple of miles outside of New Ulm, Minnesota, at their Kaboy Up Arena while I spoke at the Community Center in town. Casey greeted me on horseback with a group of other women on a warm, sunny Sunday-afternoon ride. I parked the truck and trailer next to the arena, unloaded the horses, threw a sheet on Spirit and with Liska Pearl in tow we joyfully joined the ride. The other horses were a bit, let’s say disturbed, by the sight of…. “NO, not those Fjords!” For whatever reason, whether its the mane or markings or what, Fjords can easily upset “regular” horses. I smile. My Fjords are rarely upset by anything.
Kaboy Up Arena was already busy when I arrived. Besides working as a correctional officer, Casey offers boarding and events throughout the year. A resident trainer offers lessons and training. Busy place, nice atmosphere. I had the “Saloon” to myself–a western style building with restrooms, kitchen, and lounging area. I spent two nights.
I rode through New Ulm in 2010, coming up from Texas, having lost Honor. Then, I rode the big paint gelding, Hart. Essie Pearl carried Claire Dog and in we came–escorted by Duane Kitzberger and his team of perfect Percheron draft horses pulling a caisson canon and outriders. Someone tipped him off and they thought it might be fun, to, “Bring her in, in style,” said Duane. This year, I visited Duane, now 84, living in New Ulm’s care facility. I gave him a book and showed him the photos from 2010.
This is a German Catholic community much like the one I grew up in. The accents are still thick as are the jokes. It has not changed much.
those attending the talk in New Ulm were folks from Butterfield,
Minnesota, with whom I had stayed, in their real-but-renovated livery
I am now in Fairbault, Minnesota, giving a private dinner talk this evening at the home of Julie Lambert. Julie heard about my ride from a friend who lives in Mexico of all things and in a round-about-way invited me in. The horses are comfortable in a large round pen and will be exercised shortly. I have been plied with more food than I can imagine eating while spending a lively evening of talk with new friends.
To each and every one of you, as I am adding new friends to my heart roster, and touched by old friends from the past, a heartfelt, “Thank You.”
The landscape tenderly wakes from a long Midwest winter. The news is of course about historical flooding and thankfully I made it further north when I did from the Horse Trail Riding Expo in Elkhorn, Nebraska. Thanks to social media Steve Slater reached out and said, “I have a place for you and your horses.” Had I waited another two days I would have had a hard time getting to my talks in Denison, Cherokee, and Peterson, Iowa. Steve taught school for over 30 years and has such a pretty little farm just west of Denison. I can’t thank him enough for putting us up for this extended period while giving three talks in the area and waiting for the weather to settle.
Before arriving in Denison, Iowa, I came from the Horse Trail Riding Expo in Elkhorn, Nebraska, just west of Omaha (now flooding).
Despite the weather, the Horse Trail Riding Expo was well attended. I believe this competitive trail sport is a wonderful way to see horse and rider in unity. Training of horse and rider for the showings produce a quiet horse with high maneuverability and trust. Most were young women, not all, but I felt the training and skill went far beyond simply horse and rider. Pleasant and interesting to watch, nice to see how well the animals were handled. The horse and rider face several obstacles–must walk in water, over and under any number of different things like balloons and hanging tarp all set up cleverly, like an obstacle course. I met two Rodeo Queens and one Ms. Junior Queen from North Carolina, and commented to all three how well they carried themselves–they reflected confidence.
The event seemed well organized. I certainly enjoyed the three well-attended talks I gave. Thank you Nebraska Horse Trails Committee. — Lady Long Rider, Bernice Ende
I visited Nicodemus, Kansas, and Historian Angela Bates at the Nicodemus Visitor Center. Although Angela and I have remained in touch since first meeting in 2006, we have not seen one another since 2008. I tell you two women never scream as much as we do when we get together! Then it’s non-stop philosophical conversation and questions. She is a remarkable woman who saved Nicodemus from extinction and placed it on the National Historic Register, the only remaining town settled by emancipated African Americans.
Look at more photos on the Nicodemus Visitor Center website, at http://www.kansastravel.org/nicodemus.htm
Written by Angela Bates: Lady Long Rider, Bernice Ende, was in the area on Wednesday, March 6, visiting Angela Bates and Nicodemus. Bernice has logged over 29,000 miles across the country and Canada on horseback. Angela first met Bernice in 2006 when someone called saying she needed a farrier (horse shoe-er), and Angela referred her to Barrie Tompkins who was living south of Plainville. Angela traveled to meet her at Barrie’s place and they spent the evening talking. Two years later Bernice came to Nicodemus while on another long ride. She met Rose Stokes, Esther Clark, Juan Alexander, and a host of others. She, her dog Claire, and two horses camped out in Juan’s garage during a tornado warning. Juan, being the horse lover he was, cherished his visit with Bernice and her horses. Although she has two new horses on this trip across the nation, she is not riding them, but hauling them by trailer as she visits various towns and cities on her book tour. In her book, “Lady Long Rider”, she dedicated Chapter 11 to her visit to Nicodemus. Chapter 8, Night of the Black Stallion, is my favorite, where she tells of hours fighting off a wild stallion who was trying to steal her mare for his wild herd. It unfolds like an action movie. To her life journey as a Long Rider — I praise her for her courage to ride for all women. And for her safe travels, I pray. — Angela
Okay, here we are, Montana Spirit, Little Liska Pearl, and I, with only two more months of the Lady Long Rider Book Tour. This old truck is such a champion. It likes the flat land we can travel at 60 mph! Cruising. I realize now that a ride following this book tour will be impossible. The horses will simply not be ready for such an excursion and I have other obligations with the documentary film coming out. I will return to Montana for a couple of months to take care of the cabin and head back south. Maybe then I will get a ride in this year.
I head north, a bit reluctantly, but only because it’s still very cold and much snow remains on the ground the further north I go. I am finished with New Mexico’s talks. My “vacation break” in Truth or Consequence’s was much too short.
I have completed work with W+E1 Film Productions and now face the second half of the book tour, about 30 talks (I’ve already done 50). I’m looking forward to the many new faces I’ll meet, but also the touching moments when someone from the past, someone I met on a previous ride presents themselves unexpectedly.
This happened a week ago in Roswell, New Mexico when I spoke at Roswell’s enormous, newer, very busy public library. I have said it before–the book tour has taken on the feel of a “reunion book tour,” giving me the opportunity of sharing with these people who came into my life with smiles, “How can we help,” food, and encouragement.
I’d ridden through Roswell in 2009 on an ambitious 6000-mile ride, riding Honor and leading Essie Pearl with Claire Dog on board–our “dog-and-pony-act rides into town.” Now I find myself ten years later, minus the dog and pony, in Roswell on a book tour.
In 2009, I spent five days or so at the Roswell Fairgrounds and met Steve and Cecilia Ortega, who at that time owned a landscape/garden business, and Dale and Kay Rogers who owned (and still do) Roswell Feed & Livestock. One meets many people, but these families were front and center.
Steve and Cecilia took me to dinner, brought food out to the fairgrounds, and checked on me daily. Now in 2019, here they were, older after 50+ years together, retired, happy, and such a joy to see again. The Rogers, Kay and Dale, are long-time figures in Roswell. Roswell Livestock and Feed not only provided hay on my stop, but had a worker (whose name we can not remember) who rebuilt and helped design a new doggie box for Claire. Also, Kay and her granddaughter, Desiree, led me on a tour of the town.
There was nothing “alien” about Roswell.
Another sweet memory from 2009, is when I rode out of Roswell–rested and fed, but the weather remained cold, and Christmas was only a week away. Days are short but steady when traveling in winter months. I’m usually not up and packed until 9 or 10 am. Because it’s cold, I move continuously the entire five to six hours until I stop and set up camp at 3 or 4 pm.
A low spot just off the Pecos River east of the small town of Hagerman called out to me. It had an offering of water, enough grass, and shelter from the wind. Okay, we’ll take it, thank you.
The horses were on picket lines, tent set up, and my hands wrapped around a cup of hot tea when a pickup truck stopped. A small woman with dark hair, my age, an outdoor working woman–you could tell by the way she came walking toward me–approached. My initial thought… “I’m being evicted.” I did not know I was being rescued!
Terry Gomez introduced herself, “No, no you are fine here, my family farm is just over the ridge,” pointing to buildings in the distance. “You know they’re predicting snow don’t you?” “I’ll be fine, I’m from Montana,” my bold, confident voice spoke. We talked a bit more about my rides and where I had come from–the usual talk. Then she left.
I am sure her folks and extended family must have said, “GO GET HER!”
Well, long story short, Christmas with the Gomez family unfolded. I spent five or six days with the Gomez’s in 2009, and in 2019 we spent good time together again. I had the opportunity to once again say, “Gracias, thank you, thank you!”
I think what I want most to say in this post is how touched I was by the enduring love in these families. All three couples had been married 50-60 plus years, had aged like fine wine, and had children that supported them in their declining years.
In 2009 they simply had no idea how much I needed their help or how hard and alone long riding was.
Now I return with a book, but mostly with heart-felt gratitude for what they did for me, my horses, and Claire, which goes beyond words. My heart was touched then by their generosity, and today by the love they spread throughout their families and communities. Gracias!
This is a lovely book review by Debbie Disbrow, CEO & President, RAMM Fencing and Stalls, in their blog, Your Horse Farm. (Photo by Olivia Harlow)
THE LADY WHO IS – THE LONG RIDER
JANUARY 30, 2019
I was never a reader when I was in school, as were many of my peers.
Even my granddaughter Gretchen read more books than I ever did. As time went on my husband and I were able to take some trips-and in that bit of leisurely time I started to read a few books. Luckily, I happened upon a couple of good ones that held my very short span of interest. I was hooked I think magic happens when you realize how much you are missing after a good book experience.
If you are not a reader, but love horses, (or are a reader), I believe you will have one of those magical moments when you read ‘Lady Long Rider’ by Bernice Ende. I encourage you to pick up this inspiring true life book. To me the essence of what we do with our horses is all about the time spent- time spent riding, time exchanging our spirits with our horses and time spent building trust. If you walk into Ms Ende’s world through her book, you will find a woman that is not only beautiful in character and grace but beautiful in engaging her devotion to her horses. She fulfills her authentic individual ambition. Unlike others, she is truly a Lady Long Rider.
In her earlier years, Ms Ende was meshing horses and ballet not even realizing how this would situate her for what was ahead in her life. After seeing the Lipizzaners that performed in Minneapolis, she became intrigued by the graceful and strong dressage movements by the horses. She would take the two very unparalleled disciplines,(ballet and riding), and later lay them side by side to emerge into a greater feat that has not ever been recorded. Let alone by a woman.
At the young age of 50, Ms Ende brings to fruition a vision of riding a horse, that she did not recognize. This vision lead her to a desire to ride to visit her sister. Not just a few blocks away or a few miles away, but from her home in northwest Montana to her sisters home at Edgewater, near Albuquerque, New Mexico – 2,000 miles away!
Ms Ende’s story, will captivate any rider to not want to put her book down, unless it is time to feed the horses (a must as horse owners :). Earning the right to be a member of the Long Rider Guild -any one whole ride that is 1000 miles long, Ms Ende surpasses this distance. But you will have to read her book to find out just how far she travels and how she handles each days adventures along the way.
It is a privilege to think that we can follow Ms Ende on her face book page, Lady Long Rider-Bernice Ende, and see her in her travels. Her experiences are not always easy, sometimes lonely and very difficult. But her beautiful spirit is tenacious, strong and unparalleled. As Ms Ende states, “There are many reasons why I ride, here are four: to encourage female leadership, to discover, learn and grow. If something sounds good to you, don’t let your fears stop you from latching on to that compelling notion of going and doing.” Well said Ms Ende!
Truth or Consequences, how ever did you get this name? ….from Wikipedia, “Originally named Hot Springs, the city changed its name to Truth or Consequences, the title of a popular NBC Radio program of the 1950’s. Ralph Edwards, the host of the radio quiz show announced that he would air the program on its 10th anniversary from the first town that renamed itself after the show; Hot Springs won the honor, officially changing its name on March 31, 1950 (the program broadcast from there the following evening, April 1.) Edwards visited the town during the first weekend of May for the next 50 years.
There are at least a dozen hot spring spas in Truth or Consequences (or, T or C), with a Healing Waters Trail, many art galleries, several exceptional eateries, a brewery, all wrapped in a folksy, funky, relaxing desert atmosphere. I like it here.
It is wild, open country.
Yesterday I met Truth or Consequences Fire Chief and the City Manager as they were leaving the Sentinel newspaper office. The fire chief’s striking shirt startled me. “Such a beautiful color,” I said spontaneously with out even thinking. Somewhere between lime green and a fluorescent green (I think they call it “safety green”). Beautiful, simply beautiful. How becoming, I thought with the assortment of badges and pins decorating the shirt. We chatted a moment but then I added to the city manager, “I must tell you that whoever is responsible for Truth or Consequence’s appearance must be applauded, your town is very clean.” (When riding into town at 3 miles an hour I notice these things – as I had last year coming up from the Mexico border.)
Deciding I needed rest and soaking instead of a grueling ride, I have come to Truth or Consequences for a much needed break. Refuel with energy to finish this book tour I began in October of last year. (I pick back up February 19 in Roswell, NM.)
I do however ride everyday—the girls are fit and receiving much attention from yours truly.
It is rough, luring, rocky country with mesquite and creosote bush, and prickly pear cactus. Everything pricks and pokes at us. I follow sandy arroyos and climb jagged ravines only to be stunned by the vista. It’s all browns and tans, no color what so ever. The Rio Grande River runs through the east half of town and provides habitat for wildlife—mostly birds this adds birdsong color to the barren surroundings.
My daily routine includes a half-hour soak at Indian Springs Bath Houses. Indian Springs must be one of the oldest spas in town. I chose it because the name reminds me these WERE indeed the American Indian’s hot springs.
There is evidence that Native Americans have inhabited New Mexico for over 2,500 years. Early ancestral Indians lived for centuries as hunter-gatherers throughout the Southwest. About 1,500 years ago some of these groups, commonly referred to today as the Anasazi, began practicing agriculture and established permanent settlements, which are now known as pueblos. They used these natural hot springs as we do today, perhaps in a much more healing and spiritual way.
Each night I step from my Ford, which parked out front of the spa looks like a scene from a movie. A gentleman appears at the door, his TV screen flashes brightly from inside. I say good-evening to him, he says good evening to me. He has a short gray neatly trimmed beard and a quiet voice. I hand him a five dollar bill, he says thank you very much, I say thank you very much. (We have not spoken much more than that, ever.) The wooden door to the soaking room is behind me and I turn and walk across roughly laid bricks into a cave-like space, into the earth. It smells of salt and water and earth. The space is small and nearly dark. The pool is small, about the size of a small hot tub. It is lined in stone and masonry. I melt, I float. Mostly, I do not think.
Night-time temperatures freeze the water buckets while day-time temperatures warm me to the bones. “It’s a retirement community,” said the fire chief. I like it here. A small town with plenty of culture and amenities.
On another note… I realize Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday has long passed, but I read these quotes in the Sierra County Sentinel. They are from the Truth or Consequences Middle School. I found these remarks touching. Most wanted peace and a clean environment.
D.A. “ I have a dream that there will be no one living in the streets or being wrongly treated.”
J.J. “ I have a dream that every one learns to tolerate each other.”
J.G. “ I have a dream to create a substitute for plastic that is affordable and disposable to stop pollution.”
F.T. “I have a dream that there will be no more bullying at any school.”
G.G. “I have a dream to stop all the wars in the world.”
and then there were…
A.A. “I have a dream I can catch the biggest catfish ever and win a world record.”
E.R. “I have a dream our school will get better basketballs.”
Will these young thoughts grow with them as they mature into adults? I wonder.
The Desert Sun, a regional newspaper, had two interesting stories. Marjorie Lilly reports in a story titled “The Wheels of Progress,” “…A new wider Port of Entry signals increase in commercial trucks crossing into New Mexico at Columbus due south of here.”
Another story, “La Casa del Migrante” by Morgan Smith, “…Across the border, coming face to face with asylum seekers.” Being this close to the U.S./Mexico provides an entirely different view. While the topic of THE BORDER fuss and fume throughout our country, here, life goes on. One would think it was a war zone along the border after reading or listening to much of the national news.
It does seem unfair, however, to have this level of luxury (well, for this lady long rider it is luxury), comfort, and security while so many struggle with enormous uncertainty. From what I read, these people are not coming here from Honduras and other Central American countries because they just damn well want to. They either leave or die. The countries from which they flee are cesspools of corruption, violent, and economically unstable to say the least.
They have no desire to leave home, family, and community. These are desperate situations they are undertaking.
A letter to the editor in the same newspaper, reminds us of the M.S. St. Louis, an ocean liner carrying 900 Jewish refugees to America in 1939, fleeing an impending war in Europe. They were turned away.
Turned away from Cuba and Canada, and turned away from America under the guise of the “Quota Law of 1924.” Some found shelter in the Netherlands, France, and England, but 254 died in the Nazi gas chambers of Auschwitz. We must consider the implications of our actions.
The world is a complicated place—I realize this. I realize there is no simple, one-sided answer. Not everyone wants peace, or fairness, or has empathy and understanding. But if we could solve the problems and bring peace to these countries that are crumbling in despair, people could and would not want to leave their homes. When I rode the border last year, I met nearly a hundred border patrol. Only two said a full-scale border wall would work. What then will we have with a wall? Refugee camps building up against the border wall as we see in other middle east countries?
Like I said there is no simple answer. But lacking empathy is not the answer either.
I am greeted by cool, star-studded, dark skies when I leave the Indian Springs spa this evening. It’s quiet. The church steeple is lit, pointing sharply in contrast to the heavens. As I turn the corner and pass the silent church the sign reads, “Keep trusting God to work it all out.”
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
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).