Missoula, Montana


By Kim Briggeman

Alone across America: Montana long rider shares her stories

Lady Long Rider 01
Bernice Ende of Trego sits next to Liska Pearl, Her Norwegian Fjord horse, at a ranch at 2100 Lower Lincoln Hills Dr. in Missoula on Wednesday. Ende is the author of “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback,” her story of crossing the U.S. on horseback.
Photo by Ben Allan Smith, Missoulian

We measure our lives in days, weeks and years.

Bernice Ende measures hers in mile markers.

Mile by mile, 10 miles at a time, 30 miles a day in a trot-walk-trot-walk cadence, the former ballet instructor from Trego in northwestern Montana lives with her horses of sturdy Norse heritage.

She’s up to more than 30,000 in 15 years of long rides that have taken her coast to coast (in one long ride) and to two other countries.


“The love and longing of the ride,” Ende said Wednesday. “I’m alone a lot. There I am in the desert with my little fire and the horses next to me with their bells. It’s like: And they wonder why I do this. It’s like it is so magical, it is so transforming. It’s just so … submerged in life.”

Ende was in town for a gig Thursday night with the Back Country Horsemen of Missoula, after a similar presentation in Kalispell on Tuesday for the horsemen’s group there. At 7 p.m. in the Opportunity Resources, Inc., building, 2821 S. Russell St., she’ll show and tell the story of her 8,000-mile ride from Trego to the coast of Maine, to Sedro Woolley, Washington, and back home. The public is welcome with no charge. 

It’s a special event for the Missoula Back Country Horsemen. Dean Hoistad, who invited Ende to town, said there are Back Country Horsemen chapters in most states. The first two were formed some 50 years ago, first in Kalispell, then in Missoula by a small group of men that included fabled outfitter Smoke Elser, Hoistad’s neighbor in the Rattlesnake. 

The fundamental purpose of Back Country Horsemen, Hoistad said, is to perpetuate the use of horses on public lands.

“For years and years, they volunteered their services to help the Forest Service keep the trails open, and to pack things for the Forest Service workers,” he said. “It went great guns back in the day, but right now it’s kind of a dying thing. But we’re still trying to keep it going.”

The normal monthly meeting was moved to Thursday to fit into Ende’s travel schedule. She’s heading south to New Mexico, not on horseback but with horses in tow, to spend the winter. On the way, she’s stopping in Utah and New Mexico to deliver her message.

Ende’s 8,000-mile, 2½-year ride began in 2014, the 100th anniversary of passage in Montana of women’s right to vote. It was no coincidence.

Her first book, published by Farcountry Press of Helena, was “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback.” The memoir came out last year, won the Independent Book Publishers Association award for best new voice in nonfiction this year and was the inspiration for a documentary coming out next year.

Ende, 65, is working on a second book she said will bear the title “Mothers, Aunts, Suffragists and Lady Long Riders.”

Her longest ride included stops in New York at the homes and gravesites of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Matilda Joslyn Gage, leaders in the suffragist movement in the late 19th century and early 20th.

“I come from a long line of suffragists, and I know that I ride, I can do this, because of them,” Ende said.

Lady Long Rider 02
Ende, riding her Percheron/Fjord mare Montana Spirit, has traveled over 30,000 miles since 2005 across the U.S., as well as in Canada and France.
Photo by Benn Allan Smith, Missoulian

It all started with a bad ending.

A lifelong horse person, Ende was coming to the end of a 30-year teaching career in classic ballet in Trego and of a relationship that was “never going to go anywhere.”

“I said, ‘I’m going to ride and forget about him.’ And I did.”

She’d been married as a young woman and never remarried. Ende had no children, and didn’t know at the time what a long ride was, let alone that there exists a worldwide Long Riders Guild.

She cried the day she headed out of town on a borrowed horse with her dog Claire Dog, “a rare breed of unknown origin,” trotting alongside. For two weeks she didn’t let go of the horse.

“I was a fairly competent horsewoman, but I got blown out of my saddle when I got out there. It was like, what? There’s no more fences? There’s no security net? There’s nothing,’” she said.

For three years, she slept under the stars with no tent. She lay her head on her saddle blanket and under her overturned saddle.

Ende ended up on that first ride in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Then she turned around and rode back — a distance of 2,000 miles. That was in 2005.

In the next two years, she had a ride of 5,000 miles, to Minneapolis, Albuquerque, Death Valley, the Sierra Nevadas, and Mount St. Helen’s in Washington before she headed for home. Ende tucked rides of 1,500, 2,000 and 3,000 miles around a 6,000-miler from 2009 to 2011, in which she circled the West to Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; and Minneapolis.

Three years later she started on the epic 8,000-mile ride, becoming the first person documented to have ridden from coast to coast and back again in one continuous trek.

She started her public speaking by riding into a town around noon and tying up the horses — these days it’s Montana Spirit, a Percheron/Fjord mare, and the smaller but sturdy Liska Pearl, a purebred Fjord mare — in front of the local senior center. There she’d play a couple of tunes on the piano, tell her story and land a free lunch. Often it included enough food for a week on the road.

Despite her life of mostly solitude, Ende is a riveting speaker. She remembers what now seems like a brash statement she made in Red Cloud, Nebraska.

“I said I’m going to ride until it changes me completely, and I’m going to be the best long rider that ever lived,” she said. “I have to laugh about it now, but at the time I was so serious.”

To be the best she learned how to shoe her horses, how to forage, how to make her own clothes and do her own saddle and tack repairs.

Ende thinks a lot about how it all fits into the world that sometimes seems to have gone crazy. Thousands of people ride with her through her website and Facebook posts, many of them chipping in donations to keep her going.

“I know what happens to me out there,” she said. “I’m a magnet for people’s dreams. They’re looking for something. They’re looking for courage, or they’re looking for inspiration. It’s a dream that they’ve always wanted to do, maybe not the horses, but something.

“I’ve had women who did a motorcycle ride because they saw me, or they went and took a trip somewhere because they saw me and talked to me. It’s humbling, and I don’t take it for granted, I really don’t. I feel very committed to it and see that there’s a very seriousness to this, because of the value it offers to so many people.”

Lady Long Rider 03
Bernice Ende, shows her Norwegian Fjord horses Montana Spirit, left, and Liska Pearl. Ende will be giving a talk at Opportunity Resources, Inc., Thursday at 7 p.m., an event sponsored by Back Country Horsemen of Missoula.
Photo by Ben Allan Smith, Missoulian

Evening celebrating Bernice Ende

Missoulian – Missoula, Montana

Sep 28, 2019

Missoulian Staff

Year of the Dog
After traveling for more than two years and nearly 6,000 miles, Claire, described by owner Bernice Ende as “a long-riding dog extraordinaire and a rare breed of unknown origin,” takes a post in June 2011, on the back of Essie Pearl as the two prepare to continue with Ende and her riding horse, Hart, on their journey north on U.S. Highway 93 toward Trego, their home.
KURT WILSON, Missoulian

Back Country Horsemen of Missoula is sponsoring an evening with Montana’s own Lady Long Rider, Bernice Ende, at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 3, at Opportunity Resources, Inc., 2821 S. Russell St.

Ende has ridden her horses over 30,000 miles, criss-crossing the U.S., Canada, and parts of Europe. She took her first long ride in 2005 at the age of 51. From 2014 to 2016 she became the first person documented to have ridden from coast to coast and back again in one continuous trek. She has won world acclaim among Long Riders who are recognized masters of long-distance equestrian travel and exploration, gained the respect of hundreds she met along the way and earned membership in the International Guild of Long Riders for her accomplishments. She is the author of “Alone Across America on Horseback, Lady Long Rider,” published in 2018 by Farcountry Press.

The public is welcome to attend her slide presentation on the horse journey of a lifetime.

Trego, Montana September 9, 2019

Back in 2008 seems so long ago, a short 3000 mile ride.

October schedule of talks

October 1, 7pm
Host: Northwest Montana Chapter of Back Country Horseman
Location: Forest Service Supervisory Office
650 Wolf Pack Way, Kalispell, Montana
Contact: President Rick Mathies – 406 752-2209

October 3, 7pm
Host: Missoula Backcountry Horseman
Location: Opportunity Resource Center Building
2821 S. Russell Street, Missoula Montana
Contact: Dean Hoistad: 406-207-6067

October 7 & 8, Montpelier, Idaho
A location and time has not been secured here, but if anyone would like to host a talk while I am in town, please email 

October 10, Noon-1:15
North Logan, Utah
Location: Utah State University Equine Center
3580 South, US-89, Wellsville, UT 84339
Guest Speaker in Equine Business Management Class
Dr. Karl Hoopes, Instructor
Host: Judy Smith, Instructor, 

October 10, About 7:00pm
Location: Utah State University Equine Center
3580 South, US-89, Wellsville, UT 84339
Pizza Dinner, Guest Speaker of Equine Human Bond Club
Host: Judy Smith, Instructor, 

October 11, 6pm & 7:30 pm
Bridgerland Back Country Horsemen Fall Social
Location: North Logan Library
475 E, 2500 N, North Logan, UT
7:30; Guest Speaker in Authors & Illustrators Program
“Riding Into the Unknown: What I learned from 30,000 miles on Horseback” by Montana author and long distance rider, Bernice Ende.
Host: Barbara Middleton, A&I Coordinator, 

October 16
Cliff Public School
Gila, New Mexico

Trego, Montana – August 12th, 2019

Skito Pad, Source Mirco-nutrients, Sunbody Hat and Blacksmith Shop Horseshoes
Tuckers Trail Saddle with Outfitters Supply double cinch.

Lets pause for a sponsor break.
1 & 2…I used this cinch set up on Liska the other day. I am using the Tucker Trail Saddle and Outfitters Supply double cinch and it works SOO incredibly well, offers more stability when I have front and rear bags on. If I were traveling however I would have padded the cinch rings for more comfort.
3. The girls wearing Cashel fly masks making a bee line for Source Micro-nutrients.
4. The new Sikdo saddle pad, I am using with the Tuckers Trail saddle, The famous Sunbody Hat. and the best and safest horseshoe for long distance riding from the Blacksmith Shop.

5. A wonderful summer read, by Sally Wagner – “The Women’s Suffrage Movement” I had not realized until reading this book and another book about Lucy Stone that before the right to vote entered the public domain, women first had to have the right to SPEAK in public…more on that next posting.
(painting by Ima Jean Harrison of beloved Claire Dog)
Thank you so much all of you.
I believe this will be a year of rest after that long book tour. But next year I do hope to reel in two – 500mile rides.
Thank you all of you that stay in touch and who send emails or FB messages or who purchase my book.
October will bring a few more talks as I head south for the winter, right now I am happy to be quietly passing a smoke free summer at my cabin. Happy Trails

Trego, Montana July 29th, 2019


I often times hear this, “ I bet you wished you lived 100 years ago.” Well, what did 100 years ago look like for a single woman, like myself?

The year 1919

The struggle had finally, FINALLY after 77 years of fighting for the right to vote, been won, just barely!

Yet Native American’ were not guaranteed the right to vote until 1962! Following the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, the battle for the vote ended for white women. For African American women the outcome was less clear.

The historical events of the suffrage movement calls out to me as it does because I realize so strongly that I couldn’t be doing what I do had not these brave women cleared my trail as they had.

Let me share this with you, it has happened more than once on my rides.

I sat on a bench outside a lovely cafe, beautiful sunny, spring morning in New Hampshire, 2015 – my return ride from the coast of Maine, the 8000 mile ride.

I sat eating a delicious omelet that I’d ordered and taken outside where I could keep an eye on Essie Pearl and Montana Spirit who were tied to the dumpster near by, packs off, resting quietly.

A tall woman, with dark short hair, 50ish suddenly appeared before me standing stoically with a determined look on her face. She was dressed modestly in pants, had a purse attached to her arm. Her husband stood behind her silent.

Are you one of them feminist,” she asked or rather demanded. “Excuse me?” I just wanted to eat quietly that morning. I replied. “Aren’t you that woman that’s ridin’ all around the country by herself, like she was a man or somethin’?” She wanted to know.

Oh my I thought, here we go.

I said, “Do you vote?” “Well yes of course I do.” The woman, shifted her weight, a bit nervous.

Do you drive a car, have your own drivers license? Do you have money in that purse of yours. And if your husband beat your would your leave him? I pursued. “Yes, Yes well so what of if?” She retorted with frustration. “You stand there in a pair of pants in front of your husband, speaking ever so freely and you call ME a feminist, looks to me like YOU’RE the feminist.” I was hungry and a bit annoyed with all this. She left with a huff.

I find this unfortunate – how we as women take for granted the rights, the freedoms and the ease with which we move in today’s world. It is a far cry from 100 years ago. “No,” Comes my reply, “I do not wish to have lived 100 years ago.” Nor shall I forget those courageous women who made my life possible, here I am a women doing long rides across this country. Yes you can call me a feminist!

Susan B Anthony, Matilda J. Gage, Elisabeth Stanton – damn they were brave!

Passed by Congress June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment granted women the right to vote.

The 19th amendment guarantees all American women the right to vote. Achieving this milestone required a lengthy and difficult struggle; victory took decades of agitation and protest. Beginning in the mid-19th century, several generations of woman suffrage supporters lectured, wrote, marched, lobbied, and practiced civil disobedience to achieve what many Americans considered a radical change of the Constitution. Few early supporters lived to see final victory in 1920.

On May 21, 1919, the House of Representatives passed the amendment, and 2 weeks later, the Senate followed. When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920, the amendment passed its final hurdle of obtaining the agreement of three-fourths of the states. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification on August 26, 1920, changing the face of the American electorate forever.

Celebrations in 1919

For more information, visit the National Archives’ Digital Classroom Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan: Woman Suffrage and the 19th Amendment

Choteau, Montana


Bristol Library, Canandaigua, New York

Every time I pass through this small western town my heart fills with the knowledge that at one time both of my great-grandmothers, my grandmother, and my mother (as a small child) have been here. They walked these very streets, looked out upon the eastern front of the towering Rocky Mountains, fought with the belligerent westerly winds, and surely must have experienced the same excitement I do of simply being in this wild, open country.

I will be back at the cabin by tomorrow.

My mind is far from settled. It continues to reel with thoughts from the book tour trail. The long 8-month route which covered 18 states affected me more than I thought it might, I think in part because the book tour truly became a “reunion tour”.

Ninety talks, and at nearly every one someone I’d met from a past ride appeared. Meeting once again with people who helped in one way or another during those incredibly difficult years when no one knew just how hard the journey I’d embarked on was because I’d always covered my face with a thin veil of strength and determination. I don’t think anyone knew how much I needed and appreciated the help offered me.

So the book tour in many ways became an opportunity for me to reach back and say, humbly, sincerely, “Thank you, I could not have done it without your help.” Offering a book in gratitude with hugs, laughter, and smiles upon faces I remembered. I repeated, “Yes I remember, I remember.” I shouted it many times, and it meant more than you can imagine to me. (I have a very good memory.)

The list is long, of those who reached out once again to make the book tour possible. You know who you are… those of you who set up talks, hosted my overnight stays, worked out dinner parties, made arrangements for my horses’ comfort, a mechanic when I needed repairs, or drove me to the talk so I could rest a bit. Assuring and reassuring me as I slowly, and I do mean slowly, drove my old ’69 Ford and two Fjords across the United States.

I sold a lot of books, covered my expenses, and most importantly came back rich with memories as I reached back once again to say, “To each and everyone whose path I crossed I send a hearty “Thank You, I could not have done it without your help.”

Happy Trials, Your Lady Long Rider,

Bernice Ende

It looks more like a traveling saleswoman!
Canandaigua, NY
Noble Steed
Swanton, Ohio
Portland, Michigan
Lone Pine, California
Santa Fe, New Mexico