Trego, Montana

Received another lovely painting of my dear Claire Dog from Ima Jean Harrison in Texas. I simply love her work, thank you ever so much Ima Jean, Thank you!

Until I am There – I’m Not

As I prepare for my upcoming Lady Long Rider Book Tour (see www.endeofthetrail.com/book-tour/ ) I realize I’m approaching it as I would a long ride. Find a route, walk myself through it again and again…and again. Prepare gear (truck & trailer) gather tack and necessary apparel. Condition the horses, new horseshoes, vaccinations and traveling papers… I am glad for the time traveling with Rosie and her truck and trailer earlier this year. It gave me valuable experience for this trip.

When I conclude this book tour at Fort Edwards, New York, seven/eight months from now I’ll saddle and pack up the horses, who will, by then be rearing to move and strike out on a short 2 month ride. We’ll travel south through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, maybe Kentucky before heading back to the Montana cabin.

I’m aware that riding public as I do makes me a moving target for critics. I am not complaining. Many times criticism, if you are brave enough to look, will bring humble moments of self-discovery.

There is nothing heroic about what I do. I’m quite sure there are many more women and men who’d be better long riders than the rider I’ve become having ridden 30,000 miles. I by no means think I know everything about long riding. My horses and I have traveled many long, hard-earned miles together. I had no teachers. I am self taught and believe me there were so many mistakes made and as many roads and trails I wish I’d never ridden down. I have humbly apologized (more than once) to my horses for getting them into dangerous, complicated situations, into a mess.

There are many, many more of you that hold greater knowledge than I do about equine care, packing, saddling, riding. There are many that would/could provide better hoof care and equine health care than I do. There are those who will say, “Why must you torture horses as you do?” Don’t trim their manes or fore-locks, don’t use horseshoes, use this mineral supplement, use this saddle pad not that one, that saddle of yours is no good, use a treeless saddle, a bit is cruel, and so is riding my horses as many miles as I do. (I am off & walking a great deal.)
It goes on and for the most part I am willing to accept criticism and suggestions. I am not above looking at my own actions and looking at how they could be improved upon.

I recently heard about a review (Amazon)… “She is aloof, the rides are really all about her, she does not put her horses first – She did not write about her horse’s enough.” I thought, “They’re right,” I had been aloof on those early rides. It was all I could do to stay alive the first few years of travel. But my horses do come first. The review however did make me think, “Maybe I take for-granted this deeply personal and unique relationship I have with my horses.” The only other person I’ve met who actually lived with her horses (mules) was Jodie Foss, who wrote Mules Across the Great Wide Open. I met her when crossing Oregon in 2009, stayed at her farm a few days. I have also seen equine “liberty” trainers who brought tears to my eyes with the display of beauty and grace between human and horse and leaving me with the desire to know more about the equine/human relationship. I know it sounds crazy but with the Fjord’s its almost like having dogs around, how we relate is easy, gentle, even mischievous at times.

Are my horses worse off than horses seldom ridden? Or horses handled momentarily morning and evening but live quiet, safe days in one pasture their entire lives? Bernice it would be far safer to stay home!!! Only a handful of horses in today’s world can run free and wild. The remaining which live with we humans are at our mercy are they not?

I honestly believe my horses are interested, intelligent, more capable, healthier, and happier than many horses I come across. My horses have brave hearts. They are incredibly curious because they are unafraid of most things they encounter. They, like most horses that are fit, like to move, like traveling about in search of fresh grazing. I think if you met me and my horses you would find a warm, loving, happy unit consisting of two gregarious horses and one not so young woman. Our dance together is smooth and quiet. I hear them through out the night whether here at my cabin or on the road traveling where they lie next to me. They speak to me with their eyes, ears and soft rumbling neighs. We like one another, we do our work well together. Little Liska Pearl and Montana Spirit are both alpha mares, they are, but have found a peaceable arrangement which works for the most part for them.

Truck and trailer? Who would have thought. Competent mechanics have gone through both the 1969 Ford PU and …… Iowa built horse trailer. New tires, bearings, brakes, engine, front-end, etc., etc. New floor, mats, brakes, electric on trailer. I shall maneuver the back roads slowly, ever so slowly. That being said, from 20 miles a day to 200 miles a day? I guess its all relative isn’t it? We’ll take breaks and stop often, go for a run, rest, stretch. I’ve allowed plenty of time between talks. I will not be pushing day after day. I have USRIDER insurance.

Please, all of you, know that I sincerely try. And I will continue as I travel on this book tour to keep my horses and myself fit and happy and cared for us as best I can. It may not be the way you would do it but usually there’s a reason for my actions concerning the horses. Humbly having to step down off my high horse day after day asking for food, water, shelter, or directions has ( I like to think) produced a more empathetic person not so quick to judge. My horses have been my greatest teachers with daily lessons in devotion, trust, willingness, endurance. But so have the 100s of families and individuals who for no reason offered kindness with food, a shower, encouragement, shelter, corrals, safety. Trail Angels. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, all those who have been following my rides, for what ever reason, all these years. You fit in my saddlebags, vicariously. Your spirits do not weigh much, but are soundly felt.

This Lady Long Rider Book Tour will take me through my earlier routes with the opportunity to see faces I met years ago (and not so long ago)… an opportunity to once again say, “Thank you.” Already it is beginning to feel like the “Lady Long Rider’s Reunion Book Tour.” All those years and miles of riding would not have happened without a great deal of help. I hope to share what I discovered long riding, what I learned, and how it re-shaped my thinking.

I also realize traveling with truck and trailer offers risks I would never encounter traveling at 4 miles an hour with only the horses. Friends from each state are reaching out with support for which I am beyond grateful. But at some point I will single-minded-ly turn and leave everything behind except the road ahead. Sarah Wilson will be helping with emails, Facebook, and the endeofthetrail.com website. If you receive a response from her instead of me, you’ll know who it is. If anyone knows where I am it will be her. Zach Basinger, marketing and publicity manager at Farcountry Press, is handling much of the booking for talks once I leave.

As with any long ride once I leave I must be focused with attentiveness, caution and skill thinking how best to move forward.

Even with this journey I will preface with, “Its a whole lot of talk until I actually do it.”

Until I am there – I am not.

Yours truly, Bernice

If for no other reason I do hope with all my heart that my rides will impart encouragement to those longing to reach beyond their fears for more.

In the paper
Polson Public Librarians were as surprised as I at the turn-out on the 26th of Sept. presentation.

Trego, Montana

Several people have commented, “I think fall is here.” And yes I agree a touch of fall air brushes against my cheek now and then. We have perhaps made it through another fire season. Hard to imagine this will be a yearly event, “Fire Season” but with climate changes it appears inevitable. Carry on we shall….

September, 2018 dates for book-signing/slideshow presentations.

September 24th– Whitefish Public Library 7pm Whitefish, Montana contact information:

September 26th– Northlake County Public Library 7pm Polson, Montana contact information:

September 27th – Grizzly Claw Trading Company 7pm Seeley Lake, Montana contact information: 1 406-677-008

September 28th-30th Montana Book Festival, Missoula, Montana contact information: www.montanabookfestival.org

This Photo was taken by John Crandell(now deceased) back in 2013, funny how much I still miss that Claire Dog of mine. There is no more dog and pony act following behind, enticing the curious and interested.

Below is a radio interview I did with Yellowstone Public Radio August 8th 2018 with Steve Shadley.

Last but not least I would like to mention the up coming Book Tour I am embarking on in Oct. I’ll be posting more about this in the coming week. Hope to see many of you out there that I have not seen in years, I am expecting many hugs and lots of joyful tears and smiles. Bernice

Trego, Montana

The air is hot and smoky here in the Northwest corner of Montana. I hose the horses off in the hot afternoon. They stand with contentment in the cool shade of their stalls.

Last week I traveled with my friend Janna Pekaar down the east side of Flathead Lake over Helena National Forest up and over McDonald’s Pass to the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains where I gave a series of five slideshow presentations/book readings and signing. We brought our tents, camp food was on the menu as were cold creeks and hot springs. We toured Helena, Janna is improving on her accordion with gentle French melodies. My childhood friend Paulette attended two of the talks. (there is a chapter about us in the book) The Choteau stop gave me another opportunity to share stories about my grandparents who had settled in the area during the early 1900’s. Finally, and yes finally I was able to put faces to what had only been voices from the crew at FarCountry who have been absolutely delightful to work with through this lengthy book process. The weather cooperated as I talked and sold books, traffic was light, the scenery spectacular and I kept saying to Janna, “I must go out and ride again, I must.” The huge expanse called again and again, “Come, Come come feel the road, taste the air.”

TV  Link: http://www.kxlh.com/story/38816559/montana-woman-shares-stories-about-travels-on-horseback

Helena downtown Library
Janna (center) with the FarCountry Crew!! Helena, Mt.
Paulette and I reminiscence after one of my talks.
Janna in Forsyth, Montana
Janna and I tour Helena

July 3oth, 2018 Trego, Montana

Just a reminder

Lydia Hopper Photographer 2016

Five days of speaking engagements this week in Eastern Montana:

July 31, 2018, Boulder Library, 6:30pm
Contact Jodi for more info. 406-225-3241

August 1, 2018, Choteau Library, 7pm
Contact Dell for more info. 406-466-2052

August 2, 2018, Whitehall Library, 6:30pm
Contact Jeannie for more info. 406-287-3763

August 3, 2018, Clancy Library, 6:00pm
Contact Carli for more info. 406- 933-5254

August 4, 2018, Helena Library, 1pm
Contact Suzanne for more info. 406-447-1690

My slideshow presentations are generally 1 hour long including time for questions and answers of course. I will have books to sell and sign. Looking forward to the entire week of visiting and sharing my adventures. Hope see many of you out there this week

July 16th, 2018 Trego, Montana

I am reading “Lady Long Rider” to Spirit.

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So I asked her, “Do you remember Essie, Hart and Claire?” She replied, “Don’t be silly of course I do horses never forget good friends.” I continued reading.

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 I received this lovely painting (pencil and watercolor) from Barb Mcgee last week called, “Has anyone seen Bernice?”  I met Barb in 2006 while riding through Peterson, Iowa on my 5000-mile ride.  She took a photo and did the painting that year.  I’m so delighted to finally have it on my wall adding to a growing collection of paintings people have done of me, or my traveling partners.  Thank you Barb, thank you!

Speaking Engagements in Eastern Montana

July 31, 2018, Boulder Library, 6:30 p.m.
Contact Jodi for more info. 406-225-3241

August 1, 2018, Choteau Library, 7:00 p.m.
Contact Dell for more info.  406-466-2052

August 2, 2018, Whitehall Library, 6:30 p.m.
Contact Jeannie for more info.  406-287-3763

August 3, 2018, Clancy Library, 6:00 p.m.
Contact Carli for more info.  406-933-5254

August 4, 2018, Helena Library, 1:00 p.m.
Contact Suzanne for more info.  406-447-1690

My slideshow presentations are generally 1 hour long, including time for questions and answers.

I will have books to sell and sign. Looking forward to the entire week of visiting and sharing my adventures.

Libby, Montana – June 15th, 2018

Montana's mountains had a soft velvety green blanket covering them.
Montana’s mountains had a soft velvety green blanket covering them.

Winter of 2017/18 Well we did it. At least that is what I have been saying to my girls Liska Pearl and Montana Spirit, “We did it girls.” Many times when I tell someone I am going to do a ride, “Yes,” I say, ”I am riding from bla bla bla to bla bla bla.” I preface those big words with, “ But don’t forget its all a lot of talk until I actually do it.” So when I left Montana last November holding grand, adventurous plans in my hand, I also left with – “Well, now lets see if you can do it Bernice,” rattling around in my head. For the past eight months I have been traveling, mostly by horse, some by truck and horse trailer, some by foot, but mostly accompanied by the beloved equine. Reflections Libby, Montana is quiet this evening. From my campsite at the J Neils Park north of town I can hear the Kootenai River in the distance. The horses are eating contently on long picket lines, toting fat bellies full of long stem grasses. I must have put in about 1000 miles this winter, something like that, not as many miles as I had projected but still a fair amount of time spent in the saddle. The itinerary went like this; Late October I hauled my horses to Montpelier, Idaho with my old but dependable 1969 Ford pick up. Met Rosie Rollins in Montpelier on the 4th of November. Transferred my gear and horses into her much bigger trailer and headed south for Utah. Spent November, December and part of January riding the southwest, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico. Short rides – long campsites. Rosie rode Spirit most of the time. Saw some beautiful country. In January I rode from Sonoita, AZ to Socorro, NM about 350 miles. Desert riding. (Rosie headed back east to take care of business) February, Rosie returned and met me in Albuquerque, hauled me to Nebraska where I left my horses at Jeanie Grace’s home. Flew to France for a ride with Lynx Vilden. Had hoped to ride much longer but we got in about 300 miles. I can’t even describe it, just look on the website at the photos. Returned to U.S. in April. Rode from Lewellen, NE. to Laramie, Wy. 250 miles. Spent a few days at the Burns residence, north of Laramie. Snow kept the mountain passes closed and Rosie was coming thru AGAIN so I hitched a ride to Craig, Colorado. Rode from Craig, Colorado to Rock Springs Wyoming, about 200 miles. Met up with documentary filmmakers from“WE Productions” out of Santa Fe, NM. Spent one week filming in Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho. They brought a horse trailer and dropped me off in Montpelier, Idaho at Elaine Zeyers home. Drove north 600 miles and now I am nearly home. What else can I say except… WOW, my head is reeling.

Only in the WEST, "Calf-A" clever.
Only in the WEST, “Calf-A”
clever.
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THANK YOU The list is long. Thank you Outfitters Supply and Tuckers Saddle for getting me and my gear over to France. Also to the support from 3 private donors who made that ride possible, a deep heart felt thank you to all of you. To Sunbody Hats, Benchmark Maps, Cashel Co., Source Micro-nutrients, Skido Saddle Pads and The Blacksmith Shop for fabulous horseshoes! Lets see, to Rosie Rollins, we really did have a good time running around this past winter. I have never done “trailer camping” before. Thank you Rosie. (I slept in my tent, she had the trailer) Thank you to the Grace’s and the Burn’s for putting my horses up and for getting me safely from Nebraska to Wyoming, with help from many of their friends. Will never forget how Jeannie Grace showed up unexpectedly at the airport when I flew back from France. Thank you Elaine and Polly for letting me store my truck and trailer all winter in Montpelier, Idaho. Thank you to the folks at Ferme de Fonluc in France for providing me with the fine leopard Appaloosa horse named“Flora.” And to Lynx for initiating the ride in the first place. I returned filled with deep respect for her knowledge and skills. I loved France and its people. I must return! And last but not least thank you to my steeds Liska and Spirit for their willingness, for their courage and for the love they show me.

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BOOK, BOOK, BOOK FINALLY THE BOOK LADY LONG RIDER ALONE ACROSS AMERICA BY HORSEBACK FarCountry Press Comes out in July, will offer personalized signed copies off the website.