Thanks to our sponsor ThisIsReno.com for this great pre-ride video! It's hard to believe but as of today we are 12 days out from the start of the ride. It's pretty exciting around here as we start our final packing and wrap up all the stuff at home and work before we take off. All the hay has been cached along the route, we have all the gear and supplies, the route is set, arrangements have been made for our house and pets, and Sage is in great shape. We're ready to hit the trail! It's been a long process of planning and preparing for this expedition, but it's going to be worth it. I'm nervous, but excited to see what comes. Stay tuned!
There comes a point before a long ride when it hits you - "this is really happening!" I've been feeling that for a few weeks now, and it brings with it a mixture of excitement and anxiety. I've experienced it now with both of my long rides. Maybe it's because everything still seems so theoretical until you've displaced all your living room furniture to fill the room with an assortment of riding and camping gear. Because I'm such am obsessive planner, the ride preparations have consumed all my thoughts. I even find myself drifting off to sleep at night musing aloud about whether I should buy one more pair of thermal underwear - and if so, mid-weight or heavy-weight? Poor Ryan!
But here we are 30 days out from the start of our adventure! If I'm being honest with myself, we are very ready and I should just relax. We have all the gear and supplies. We have a good route. We have a good timeline. Sage is in shape. We've got this. This weekend we'll head out to cache 15 bales of hay and 20 bags of hay cubes along the route. After that, all that will be left to do will be to just ride.
I am eternally grateful that my friend and occasional riding companion, Carol Schley, has offered to trailer us out to the start point next month. She will camp with us and see us off first thing in the morning. Back in Reno, she'll also take care of Sebastian, my sweet senior dog who is too frail to accompany us on this journey. Another friend, Paul Boone, will take care of our house during the ride, as well Tomas and Finnegan (our cats). I couldn't do this ride without the help of friends like Carol and Paul, and the myriad of other people who have offered advice, encouragement, and support. Every single person I have asked for help - even people I didn't know well - instantly agreed to assist when I asked. I am so humbled and grateful for that. I might be riding alone, but there's no such thing as a solo ride in the end.
I'm also excited to hit the trail knowing the tides of change are coming in. The Bureau of Land Management recently released their statistics report for 2015 and wild horse and burro adoptions increased 47% from the previous year! In 2014 only 1,788 horses and burros were adopted - a historically low number. In 2015, 2,631 horses and burros found new homes. This is the first increase in the adoption rate after years of steady decline. Very exciting news. There are so many wonderful programs, organizations, and people working to encourage wild horse adoption and it is working!
Things are getting pretty exciting as the start of the ride quickly approaches! I cannot believe it's almost here after all this time. We are doing really good at checking everything off the to-do list. Sage just got his new saddle so we're busy breaking that in. We're picking up the last of the gear we needed. We're finalizing the route (now for the trillionth time). I think the hardest part is getting everything else in our lives in order. Ryan and I both have a ton of work to do at our jobs, and then there's organizing the housesitter, multiple petsitters, bills, etc. It's a lot of work to take off to do a long ride! haha I will be very relieved when we start.
So, mark your calendar! We'll trailer out to the start point on August 10 and will start riding early in the morning on August 11. Remember, I'll be carrying a tracking device which will be linked to the homepage of this website so you'll be able to see where we are and follow along. I'll also try to post photos and updates when I have cell service. That won't be very often so you'll have to wait for the full story of our ride when we return home at the end of October!
I'll leave you with a peek at some of the AMAZING places Sage and I will be riding through this fall. A few weekends ago Ryan and I drove out to scout some of the sections. Holy smokes it's beautiful out there. Gotta love Nevada!
Guys. We're just about three months out from the start of the next Nevada Discovery Ride! There are a lot of emotions leading up to the start -- mostly a mixture of excitement and anxiety. I suspect other people must feel the same when they are getting ready to embark on a challenging experience. At least I hope it's not just me!
Luckily, I feel really good about where we're at with preparations. We learned so much on the first ride - what gear worked or didn't work, what we wished we had brought, etc. It's making things a lot easier this time, but the fact remains that this ride will be a lot longer and tougher than the first. So that means more supplies, more planning, and more unknowns.
Over the past few weeks Ryan and I have been purchasing gear and supplies, tweaking the route for the millionth time, and meeting with sponsors. There are still a few things left to do. We'll be heading to northeastern Nevada next month to scout trails. We've also arranged to meet up with a very nice outfitter up there to go over maps and get advice. That whole section is probably our biggest question mark. It's remote and the trails are treacherous, but more than that it's high elevation country, which means they can get serious weather a lot earlier in the year. We don't want to be there when they get a good snowstorm! But, you can't plan for everything so we'll just have to see what happens when we get there. Some decisions can only be made on the trail.
Tomorrow is our fundraiser in Carson City. Our sponsor - Sierra Place Senior Living - has organized an awesome afternoon of fun activities. (Event details HERE) Last week we gave a talk to a local history club AND made an appearance at a horse event. It was so much fun sharing our adventures with people. I'm so incredibly grateful and humbled to have so much support from the local community.
We'll keep plugging away on preparations. Stay tuned!
Last year, I got an email from Sierra Place Senior Living, an assisted living facility for seniors in Carson City. They asked if I would come give a ride talk to their residents. Of course I said yes! And a few months later I did go talk to the folks there. I shared with them some of my best stories and photos from the trail and they were just enthralled! I loved spending the afternoon with them and appreciated their enthusiasm. I thought that would be the end of it, but boy was I wrong! A few days later, Sierra Place emailed me again - this time to tell me that the residents couldn't stop talking about the stories I had shared with them! It seems our adventure really resonated with them. The managers asked if they could somehow be a sponsor for the next ride so the residents could be a part of the adventure too - and again, of course I said yes. Now, Sierra Place is organizing an amazing event to help fundraise for the next ride!
On Tuesday, May 3 from 2pm-4pm, Sierra Place will host "Along for the Ride" - a fundraiser for the Nevada Discovery Ride. Sierra Place will donate the first $500 for the ride! I am so incredibly humbled and honored. That money is going to go toward the cost of feed for Sage during the ride. But, during the event a cowboy hat will be passed for additional donations. The funds raised will help cover the cost of the support vehicle fuel and additional supplies still needed. Sage, Bella, and I will all be at the event to meet with people and answer questions about the upcoming ride. There will also be gold-panning demonstrations, a display of Nevada birds from the Galena Nature Center, and rancher, Lisa Luxembury, will talk about the history of ranching in Nevada and give roping demonstrations. Dennis Richardson, local bluegrass musician, will set the tone with old-timey tunes, and samples of “cowboy cuisine” will be served. Sounds great doesn't it?! What a wonderful gesture from an unlikely sponsor. Thank you so much to Sierra Place for their support. I continue to be amazed by the sense of community here in Nevada.
The Nevada Discovery Ride continues to take on a life of its on and more and more people hear about my upcoming ride. It's been a very busy month of riding, getting gear, tweaking the route, and meeting with new sponsors. Speaking of those new sponsors...
It's so great to have so many fabulous sponsors this ride. With their help, we'll be able to get the word out about wild horse adoption to an even larger audience. In fact, I just recorded a podcast interview with This Is Reno -- give it a listen below!
In logistical news, ride planning is going great! I've scheduled a few more scouting trips for this spring and summer so I can put the finishing touches on the route. I've been picking up more gear along the way too so we'll be all ready to go come August. Only a few things remain on the to-do list. One of the biggest things is to start planning the meals! I'm a big believer that your food will make or break a long ride. haha Sage and I will spend the next four months riding and camping as much as possible. We're also scheduled to make some public appearances. Check the homepage of this website for our upcoming events. Stay tuned -- August will be here before we know it and the adventure will begin!
Woohoo! It might not officially be spring yet, but it sure feels like it! Sage and I were able to log some serious miles in February, thanks to the warm temps and the snow-free trails. Little bits of grass are coming up and trees are budding. We might get another lingering winter storm, but mentally - I'm in spring mode! We're right on track for our conditioning plan, which at the core is just to ride, ride, ride as much as possible before we leave in August. Sage is in pretty good shape, considering we ride year-round, but we need to work on increasing our distance and carrying more weight. So far so good!
The Nevada Discovery Ride continues to generate interest. I can't believe the number of emails I have received in the past few weeks from people who want advice on undertaking their own long ride. I'm so excited to talk to people around the country, share my experience, and hopefully share some useful advice too. Long riding seems to be really popular right now. It would be awesome if wild horse adoption could be too.
Take a look at this chart I crudely threw together. It shows, by year, the number of horses and burros adopted through the Bureau of Land Management. These numbers come straight from the BLM's publicly available records. You can see 1997 is highlighted - that's the record high number of horses and burros adopted - 10,020 total. You can also see it's all downhill from there. The last data available for 2014 shows a record low - just 1,789 horses and burros adopted out. So, when I say numbers are at a historic low, that's not an exaggeration. I am eagerly awaiting the BLM's report for 2015 to see if that declining trend is starting to reverse.
I think programs like the Extreme Mustang Makeover and movies like Unbranded are definitely helping to get the word out about wild horse adoption. I'd like to think my own little project here is helping too. Several of the people I've spoken to who are planning their own long rides are interested in adopting mustangs. Let's keep that going!
In other news, I'm excited to have an interview in this month's issue of Wild Heart Mustangs. This new online magazine is all about mustangs and they are also one of our media sponsors! Check out our interview HERE and be sure to read future issues. I'll be contributing several articles in the months leading up to the next ride. Also, I already have three ride presentations already scheduled for after the next ride! I know we're going to have some amazing stories and I'm looking forward to sharing them so please let me know if you are interested in scheduling a talk. Finally, you may have noticed our tracking map is back up on the homepage. During the ride, I'll be carrying a tracking device which will update to that map. So, you'll be able to see us moving along almost in real-time. Right now I'm tweaking the settings and testing the tracker so you might see some tracks show up on the map from time to time before the ride.
Some sad news - Bella got attacked by a couple coyotes a few weeks ago. Sage and I were trotting along when I heard a yelp from behind us. I turned around and Bella had two coyotes nipping at her trying to get her to fight. Sage and I charged and chased the coyotes off. Bella had a little bite wound and was a little shaken up, but otherwise unhurt. Pretty scary stuff! In all these years, riding probably thousands of miles, all over this state with Bella, we've never had that happen. Thankfully it wasn't worse for Bella. But, the incident did make me more aware that Bella is slowing down. She's nine years old this year and last week the vet told me Bella is starting to have some vision loss. It's hard to see your canine companions start to show signs of their age. Bella still loves to trail ride, but her endurance is not what it used to be. I'm still going to take Bella on our next ride, but I suspect she will spend the majority of the time in the support vehicle and not with me. I'm toying with the idea of adopting another dog to take on the ride. We'll see...
Anyway, as always, thanks for following along! More updates soon :)
My goodness! The Nevada Discovery Ride is just exploding online right now between Facebook and Instagram! It's very exciting to spread the word about the next ride and get more people talking about wild horse adoption. I truly never expected my desire to go undertake some long distance rides to be of interest to so many people, but I appreciate the support and am humbled by the positive responses. Ultimately my goal is simple - it's just to encourage wild horse adoption. That's it. I've received dozens of emails this week from people who want more information on wild horses, so I guess it's working!
The Reno winter has been much more significant than the last few drought years. In addition to getting lots of snow, temperatures have been downright freezing! But, Sage and I are still getting in trail rides - albeit short ones and only when wearing about 10 layers. We'll ramp up our conditioning as the weather starts to warm. I can't wait until horse camping season!
We keep attracting wonderful sponsors, for which I am so grateful! Our new media sponsor is Wild Heart Mustangs, a brand new e-zine that is all about wild horses and burros! They're just starting out, but we think they're off to a great start. I'm looking forward to having some articles about the ride included throughout the year. Stay tuned over the next few weeks for updates on even more new sponsors! And, in the meantime, keep sharing our Facebook page and be sure to follow us on Instagram, where I'm sharing photos and stories from the trail. Thank you all for your continued support of the NDR, but more importantly of wild horses!
It's hard to believe that 2016 is upon us! What an exciting year ahead of us and we gear up for our next journey. I suspect the year will go by very fast... or maybe I just hope it will! I can't wait to get on the long trail once more!
We have been busy checking off some of the last things on our to-do list and getting some of the last items on our wishlist. We recently purchased a new tent (since our other small tent was destroyed by the end of the 2013 ride!), new Easyboots for Sage, and new tires for the truck (crucial on those backcountry roads Ryan has to drive to deliver feed and water). There's only a few small things left to get over the next several months.
I'm also excited to announce a brand new sponsor -- We are Trail Riders. This online trail riding community believes that trail riding can be a movement for good... and we agree! They support equine therapy, horse rescue, and park preservation organizations.
The latest updates from Samantha on the Nevada Discovery Ride.