Hello! It's been awhile since I've felt like I had a proper update for everyone. For one, Ryan and I had to settle back into our lives -- but instead of settling, we dove in. First and foremost, we eloped! Even after losing the engagement ring on the trail, he still agreed to marry me. What a guy! We eloped in true Reno style, opting for a wonderfully cheesy wedding chapel with a western theme. The next morning we headed out for a relaxing honeymoon on the California coast.
I should also add that all the animals have settled back into their lives as well. Sage is doing really great... he's currently getting pretty shaggy with winter approaching. He suffered no long-term affects the ride, though he's lost a bit of that fabulous muscle he built up! Not walking 20 miles a day will do that to a horse I suppose. Bella is good too -- back to being a couch potato.
I have been busy doing talks on the ride around the region. I've found that there are things about the ride that can appeal to a wide audience, whether they are horse people or not. More than 50 people came out to my talk at the Wilbur D. May Museum! We've also spoken at private events and make appearances at some public events like the Wild Horse Preservation League's annual fundraiser - where we had a booth and met many fans. I actually have events booked well into next year. Those events are listed on the homepage of the website.
I am so excited to talk to people about the ride, about wild horses, and about the Nevada Discovery Trail so please send me an email if you'd like to book a talk. Within reason, I'm pretty much willing to talk to any group in any venue! I have hundreds of photos and lots of stories. I think it's a great way to keep a dialogue going -- not so much about my ride -- but about wild horses...
Another really exciting development is that I was invited to be an associate member of the Long Riders' Guild! The LRG is an international organization for long riders, based in London. It's members are an amazing group of horseback explorers. It is an invitation-only group, and the main requirement is that the long ride is a minimum of 1,000 miles -- that's not cumulative, that's consecutive in one ride! Imagine my utter amazement when I received an email which read:
"Your journey was 450 miles long. As you know that is not enough to
be listed as a Member of the Long Riders' Guild. However, you rode nearly 500 miles, across a challenging desert, in a dignified and ethical manner during your journey. Moreover, you undertook to alert the public to a pressing need to assist horses in need.
That is why I am writing to invite you to be listed as an Associate Member of the Long Riders' Guild. We hardly ever offer this option, as we always urge people to try and pass that elusive 1000 mile mark. But in rare cases we offer Associate Membership - on two conditions. The person has ridden at least 500 miles and they hope to make
another, longer, journey at a longer date. I think you are close enough to the former and I feel confident
you will someday achieve the latter."
Obviously I am beyond honored! More so because the Long Riders' Guild was a major inspiration for the Nevada Discovery Ride. It was 2010 when I decided to plan the NDR. That was only after visiting the LRG website and reading about their amazing riders. I felt that 1,000 miles was far beyond my abilities, but I thought I might be able to accomplish a mini-long ride. That was when I started planning my 452 mile trek!
After four months at home, Ryan and I have often found ourselves daydreaming of the trail. So what's next? Receiving the invite from the LRG energized both of us. We had initially thought of the Nevada Discovery Ride was just a one-time adventure... but it doesn't have to be. Let's go for the elusive 1,000 mile mark! With that, I am excited to announce that we are in the early planning stages of the second Nevada Discovery Ride! And we're going bigger and better -- aiming for three months on the trail and 1,500 miles! Because we love the Silver State so much and this is ground-zero for wild horses, we're planning to do the ride entirely in Nevada once again.
There's much planning to do before we can hit the trail. It took three years to plan the first ride, so I'm giving us two years to plan this next one. We've been pouring over maps looking at trails... and right now we're investigating a loop from Reno to Caliente (outside Las Vegas) to Jarbidge (N. Nevada near the Idaho border) and back to Reno. (Ryan's calling it the Nevada Horseshoe Trail!) Of course, as we discovered the first time out -- trail plans evolve. So, stay tuned as we continue to plan this next adventure. I will continue to update here and through our Facebook page. I'm really excited to continue to advocate for wild horse adoption!
Lots of administrative things to do post-ride... like announce a winner for the beautiful print from Mark Terrell and Wild Horses of Nevada Photography!!! Exactly one month after riding into Reno, Ryan and I drew for a winner today. Apologies in advance for the low-budget filming ;)
Congratulations again to Heather Nichols of Reno, Nevada and thank you to everyone who donated during the ride. With the raffle over, I've taken down the donation page on the website. The final tally for donations is $1,530 -- all of which will go the Wild Horse Preservation League to help wild horses. Curious about where those donations came from? Check out this map I whipped together:
It's amazing that we had donations come in from as far away as Louisiana and South Carolina! Receipts are going in the mail this week so keep an eye out for those.
So, what are we up to now? Making appearances around the area! Look for Sage and I at the Wild Horse and Burro Expo on August 2 & 3. We'll be riding after the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard and competing in some trail trials. Fun! And mark your calendar for our ride presentation on August 24 at the Wilbur D. May Museum. Come hear stories from the trail, see new photos, and ask questions! We look forward to seeing everyone there!
Getting in some trail rides around Reno.
It's hard to believe we've been home for nearly one month! Now that I'm back to the real-world, I'm actually dying to hit the trail again!!! I miss the simplicity of just riding every day. Maybe it's time to start planning another long ride?!
Still, it's good to be home and our work for wild horses is far from over. We have several events coming up to promote the ride and our mission. This Sunday, Bella and I will be at ArtPaws
in Reno. It's a pet-friendly event dedicated to all-things animal! We're looking forward to seeing all the people and dogs that attend. Sage was certainly the star of the ride, but Bella crossed the state too, and as a rescue-mutt deserves to get some attention! If the mail arrives on time, I'll be selling postcards, mugs, and calendars with images from the ride. If the mail doesn't arrive on time, we'll still be there to say hello to people! Stop by and see us if you're in the Reno area!August will keep us busy -- Sage and I will be in the opening ceremonies at the Western States Horse and Burro Expo on August 2. Look for us after the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard! We've also entered in a few trail classes just for fun. I also have some talks coming up on the ride, including a public presentation at the Wilbur D. May Museum on August 24. Mark your calendar! It's going to be a fun recap of the ride with new stories and photos.
Tickets will be $5.00 at the door. More information is on the homepage of our website.I'm working on a new page for the website that will recap and review some of the gear we used during the ride. Many people have asked about our bridle, saddle bags, or shoes. As you know, we were lucky to have EasyCare Inc. as a sponsor for the ride. Sage's feet would never have survived the 452 miles were it not for the EasyBoot Epics. I recently wrote a review for the company, which they have published on their blog. You can check it out here: http://blog.easycareinc.com/blog/hoofoholic/nevada-discovery-ride
.Next week (July 22) is the big drawing for the Mark Terrell print! Time is running out to get a raffle ticket so send your orders in ASAP!
Thank you to everyone who has donated so far. We've managed to raise nearly $1,500 for the Wild Horse Preservation League
! Today I spent several hours putting together donation receipts and thank you cards. Those will go in the mail after we draw for the print so keep an eye on your mailbox.
Want to win this stunning 20"x30" print from Mark Terrell, valued at $400? Order your raffle tickets today!
Bella immediately fell asleep as we drove home after riding into Reno!
We've been home now for one week, and it's been an interesting transition back to "real life". The first few days I just wanted to sleep and shower and eat. There was also a lot of gear to unpack, as well as the truck - which is incredibly filthy by the way! We came home to a big stack of mail, excited cats and dogs, and family in town. I also had to get back to work fairly quick and so did Ryan. No rest for the weary! One week later and Sage and Bella are adjusting just fine. Sage is happy to be back with all his barn buddies and Bella is happy to be back on the couch. Unfortunately we have had a spell of 100+ degree days so no one is feeling very active. I'm so grateful we missed this heat spell during the ride. But I'm hoping the temps will cool off here soon so we can get back to riding!You might be wondering what comes next. The ride may be over, but our mission is not.
I am busy booking presentations and lectures so that I can share the ride and wild horses with more people. We have several events planned already, which are listed on the homepage. I will continue to update that as we schedule more. I'm excited to continue with the momentum of this amazing adventure. We have thousands of fans on Facebook and just as many following us through this website. I have been inundated with wonderful emails and messages from supporters all over the country who are inspired by the ride and interested in wild horses. My goal was to show people what a great trail horse a wild horse can be and I believe I succeeded. People are very impressed with Sage, who truly was the star of the ride. Not only did he take me across the state through some incredibly challenging terrain and conditions, but he did so calmly and bravely. He also came out of the ride in better shape then when we started! So, look for us out and about sharing our story. I may also parlay our ride adventures and drama into a book... only time will tell!Donations and raffle ticket orders are still coming in which is fantastic! We're drawing for the Mark Terrell print on July 22 so there is still time to get your order in. Don't forget to make your check out to the "Wild Horse Preservation League." Our goal was to raise $5,000 for the group. Right now we are at around $1,500. Also, I've uploaded many, many new photos to a Flickr account for the ride. These are photos that Ryan took throughout the month. You can access it here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nevadadiscoveryride/
. They are in backwards sequential order, so scroll down to the bottom to start from the beginning of the ride.Thanks again to all of you for your support during this project. The Nevada Discovery Ride was a three-year labor of love for me and it's a little bittersweet that it is over.
But as long as there are still tens of thousands of wild horses still in holding facilities then I'm not finished. Trust me, you haven't seen the last of Sage, Bella, and I! Stay tuned for more :)
***Written on June 18***
Though our journey demanded a backcountry route, I was surprised to have 2 weeks with little phone service and no Internet! Well we are approaching civilization again, and I can finally give you a proper update. Lucky for you I have been keeping excellent trail notes!
Most importantly Sage, Bella, and I are healthy and happy! We have covered hundreds of miles of intense terrain and had an amazing adventure. For brevity I will give you a few of the highlights and lowlights...
- One of our campsites was infested with ticks. I had five on me!!
- A rattlesnake got under the tent one night. He was discovered in the morning right under where my pillow and head were. Yikes!
- A herd of four wild horses charged our camp one morning. Plastic bag to the rescue!
- We attempted a short alternate route suggested by a well-meaning local. Unfortunately we got lost, stuck, and had to back track to get out of there! I also lost the tracking device in the process.
- A wonderful rancher in the Big Smokey Valley have me a brand new tracking device!! He also invited us to stay for the night. He and his wife treated us to good food, good conversation, and even some live music!
- Remember the beautiful engagement ring that Ryan gave to me on day 4? I'm embarrassed to admit that I lost it on the trail. In an attempt to not damage it, I put it on my necklace. Unfortunately it broke and the ring belongs to the trail now. Ryan I can laugh about it, but we are still pretty bummed.
- We climbed Ophir Summit, our toughest day on the trail in terms of elevation gain. Ophir Summit is at 10,000+ feet so we had a long, steep, rocky climb. It was an amazing feeling of accomplishment when we reached the top. We climbed a mountain!
- We took a rest day at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. The rangers took great care of us!
- We have had another thunderstorm, but mostly hot days in the last week. Dry terrain this side if the state too, so water breaks are critical.
- Sage and I have gotten a lot faster. When we started it would take us 10 hours to do 20 miles. Today it took us 6 hours!
- We are on the Pony Express Trail now, and I fulfilled a lifelong dream of galloping on it!
- We are approaching Fort Churchill State Park! It's amazing how far we've come. We are one day behind and should ride into Reno on Saturday. Everyone is invited to come out and see us ride in. Time to be announced, but the trail ends at the foot of Toll Road in South Reno. (Where the pavement ends. There is a little lot there.)
Finally, though our journey is almost complete we are still a long way from our $5,000 fundraising goal for the Wild Horse Preservation League. If you have been following the ride and if you support my mission of wild horse adoption, won't you please consider donating? Whether you can give $5 or $50 it all will go to help our wild horses. You can donate right through the website - just click the tab that says donate!
I can't thank you all enough for your support during this adventure. We're nearing the home stretch and I should have consistent Internet access now so stay tuned for updates as we wrap up!
Wild horses in Antelope Valley. They are hard to photograph because they run away as soon as they see you!
Abandoned ranching ruins. We saw many on the trail.
My kind of trail - barely there!
Sage next to some sage that was bigger than him!
Long roads to cross.
Rattlesnake under the tent!
Light grazing at Potts Ranch.
Lots of climbing!
Good music from some new friends made on the trail.
Bring on the mountains!
Bella at the top of Ophir Summit!
Changing terrain as we head west.
Horse on the road - wild or runaway??
Ryan and Bella take a break.
Sand dune riding!
Lots of gorgeous sunsets!
Pony Express Trail!
We crossed a playa!
Doing laundry on the trail. Socks hanging to dry!
It's hard to believe but after nearly a month and hundreds of miles we are almost home!
Unfortunately we have not had good enough Internet access to post updates to the website for more than two weeks. Lucky for you though I've been taking excellent trail notes. As soon as we get home I will post an update with lots of new photos and stories from the trail. It's been a wild ride but an adventure of a lifetime!
Everyone is invited to see us ride into Reno on Saturday, June 22. Sometime around 1:00pm Sage, Bella, and I will end at the foot of Toll Road in Reno, where the pavement ends. Please come out and see us as we end this amazing journey! See you soon!
Camped at Dayton State Park.
Four days have passed since our rest day in Preston, but on the trail it feels like an eternity!! Each day is so long and full of their own unique challenges. We ran into our first wild horses in the White Pine Range. If you recall, I had been nervous about how that would go since wild horses can be so territorial. Well it turned out to be no big deal. The horses ran off and Sage didn't really care. Only once did we run into some trouble-maker bachelor stallions. They huffed and puffed and ran around us, but as soon as I shook a plastic bag at them they ran away! We've also seen lots of cows, antelope, one bull snake, and maybe a golden eagle - I couldn't really tell.
Today was our hottest day yet, coming out of the Pancake Range and crossing Fish Creek Valley. Now that we are entering the hot stretch we will need to alter our daily schedule a bit. We are going to get up earlier so we can get a head start while it is still colder, and we will take a long break during the hit afternoon before continuing on in the evening. The sun just zaps you and there's no need to push Sage and Bella through that.
Otherwise everything is going great. Everyone that we have met on the trail had been super nice, albeit a bit baffled that we are riding across the state. Today, I had two cars pull over to give me cold drinks and snacks!
I'm very impressed with how cslm and steady Sage has been thus far. he really is doing a great job of proving how great adopted mustangs can be.
Looooong roads out here...
Heading into the beautiful White Pine Range.
Old cattle water troughs are a blessing for Sage and Bella!
We both have bug/fly masks!
We crossed all of that!!!
My shirt soaked in cold water is a great way for Sage to beat the heat.
It took 10 days to cross one county!
Our rest day in Preston was much needed. I got a shower and to sleep in a real bed! Sage and Bella also got to rest. I was feeling pretty sore so I can only imagine how they were feeling. Ryan and I did laundry and made a quick trip to Ely to resupply and also to Ward Charcoal Ovens State Park to pick up more horse feed. So a busy day, but a good one!
We are eager to get back on the trail though. Tomorrow we will cross the valley and head up into the White Pine Range, which is beautiful! We have six days of riding ahead of us before we get another two rest days.
Also, if you are not able to see our Facebook updates - Ryan proposed on the trail yesterday! I said yes of course! Quite a nice surprise :)
The engagement ring!
The view from the road to Osceola.
The longest road ever... or so it felt!
Bella finds some relief in the tall grasses of Osceola.
Heading up Cooper Canyon, our toughest ascent yet at 8,000+ feet!
Good grazing in Cooper Canyon and stunning views.
Unfortunately we can't escape some road riding.
Rain storm in Steptoe Valley made for a dramatic day.
Bella takes in the view after a long day of walking.
We camped at a cool old corral with a working windmill water pump!
Taking a break at the summit of the Egan Range.
Beginning the long descent down Sawmill Canyon, our favorite canyon yet.
The White River Valley and our rest day in Preston awaits!
Hello everyone! It's been an amazing five days and 100 miles so far. Thank you for all your support and donations. The adventure is underway and is already more than we imagined. Everyday is truly different, with its own highs and lows, struggles and triumphs. The scenery is amazing and we have already seen so much different terrain. Everything is tough in its own way - hot valleys, rocky and steep mountain passes, and unpredictable weather. We have seen deer, antelope, elk, jackrabbits, lots of lizards, cows, and one rattlesnake so far!
Interestingly, the hardest parts are civilization. It's very stressful riding on roads with semis going by at 70 miles an hour. I've also spent a lot of time walking to give Sage a break. I have some blisters, but we are getting into shape. Sage is just a powerhouse and he's really been amazing, especially since we are asking a lot of him. But nothing has really fazed him yet, except for the hundreds of cows we had to ride through! Bella is doing well too, but has already had to take some breaks with Ryan in the road crew truck.
Ryan is taking great care of us, keeping us well-watered and well-fed! We've had great campsites along the way, and Ryan makes sure that when I ride into camp at the end of the day everything is already set up for me. So all I have to do each day is ride...
Anyway, we are enjoying our much needed rest day in Preston, before we head out again. More challenges await I am sure, but we will keep powering through one range and valley at a time. It gives me amazing perspective and respect for the many settlers of Nevada who came before us.
Not sure when we'll have coverage again for updates once we get into the White Pine Range but I'll try to get something out. Thanks again everyone! We will see you on the otherside!
Early tomorrow morning we will load Sage into the trailer and drive six hours across Nevada to Ely, which is near the Utah border. He'll have a few days to decompress from the drive and we'll have a few days to finish any last minute preparations. And then come Saturday... we ride! After three long years of planning and dreaming this project is finally about to begin. I'm surprised to find that I don't feel scared or nervous -- I feel ready. I have great gear, a great support crew, great sponsors, and most importantly a great horse.
Everything is packed -- including clothes, food, extra tack, camping gear, and medical supplies. I finished my last day at work. Sage got a final hoof check and trim. My wonderful mother flew all the way from Pennsylvania to house and pet sit for the month. All that's left now is just to ride!
I am so excited to have such wonderful supporters and I hope everyone will stick with us through this great adventure. We are in a great position to get people talking about wild horses. Yesterday I was invited to speak to at the Air National Guard base in Reno to the junior enlisted. Though most in attendance were local, they did not know much about wild horses. I was very happy to fill them in and share with them my adoption story. They seemed very interested in the ride and I hope they'll follow along too! Not to count our chickens before they hatch, but we're already lining up some post-ride talks around Nevada. I'm really looking forward to sharing this ride with as many people as possible. If even one person goes out and adopts a mustang then it will all be worth it.So, I'll check in with you before we ride out on Saturday and after that our updates will be spotty (intermittent internet service) but I promise to update as often as I can! Keep spreading the word, and thank you to all who have donated to our cause so far. I leave you with a few photos from a wonderful new local photographer (Patricia Gonzales of Tru Heart Photography) of Sage and I playing this weekend.