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 :)
The latest updates from Samantha on the Nevada Discovery Ride.