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.
Sorry for the lack of updates the past few months! We're just plugging away at checking things off the to-do list. Some good news, we continue to attract sponsors, for which I am extremely grateful. Nevada State Parks has offered to donate hay for the ride once again - which is generous and much appreciated. You may recall NV State Parks donated five bales of quality alfalfa for the first ride and allowed us to store it at several state parks on the route. And, I also have an anonymous sponsor who is donating enough Starbucks Via instant coffee packets to last the entire ride! haha Coffee is a crucial staple on the trail so I am very happy to have that covered!
Probably the most important thing to do still is confirm an extended leave of absence with my employer. That's kind of a big deal! So, while the exact ride dates are still TBD, I am planning to be gone for three months sometime during Aug/Sep/Oct/Nov of 2016. Of course the specific dates will depend on fall weather, which is hard to predict here. But, we'll set a firm start date as it gets a little closer. Probably the number one question people ask me lately is "How do you get the time off work??" I'm very lucky. I don't think my employer is "excited" about my three month sabbatical, but they have been extremely supportive so fingers crossed they continue to be!
I'm still accumulating gear for the ride. Most recently, I splurged on a GPS. You may recall that I only used paper topo maps for the first ride. Well, I'm going to go a little high-tech for the second and try the GPS! I'll still carry paper maps of course, but hopefully the GPS will make it a little easier to not get lost! I opted for the Garmin Oregon 650T and I'll be sure to write a review after the ride :)
Sage is doing great. He's just loving life in the pasture with the herd. We just trail ride and hang out together. He's looking very fit and now at 8 years old is maturing quite nicely.
Lastly, I am very excited that a California woman that I have been emailing with for months and months just adopted a mustang from the BLM. She said she was so impressed with Sage and the first Nevada Discovery Ride that she had to have a mustang of her own! Well, that makes this whole project worth it for me. Encouraging mustang adoption has always been my number one goal with the NDR and it seems it's working! That's why I am so excited to hit the trail once again next year and keep promoting wild horse adoption. Hopefully we'll reach an even larger audience than last time and who knows how many people we'll inspire to open their home to a mustang!
One of the very first sponsors of the 2013 Nevada Discovery Ride is back as a sponsor for the 2016 ride! Riding Warehouse is based in San Luis Obispo, California. Their store offers a wide selection of quality, reasonably priced equine products including horse tack, riding apparel, horse trailer gear, stable equipment, gifts, and much more! Quite a bit of the gear that we use comes from their store. I am so excited to have their continued support for our trail efforts. Definitely check out their store: http://www.ridingwarehouse.com.
I am so excited to announce the newest sponsor of the Nevada Discovery Ride -- Gentle Control Hackamore! You may have noticed Sage wearing this unique hackamore in just about every photograph from the first Nevada Discovery Ride and since. I have been riding Sage exclusively in this headstall for 3+ years and thousands of trail miles, and you bet we're gonna use it on our next long ride. The whole point of the Nevada Discovery Ride project is to show how trainable and reliable mustangs can be as riding horses, and to that end I have tried to use the most minimal aides when riding or training Sage. That's why I ride exclusively in a Gentle Control Hackamore - I love how truly gentle it is. There's nothing in his mouth and there's no constant pressure. This hackamore encourages soft hands and fingertip reins. It also allows for neck reining, suppleness, and collection, without painful pressure points or leverage. We're honored to have this Ogden, Utah-based company as a sponsor of the Nevada Discovery Ride and we highly encourage you to check try out their hackamore on your own horse.
The latest updates from Samantha on the Nevada Discovery Ride.