Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Interview with Bernice Ende, Long Rider

For those of you following Long Rider, Bernice Ende's journey around the western United States, I thought some background information on her might be interesting. Through conversations during her preparations and a question and answer session we held on the morning of her departure, we have some interesting information about Bernice to share with you. Here are a few of the questions we asked with Bernice's answers:

How did you get started with long riding?
I always knew I would do a long ride. When I started thinking about last year’s trip, it was just a perfect time in my life. I had sold my dance studio and I had no other responsibilities. I was training horses for the McCurry’s when the idea popped into my head. And it would just not go away. I kept trying to talk myself out of it and couldn’t. I just didn’t believe the doubts I would try and convince myself I should have. I finally told some friends that I was going to do it and that committed me. It was all planning from there on out.

How did you and Honor [the horse] train in preparation for the trip?
We worked a lot on “desensitization”. I exposed her to cars, trucks, semis, logging trucks, school buses, ATV’s, bicycles, llamas, hikers, anything and everything that we could find. Kids and dogs running at her from a house as we pass on the street. And every time, I turned her to face what was coming to make her braver. It also helps develop the trust bond that we need out there. I also used my dressage training to work on her responsiveness, flexibility and aids as well as fitness and muscle building. We worked with and without a saddle and with and without packs. Ultimately she has to be able to do anything I ask of her loaded with the saddle, the saddlebags and me.And we trained for endurance. We worked on walking, trotting, running, climbing, trail work, hill work and road work. We varied our schedule. Some days we would ride 8 miles and some days we would ride 20 miles.

What do you do in camp?
The first thing is to attend to the horse and the dog. Both animals need to be brushed, rubbed down and have their feet checked out. Once they are taken care of and eating, I will cook myself something as well. Then I like to sit, look, listen and observe. I will often check my maps and think about the next day or the next week or where we have been.Many times it isn’t all that quiet because something makes the horse nervous. She fills up on grass and now she is ready to go. Or maybe there is a creature out there in the dark or whatever. Claire, however, just passes out.

We'll keep posting more Q&A's as we get them. If you have any questions for Bernice, please be sure to send us an email at or comment on this post. We can't promise when we will get the answer, but we will be sure to pass the question along.

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