Monday, August 07, 2006

Letter from Bernice Ende

July 24th, 2006

Greetings to all!

Well, we arrived July 14th – late after 11pm making my family all quite anxious. All very tired with sore feet and wary from having to push thru the awful hear that pursued us from Forsyth, MT to Waconia, MN. Most days we rode from 4am to 11 am, then rested as best we could as bugs (all of which bit) and melting heat made it so uncomfortable. Then back on the road from 6pm until dark. But all in all it was a very interesting ride. Challenges that arose were met with more confidence, more to draw from with last year’s experience behind me.

The saddle and saddle bags are holding up wonderfully – great – no rips, no zippers have given out. I rave about the ease and durability of the bags. They tie down solid and wash out without soap. They are, of course, faded and stained in places but holding up very well. All seams are holding even through my brutality with them. They are truly put to the test with this much packing and unpacking as each day I pack and unpack at least 3 times. The Tucker Saddle no longer has a nice new polished look to it. After 1200 miles, it is well broke in, stirrups are set, fenders are soft. It has been from the beginning a comfortable, lightweight saddle. I’ve never regretted using it. I’ve added a crupper as the saddle needed to be held back off Honor’s high, narrow withers. With the crupper and breastcollar I’m now far happier – as is Honor – with how the weight of the saddle, pads and myself ride. We are in and out of ditches. Perhaps it is not mountainous riding, but the saddle gets shifted a great deal.

Eastern Montana was historically very interesting. So very much happened that helped shape this country during the 1800’s – the Indian wars, early pioneers and the now ghost towns that were once thriving communities that simple sank once the RR’s were discontinued. Yet the flavor of the Wild West, cowboys, open space and freedom still remains. We traveled highway 20 from Mobridge to the Minnesota border. Small towns dotted the entire ride across South Dakota. We no longer had plentiful creeks and rivers which meant stopping to ask for water at least 3 times per day. This meant longer stops for visits but it also meant we were generously supplied with food – for all us.

We fell behind – heat, sore shoulders and so much visiting put us far behind schedule. We caught three rides – one in Forsyth with the Gilies, Vicki and Keith, who were ranchers I met while staying in a corral north of town. They also took me on a cattle drive using one of their horses. I came away with a much greater appreciation for the skill it requires to move 200 head of cattle – not only rider, but horse. The terrain is anything but smooth. Those horses had to be fast, surefooted and able to withstand the roughed pitching, jumping and turning required of them to maneuver run away calves. Vicki has a beautiful line of colored Quarter Horses matched with excellent confirmation and nice dispositions.

to be continued

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