Monday, February 26, 2007

English Long Rider, Daniel Robinson, imprisoned in India

I'd like to thank all of you for your words of encouragement to Bernice Ende during her 5,000 long ride. The outpouring of support has been tremendous, and is greatly appreciated by Bernice, Honor and Claire. They are nearing Barstow, California on the final long push back to Trego, Montana. All is well, and I've posted some images taken in Bagdad, Arizona sent by some of her many fans.

Less fortunate is the English Equestrian Long Rider, Daniel Robinson, who has been imprisoned in the remote Pursari Jail in India. Daniel was attempting to retrace the ancient Tea Horse Trail, a bone-breaking track stretching thousands of miles from western China, up and over Tibet and down into the distant plains of India. Daniel left England for this magnificent journey over a year ago. His journey began in the company of a group of Tibetans, along the ancient Tea Caravan Trail from China to Lhasa, Tibet. He left Lhasa alone, on foot, with two horses, and covered over 3,000 kilometers through the Himalayas.

Suffering from exhaustion, malnutrition, and near hypothermia, Daniel stopped at the top of the Himalayas so that he and the horses could rest. Realizing that he could go no further without food and help for his horses, one of which was in foal, Daniel headed down toward the Indio-Tibetan border. He turned himself in to a military encampment just above Josimoth at the end of October.

Almost immediately he was arrested and his horses taken into military custody. He was transported to Pursari Jail, outside Gopeshwar. There he sat for over two months, enduring intensive interrogation from four different security services, treated like a common criminal while he awaited the long and arduous process of his case being brought to trial. His health was, and is, broken. He suffered a bout of pneumonia and a kidney infection and, since he is also asthmatic, prison conditions are inevitably and inexorably effecting his health.

At first, Dan was told he may spend up to a year in prison. Now, he may face up to 10 years. The fate of the horses is not yet known, although Dan has been told that he may petition the Indian government for them once he is released.

Please visit the Free Dan website to read more about Dan's plight and sign the petition requesting his release. His next appeal has been moved to March 10th. CuChullaine and Basha O'Reilly of the Long Rider's Guild have also been releasing updates and petitioning for his release.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My View on Tucker's New Mule Saddle

Tucker has been promising the release of their mule tree for a couple of years now. Like everything else, however, a good product takes time for design, and redesign, and more redesign. Tucker finalized the tree design last year, and have been testing it on all the mules they could get their hands on. They are now convinced that they have exactly the fit they were looking for and the Tucker High Plains Mule Saddle is now in production.

After seeing it at the Denver Market, I'm convinced that it will fill a need. However, don't think that just because you have a mule you need a mule saddle. I've been fitting saddles for 22 years, and I've found that mules, like horses, vary greatly in size and shape. A"mule" tree is designed to fit the really traditional "mule figure". It has wide, flat bars, with no "rock" from front to back. A traditional mule is somewhat broad-backed with little to no sway in its back and no discernible withers. If you have this style mule, then by all means try a mule saddle. Putting a regular trail saddle on this type of mule would literally be the same as putting a rocking chair on a table and expecting it not to move when you sit on it.

Keep in mind that this body type has been slowly bred out of mules over the last 15 to 20 years. Now, most riding mules are slightly narrower, with more pronounced withers and a little more curve to their backs. With the choices available in regular, wide and extra-wide trees from saddles we carry from Circle Y and Tucker, we've been able to fit the majority of these mules without resorting to a mule saddle. As always, if you have any question about what type of saddle will work, measure your horse so that an expert at Tucker Saddles can determine the correct tree. Of course, if you happen to be in the neighborhood, bring your horse by to see us and we'll get you the right fit.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Prescott, At Last!

We've heard from Bernice, and she has reached Prescott, Arizona. She, along with her horse Honor and her dog Claire will stay in Prescott for some much-needed rest and recuperation. Also, we're excited, because she'll finally have time to write about her experiences during the last 9 months on the road! What an amazing journey, undertaken by an amazing woman, that shows what trust and love between a woman and her animals can inspire. For any of you that have not been following Bernice's travels, you need to check out her past letters and FAQ pages.

Bernice is also getting ready for the next stage of her trip to Barstow, California. She's entering the rainy season, and has decided that her current rain gear is not going to be adequate. She knows exactly what she wants, and plans to sew it herself. However, the ideal fabric for her needs is GoreTex, which is difficult and expensive for her to obtain. I'm working on getting this for her, but I'm having trouble as well, and am more than happy to hear suggestions of any good suppliers. Please contact me at with any assistance you can offer.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Long Rider Bernice Ende Outwaits the Weather in Crown King

Bernice has been an avid weather watcher, and the recent snowstorms have practically shouted, "Stay put!". So, Bernice, Claire and Honor have been enjoying the tranquility and hospitality of Crown King, Arizona. The now-living ghost town is located in the pine-laden forest of the Bradshaw Mountains, in the Prescott National Forest approximately two hours from Phoenix to the south, and Flagstaff to the north.

They'll stay in Crown King just until there's a break in the weather, then they're off to Prescott, where they will take a much deserved two-week rest. Read Bernice's latest letters, postcards and journal entries.