RAMM Horse Fencing and Stalls hosted a presentation and book signing event for “Lady Long Rider”, Bernice Ende. She started her first Long Ride in her 50s traveling 2,000 miles to visit her sister. Currently, she is still long riding with 2 horses, no cell phone, some maps, and minimal provisions. After meeting her, here are some thoughts and memories from Debbie.
I had never met a long rider before. I didn’t know what to expect. Bernice Ende has ridden over 30,000 miles across the United States from coast to coast. And I felt privileged to meet her, we all did.
As simple as life is for her, with no extras of any kind and little to no possessions, her life is actually very complex. We take our homes, barns, cars, closets, and storage – all for granted. When you only have your horse and pack horse, there isn’t much room for extras. Her tent is almost extravagant. With little more than blankets and a tiny cook stove, her tent is her home. And because of her mother, she has a few doilies to make it seem more like home. She did say that there is nothing better than being in the desert with a crackling fire, your horses close, and a sky full of stars! Simple.
Bernice is a woman that is very disciplined. After teaching ballet for 23 years and giving many kinds of horse riding lessons including dressage, she maintains her strength for riding. In her sixties, she does exercise daily and advanced yoga along with chin-ups, standing on her head, standing on her hands…well, you get the idea. Not so simple.
Because life goes by at a horses walking pace, approximately 4 miles an hour, her days are long. Bernice is always in the moment. When your ride horses along highways, on roads, and around all kinds of noises, distractions, and things flying in the air, you have to be ready with your horse for anything – all the time. Packs on the horses must be in good order and balanced evenly. It takes her about 2 hours to get the horses ready to head out and then 2 hours at night to set up camp, clean tack, and eat too. Simple yet complicated.
Eating could consist of rice and greens, rice and dandelions, or rice and plants from foraging. Nettles is one of the things she finds. Even her horses can eat dried nettles. She said that she gets her tent readied in the evening, gets her rice cooked, and throws in anything else she can forage or find in the way of vegetables. She wraps her pot with several layers of cloth and then into her sleeping bag to make a slow cooker. While her food cooks she is cleaning tack and blankets, readying anything for the following ride, including shoeing. Lots of work.
Her outlook on life is more than beautiful. She believes in keeping a positive outlook on everything. Negativity has no place for her because she knows how damaging it can be to a person. She also knows that it takes a leadership role with her horses in order for them to have great respect for her. If she does not have the horse’s full respect, it’s a matter of life or death for a long rider. She is confident that her horses know how to ride behind each other, ride astride, can turn in both directions and stand in one place, can pivot and turn together, will stop and stand, will ground tie, can side step together, etc. If not it would be dangerous for her horses and herself. Training is imperative for long rides. Not simple.
After talking with Bernice Ende, I realized all that I take for granted. That the apparently simple things really are not simple and that the difficult things can really be simple in life. That each one of us can look at our own accomplishments, on our own journey, and take appreciation for what we accomplish. That each and every one of us has our own long ride and we decide how long, how far, and how often we go.
There is so much wisdom in this Long Rider, Bernice Ende. And for those that wish to be like her, it will never happen. The long rides require much solitude, which she enjoys. It requires discipline, which many do not have. And giving up all one owns and leaving it behind for many years of the long ride.
It is her life and she can not stop riding-going from place to place and gracing those she meets along the way. She does not know why she has this strong desire to ride or did she ever expect to do this, but she knows that it is her journey. Simple yet complicated, the life of Lady Long Rider.
Bernice Ende can be found on Facebook and on her website. Her tour and riding schedule can also be found there. Her Lady Long Rider books may be purchased at her website, Ende of the Trail, or at Amazon books.