By Sylvia Stevens
Bernice Ende visited Clare, on Tuesday, while traveling across country on horseback from Montana to Maine. She decided to stop in Clare after hearing about Cops and Doughnuts from residents in the U.P. This is Ende’s tenth year traveling across the country on horseback and she has no plans to quit any time soon.
“10 years ago I rode down to see my sister in Albuquerque New Mexico and I fell in love with it,” Bernice Ende said. “I fell in love with the life and I love traveling by horse.”
This year’s ride started in April with her leaving her home in Trego, Montana to make her way to her winter camp in Maine. Once in Maine she will camp with her horses for four to five months before traveling across Canada and back through Washington and Idaho to return to Montana by 2016.
“I love life in my face I love being out in life, I love being in the weather love being out of doors and I love the absence of all the stuff,” Ende said. “I love stepping into the saddle every day; I love the walking and methodical clicking of the hooves. I feel like I am living in the cracks of life and that I left normal behind.”
Now while her way of life sounds liberating and appealing, readers must not romanticize this cowboy on horseback motif. Books and movies make this way of life sound easy when in reality it isn’t at all.
“What I find fascinating is how many times I have been told, I have always wanted to do this,” Ende said. “You don’t want to do this. You think this is really wonderful but it’s really hard, really dirty and really dangerous.”
She only travels with the packs she can carry on her two horses, traveling 30 miles a day before setting up camp for the night. She relies on the kindness of others if she gets lost, but other than that she has only herself to rely on if something bad happens. Ende feels that fear is the reason that 99 percent of the people she meets will never actually go out and do what she does everyday.
“Asking for help was the single most difficult thing to overcome,” Ende said. “I think that is something that you have to have that in you that desire to go to the edge a desire to go beyond your fears.”
Ende dislikes it when people romanticize the past because it ignores the negative aspects in favor of exaggerating the positive.
“Equestrian travel is the perfect example. It’s from another past, it’s something that people might relate to because it’s from a time when life was better,” Ende said. “’It isn’t better. It’s really hard on these horses and I’m so glad we don’t have to use our horses the way we use to.”
During her travels she will give talks to 4H as well as sell DVDs about her experiences while riding the country on horseback. Her hope is that people will be inspired by her rides and the difficulties she has faced and realize how grateful they should be about what they have and the country that they live in.
“I think it reminds people of the freedom we have in this country and how much do you need or how fast do you need to go. I think it evokes these thoughts,” Ende said. “It’s so interesting traveling by horse it’s different from traveling by walking or bicycling. The medium the horse is a door opener and it’s an eye catcher.”
She camped the night at Pettit Park with her two horses Essie Pearl and Montana Spirit and then rode off toward Mount Pleasant the following morning.
For more information about Bernice Ende, visit www.endofthetrail.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail P.O. Box 284 Trego, Montana 59934.