My friend and mature rider, Belinda Daugherty, is truly starting the riding adventure of a lifetime. A week from Monday, Belinda will be leaving her home in Ten Sleep, WY, to ride 1000 miles through Wyoming and Montana to the Canadian Border and hopefully win admission to the Long Riders' Guild.
The Long Riders' Guild is an international association of equestrian explorers, with an invitation-only membership drawn from 39 countries. To win an invitation, a rider must cover at least 1000 miles in a single, continuous equestrian journey. The rider must also conduct the ride humanely, and abusing or neglecting the horses and mules used will disqualify a rider.
I met Belinda about 15 years ago when she was leading rides through the Big Horn Mountains from Lander, WY. For many years, she operated her own adventure riding business called Renegade Rides, and she led rides in Wyoming and around the World. The information below was provided in an email from Belinda:
Hope the sun is shining on your trail and your horses stay sound.
As some of you already know, I am going on a very long ride this summer, beginning July 6th. I thought you might be interested in how we get along. I am doing the ride with Christina, my guide from Patagonia. She is a heck of a hand and will be a good person to do the ride with. Below is the description of the ride that I sent to the 'Long Riders Guild". Who knows, we may be eligible to join if we have a successful ride!
We will be riding 2 horses which I have raised. Petunia, a Morgan, is 7 yrs, has hoofs like iron and travels smooth. Sandy is an 8yr old QH gelding and has nice gaits. They have both been raised in rough country, are surefooted and sensible, and know the camping routine. We will be packing 2 mules. Jim Bob is a big Arkansas sorrel, 9yr old and Rosalita is a little grey, 14 yr old, molly mule. I've only had the mules since the 6th of June. However, I have been working with them both and they are working well.
Our route: We will ride from Ten Sleep, heading west across the Big Horn Basin. We will ride through Worland, and on to Meeteetsee WY, resupply and stabling are arranged here. This route is pretty gentle, compared to the mountains ahead and will be a good way to break the horses in gently, to the trail. From Meeteetsee we head into the Absarokas, along the Greybull River. Our route takes us throught the SE corner of Yellowstone, before coming to Pahaska, at the east entrance of Yellowstone. There, a friend will meet us for resupply. Next town is Cooke City MT. We will be met again for supplies. Then west , through the Beartooths and on to Gadnier. We will stay at the rodeo grounds. Then it is on to Ennis, where we have someone to stay with, Dillon, then north to Wise River, again with stabling and a ride for supplies, arranged. We continue north, crossing I-90 at Drummond- to Ovando. At Ovando, we enter the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Heading north through the Bobs, we will be met half way, at the Spotted Bear Trail head, for supplies. Then north to St Marys, at the east side of Glacier NP. Depending upon conditions, we may go into Glacier, or we may just ride north to the Canadian Border. From there we will begin our ride back south, ending somewhere around Cutbank MT. I'm trying to avoid big towns and stay in the mts as much as possible. I figure the Canadain border will be around 900 miles. We will ride south from there to make sure we did a thousand.
That is a condensed version of our route. As I'm sure you know, unpredictible events can lead to a change in plans. We have 10 weeks scheduled for the ride, July 6th - mid Sept. I am hopling to average 20 miles per day, 5 days a week and 2 days off. We shall See!
Though we will be packing the mules, we still will pack like backpackers. I have an excellent tent suitable for almost anything. We will have a Kelly Kettle, water filter, etc. I have an electric corral kit for the horses plus hobbles and they are all picket broke. The horses will be wearing sheep bells, because of the bears. We will be packing pepper spray and a handgun. I have an extensive first aid kit.
We will have excellent photo and recording equipment, a gps and our cell phones. I also plan to do watercolors along the way, besides keeping a diary."
I'll post updates of her progress and any photos as I receive them. I'm sure you'll join me in wishing her a safe and successful journey.