Lady Long Rider is Bernice Ende, a member of the Long Riders Guild, and it is also the title of her book that I was loaned recently. My friend who loaned it suggested that I would find it interesting in part because she saw the parallels between my love of Norwegian Fjord Horses and Bernice’s, who thinks they are the perfect long-riding breed. My friend was right, I found the book very worth reading. Click here to go to Ende’s website and read news about her book tour.
I got a kick out of Bernice’s description of her ‘dog and pony show.’ When I worked in the high tech industry, we used this term to describe our displays at trade shows, among other things. Bernice’s use of the term is of course quite literal. Her dog, on some of their long-riding trips, rode in a box mounted on her Fjord, and the combination was very eye-catching. In fact my friend who loaned me the book saw this dog-and-pony-show once along a road in Wyoming several years ago, and it was an image she never forgot! The picture here is of my own dog-and-pony-show; my Australian Shepherd Sadie was my constant companion no matter the work Torrin and I were doing. Spending so much solitary time in the company of my dog and my ponies is another shared experience I have with Lady Long Rider.
Here is Bernice’s case for the Fjord as the ideal long-riding breed. “Norwegian Fjords are ideally suited for long riding with attributes that my previous horses did not have. Fjords have a thick skin, coarse hair, and short, flat backs, and they are “easy keepers,” meaning a little food goes a long way. They are scavengers and will survive on twigs and coarse roughage…. Most importantly, I felt their mild dispositions might let them tolerate a dog riding on their backs, something most horses would not allow.” (1)
Ende is happiest when she is out on a long ride, which she measures in the thousands of miles. So her definition of home is different than for most of us. As I contemplate moving my own home, I appreciated her thoughts on the topic. “I realized that I’d learned an important lesson about home and how I could take an empty space and fill it with ‘home,’ fill it with love, wherever I went. Maybe home is a choice; wherever you hang your hat, wherever you feel respected and secure, engaged in life and appreciated for who you are is a place you can call ‘home.’” (2)
You could easily say that long riding is about a life perpetually in transition. My life is in transition at the moment in many dimensions, and while I am not a long rider, I greatly appreciated Bernice’s many explorations of a life in transition. And I realize how lucky I am to have my dog-and-pony-show life!
Ende, Bernice. Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback. Helena, Montana: Far Country Press, 2018, p. 99-100.
Ende, p. 88.
© Jenifer Morrissey, 2019
You can find more stories about my dog-and-pony-show life in my book The Partnered Pony: What’s Possible, Practical, and Powerful with Small Equines, available internationally by clicking here or on the book cover.