Trego's Lady Long Rider stopping in Havre
Book talks about riding 25,000 miles
Last updated 6/10/2019 at 11:33am
Just as in the old Western movies, Montanan Bernice Ende of Trego has traveled across North America passing from town to town on horseback, embodying an American legacy.
“You are an iconic, legendary, romantic image that comes riding into town,” Ende said. “… It’s a really powerful, powerful medium.”
She added that when people see her riding through their towns they are immediately interested and mesmerized. Doors open and smiles spread across peoples’ faces as she brings the image of a lone mysterious rider passing through their town.
Ende, better known as Lady Long Rider, is coming to Montana State University-Northern’ Hensler Auditorium in the Applied Technology Center Tuesday at 7 p.m. to talk about her book, “Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback.”
Long riding is when an equestrian rides 1,000 miles or more on horseback. Ende said that when she first started on her journey 15 years ago, she didn’t know what long riding was, but always wanted to ride.
She started her book tour in November and has given more than 90 talks in 18 states, said Sarah Wilson, her book tour administrator.
Ende, 64, got off her horse for the first time in 15 years and is traveling for her book tour in her pickup truck, Wilson said. She is still traveling with her horses, but because of the commitments of her book tour is driving.
Ende said starting long riding was the end of a period of time in her life when she decided to stop teaching ballet, which she had been teaching since her mid-20s, and the end of a relationship that was not going anywhere.
“I got on my horse, I said, ‘I’m going to ride until I forget about this man,’” she said.
Wilson said that Ende started long riding when she was 50 years old, after teaching ballet for 30 years.
Ende grew up on a poor dairy farm in Minnesota and then left to attend college, but quit college to live on the West Coast, living in Portland, Oregon, Seattle and San Francisco, Wilson said. When Ende was 23 she became determined to learn ballet, taking a course for 2½ years to become a ballet teacher. She was married and later divorced.
After the divorce she moved to Trego, living in a cabin and teaching ballet in the community center to local girls and boys.
Wilson said that Ende was ready for a change and in 2005 took her first long ride to visit her sister in New Mexico, a grueling 2,000 mile ride. Wilson added that Ende was physically fit and was already an expert horse woman, but she was not prepared for a number of things involved in a long ride.
The first ride was hard, but was something that she knew she wanted to pursue further, Wilson said.
Since Ende’s first ride, she has now ridden more than 30,000 miles, Wilson said.
Ende said that she has seen a profound change in her life, living outdoors and living a singular life.
“I’ve really stepped away from what is normal in life and it’s changed me,” she said. “I don’t know, not always such a good thing but it’s what I’ve become. … For most people it is a lifetime dream, it’s something that they’ve always dreamed of, but for me it became my life, it’s just a way of living.”
She added that she dedicates her rides to her great grandmother, grandmother and her mother. The next book she has coming out includes more about her the women in her life who made her who she is.
Wilson said that Ende rides to encourage leadership in woman, to encourage leadership for women to learn, grow and explore.
“Her mom gave her the love of the horizon, her dad gave her, her can-do-ness,” Wilson said.
Wilson added that Ende has been featured in the New York Post, several different television news shows and newspapers. She also spoke to the Susan B. Anthony Organization in New York and will celebrate the centennial of women’s right to vote in New York, dressed as a suffragette and riding her horse in the parade.
Ende said that when she first started long riding she wasn’t doing it for any cause or reason other than that she loved to ride. But over the past 15 years, she has embraced her ability to inspire women to be fearless and encourage female leadership.
“I never started out thinking that I was riding for anything,” Ende said. “It was simply my love and longing for the ride. I just love to do it.”
She added that she also never thought about writing a book, but every ride was well-documented including her maps and notebooks from her time riding.
“Not that I thought I was going to write a book, it’s just that I just felt compelled to document everything,” she said. “… It wasn’t too difficult to put it together.”
The biggest change for her, she said, was when she reached 25,000 miles, after her 8,000 mile ride that took her from Trego in the northwest corner of Montana to the coast of Maine and back to the West Coast.
“I said, ‘You know what, now I’m going to call myself a long rider,’” she said. “I felt for the first time that I was seasoned, and I have never experienced that in my life, not even when I was teaching. Never did I feel like I was a seasoned ballet teacher. Now I could say that I was a seasoned long rider. I know what I’m doing now.”