Why would people from Alberta spend 3 weeks in Washington State USA with their horses to participate in a 340 km long trail ride? Was it to obtain the “white scarf”? Was it to escape their busy lives at home? Or the opposite; was it to find something to keep them busy?
Submitted by Enny Van Aken
The John Wayne Pioneer Wagons & Riders “Cross State Ride” is a yearly event. The organizers promote the “Palouse to Cascades” trail. Everyone can participate. You ride your horse, drive your wagon or bike the 330 km, following the deserted train track. Starting in the West you will see yourself and your horses passing through areas with the most beautiful scenery varying from bare, vacant hills to irrigated productive farmland. From rocky footing stretches to sandy soil to deal with. You experience trestle crossings over waterfalls, irrigation canals, highways and train tracks. You pass through tunnels, huge culverts and no matter the moment or the place you go; you work with your horses. They work hard every day to bring you to your next camping spot; and they have to trust that, wherever you lead them, they can do it……and they did!
Six AFHA members, six Friesians
This year six AFHA members participated with six Friesians. It took them 2 days to get to the starting point in Easton (West), then eighteen days, including four days of rest, to make their way to Tekoa (East); After another day of rest they drove home in one day.
They all did this for the second time: boring? Not at all:
- The two super high, recently renovated trestles (110 and 125 feet high) added lots to the experience.
- Driving over the Beverly Bridge, 800 meters long, crossing the Columbia River, was truly amazing.
- The weather was cooler this time. Actually, it was just nice.
- The footing on the trails was easier on the horses.
- We got spoiled with many evening dinners and a few breakfast and entertainment options.
- We found new horse friends amongst the other participants.
And all six people and horses finished……looking back: what does it take?
- good horses and a positive attitude.
- taking care of the horses and trying to use their strength and energy evenly over all the days and different distances, varying from 16 to 42 km per day.
- make sure you have enough WATER.
- It is not difficult to understand that all six people (Jaap and Wilma Dominicus, Wim and Nita Floryn, Henk and Enny Van Aken) enjoyed this trip to the fullest; To bring it to a good end does take a lot from every individual and every horse. The horses worked hard and their owners were there for them, every step of the way. These people were also there for one another every time when or where help was needed: the companionship was strong.
Will we do it again? That question remains unanswered for now. What we can say is this: if you are up for the challenge: don’t hesitate, sign up, get ready and show the world “you are tough enough”!