Journey America Part 3

One Dream Gives Birth to the Next

On May 17, 2019 I will commence my final Long Ride. 
I will ride out of Fairbanks, Alaska on route to the Calgary Stampede Rodeo with two mustangs from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada. These majestic horses come from the Penticton Indian band and the Osoyoos Indian band. 
Nearly a decade after starting my life’s dream, I will finish where it all started. 
If you had asked me before my first Long Ride if I ever dreamt of riding horseback across Alaska and northern Canada, I would have answered no. But what I have learned from these Long Rides is that when you live out one dream, it gives birth to the next. 
On this expedition I will be accompanied by my girlfriend Clara Davel, who I met in Patagonia on my second long ride. The 24-year-old Argentine loves horses and is an adventurer like me. 
“Of course I’m going with you on this final ride,” she said to me when I made her the offer to drive the support vehicle a year prior. 
Thanks to a 1990 Ford motorhome that was donated to the journey by Marie and Rocky Aitken out of Clairshome, Alberta, we will be able to carry panels to build a corral for the horses every night, water, feed and hay, and I will be able to sleep in a real bed and shower. It’s almost hard to believe. 
My first long ride all I had was what could fit in my pack saddle. I travelled for 803 days with the bare minimum. Everything had to weigh less than 150 pounds. From my toothbrush to my underwear, to camera equipment, to horse medication, everything had to have a real value or it stayed behind.
This meant that if we couldn’t find water, my horses and I didn’t drink. It was both dangerous and painful. And something I never want to endure or have my children – my horses – live through again. 
So on my second long ride the Barretos rodeo, one of my sponsors, lent me a cube van to carry water and hay for the animals. I still slept on saddle blankets every night and spent weeks with no shower, but the peace of mind of having the basics to give my animals changed everything. That was until I didn’t have a driver in northern Argentina and had to spend 3 months traveling with the pack saddle again and hitching rides back to the van every week to drive it ahead down the same road I had just traversed on horseback.
This time around, having this motorhome and Clara out on the trail changes everything. It’s as if my first journey was a huge adventure and this one if more of an expedition. And once again this is all thanks to the kindness of others. 
Since there is very little forage in Alaska and the Yukon for the horses to eat, the feed we carry is extremely important. I will also carry panels donated by RG Rural, a Brazilian company, so the horses can rest well at night. We will ride for hundreds of kilometers with no ranch or farms in site. 
This ride will be through some of the most desolate, rugged and wild places in the world. It will be the shortest in kilometers but may be the hardest to complete. And with northern Canada’s arctic winter, we will have to spend several months stopped in between. 
So why am I going on another long ride you may be wondering?
There are three main reasons. The first is that I hope to inspire others to live a more natural life and to follow their dreams. The second is to once again raise funds for the Barretos Cancer Hospital. And the final reason, and one of the strongest, is to help preserve and celebrate our Western heritage, cultures and community spirit. 
During the more than 23,000 kms I rode from Calgary, Canada to Ushuaia, Argentina, I have received the help of hundreds of farmers and ranchers. The men and women who inhabit the 13 nations I crossed guided and offered a helping hand to myself and my horses every 30 kms. This intimate contact with these stalwarts of the land gave me a close-up look at how hard these men and women work to feed the world and the values they hold dear. At the same time I was also able to see how marginalized farmers and ranchers are in today’s society. 
I want to show folks in big cities and small the human connection to animals and the land still found in ranches and farms throughout the Americas. 
I am a third generation cowboy who was on horseback before I could walk. I made it on the Wrangler All-Star team two years in a row during high school. I have family members who ranch and farm. And it was thanks to these experiences that I learned to respect and love the natural world.