On this journey I will be riding two majestic wild horses from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. And this is all thanks to Sara Turner, the Canadian expat who I met in Honduras!
Sara helped me care for Bruiser who was hurt at the time and ended up riding with me into Nicaragua. She became a friend for life thanks to our shared love for the horse.
When I met Sara in Tegucigalpa she talked my ear off about how amazing her mustang Honey was.
“I grew up riding this mare everywhere… She is the best horse in the world,” Sara told me while we rode south together.
The Canadian cowgirl loved her horse so much she actually flew her down to Honduras. I had the pleasure of meeting Honey and was impressed by her big bones and strong hooves.
So when the time came to find the horses for this new long ride, Sara who has now moved back to Penticton, British Columbia, convinced me to take two horses of the same origins as Honey.
“These are the animals you need for this wild terrain Filipe, they will keep you alive,” Sara said as we spoke about the opportunity a year back.
I agreed with her. The instincts these wild horses have acquired over generations and generations of survival of the fittest, is what will keep us safe against grizzly bears, mountain lions, harsh weather and mighty mountains.
Sara also told me about the large number of wild horses going to slaughter today. Most riders want to buy Quarter Horses or Paints or Morgans… The only person who buys these horses at the auctions is the meat man.
Wild horses have lived in western Canada for hundreds of years, they helped build this great nation and contributed to WWII both as riding and pack animals and food. Yet they don’t have a “right of place,” in the land they inhabit. With many people calling for the removal of these “pests”.
“You will inspire more people to ride these horses Filipe… this is so important,” said Sara.
I promised her to do everything in my power to get more wild horses into good homes and away from the slaughter house.
Sara first purchased a horse from the Penticton Indian Band, from a great horseman named Two Buck. This was the same herd Honey came from when Sara was still a teen. The tall palomino she named Jughead for his big head and roman nose went to a young trainer near Vancouver named Cole.
After a little more than a month working with the horse, Cole realized we did not have enough time to get him ready for the ride. Jughead, like many mustangs who are removed from their natural habitat, entered a heavy depression and didn’t want to eat or do any work. He simply spent his time sulking.
“Cole said this is normal with some horses and that Jughead will need more time to get over this depression,” Sara told me over Skype.
Only a month prior to leaving, we had to draw up a new plan. Sara contacted a native horse trainer and rancher out of Osoyoos, British Columbia, just 40 minutes from Penticton, and he agreed to help us out.
“Aaron Stekia is going to lend us 2 of his wildies and we will try to get Jughead out to you when he is ready,” Sara told me over Skype.
She went on to send me photos of a beautiful grey by the name of Smokey and a Buckskin tank called Coyote. Sara assured they were broke to ride and castrated. I trusted her.
Finally, I had horses to ride south!