As the days passed in Osoyoos, I had to make a hard decision.
I began to realize there was no way I would get Coyote ready in time to leave Fairbanks. He was just too dangerous. Too wild. He would put my life in danger and those around me.
I really wanted to honor Shaun’s life through this ride but it just wasn’t enough time to get Coyote ready. During this ride, I will be trekking next to highways and crossing towns and cities. My horses need to be trustworthy animals. At least one of the two.
I spoke to Sara Turner about not taking Coyote and she agreed.
“We will find another horse that is broke and you can take Smokey. Coyote is too dangerous,” she said while we ate Easter dinner at her house.
Sara’s friend Cole, a horse trainer and mechanic, contacted his good friend Jim McCrae, a fellow long-rider and he agreed to lend me one of his mountain horses.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon Sara, Clara, Aaron, and I drove to Jim’s ranch near Princeton, BC. It was a gorgeous property in the middle of the mountains with a large pasture, a creek, a log house, and a few other buildings.
“Welcome to my humble abode,” Jim said shaking my hand with a strong grip. I liked him right away.
We spent a few minutes talking about his ride up the Pacific Coast Trail. It was amazing hearing about his adventures in the ’80’s with his two horses and mule.
“I was the last person to ride that trail from south to north without trailering the horses at all,” he explained to me.
After our chat we caught Mac, a colossal dun standing at 17 hands, and put him into Aaron’s trailer. Mac was a wild horse from the Penticton Indian Band that Jim acquired a few years back. The tall and thin long-rider used Mac to pack in the mountains and recently started riding him as well.
“I broke my back a few months back in an excavator accident and haven’t been able to do much riding… Mac needs the exercise, this will be a great trip for him,” Jim said before giving the horse an emotional goodbye.
As soon as we arrived at Indian Grove Riding Stables, I saddled up Mac and got on him. It was such a relief to get into the saddle and have my horse stand there. Ask him to walk and have him calmly take those first strides. I was so used to the past week of riding the hurricane that was Smokey. Fighting to stay on every time he exploded. Taking 5 minutes to actually mount him as he tried to run off.
“This horse is amazing,” I yelled out to Clara from Mac’s back.
Being on top of him made me feel as if I was riding an elephant. Not only is he super tall, Mac is also very wide. He definitely has draft blood in him.
“Big Mac, that’s your new name buddy,” I said to him when I got off.
Finally, I had a broke horse to ride on this new Long Ride. For the first time a week, I slept well at night.