Renowned Road Horse Passes Away
No animal has affected mankind on so deep an emotional level as the horse. Since the days of our prehistoric past, the horse has galloped through our collective consciousness. Considered the most noble of all animals, the horse is often credited with representing the traits which frail humans aspire to, including courage, loyalty, dedication and unconditional love.
Road Horses are not like the flashy race horse or the fire-breathing charger. They may have an ordinary exterior but they have qualities which only the wise can detect, including amazing endurance, astonishing courage, incredible stamina and undying loyalty. Seriy, for example, was the most unlikely of all equine heroes. He was a Yakut horse barely 14 hands high but that didn’t stop him from carrying his rider at a brisk trot 9,500 kilometres (6,000 miles) across Siberia, in the dead of winter, to a meeting with the Czar in St. Petersburg.
During the course of a journey hardship, fatigue, danger and hunger bring horse and human closer and closer together. Theirs is a community centred upon cooperation, sharing, sacrifice and support for one another. As a result, an intimate companionship grows between the Long Rider and the horse. Mary Bosanquet wrote, “On a journey like this a traveller does not possess her horses; they possess her, body and soul.”
Essie Pearl, a Fjord mare, inspired such love and loyalty from Long Rider Bernice Ende. They made many journeys in the United States and Canada, the last of which saw them riding from “ocean to ocean” in both directions, the first time in history that such a journey had been attempted or completed.
Though the two travellers were from different species, during the many years they were together, Essie Pearl and Bernice shivered together in wind and rain. They jointly endured bitter cold and blazing heat. Together they starved and then rejoiced over a meal. They faced the same perils with the same chances of escape or annihilation. They rode the road together for more than 21,000 miles
Having completed her epic journey, Essie Pearl returned home in excellent health and spirits. The constant walking had made her incredibly fit. She had a robust appetite; had developed the ability to sleep anywhere, had become hard, lean, resilient and resourceful. Essie Pearl had slept beneath the stars and run in the sunlight. She had endured driving rain, biting flies and small meals. But in return she had been blessed with a dazzling dose of freedom.
And then she was gone, a victim of EPM, a rare debilitating neurological disease that affects the central nervous system of horses.
Bill Holt expressed the thoughts of so many Long Riders when he wrote, “When a man has lived with a horse, eaten with a horse, swum with a horse, slept with a horse, travelled alone with a horse for months on end, the world seems empty without him.”
According to ancient legend, the Native Americans in Patagonia believed that a mythical land called Trapalanda lay hidden behind the Andes. This was an equine version of Shangri La, where a vast plain of tall, lush green grass awaited the spirit of departed horses. In that land they ran free and were never tired.
Essie Pearl, who travelled through all weathers, who carried her Long Rider on safety’s wing, and who swam in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, has journeyed to Trapalanda.
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