Forest Fires affect North American Long Riders – Horses injured due to smoke inhalation
Changes in global weather patterns and a hotter climate have been of concern to the Long Riders’ Guild since 2012. In that year the LRG began asking Long Riders to report on conditions which might affect horses and humans making journeys. It didn’t take long for disturbing news to arrive.
Sea G Rhydr, who was making an ocean to ocean ride from the Pacific to the Atlantic in 2012, reported difficulty in finding grazing as she rode west. Filipe Leite, who was riding from Canada to Brazil at the same time, discovered that finding water and grazing in the middle portion of the United States was very difficult.
A new threat has now been encountered by Long Riders in North America – wildfires.
Trent Peterson set off this summer to ride north along the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,659 mile long trail stretching from Mexico to Canada. Trent informed the Guild that he had completed half the journey. Along with the photo of the mileage marker (right), Trent wrote to say, “I've completed 1325 miles and now have 1324 more miles to go until we reach Canada. “
But Trent rode into trouble after he left California and continued north. Wildfires were raging in six states and Canada.
Trent wrote, “There are a lot of fires in Oregon at the moment and the one here at Crater Lake has forced me to use a trailer for the first time. There just isn't a safe way around. So with great respect for fire and what it can do and how it can change, I called in the support trailer and we sadly drove around. It took us two hours to drive past 60 miles of the trail. With the mustangs safe, and myself out of harms way, I ride out tomorrow morning.”
But soon afterwards Trent reported that the landscape had changed and that grazing was no longer reliable. “There just isn’t enough feed on the trail now,” he warned.
Meanwhile Meredith Cherry’s journey across the United States ran into trouble. “As we travelled toward the Wyoming border, more and more wildfires were burning around the West. Nothing nearby, but the smoke from these distant fires made the air quality very bad for exercising. I shortened each day's distance, took every other day off, and led Apollo instead of riding to ease the strain on his lungs, but even despite these precautions, after a week of living in the smoke he had developed a respiratory infection. “ It took a week’s rest and a course of antibiotics to restore the horse’s health.
And further north the Nahachewsky family’s ride across Canada was also affected by wide spread fires. Stacey Nahachewsky wrote, “We have been having issues with the wildfires and smoke. One of the horses started having respiratory issues so we had to move them out of British Columbia as even the national parks were evacuating and closing due to reduced air quality. Our horse, Judy, horse recovered very quickly once she was removed from the smoky air.”
Update: The Nahachewskys made a remarkable ethical decision. They chose to conclude the journey just short of their goal, the Pacific Ocean, rather than risk the health of their equine companion.
Though David was denied the chance to reach the ocean, this wise father recognized the true value of the family’s journey. He wrote, “I could not have chosen two better people than Stacia and Teresa to have ridden with on a journey that tests your knowledge, problem solving skills, organization abilities and grit. This is a life-changing event that will never leave my heart.”
He concluded by writing, “I would like to thank all the long riders whose knowledge and courage we borrowed to keep our horses and us moving forward safely. I look for the chance to return the favour and meet someone excited to grow!”
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