The Long Riders' Guild

Howard Wooldridge - riding from Colorado to Tennessee

In October and November 2002, Howard and his mare "Misty" rode from Denver, Colorado, to Chattanooga, Tennessee.   

Howard Wooldridge has set off with his mare "Misty" on a Long Ride with a mission.

The retired policeman from Fort Worth, Texas, is taking to the road to express his conviction that the current prohibition against the legalization of marijuana is not working.

"As a former law-enforcement officer, I know that every hour spent looking for an ounce under someone's front seat means another drunken driver smashing into some innocent person," he told The Long Riders' Guild.

"Public safety is seriously diminished as we in law enforcement spend millions of hours nationwide, chasing a drug (marijuana) that, though not harmless, has never, to my knowledge, killed anyone using it."

Howard is a member of a growing segment of the American population that believes the current American drug policy, which revolves around  the twin concepts of interdiction  and incarceration, is financially expensive and emotionally counter-productive.

His ride, which will take Howard and Misty from Denver, Colorado to Chattanooga, Tennessee is supported by other law enforcement officers, as well as a large contingent of common citizens.

17th October 2002

Howard called The Long Riders' Guild with an update.  He has ridden 540 miles from east of Denver to St. Joseph, Missouri.  Although the weather has been very kind, the area has been suffering from the worst drought in living memory - worse, according to the locals, than in the 1930s.  Howard has been forced to average 25 miles a day or more, just to find food for Misty.  "For the first three hundred miles there was absolutely no grazing!  In Colorado the earth was brown and gray, while in Kansas we rode through 150 miles of dead grass.  I had to get to a town every afternoon so I could let Misty graze on the grass outside the Post Office, then move her to the grass outside the Library, then on to the school.... I have been giving Misty about 15 pounds of grain a day, too.   I am being very careful of her back, and I've found the best way to travel is to lope for two miles, then get off and walk a mile."

Howard now plans to follow the Mississippi all the way down to Tennessee.  "There should be plenty of grass from now on.  What's more, I've just checked the map again, and I only have about eight hundred miles to go!"

Spoken like a true Long Rider, Howard!  We at The Long Riders' Guild wish you a continued safe, happy, and saddle sore-free journey. 

17th November 2002

The Long Riders' Guild has had another call from Howard in Waverley, Tennessee - 80 miles west of Nashville.  He has now ridden 1200 miles from Denver, where he started.  Howard made what can only be described as a death-defying crossing of the mile-wide Mississippi River at the Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on a bridge made in 1928 which sported narrow ten-foot lanes, holes in the surface of the bridge, and no guard rails.   

"When Misty and I crossed that bridge, the wind was blowing at 45 m.p.h.  One moment it would blow us into the incoming traffic, the next moment it would try to blow us into the river below.  It took us five minutes at a fast trot to cross the bridge, and I reached the thousand mile mark at the other side."

Howard told The Long Riders' Guild over the telephone that "Living and dying were so close up on that bridge.  At times this trip has been so hard that I am chewing up mental reserves I didn't know I had."

Howard has ten riding days to go to before he reaches his destination of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Yet he informed The Long Riders' Guild that after taking a seven-month sabbatical from the saddle, he has every intention of picking up his original trail at Denver and riding all the way to Portland, Oregon - at which time he will have ridden across the North American continent.  

Howard's final thoughts on his journey?

"The feeling of satisfaction that you get from a trip like this is hard to put into words."

30th November 2002

The Long Riders' Guild has just had a call from Howard to let us know that he and Misty have arrived safely at Chattanooga, their journey's end!  

Many congratulations from all of us here at The Long Riders' Guild, Howard!

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