By Steve Komadina
The End of a Long Ride
Life has its seasons and new chapters begin daily. October brought an end to one of those chapters. Many of the horse lovers of Corrales lost a friend, a heroine, an example when Bernice Ende saddled up for the last time and rode into the sunset.
She was known around the world as the “Lady Long Rider.” With her dog and two Norwegian fjord horses, she rode alone across North America. She logged over 29,000 miles from September 2005 until October 2021.
She died peacefully, in bed, with her two horses just outside the window at her sister’s house in Edgewood. She had stayed there the last year, as her body tried to fight cancer and finally surrendered for her final ride.
In 2019 she spoke, at our home, to a large group of Corraleños. I was captivated by her true grit. How many of you, whether man or woman, would ride alone and camp by the side of the road in America today? She taught balspring to fall in the early years. Her trips frequently brought her south to visit her sister and relish in the beauty of the Southwest and Rocky Mountains, rather than miles of corn fields.
Her book Lady Long Rider is a marvelous work of philosophy as well as adventure. She was always welcomed to sleep in a barn or camp on a front lawn, as she found new friends everywhere she went. She talked to thousands of school children as she lived her dream and inspired them to live their dreams.
I thought her talk that night would involve the technicalities of carrying out a long ride. What was the best saddle? What kind of packs? What to do for food? Where to safely stay? How to pack and carry food for the animals? What is the best tent? What about personal hygiene?
It was just the opposite. She challenged me that night to select my priorities and live for life, not having to win at every endeavor.
To enjoy each step of the trail. It was the journey not the destination that mattered.
Make the best of every unforeseen thing that happens. Be positive. Never settle for less than you can do. I don’t know if that was what she said, but that was what I had heard.
I felt like I had visited a legend in her day, and I had.
Every horse owner who reads this will admit they have dreamed of just saddling up and taking off for a long ride. But we never do it. We are just too busy. Or perhaps too scared! Well, that is how dreams are destroyed and never fulfilled.
I will never do that long ride, but Bernice did. And she did it over and over. She did it for all of us! As I talked to her sister, MaryAnn, she shared the blessing of having Bernice with her to the end and the special year they experienced while she fought cancer.
My heart aches for the loss of a friend. She probably would not have remembered me, but I will never forget her. She indeed was the stuff legends are made of.
Why don’t I have the courage to follow in her tracks? Too old? To weak? To scared? Do I have the true grit manifested by Bernice Ende? There may never be another Lady Long Rider. Treat yourself to her book still available online. Your life may never be the same as a result. I am so grateful she recorded her thoughts for generations of adventure seekers to come.
Ride on Bernice! You made a difference in many lives. I cherish having met you.