Ride Across the United States

On Sunday, September 20th, 2009 Deb Yavorski from Endicott, New York came riding into our farm on her ride across the United States.   We got a call from Pete (our farrier) the night before asking if she could possibly put her two horses in one of our runs for the night while she camped in the yard in her tent on her way across Iowa.  We said SURE!!   Send her our way!!   Deb rode from a farmer's house in Dike the day before to Pete's farm in rural Aplington.   She left Pete's house on Sunday morning and made it to our house in Hampton around 7 pm.....


Meet the two horses that Deb is riding across America ......  Wolf (15 year old  Appaloosa Gelding) and Mercury Rysen (10 year old Arabian Gelding)


Deb stayed overnight in our tack stall and slept on the couch out there.   The next Morning (Monday - Sept 21st) I called a couple reporters to see if they wanted to come over and do a story on her.    The first one that showed up was Sarah Webber from the Hampton Chronicle.   Sarah came in and sat and talked to Deb for over an hour asking her various questions.   We found out that Deb is from New York but actually started her trek across America on the coast of Maine.  She has ridden from there through to Hampton, IA and had plans to continue onto Washington State until she reached the west coast.   This is something she has wanted to do for years and finally is living her dream.  She has always wanted to see America up close on horseback.

Sarah asked her what she carries in her packs?  She has a few changes of clothes, some bottled water, and some snacks to get her by until she reaches a farm house each evening.    She said she has been really lucky to find very generous families willing to put her and her horses up for the night so they can rest and then they get back on the road the next day.     Deb said she only needs three things when she stops at night --- water (for the horses), some hay, and maybe some grain.     Sometimes the places she stops know people up the road and they call ahead to see if she can stay the night.  (Like Pete did with us)  But sometimes the people she stays with don't know anyone up ahead.  I didn't know anyone in Alexander/Belmond area.    Sarah asked her what she does then.    Basically she follows her Atlas and the GPS she carries with her and travels the back gravel roads until around 5 or 6pm and then she goes up to a farmhouse that looks like there's someone home and asks if she can put her horses in their pasture for the evening and if she can pitch a tent in their yard.    We both asked her if she was ever nervous that the house she was approaching might not be friendly ?? She said she is always a little nervous but so far had only run into one problem clear back in Maine.    There was one lady that was friendly at first but then seemed to change overnight and get really rude and snippy later.   She felt really bad after leaving that place.   She said she almost ran into a problem in Indiana but the place she stopped was a good one.  Had she stopped a few houses down, the people said those people there had been in trouble with the law many times and had a lot of "issues."  She was grateful she hadn't stopped there instead.  The people she was staying with showed her how to go clear around those people's property so she wouldn't cross their path at all.    She was very grateful for their help.


When Sarah was done asking all her questions, Beth pulled in from KIMT with her television camera.    We went out to the barn to finish up the interviews. Beth set up her camera and started asking Deb some questions ....

Here is Deb explaining to Beth how she packs up her horses each morning and rides as far as she can go each day.   Beth asked her where she goes to the bathroom? :o)  Deb said she has been a camper for a long time.  She is used to 'roughing it' in the woods.   If there isn't any gas station or rest areas around on the road, she will pull the horses over by a cornfield and she just goes there.  :o)   Beth asked her what she does for supplies?   Deb said every once in a while she will run into a gas station on the corner of the gravel roads she is traveling when the gravel crosses a blacktop.    She will tie the horses outside and run in and get more water and snacks that are light and travel well.      She said she sees less and less convenience stores as she has been traveling through Iowa.   Lately she has been asking the farmers or families that are letting her stay overnight if she could catch a ride into town to pick up supplies.  They take her to the grocery store and she stocks up on what she needs.


She said she has learned on this trip that she really doesn't need to eat that much to get by.    She offers to pay for her meals and the grain and hay  her horses use wherever she stops but so far no one has taken her money.  Everyone has been so nice and helpful the entire trip.   She said this has been an amazing journey so far and she's met some fascinating folks.    She would really like to write a book about her trip after she's all done to tell about all the people she met and the problems she encountered along the way with the horses and supplies and camping.

We asked her if she was concerned when she got to South Dakota that there wouldn't be any farms for long stretches.   She said she has been a little concerned about that.   She is equipped to camp at roadside parks but then she won't have access to hay and grain.  She said she's got a tie line to put the horses on so they can graze throughout the evening but she really needs water.    I asked her if she had a cell phone on her in case of emergency.  Yep -- she carries one but doesn't turn it on so the batteries don't run down.  It lasts about 3 days if she uses it sparingly.   Her GPS is also battery operated.   She has been charging them when she finds a farmhouse to stay at.


It rained and stormed all day Monday so Deb decided to stay an extra day to give Mercury and Wolf a rest.   We sat and visited all afternoon.   I made hamburgers and fries for supper after Russ got home and we visited some more until it was time for bed at 11pm.   I learned that she loves Coke and hates diet pop -- and she calls it 'soda' instead of pop. ...so Russ got her a 6 pack of Coke for the night! :o)  I found out that she used to breed German Shepherds!!   She is a dog lover and instantly was a hit with all 13 dogs.   It didn't take her long before she called them all by name and was holding and petting each one.    Corky was her favorite!! :o)  She wanted to take her with her!!     We talked about the Haunted House and the Gold Star Show.  She talked about her life in New York and her job back home.  We talked about the difference in living in Iowa and New York.   We talked about anything and everything that day ..... at one point we were telling each other ghost stories (we got off on that talking about the haunted barn) ... then we talked about the Animal Planet and the shows about those animal cops clearing out houses that have too many cats or dogs.  She just got a little pomeranian from a dog hoarder that was recently busted.   The guy had 76 pomeranians in his house.  Yikes.   I told her someday I'll probably be on that show because I can't quit collecting dogs.  :o) She named her little dog "Travis" because he was supposed to "Travel" with her on this journey but no matter where she placed the back pack with Travis in it -- he bounced around too much and she was worried the trip would be too hard on him physically so she left him home.  Then we talked about religion and neighbors and horses and dogs and Rusty and dieting and just about everything you could possibly think of!!  :o)

On Tuesday morning Deb came back in and I made her some breakfast before she packed up.   We sat and visited again until 10am.   By that time it had stopped raining so she reluctantly went out to saddle up Mercury and pack up Wolf.    .... and you can see that Happy is begging her to brush him, too.    He's such a dork.  If you brush the horses he always begs to get brushed -- he was "sitting pretty" begging and whining ... smack dab underneath Mercury not paying any attention to the giant horse that could have squashed him at any minute.  Luckily Mercury was a VERY quiet horse and didn't care that Happy was under him whining like a baby for attention.     That dog has issues....     

The horses were full of mud so she brushed them all down.   The dogs tried to help but all they ended up doing was get in the way and of course Happy peed on all her packs and tried to pee on her saddle.
It was neat watching her get ready to head out on her trip.    She said she has learned so much about trail riding and going long distances.   So many things you don't even think of become so important.  You have to make sure your horses stay sound so you can continue to move forward.  If they get sore feet or legs or saddle sores --- you need to address them immediately or they can bring you to a complete stop for days until they heal.   I asked her what she did about a farrier.   She said she's been lucky enough to find farriers on her route.    She had actually stayed at our farrier's house before coming to our farm so Pete checked out her horse's feet and made sure all her shoes and trims were ok. 
The Appaloosa, Wolf, is the pack horse and Mercury is the one she rides.  
It was interesting watching her pack all her things away so tightly in her bags.   I asked her if she wanted to take a Gold Star program along with her (to remember us :o) or if that would weigh her down too much.   She said YES!  She wanted to take one with her and every once in a while when she gets too overloaded with little souvenirs, she stops at a post office and mails things home so she'll have them there when she gets back.
Partway through her journey she noticed that her saddle was rubbing in different spots causing sores on Mercury.    She said she didn't notice anything the first couple hundred miles or so ..... but after about 700 miles down the road, the girth started rubbing him.  When she was at one of the farmhouses they found a piece of sheepskin for her that she punched holes in and threaded ties onto it and tied it to the girth to stop the rubbing.
Then once that problem was solved a few hundred miles more down the road and she found that the metal ring on the off side of the saddle seemed to bend inward and was poking Mercury through the saddle causing a sore spot.  She picked up a pliable, thin, flat piece of wood that she placed under the ring between it and the saddle and found that was enough to stop the ring from poking through the saddle.     It's amazing the little things that we would never think of that might cause problems -- Deb watches for any signs of rubbing or soreness anywhere on the two horses so she can stop it before it goes too far.  She has to take extremely good care of both animals or her trip is over.
 It took her over two hours to get the two horses ready to go.    The whole time the two horses stood there and slept while she packed them up.   Mercury was even snoring at one point -- too funny!!!    She said that is the one thing she has learned during her trip.  She takes her time and is in no hurry to get anywhere.   She gets as far as she gets.  Some days she rides further ..... some days she stops short.   She has no real schedule to keep .... she just keeps moving west....
Deb takes one final look over the packs and the riggings and then she's ready to mount up for another long day in the saddle.   I gave her as much guidance as I could as far as telling her where the gravel roads would take her.    She needed to cross over or under the interstate and was trying to figure out which gravel road would take her there.   I don't drive down gravel roads except ours so I had no clue which ones went where ??   I told her to just start heading west and then take a right and go north right before Latimer .... after that ...????
I can't even imagine doing what she is doing.   I felt like we had really become friends in the short time she was here on the farm and was sad to see her go.   I wish she could have stayed longer.    I was also sort of worried about her.   She's all by herself out there with no idea where she's going next .....

I wonder what farm she is staying at tonight or how far she got?   I wonder if they were friendly and if they made her a good supper?    I wonder if she had to pitch her tent for the night in the wet grass or if she found a farm house that had a spare bedroom so she could sleep in a real bed?   I told her if she needed help anywhere to call ..... we'd be there with the trailer to pick her up.  She said, "You know, a lot of people tell me that when I leave." :o)    I said that's because we're all worried about you out there all alone!!!

 I can't wait to read that book when she gets it written.  I would love to read more about what happened on her trip across America.   During one of her interviews she told the reporters that when studying American history she found out that Lewis and Clark would never have made it as far as they did without the help of the Native Americans feeding them, giving them shelter, and pointing them in the right direction.     She said she feels a bit like Lewis and Clark with we farmers being the Natives of the land helping her every step of her journey.

  This is one very brave and adventurous woman.   I truly admire her for living her dream and going forward to face the unknown each and every day.   I hope the three of them make it to the west coast safe and healthy.

   Good luck to you Deb, Wolf, and Mercury!!   Here's to safe travels and friendly farmers along the way.  Sleep well tonight ... we will not forget you!!!


UPDATE - August 15, 2011

(*Photo above by Bobbie McTimmons)

I read what you had written about Deb riding into your farm.  Thought you would like to see these -- the two Deb's just crossing White Pass and coming into Packwood in Washington state.  Tonight they are staying at a small farm in Chehalis, then on to the beach at Grayland in 20 miles-a-day laps.  Tomorrow they will stay at Rainbow Falls State Park.  Other photo shows a mini-escort through the town of Morton, WA day before yesterday.  All is well!
Bobbie McTimmons
Back Country Horsemen of Washington,
Lewis Co. Chapter

(*Photos above by Bobbie McTimmons)

  Visitors are welcome anytime!

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Dragonfire Dancing Horses
Kelly & Russ Reynolds
1262 170th Street
Hampton, IA  50441

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This site was last updated 08/17/11