The ladies shown here look like ordinary women, but they’re not. They’re extraordinary because they have the courage to live their dreams. They pack up their trailers, load their horses, hit the open road, and go on riding adventures—all on their own. We interviewed these seven women while wintering at an equestrian camp in sunny Arizona. They were eager to share their insights in hopes that riders reading this will be inspired to hook up their trailers and go adventuring, even if it means traveling solo.
Meet the Adventurers
The women we spoke to are diverse in age, experience, and types of horses they ride. Lorie Stobie, Washington, age 69, rides an 8-year-old Icelandic named Flekka. Pat Fark, age 77, has been traveling to Arizona from Indiana for 11 years with her 14-year-old Quarter Horse, Lena. At age 73, Marcie Sparks, Illinois, hauls two Rocky Mountain horses—Oliver and T-Max, both 16 years old. Maureen Helm, age 52, Nebraska, rides 8-year-old Rushcreek Arabian mare, Sissy. Shelley Hunter, age 60, loaded up her 10-year-old mule, May Bell, to escape the snow and cold of Colorado. Sheila Getty, age 63, and her 8-year-old Tennessee Walker, Mobley, hail from Montana. Carolyn Bohn, 67, Idaho, partners with her Paso Fino, Sancho, age 8, and 18-year-old Honey Dew, a Kentucky Mountain horse.
Why Do They Do It?
Why take the risk of hauling a trailer 1,000 miles or more, all alone? So much could go wrong! For Carolyn, the desire to ride under a blue sky outweighs her fear of the unknown. In Colorado, Shelley gets sick and tired of shoveling snow, so sunny skies call to her. Lori had battled winter elements and lost, slipping on ice and suffering back injuries. Maureen, after enduring a severe illness, says “life is too short” to be limited by fear. She wanted the freedom to ride and enjoy nature, not sit inside, waiting for warm weather to arrive.
These women share a common core: Their love for riding adventures outweighs the security of their frozen winter homelands.
But First, Planning
The women meticulously planned their trips to Arizona and can offer you advice. First, choose a destination and check it out thoroughly. Marcie suggests exploring what type of horse containment is offered, water availability, trail access, and nearby services. Second, figure out how many miles you want to haul your trailer each day to determine where you need to stop and spend the night. Most of the women we spoke to averaged around 400 driving miles per day, depending on weather and road conditions. Carolyn advised, “It’s better to spend an extra night on the road than to drive tired.”
Some of the women were comfortable staying at fairgrounds or rodeo arenas as they made their way to Arizona. Others stayed at horse motels/boarding stables. Safety, electrical hook-ups, availability of horse water, horse accommodations, and cost are all factors to consider.
Lists and More Lists
Begin with a list of your needs, such as clothing, food, cooking gear, and personal items. Then list what your horse needs, including hay and water, tack, an equine first-aid kit, buckets, brushes, and electrolytes. Maybe you won’t use everything you take, but at least you’ll have it if you need it.
You’ll also need a to-do list of things to handle at home before leaving. Marcie mentioned forwarding mail, taking care of bills, and having someone to check your home occasionally. Pro tip: Check the inside of the microwave and clean the refrigerator before you leave so you don’t return to putrid surprises.
A vehicle checklist will keep you safe as you travel down the road. These women are safety-conscious about truck maintenance, especially tires. Despite their best precautions, Shelley and Sheila each had flat tires on their trailers as they hauled to Arizona. But both were able to change tires without much problem. About half the women use travel insurance, especially USRider (usrider.org, owned by H&R’s parent company).
If you don’t use your phone for navigation, consider an on-dash system for your truck. Lorie stated, “It was the best $85 I ever spent!” She can plug in destination addresses; ask for nearby fuel stations, restaurants, fairgrounds, etc.; and get directions. For her, “It’s worth a million bucks!”
To prevent robberies or unwanted stowaways, Pat keeps her trailer doors locked, particularly at gas stations and restaurants. Carolyn tells a friend her route and checks in with her every day. Maureen keeps an experienced traveler friend on speed dial and stays at reputable equestrian campgrounds or horse hotels.
The safety and welfare of the ladies’ horses is of paramount concern. By trailering no more than 4 to 6 hours per day, the women make sure the horses have time to stretch their legs and rest.
The rewards for making it out of the driveway and onto new adventures is exhilarating, liberating, and life-changing. Sheila says, “I’m so happy and proud that I can drive my rig with me, the dog, and my horse from Montana to Arizona.”
For 10 years Marcie has been hauling her horses back and forth from Illinois to Arizona. She’s thankful for each day of her adventure because, at 73, she feels it’s a limited-time gift. This is true; time waits for no one. Living life fully requires courage. And maybe John Wayne said it best: “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” You just gotta do it!