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32


Leaders ofPack


the


What beter way to spotlight trails than do the one thing that can preserve them: Ride them?!


Mike Williams and Cowboy at Southfork in 2014.


N by horsetrader staff


ORCO—It’s a Friday aſternoon, and Mike Williams returns home to


Fourth Street with his 16.1-hand Mustang gelding, Cowboy, aſter a day of what he loves most—trail riding.


This breezy January ride went 20 miles, a perfect distance to get Cowboy ready for an upcoming 300-mile journey that he and others have been plan- ning for more than a year. The three-week trip, leaving Norco April 30 and arriving at Bishop May 21, will take Williams and co-riders Rebekah Wan and Ray Spence along urban routes out of Horsetown USA, up and beyond the Cajon Pass, across the Mojave Desert and ultimate- ly into Owens Valley along the Eastern Sierra. “It’s been a while since I’ve ridden that far,” Williams admits aſter his workout. “Usually, I’m six-to-10 miles and I’m done.” Cowboy was a litle tired, too,


but also fine. “He just was not used to it,” says Williams. “By the time we get into this—day in and


day out—it won’t be a problem for us.”


Conditioning is a key part of


an extended ride, and this one is the longest ever undertaken by Williams, an avid Backcountry Horsemen member whose list of credentials include San Bernardino County search-and- rescue certification, FEMA large animal rescue and Wilderness First Responder. The first three days, from Norco to Phelan, will average more than 20 miles a day before the first layover, aſter which another three-day stretch to Red Mountain will be slightly longer. All told, the short days will be 15 to 16 miles; the long ones, 25 to 26. Wan, a BCH member whose


younger years were spent in a dressage saddle and on jumpers as well as on the trail and in horse camps, has ample expe- rience to join this trip. Like Williams and Spence, trail riding and wilderness are part of her, thanks to a lifelong exposure to them, and like her partners, she wants to educate and inspire others to hit the trail.


Courtesy photo


Courtesy photo


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