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“But when you’re in the middle of it, you literally deal with one day at a time. You don’t look too far ahead.” David agrees. “We just dealt with what was in front of us,” he says. Logistics were also a big issue for the three to contend

with. The horses had to be reshod every three weeks, even with borium, because they would simply wear their shoes out. When roads were closed, they sometimes had to ride in very difficult conditions. Because the river was flooded and the ferry that accepted horses was closed, for example, they had to ride through downtown Indianapolis. Another time, Brian recounts, they were forced to ride

on the grassy berm of an interstate, where horses are prohibited, and then down an exit ramp to get to water their horses so badly needed. Unfortunately, this was at dusk and a truck came down the concrete walled exit ramp while they were on it. It was a near miss, he says, with an accident avoided only because their horses never spooked as the truck missed them by inches. David recounts another incident,

where they arrived in a small Wyoming town, population five, where they planned to spend the night, only to find no one there. They had little choice but to keep riding towards the next town, even though it was now dark. A rancher headed along the road with an open cattle truck stopped to offer assistance—by backing the truck up to a bank, they were able to jump the horses into the truck and get a ride to the next town. That night, they slept at the fairgrounds, where there was water and space for the horses with the three sleeping on the open bleachers of the grandstand. In addition, David points out, communications were

completely different in the 1970s. With no cell phones, they would stop at a pay phone and call home every few days to let their father know they were doing well—and where they were located. He tracked their progress with colored push pins on a large map in his office. The three made it into Oregon before they had to end

the trip in time for David and Brian to start school again. Brian remembers the last day as slightly anticlimactic, with all three tired and out of sorts while a photographer chronicled the end of their ride. Then they arranged for their horses to be shipped back to their homes and boarded a bus for Maryland.

LESSONS LEARNED

All three say they saw a side to the country that they never knew existed before the trip.

For Sally, the trip gave her a whole new

perspective. “It totally and utterly changed my mind about the United States. It’s truly an amazing country, filled with generous and hard-working people,” she says. David says the trip had a profound impact on his life.

With so many miles to ride every day, it quickly became clear to him that it was the miles to be covered that counted, not simply putting in the time. That focus on results, not the time spent, has stayed with him throughout his life. He says the chance to see how people make a living,

day to day, gave him tremendous respect for their accomplishments. Ranch work in particular earned his respect. “How people make a living, both the wealthy and those who don’t make much money—that really stayed with me, even as a young boy,” he says. “As an 11 year old, I was just kind of going along with what was happening,” he continues. But my mother wanted her kids to be independent and we all had our responsibilities. And you certainly improve your horsemanship when you spend so many hours basically alone with your horse!” There were whiny, tired days, he says,

when you simply had to push past the frustrations. Brian agrees, saying this was a trip that could only be done with family. The bonds of friendship, he says, simply wouldn’t have been strong enough to

stand up to the demands each of them faced. The trip both shaped and highlighted each of their personalities, David continues. “I’m a fairly independent person and pretty private. My brother always led and my mother was behind him. I was often 300 yards behind.” Brian’s willingness to strike up a conversation with

almost anyone was apparent all along the way, Sally says. “He simply loves people. Maybe that’s why he became an announcer,” she adds. (Brian announces at such events as Dressage at Devon, Dressage at Saratoga, the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Festival of Champions. He also announced the equestrian events at the 2008 Olympics.) It took determination to complete the trip, David says.

“I learned that you can whine but you’ve still got to get where you’re going. In eventing, you need that same kind of doggedness and self reliance.” “This trip was a big part of creating who each of us

are—we’re all strong high achievers because of our experience that summer,” Brian adds. “Horses can help define who you are based on how much responsibility you’re willing to take. That’s what I learned in those three and a half months.” WT

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