When you walk, you're a hobo. When you ride a horse, you're a hero.
The Best of America by Horseback team has woven this inspiration into the fabric of its trail rides. In the summer of 2009, the members will lead a horseback adventure to be remembered - they'll make the journey from Mexico to Canada, and discover the best of America in between.
During a filming break last Fourth of July at the M Lazy C Ranch in Colorado, we learned what it's like to ride with Best of America, why they believe that trail riders are heroes, and what you can expect if you join in next year's border-to-border ride - or catch it on television.
A Day in the Life
Show creators Tom and Pat Seay have been leading the way in unique trail riding ever since their pioneering American Transcontinental Trail Ride in 1995. After the ride's success, the idea for the television show, Best of America by Horseback, fell into place. More than 100 episodes have been filmed and aired on RFD-TV, but the spirit that fuels Best of America stretches far beyond the limits of what television can show.
While he might be an icon to many viewers, Tom says that the show isn't just about the trail riders' horses, or about him as the host. Instead, it's the "combination of people that represents many more people."
Throughout our conversation, the crew members took turns sharing their experiences with memorable trail riders throughout the country. By working with Best of America, they've learned that exceptional horsepeople exist everywhere, regardless of their walks of life. "The heart of America is more universal than you'd think," says Tom. "Everywhere you go, there's a foundation, a goodness, a kinship that you want to be associated with. And every community you go to, every trail ride you go on, those people are there. Their names are different, but they're there."
By the end of the interview, it was obvious that the show's trail riders are kind and generous people, but it's because of the way they're treated by the Best of America team. Every day and every minute that trail riders spend at a filming, they're treated like close friends. The crew members never stop trying to please their guests, and strive to make each person's experience special. They make their purpose clear: Best of America is about celebrating an American way of life, filled with natural beauty and horses.
A Trip in the Making
The Mexico to Canada Trail Ride has been in the making for many months. Next April, it'll begin with a ceremonial ride from border town El Paso, Texas, to the host city, Las Cruces, New Mexico. A day of celebration with the community will light the torch for the adventures to come. Over the next 21 weeks, the trip will follow the Rio Grande north, then cross over to Utah and the Grand Tetons, and finally trek through Montana's Glacier National Park to the Canadian border. The ride should cover about 1,800 miles in total.
The Best of America team emphasized that their priorities are promoting safety and organizing a ride that anyone can do. No one is expected to ride every step of the way, and routes within close range of the campsites will allow riders to make a trip home if necessary. About 14 miles will be covered on each riding day; every three or four days, the group will rest.
To get the true flavor of the ride, you must sign up for a week minimum. Pat feels that the requirement will help participants to get the best out of their experience, maybe even lose track of time. "When you're on this ride, that's your whole world," she says. "What you're going to encounter today, how you're going to get water today, living like they did years ago when traveling by horseback."
The Best of America team gushed with exciting details and possibilities for the trip - hopes for riding with Native Americans, a quest for the best campfire cooking recipes, an apple pie contest, the biggest cowboy church in history, testing trail-rider friendly products - to name a few.
The Mexico to Canada ride will be anchored by trail boss Hayward Simmons, an expert trail rider and outdoorsman. Core riders will add structure and enthusiasm by riding every step of the way. Because the idea of traveling the whole distance was so popular, core rider spots are nearly full.
To secure a spot at one of the trail ride's locations, join the BOABH Trail Club, and sign up as soon as possible. There are still opportunities to ride for a week, two weeks, and a month, but because the number of trail riders is limited, waitlists have been started for certain weeks. For many more important details and updates, visit www.bestofamericabyhorseback.com, or call (540) 829-9555.