Imagine riding horseback across America, from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. On your journey, you and a group of fellow riders follow along the footsteps of the Spanish explorers, travel along old cattle drive and Pony Express routes, and join up with parts of the Mormon, Oregon, and Santa Fe Trails. Along the way, you meet fascinating people, visit historic towns, and see spectacular scenery — all this and you get to share the journey with your horse!
This is just what the adventurous Best of America by Horseback crew of RFD-TV fame will be doing. Their 1,800 south-to-north trip will begin on Monday, April 20 in El Paso, Texas and end five months later on September 2nd in the northern reaches of North Dakota. Most of the time, the group’s video cameras will be rolling, recording this historic event so you can watch it on RFD-TV. Some members of the crew will also be writing about the trip, and they’ll be sharing their stories each month with readers of Ride! Magazine.
Over the years, the Best of America crew has taken numerous horseback treks around scenic parts of the country and regularly airs these trips on RFD-TV. But the Mexico-to-Canada ride is one of its longest rides, second only to its trip in 1995. Back then, the group rode horseback from east to west across America, from sea to shining sea. It was that ride, called the “American Transcontinental Trail Ride,” that inspired the group to start making regular treks around the country and film them so television viewers can follow along.
The driving force behind the Best of America by Horseback is the show’s host and Trail-master, Tom Seay. Tom’s wife Pat produces and directs the show.
During the Mexico-to-Canada ride, Tom and Pat, along with other adventurous horseback riders, will follow the entire route. These riders are called the “Core Riders.”
But, along the way, people can also join the group and ride with them for a week or two. These people are called the “Adventure Riders,” and they must register in advance. Notes Tom, “I want this [ride] to be designed so that anyone can go from anywhere and ride with me on all or part of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure across America.”
For most of the Mexico to Canada ride, the group will travel on trails, forest roads, open country, and private lands averaging 15 to 20 miles per day. They’ll ride three to four days, and then rest for one to two days. And then every three weeks or so, there will be a four-day rest, with numerous activities and events planned for the riders and the public. It will truly be the trail ride of a lifetime!
How did you find out about Best of America by Horseback?
I’d been watching the Best of America by Horseback TV show for several years. On a show in 2007, they announced that a “Grand Tour” ride would be held in Alabama. They invited people to participate. I called their office and signed up for the ride, which was held in Troy, AL. It was very cold and windy that weekend, but my wife and I enjoyed meeting Tom And Pat Seay and their staff so much that we signed up for the Mississippi ride as well.
Ever since, we have been riding with them whenever possible. They are some of the finest folks we have ever met, and it is always a joy to ride with them.
Are you considered to be a “Core Rider” (one of the main riders who will make the entire trip)?
My wife Wanda and I were the first two riders to sign on to the Mexico-to-Canada ride. We are retired and thought it would be a fun way to spend a summer. We started out as Core Riders but have since been made part of the staff. I am one of several assistant trail-masters, and Wanda will help out whenever needed.
Have you ever done such a long “trail” ride before on your horse?
I have not ridden on any long rides. But I have ridden 20 to 25 miles in one day many times, and when you think about it, this ride will be a series of 20 mile rides even though it is almost 1,800 miles total.
What are you looking forward to most about this ride?
I look forward to riding with friends and meeting new folks along the way. The times around the campfire will be great, and the scenery will be gorgeous. It may be hard at times. But the good times will outweigh the bad, and we will thoroughly enjoy the experience.
Tell me about your horses.
I will be riding an Appaloosa-Quarter horse cross named Smokey. He is a nine-year-old gelding, and I have had him since he was 15 months old. I trained him myself, and he is not perfect but is a darned good trail horse. He is easy to handle and will mostly do what I ask him. I like his color, too. He is grey with black mane and tail and a white blanket with black spots.
We are counting down the days in anticipation of starting the ride. Most of our preparations are made. We have been riding five or six hours a day, two or three days a week, so our horses are in condition and hopefully we are, too.
For more information about The Best of America by Horseback and to find out how you can join in, please visit www.bestofamericabyhorseback.com.