Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Everyone Loves a Parade!

And this one was to celebrate two gutsy horsewomen, Messanie Wilkins, also known as Jackass Annie, and Sea G Rhyder a present day Long Rider, so, how awesome is that? 
On November 8, 1954 Jackass Annie left her home in Minot, Maine on her pony Tarzan and traveled by horseback, homeless and indigent, all the way to California.  On November 8, 2013, Sea G Rhyder arrived in Minot on her pony Mr. Jesse James after traveling, homeless and indigent, all the way from California.  What incredible women!  What fortitude!  What perseverance!  AMAZING!

Ah-D-Das and I were blessed to be able to participate in the parade last Saturday  along with perhaps twenty other horses and riders, including Sea and Jesse James.  A great friend of Sea's, Gryph Wulfkil, also rode in the parade upon her Fjord pony Saint Finehorn,
who had been Sea's packhorse on most of the journey. Gryph had accompanied Sea for the first five months of the trek and had also journeyed a few more months alongside Sea at another time, so it was very fitting that these two women were rejoined at the culmination of this trip.

Now, my AhD has never actually been  in a parade, but I knew he'd be fine because of all the groundwork and cool contest challenges we have faced together in our years in the RAC.  The wind was blowing a gale, but the sun was out , and that is a blessing in itself in November in Maine.  The start of the parade was about seven miles from my house which is a ride-able distance but we trailered in because it was not a ride-able route in my opinion.  Besides, there was just not enough daylight at this time of year for us to hightail it home after the parade and subsequent ceremony at the cemetery where Messanie is buried.

My husband Dana agreed to be the chauffeur, so I loaded up AhD and we drove to Kate's house to pick up her and Jax. Both horses loaded, trailered and unloaded like a dream.  We had previously taken out the inner dividers of our stock trailer to accommodate Jax because he most definitely prefers to walk off trailers (not back off) and that preplanning is what made that trailer ride so uneventfully SLICK!

 My tummy had butterflies in it, I was so excited.  We had well over an hour before parade time, but since we had a chauffeur who would be leaving with the truck and trailer before the start of the parade, Kate and I set to tacking up.  Kate had a few feathers to decorate Jax and even an orange boa.  She loaned me a few feathers as I had decided not to dress up in anything fancier than my embroidered fleece RAC Reserve Champion jacket because  I wanted to promote Curlies and invite people to ask me questions.  (It worked! Or, it might just  have been that wonderful winter curly coat that AhD has grown in the past month.)

My husband Dana the Chauffeur tormenting Kate


The variety of equines was incredible.  There were, of course, Quarter Horses, but also, TB paints, Morgans, Arabians, a Tennessee Walking Horse, a Saddlebred, and even a draft Appy mule! (I wish I had been able to talk more with the lady who had the big black mule - because, how cool is that?)  I met the NICEST people!  There was not one single horse that acted out in the parade.  A local  farrier and endurance rider Colleen brought two Arabs, riding one and leading the other one that was obviously green.  You could tell that these people knew how to ride, but not one was braggy or boastful about it at all.  We admired each other's horses, and AhD received many compliments.  I was beaming!  He was so well behaved.  It was kind of crazy, with flags flapping madly in the wind and kids hiding and darting along the edges of the road.  We passed at least two sets of goats.  AhD is really not too comfortable with goats...he looked but didn't miss a beat.

One of the riders had ridden with Sea in Texas, and vowed she would ride with her at the end of the trip. 
She carried the Texas flag on her borrowed QH. Others drove their horses in from all over Maine and New England. 
Joanie Mitchell, the actress who played the part of Messanie Wilkins in a documentary film, and her horse were dressed as a leopard/tiger cross.  There were  Long Riders  participating  as well, including Lucy Leaf who inducted Sea into  the Long Riders League that day.

We made our way off the main road onto Jackass Annie Road and trekked the mile up to the homestead cellar hole.  All the horses seemed fine with moving up or falling back in the herd.  There was a camera crew there and an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker recording it all for posterity.  I think he interviewed each one of the riders beforehand.  The filmmaker interviewed me as I stood by AhD,  who was tacked up and tied to my trailer.  He asked me a few questions, so I gave a short description of Curlies and told him my Curly was very smart and personable but a bit fresh.  Kate and I exchanged glances and laughed. I am so hoping I can see the film one day.  Sea told me she is asking him for not just the final product, but all the raw footage as well.  Sweet!

There was a ceremony for Sea at the cellar hole.  The Minot Youth Historical Society had been corresponding with Sea throughout her trip, and those kids were so excited and proud to welcome her to Minot.  It was fun!  I'm not sure if that is where Lucy Leaf inducted Sea into the Long Riders League, or if that was done later that evening. We riders mostly stayed out of the way and let our horses chill and graze.


One of the Arabs got tangled up in some burdocks, and two nice strangers helped clean her up. 

Once the ceremony was over, we headed further up Jackass Annie road to where it turns into trail, and made our way down a steep and rocky trail into the woods.  Our Trail Boss was Cathy Pressey on her TWH Jazz.  I was very appreciative of the fact that she and Jazz were decked out in orange and highly visible.

Sea and Gryph followed us on foot because Mr. Jesse James was feeling sore (he has arthritis and received his medication late).  After a couple of miles, we hit mud, so Sea and Gryph mounted and continued.  My friend Kate was also on foot for quite a while because her Jax started behaving badly once on the trail.  AhD and I hung back with them until Jax calmed down and Kate was ready to get back on.  I am so thankful to our trail boss Cathy Pressey, who stood by us stragglers and made us feel like it was perfectly  ok to be lagging behind the others.

Back on the road during the final section of the ceremony to ceremony ride, Sea removed the bridle from Jesse James.  She told me she had dreamed of riding Mr. James bridleless when they were back in California, and I am so happy for her that this dream came true for her.

The ceremony at the cemetery was very emotional and moving.  Sea broke down and wept as she laid flowers upon Messanie Wilkins' grave.  I was all choked up, and I was not the only one.  My friend Kate cried like a baby. Jesse James and Saint Finehorn roamed free behind Sea, Gryph and Lucy Lee (a Long Rider also) as photos were taken at the gravesite.

At the closing of the second ceremony, Cathy Pressey invited me and Kate over to her house because it was just a hop, skip and a jump away.  I called Dana to come pick us up, and Kate and I had a chance to rest and let our horses do the same. 


What an incredible time I had!!  I am so glad I could be a part of this celebration, and I am so proud of my handsome AhD, who took everything in stride and behaved like he had been doing parades his whole life.  p.s. Harold and Donna, I took 115 pictures; did I include enough of them here for you? :)


  1. Dear Susan,
    I realy have to laugh about you!
    At the beginning of RAC 2013 you told me you didn't have a lot off time so you would not join the competive part of RAC...
    Look at you! You are leading/running this are posting most and sending the most pictures...sorry for my bad language, hope you understand what i mean??
    buy the way, love your story again!

    greetings marjolein

  2. Boy oh boy Susan, my eyes got totally tired from looking at all the pictures, Donna should take lessons from you,,, Very good piece of history I believe... Good story and why should you expect less from a great horse

  3. Oh WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!! Susan, I have been looking forward to this post for what feels like ages!! What an INCREDIBLE event you got to partake in!! And so awesome that you had no issues with AhD!! You guys are my inspiration for my upcoming parade and I SO hope I can have as positive a post as you just did. I am a huge softie and I have to admit I shed a tear reading about the memorial. The picture that did it for me is the one of Sea kneeling and laying flowers on the grave. You and Didder look awesome! Kudos to Kate and Jax too! We know from your previous posts that he can be a handful but sounds like he was a star for her other than that brief bit! He'll be even better next time! YAY for you!! Such an awesome post and loved ALL the pictures!!! I will have a camera on me Saturday and so will my husband so I am hoping for lots of good pictures too!! : )

  4. AMAZING Susan!! What an incredible thing to be a part of! Wow. I loved the pictures and the story and the memorial..all of it. What a neat group of people and horses! Yay to you and AHD....whooo hoo!

  5. Thank you all; I am glad you enjoyed my tale and photos. It was an amazing experience, and I always love to share on the RAC!

  6. WOW! I had no idea this horse and rider were traveling across the country and that it had ever occurred before! This is my history lesson for today! If something like that was to occur around here, I would be sure to be there! That must have been an incredible feeling and experience!


Blog Archive