By Bonnie Matton, Reno Gazette Journal
The Nevada Discovery Ride–the first-of-its-kind equestrian event to bring attention to the plight of wild horses–was planned by Wild Horse Preservation League member Samantha Szesciorka.
On May 25, Szesciorka left Baker, Nevada, on the Utah border and arrived in Reno 450 miles later on Saturday, June 22. Over 40 people welcomed Szesciorka, her horse and her dog home, including several media film crews.
Szesciorka moved to Reno in 2008, and while riding her first horse, was awed to ride close to wild bands of mustangs, but saddened to learn many today languish in holding facilities because they are not being adopted.
She started planning the Nevada Discovery Ride in 2010 as a way of showing how versatile mustangs are as trail horses, and to encourage adoptions.
"Sage" is a six-year old Mustang that Szesciorka adopted at the Carson City Correctional Center's auction in February of 2011.
"I couldn't have found a better companion and trail horse if I had tried,” she said. “He watches out for himself, consequently watching out for me at the same time. You can't teach that in a horse."
Through the entire ride, Szesciorka used a Hackamore on Sage, and sometimes only a halter and lead rope.
She continued, "Bella is an adventurer dog, and well-traveled. She has scaled mountains in Washington and Montana, swam in the Pacific Ocean in Oregon and California, got infested with ticks in the prairies of Iowa, and romped through the forests of Pennsylvania. Now she's conquered Nevada."
Al Lilla, a member of the WHPL as well, served as a road crew member for half of the ride. Trevor and Ted Oxburrow, representatives of the American Discovery Trail, went out ahead of time to flag some of the sections along the trail. Ryan Powell, for the majority of the ride, spent most of his time volunteering as head road crew member in charge of water drops, maintaining and leaving supplies as needed along the trail.
Ryan also proposed to Samantha over her website, and she answered a definite, "Yes," receiving over 1,200 hits immediately on her Facebook page.
Szesciorka has lived all over the world–from Pennsylvania to Hawaii, South Korea to Germany–as well as having served her country in Afghanistan and Iraq.
To read more about her adventure, go to her website at www.NevadaDiscoveryRide.com.