A 51 day ride from Missouri to Mount Rushmore, the three horses who put in the leg work

Published: Jul. 24, 2021 at 3:53 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Recently, a couple of cowboys made their way to South Dakota on a 51 day journey from Missouri. An amazing story of two men, yes. What about their horses?

Tracking hundreds of miles is strenuous on horses feet. Especially across highways ridden with asphalt and pavement. So, just like humans, they need help cushioning the blow. That’s why these horses wear shoes too that are infused with borax, a means of helping the horses stay grounded.

Julie and Dave Mader, who helped with the pairs horses during the early stages of the journey say, “So, that the horses wouldn’t slip, because of riding all over the country like that. They could go down and the horses could be hurt, the riders could be hurt. So they had to put those into the shoes.”

From town to town over the course of the 51 days, people they met were willing to put the pair up. However, farriers were also willing to help keep their horses shoes up to speed.

“We know horse shoers in our area, but when you get out of the state to another state, Nebraska or South Dakota -- you don’t know a Ferrier that you can get. And,” says Julie, “these people were just so generous to find them somebody to come that morning and get them ready so they can get on their journey.

“It just shows that the Country’s still got good people,” says Dave.

They couldn’t just hoof it right out the door, the horses needed to get into shape first, says Jed Umphenour, a family fried of Cris Rodriguez, who completed the 51 day with Forrest Drury.

“They’ve been legging their horses up. Cris has been -- he got his panniers and his pack and they practiced packing it for days and they’d go on little 10 mile rides to see how they would travel. Which horses would carry it best and lead best,” says Umphenour.

A pannier is the pack that the horse is carrying on its back. Which is very heavy, carrying most of the duo’s essentials.

“We got three amazing horses. The horses, they traveled well. That was another one of my goals. I wanted to get up here with all horses still sound, good feet and everything,” says Rodriguez.

The three horses: Dust, a male stock horse. Peppy, a red 14 year old gelding quarter horse. Finally, Sadie, a 10 year old cutting horse.

Peppy and Sadie had to take two weeks worth of breathers along the way. Still, very impressive. However, a special shout to Dust, the Underdog.

“Dust, he made every single day of the trip. It surprised me. He looks the least fit, but he’s got the most stamina of all of them I think,” says Rodriguez.

Dust, living true to his name by leaving the others in it.

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