Four men, 18 Mustangs, six months and 3,000 miles: From Mexico to Canada, the deepest backcountry in the American West. Here are their stories.
It takes a certain kind of person to attempt to ride across the United States, through desert, mountains, forest and plains. The journey will be rough and tumultuous, yet also fulfilling for both horse and rider. Who are the four men eager to begin this trek? Here is your chance to meet them.
I was born and raised in South Texas on a working cattle ranch where I grew up learning to hunt, fish and ride horses. I was home schooled on the ranch with my two sisters but extracurricular activities like rodeo and 4-H always revolved around horses. I graduated from Texas A&M where I studied history. I completed Officer Candidate School last year and will be commissioning as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps in March. With some time before I get called up for basic training, I will be able to realize a lifelong dream of making a cross-country trek horseback.
Growing up, my family spent many summers escaping the Texas heat in the Big Horn Mountains. Through this experience and a job working at a dude ranch one summer in Wyoming, I’ve always had a deep appreciation for the Mountain West. Like my buddies, I’m looking forward to unplugging and traveling using my favorite mode of transportation. My family and I always talked about one day doing a trip like this and it is my hope that by going through with it, I prove to myself what is possible when you put your mind to something. I’m also looking forward to giving new meaning to “a long ride.”
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Houston, Texas. Just like most kids growing up in my neighborhood, life revolved around sports. However, I preferred spending my weekends at the family farm. There I learned how to ride horses, shoot guns, hunt and fish. I have spent numerous summers escaping the Houston heat in Colorado. As a kid we would go as a family to ride horses, hike, and mountain bike. During my time at Texas A&M University I spent two summers as a wrangler guiding horseback trail rides in the Rocky Mountain National Park. There I fell in love with riding horses in the mountains. In the fall of 2011, I took a semester off from school and worked for an elk hunting outfitter in the Teton Wilderness of Wyoming. I graduated from Texas A&M University in December 2012 with a degree in construction science.
I want to satisfy my craving for adventure. Since leaving the wilderness in Wyoming I have felt a longing to return to the backcountry. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. I am not ready to fall into the corporate way of life I have been preparing for my entire life. This is a perfect chance for me to set aside my everyday routine and challenge myself like never before. I look forward to spending 6 months riding a horse through the most beautiful and rugged lands this country has to offer. I am ready for the simple life of traveling by horseback, sleeping under the stars, and living unplugged from modern society.
I grew up in the Texas Panhandle, but always had my heart in the mountains and my mind on horses. My first experience with horses came after my freshman year of college. I talked an outfitter in Colorado into letting me work for free until I made a pack hand. I took to horses quickly, learning how to train and pack. The next year, 2011, I rode more than 2,000 miles from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Canada along the Continental Divide. Every year after that I packed in the mountains during the summer, guided elk hunts in the fall and went to school in the spring. I graduated in May of 2012 with a degree in wildlife biology and conservation from Texas A&M University.
I like to see new country sitting atop a good horse. If you’ve ever ridden a horse outside of an arena you know what I’m talking about. It’s that feeling when you look at a mountain and wonder what’s on the other side. Backpackers look at their feet when they travel, driver’s look at the road, and tourists look through a camera. On a horse you’re elevated, not huffing and puffing, and traveling at the perfect speed to soak in the land you’re passing through. I believe that God gave horses to mankind to see His creation the way He intended, horseback.
My name is Ben Thamer and I was born and raised in Amarillo, Texas, where I was fortunate to be exposed to the outdoors at a very young age. Growing up I spent all my free time hunting, fishing, skiing and backpacking. All of these activities brought me into contact with wild places and planted the seed of adventure deep in my soul. After high school I enrolled at Texas A&M University where I studied agricultural economics and worked my way towards a job behind a desk and a house in the suburbs. Fortunately, I spent my last summer of college guiding horseback rides in Rocky Mountain National Park where I discovered the joy of exploring beautiful places on horseback. The experience turned my life plan upside down.
After a year in the cattle business I made the decision to put my career on hold to go on this trip. My decision was influenced by several different reasons, not the least of which is that I will never be rootless enough to do something like this again. Above all, I am doing this trip because it allows me to enjoy an uninterrupted 6-month period of freedom from the “real world” while focusing all my energy on the three best things in life—my horses, my compadres and God’s wild places.