Many young boys have a dream of being a cowboy. A small group of college students decided to bring this dream to life. Several young men from Texas determined to ride all the way from Mexico to Canada, and rode through Morgan earlier this week.
The group is now at the halfway point in their 3,000 mile journey. The group known as the Unbranded Team made their way through the streets of Morgan Tuesday, June 18. Many Morgan residents were able to greet the riders and horses as they slowly moved down Morgan Valley Drive on their way to visit the Browning facilities during their brief stop here in town.
During their stay, they camped at the Browning grounds. They took a rest day and were treated to lunch, a tour of the Browning Arms facility and some time at the shooting range.
The riders consist of Ben Masters, Thomas Glover, Ben Thamer and Jonny Fitzsimons. Masters, the ring leader, was the one who came up with the idea. All four friends recently graduated from Texas A&M and were looking for an adventure before they started the rat race of life after graduation.
Growing up they had always dreamed of being cowboys and experiencing the American West on horseback. When the idea was presented, they decided to go all in. In 2010, Masters made a similar ride from Santa Fe to the Canadian border and had such an adventure, he wanted to give it a whirl again and this time document it.
Knowing they would be placed in many difficult situations, they decided wild mustangs would be their method of transportation. Although many think these animals to be too wild, they decided to put their trust in them and rely on their sure footedness and hardiness. The riders found that working with animals never used by humans required a lot of hard work to gain the horse’s trust.
Starting on April 1, 2013, the Unbranded Team departed from the Mexican border just east of Nogales, Mexico. If the ride goes as planned, it will take them six months and over 3,000 miles, traversing through Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana before ending at the Canadian border near Glacier National Park mid-September.
Wanting to truly experience the American West and see the scenic beauties, most of the ride will be through back country bringing along with it many different challenges. Just days ago the riders were stuck in belly deep snow and had to back track. With the days comes relentless heat and sunburns while Utah nights still bring a chill.
Steep trails, high rivers, sore behinds and injured horses have all presented their share of problems, but one situation stands out above all. Recently, as a group of four-wheelers came a little too close to the group, some of the horses got spooked and ran off. It took three days and 42 miles to recover all of the horses, but fortunately this brought no injuries.
This team of four men plus their crew (14 horses, one donkey complete with sombrero and crown, as well as videographers) have their schedule down to a science. Stopping at pre-designated spots every 10 days for supplies and a day of rest, they are able to fuel up and replenish with shipments from their parents and families. Moving at a pace of only about three miles an hour, they will spend the next few months pushing on in hopes to reach their destination before snowfall blocks their pass.
When asked what they have learned from the trip, they are quick to quip, “Everything costs more, takes longer and is not quite as described.” As they progress along their journey, they have each learned lifelong lessons they hope to share with others. It is through their documentary they plan to impart of the wisdom and life lessons they are gaining.
Traveling with a crew to document their expedition, they hope their adventures will “immerse us in the beauty and romance of the Wild West, and show us why these lands are so vital to the history and future of America.” They each yearn to follow their individual dreams as they “commune and clash with Mother Nature on a pilgrimage of exploration, exaltation and exhaustion.”
To follow along on their journey, check out their blog at http://blogs.westernhorseman.com/unbranded. Or to learn more about their upcoming film, visit unbrandedthefilm.com. They are also on Facebook.