Abernathy Boys Honoured!
On Saturday, April 22 2006, the town of Frederick, Oklahoma, dedicated a life size bronze of these amazing little Long Riders.
(A copy of the statue, left, and Long Rider Howard Wooldridge beside the full-size bronze, right. Click on either image to enlarge it.)
The Long Riders' Guild is pleased to have contributed to this statue by donating a portion of the profits on the book about the little Long Riders' exploits, Ride the Wind, towards the cost of this bronze statue.
Long Rider Howard Wooldridge attended on behalf of The Long Riders' Guild and made the following speech.
"Character! How much character did the Abernathy Boys need to even dream of riding across North America? The daring courage of these two lads made them my personal heroes. To saddle up and ride into an unknowing and sometime uncaring universe requires a ton, a ton of character that few possess as an adult, let alone two young boys. Their equestrian deeds bear witness to the character of Frederick and the great state of Oklahoma which produced these two legends in the horse world. Frederick and Oklahoma are forever burned into the consciousness of members of the Long Riders Guild as the location of our best members.
I am a Long Rider, one of a handful of men and women in the world who are upholding a 6,000 year tradition of nomadic, equestrian travel. But before you ask what Long Riders are, let us tell you what we are not.
In this age of anonymous air travel, Long Riders are not tourists, trail riders nor ring riders. They are the equestrian equivalent of saddle-borne astronauts, a tiny, hardy band of risk takers and wisdom seekers.
Normal tourists expend their energy coveting vast mileage yet often see nothing more meaningful than postcards scenes and casual impressions. Long Riders know better than to become obsessed with finding their destinations of a map. For them…..the journey is the destination. Tourists come back with souvenirs of physical locations but they were isolated & prevented from experiencing inner wisdom. Long Riders travel seeking to unravel the mystery of the oldest form of equine-human achievement, that ancient equitation known as equestrian travel. To be w/ your horse 24/7 for months and months, to make her needs come first creates a bond and love known only to Long Riders.
Nor can you pigeon hole the activities of Long Riders under the placid title of Trail Riding. Trail riders always sure of reaching their destination and finding therein a warm meal, a soft bed and a safe roof. If we could have asked Temple or Bud, they would laughingly tell you that no such safety net exists out on the high road to adventure.
The Abernathy Boys knew instead the reality of aching bones encountered after a week of riding 50-mile days, or the bitter taste of disappointment that fills your mouth when you come to a village in the evening only to discover there is nothing for you or your horse to eat. On a personal note, when Misty had put in her long day on the road and I was unable to find her food, it ripped my guts to shreds. The Boys knew that the rain always finds a way down your neck no matter how many times you pull up your poncho with cold, stiff fingers or the fear that grips your stomach when your horses snorts and shies away from an unexpected stranger on a dark and lonely road.
The only accomplishment that counts when you are traveling is seeking out and surviving challenges with hour horse. It lies in the potholes and washouts or the near misses with bears, cougars or….Peterbilts.
It lies in seeing every dip in the land, the mountain pass, the desert in the evening. It is the simple enjoyment of a 3MPH speed imprinted with the sound of each and every hoof beat. It is the fruitful interdependence of horse and human. What other mode of travel would let you fall asleep thanking all the saints for such simple, delicious contentment?
Let this monument to Bud and Temple Abernathy be a beacon, a light house, pulling all horse riders to find the courage, the daring, the CHARACTER and one day…. take that high road to adventure.
To read a poem about these brave little boys written by Long Rider Jayme Feary, please click here.