2,000 mile trek brings rider through New Mexico
Roy Johnson is riding a horse from Elgin, Texas, to Spokane, Wash. His route brought him through Lincoln County, N.M., recently ” not quite a third of the way to his destination.
He wasn’t noticed by many. A guy riding down the side of the road isn’t a rare sight in this part of the country.
A large bedroll tied behind his saddle made him look a little more transient but again, not anything startling in appearance for the area.
Then he “parked” at Allsup’s Convenience Store in Carrizozo.
Even Lincoln County cowboys don’t tie up their horses at the convenience store.
Johnson, 35, is from Arkansas. A millwright by trade, his lifelong dream has been to ride a horse across the country. That Western adventurous spirit that settled this country still lives in the hearts of most, but manifests in only a few brave souls. Some would call it crazy.
For Johnson it became a reality when he decided to just do it. No cell phone, no contact with anyone anywhere ” he just rides.
Forty-two days ago Johnson stepped up in the saddle and nudged his 8-year-old thoroughbred-quarter horse cross, Ben, into a trot headed northwest.
Elgin is a few miles east of Austin and a long way, 2,058 miles, from Spokane.
Johnson bought Ben from a ranch near Elgin. He spent 30 days in Texas conditioning himself and the horse for the trip.
He calculates it will take him five months to make it to his destination if he can maintain a 15-mile-a-day average.
He carries with him enough grain for fours days for his horse, a few staples of food for himself, a bedroll, tent and not much else.
“The hardest part of each day so far has been finding water,” he said. “It’s there but most the time you can’t get to it.”
After spending two nights near a lake outside of Ruidoso, Johnson dropped down through Nogal and into Carrizozo on April 25.
He visited with a few locals in town and had a local farrier, David Roper, give Ben a new set of shoes.
Roper also gave him a few tips on places he might find help with water on the next leg of his journey.
By late afternoon Ben was back in a jog trot headed north on Highway 54. Johnson said he was hoping to put a good dent in the trip to Corona before dark.
The two-day rest had done both he and his horse good but they were ready to put some miles behind them.
His route would take him to Santa Fe, Albuquerque and then out of the state through the four corners area before he headed north again on the west side of the Rocky Mountains.
With a carefree spirit coupled with man-on-a-mission determination, Johnson wasn’t riding off into the sunset as he left town, but he was riding off into a lifelong dream.
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Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., presided Wednesday over a hearing on agricultural research and food security that is likely to be his last before his retirement.