Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Hello, friends!

This blog is retired for now.
I might revive it again, so do check back once in a while.

To read about life after the ride, or between rides, please visit my new blog at

That's also the website for my pen-and-ink equine art. Any news of upcoming art shows, articles published, book(s) coming out or other such news will be posted there as well.

Thanks for your patience during the transition. Hope to see you at the new site!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

settling in, new blog

It's one month to the day since Sir Walter and I arrived back in
Tucson. A whole month. Hard for me to believe. Seems like just
yesterday we rode up the Rillito to Riverbend Stables.

The logistics of re-entry were more challenging than I had planned for, and
I spent the first 2 weeks camping out in the boarders' "bathroom
trailer" (Thank you Jan!) while searching the ads for cheap trucks,
rentals and jobs.

But with the help of friends and family (Thank you Becky!) (Thank you
Mom and Dad!), I soon had a loaner car to use and in short order
landed truck, rental and soon-to-start job. *Whew!*

So much for practical concerns... the emotional and mental re-entry is
another matter entirely. Too big a subject for this short post.

Which brings me to...
New blog?

I am considering retiring this blog and starting another one for life
after the rides, or between rides, whatever. I'd post a link to it
somewhere on this one. Havent decided for sure, so if any of you
reading have thoughts on the matter your comments are welcomed...

Also, I suspect the ride will find its way into some sort of written
and/or visual creation down the line. If you'd like to be on a mailing
list for occasional updates, please send me your email by clicking the
"CONTACT" tab at the top of this web page and following the
directions. Be sure and put "MULE MAILING LIST" in the subject line, so I know it's not spam. Thanks!
And do check back often, as I intend to get a computer sometime within
the next few paychecks and will begin posting again soon.

Be well and enjoy the change of season, my friends.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Postscript... how we made it home alive

Rode Walter mule from Mississippi to Duncan, Oklahoma, where he got injured in fence wreck. Spent 7 weeks in Duncan while Walter recovered. Rode Walter from Oklahoma to New Mexico. Walter mule still showing signs of hip strain, decided he needed to get home and rest, not to ride him over the mountains. Kyle trailered us from Clovis NM to midstate... rode Walter a little further... hauled with racehorses from Albuquerque to north end of Phoenix... rode another day... Randy and Tony gifted us with the blessing of a trailer haul to Tucson, dropped us off a couple miles from the stable... and Sir Walter and I rode into town as I had imagined we would, slowly savoring our lone quiet walk up the dry Rillito riverbed, climbing the access ramp to the road, and riding up the drive to Riverbend Stables. 
Walter is in better shape now than the day we started. It was one of my goals. I'm proud of that.

[Postscript: Walter's hip strain healed up completely.]

Thank you to all who followed the ride for your support. I know there were times when y'all wrote wonderful comments on the blog and I could not reply, as I can't do comments from my phone.

But I want you to know that every word of support and encouragement from each one of you, whether comments on the blog, emails or phone calls, gave me a HUGE lift in spirits and morale - you have no idea how much it meant! Just knowing there were people out there who were sure we could do this.

When out on a Long Ride, if a rider gets lonely and discouraged they can stop thinking straight and make stupid mistakes, life-threatening stupid. Love and encouragement saves lives.

All of you helped keep me and Walter alive.

May all of you be showered with blessings, and may you enjoy many happy trails!

- Katie Cooper, Long Rider
(with a bray from Sir Walter the Red)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

We made it to Tucson!

We're home.

Mississippi to Arizona!

Tonight... just want to say


One love, one life, blessings and beauty abound.

My love to you all!

And brave Sir Walter sends his regards.

Sir Walter the Red surveys his new realm

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Almost home

Toni and Randy picked us up this afternoon and brought us to their
spread in Queen Valley, where we are their guests for the night.
Having a great time with new friends, freshening up, enjoying
wonderful hospitality & good company. Walter happy to be with horses.

Too tired to write more. g'nite all...

Next morning... went on beautiful ride in the Superstition Mountains

Toni and Randy, trail angels!


Friday, October 11, 2013


Got great news! Toni, a member of AZBTR (who has never met me) is
going to haul us past the Phoenix metroplex Saturday, to her place in
West Queen Valley, south of town.

Last night was a pleasant stay at the racing barn, me in the tack room and
Walter in a ritzy pen with shavings. Trainer Juan's wife brought me
hot soup with the thinnest, best tortillas ever.

Today, rode off to get another 12-15 miles closer to Toni's spread, and find another
place to stay tonight. This is a very wealthy area near Scottsdale. The main road
we rode along is lined with huge million-dollar equestrian estates, elegant high-end boarding stables and training barns. All of them are behind locked automatic gates that open only to
vehicles. What side roads I tried out lead either to locked back entrances or to non-horse-property suburban houses, thier landscaped front yards planted with carefully chosen cacti.

We rode past all the fancy estates to the outskirts, where groomed grounds
gave way to empty desert and dirt roads leading to the occasional California-style house. No horse properties though, oddly. Then nothing, just desert hills as far as the eye could see.

We turned back.

We had travelled maybe 8 miles. We backtracked about 6 more miles before I
finally spotted a house with empty pens and what looked like an open side entrance. As I struggled with the wire ranch gate next to a cattle guard, a man stopped his car to offer help and ask who I was. Ron then called the neighbors - who weren't home - and got us permission to stay.

Tonight we are grateful guests of Dana and Trish, who own a pawn shop and have
6 dogs, 2 cats and no horses. That's right, they sold their last two horses three days ago.
Shower and cold milk (which I've craved, my body must need it), aaah!

Walter was pacing frantically alone in his pen, calling to the neighbor's horse. So
I pitched my tent in the pen next to his to keep him company. It
worked. He's quiet now, calmly munching hay pellets.

Early next morning...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Hellloooo Arizona

After six and a half impatient stress-filled days trapped in Bernardo
with no way out but riding Interstate 25 for 30 extremely dangerous
miles, riding the desolate road to Magdalena for 40 waterless
miles, or finding someone to haul us, we finally escaped. I paid a
racehorse hauler Vance had contacted to stash Sir Walter in back
behind the thoroughbreds and haul us to the owner's barn in Fountain
Hills, northeast of Phoenix.

Back in Arizona at last!

It felt very strange to trailer here, about 500 miles, eight hours in the
truck. Started out bad weather - wind gusts to 50mph, dust, then rain
off and on for a few hours. The beauty of the landscape was
breathtaking. Being accustomed to 3 miles an hour, the changes felt
like the speeded up time-lapse of an instructional science film. The
billboards, neon casino signs, trash and advertising and loud vehicles
farting exhaust felt like an assault.

But we made it. Arizona!

Next challenge: how to get around the Phoenix metroplex? Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

the weekend

Our hosts in Bernardo, Vance and Alice M., run a thoroughbred breeding
operation. They have been going all out calling their racing contacts
to find us a haul to Arizona. It's looking pretty optimistic for next
week. Please think good thoughts and keep your fingers crossed for us!

In the meantime, I am spending the weekend in Albuquerque with my
Goddaughter Chloe and her boyfriend Jake. They are both wonderful
company - only wish I could have planned more time!

Chloe, not sure she wants her picture taken...
It was Balloon Festival weekend! This launch at 8am