Samantha Szesciorka on Saturday completed her 550-mile journey from Las Vegas to just south of Carson City. After 44 days on Nevada trails, Szesciorka was greeted by friends, fans and the news media.
She accomplished the ride on Sage, her most experienced steed, while ponying her newest horse Fremont. Juniper the dog eagerly ran alongside. A crowd waited her arrival with cameras in hand.
Szesciorka almost immediately began taking questions as she dismounted Sage. People wanted to know everything from water access to what animals she had seen along the way. Children, and some adults, gathered to treat the horses to carrots while Juniper received pets and attention.
Szesciorka said both her horses come from the Nevada Depart of Corrections’ wild horse gentling program in Carson City, which allows incarcerated individuals to train wild horses into ridable animals.
Szesciorka explained that while the horses are trained, she still has a lot of work to do with them.
Sage, she said, is getting older and has done thousands of miles with her, but this is likely his last long ride. Sage completed an estimated 400-plus miles on this trip and was the horse Szesciorka started the trip on.
Her newer horse, Fremont, lacks experience with more densely populated areas, which Szesciorka said was more frequently experienced in southern Nevada.
Szesciorka said that while the Carson City training program is not the only one, she believes it is the best. She pointed out that these horses come from the range and are suited for Nevada’s environment.
Szesciorka’s horses were in immaculate condition. They were well-fed and had hardly a scratch on them.
This is not by chance. Szesciorka said she places the animals’ wellbeing above hers, and the same goes for Juniper. She mentioned that Sage had showed some discomfort in a leg, and she was prepared to toss the entire ride for his wellbeing.
While not exactly sure when, or where, they will take place, Szesciorka said there will be more Discovery Rides in the future.
When asked why she does these trips — this is her second major ride in recent years — she had a few answers: for adventure, to promote the prison program and wild horse adoptions and to inspire other people to seek and create their own adventure.
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Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.