Doug Fullerton is living his dream and stroking something off his “bucket list” at the same time.
Fullerton left from his home east of Red Deer on Aug. 25 for a trek on horseback to Beechy, Sask., located about 70 kilometres northeast of Swift Current.
On Sept. 12, during the expedition, he’ll turn 60 years old.
Part of his journey took him through the County of Stettler. He rode through the Erskine area, south to Big Valley, then east to Byemoor and Endiang, where he headed south to Hanna.
The ride is purely for the experiences and pleasure it will bring. Fullerton isn’t campaigning for money for any causes.
It’s the first time Fullerton has attempted such a trek, but he has “always thought about doing something like this.” He said it was Bernice Ende who gave him the inspiration to carry out his dream.
Ende, from Montana — known as Lady Longrider — has done long-distance rides since 2005, many in the 2,000-to-6,000-mile range. In 2012, she staged her first Canadian ride, a trek of 2,000 miles through Saskatchewan and Alberta, which will see her arrive home by October.
Fullerton hopes to complete his journey of more than 600 kilometres in time for the rodeo at Beechy Western Days, set for Sept. 28-30.
Riding a seven-year-old Paint gelding with a pack horse in tow that carries his tent, supplies and a guitar, Fullerton is wandering his way across the Prairies, taking the roads less travelled and avoiding the busy highways.
He said he has seen much more by horseback than if he had driven the same route by car, but what stands out most is the people he has met during his travels.
“I have been blessed by the people I have met along the way,” Fullerton said. “Everyone has been so hospitable.”
It’s apparent people have been genuinely interested in his trek and have been willing to help in any way they can. Several have invited him to camp in their farmyards, put up his horses in their corrals with feed and water and have invited him to share a meal with them.
“Farm people are like that,” he said in praise of the acts of kindness he has received from the rural folk.
Fullerton joked that he’s trying to cut travel expenses by making the journey by horse.
“So far, I spent $1.88,” he said with a laugh.
That was the cost of some chain links to repair a set of hobbles. Someone had given him a ride into Stettler to purchase the needed repairs.
Fullerton doesn’t have a set number of miles he plans to travel each day. Instead, he stops when his horses are tired and where good water is available for them.
Occasionally, people stop and want to visit when they see a horse and rider with a pack horse travelling along the roadside.
“Some have a tear in their eye, because it reminds them of hunting trips and trail rides when they were younger,” Fullerton said.
Fullerton’s destination of Beechy will take him back to his roots, as he’s originally from nearby Dinsmore, where he still owns a farm that is now seeded to grass and rented for custom-grazing.
Near Hanna, one of Fullerton’s horses came up lame, so he had a friend from the Hanna area pick up him and the horses. It’s hoped the horse will regain soundness soon so that Fullerton can continue his journey.
When Fullerton returns home in October, from what undoubtedly looks to be a memorable experience, he and his wife — who are members of the Clive Baptist Church — plan to head to Mexico on missionary work.