Every year the Appaloosa Horse Club puts on the Chief Joseph Trail Ride, a 5-day, 100-mile trail ride commemorating the amazing 5-month journey 750 Nez Perce men, women, and children, and their approximately 1500 horses took through the mountains to evade the US Army. Photos courtesy of USFS and Karen Heagen-Nez Perce Trail Foundation.
I’ve long had a dream to participate in the trail ride — who knows? I still might — but the ride is only open to Appaloosa horses.
Maybe I need to kidnap one of my neighbor’s Appaloosas?
This year’s ride is July 22-26 and starts in Grangeville, ID, and ends at Musselshell Meadows near Pierce, Idaho.
The entire route is about 1300 miles long, so if you were to join the ApHC and ride the whole thing, it would take you thirteen years. The first ride was in 1965, and they’re on the fourth time to complete the trail.
For those of us without an Appaloosa trail horse, the Nez Perce Trail Foundation puts on an educational trail program which is a guided car-camping tour. This year’s tour will start in Wallowa, Oregon, and end at the Big Hole Battlefield in Montana. The dates are July 21- July 28th. For more information, visit Nez Perce Trail Foundation.
Connected with the Chief Joseph Trail Ride is the Chief Joseph Foundation which conducts two programs for Nez Perce community youth.
The Riding Program teaches kids the basics of horse handling safety and continues up through advanced riding techniques interwoven with culturally relevant history and crafts. There is also an emphasis placed on life skills such as emotional control, setting boundaries, problem solving, respect, responsibility, and positive self-talk.
The Nez Perce Mounted Scholars Program supports at-risk students at the Lapwai Middle School. Students in the program spend part of their school day in classroom activities learning about the horse, Nez Perce culture, history, and traditions. They also have hands-on lessons learning hose to groom, saddle, and ride horses at the Chief Joseph Foundation.