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Because of Horses

Dec 21, 2018

Rattlesnakes, a wolf at midnight, bears, unexpected snow, and a falling-down-exhausted back country hiker… long-distance solo rider Gillian Larson has seen it all from the saddle as she and her beloved horses, Shyla and Takoda, have covered thousands of miles between Mexico and Canada, and criss-crossed the American West. Alone.


 Gillian has made multiple horseback treks from the Mexican border to British Columbia on the 2,650 mile Pacific Crest Trail. She’s also the youngest person to ever solo through-ride the trail — and twice, at that! Since then, she’s completed thousands of miles on the Arizona Trail and the Colorado Trail — and, in September 2018 —  finished the Continental Divide Trail through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana.


In this episode, Elise and Gillian discuss her daring adventures on her long-distance solo trail rides — from wildlife encounters to the technicalities of riding through rough terrain, and more. Gillian walks us through her personal experiences on various trails and shares the complexity of making such arduous journeys, including how she cares for the horses (and herself) on the trail, the extensive preparation, the mapping, and detailed research. And Gillian reminisces about some of the funny and entertaining interactions she’s had with various through-hikers she’s met along the way. You’ll want to tune in for this edition of Because of Horses!


Topics of Discussion:

[:19] About Elise’s guest today, Gillian Larson.

[:53] What originally inspired to take her first solo, long-distance trek.

[3:47] Gillian’s experience writing a guidebook/blog about her adventures.

[10:24] How Gillian’s blog became more visible through a sponsorship with Tucker Saddlery.

[12:33] How long does it take to complete one of these journeys? And how many miles does she generally complete a day?

[14:14] How Gillian prepares for a long-distance trip (for both human and horse).

[25:42] Gillian discusses horse care deep in the back-country.

[39:10] Gillian shares some wildlife encounters.

[44:04] Does Gillian ever get scared while alone in extremely remote wilderness, especially at night?

[54:00] Gillian talks about some of her human interactions out on the trail.

[1:07:34] Gillian addresses a misconception that is often said by hikers along the trail.

[1:11:08] Gillian reflects on the number of hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail over the years.

[1:13:11] The hardest (and favorite) states to traverse.

[1:14:50] Gillian’s endurance vs. the average through-hiker, and some of her observations and experiences with them.

[1:19:26] About Elise’s book, A Parent’s Guide to Riding Lessons.

[1:20:10] What’s on Gillian’s to-do list? Where does she want to ride next?

[1:35:00] Elise gives a preview of next week’s episode of Because of Horses.

[1:35:56] Where to follow Gillian online.


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Mentioned in this Episode:

Pacific Crest Trail

Arizona Trail

Colorado Trail

Continental Divide Trail
Gillian’s Blog: Pacific Crest Quest

Tucker Saddlery

Gillian’s Instagram: @thru_rider

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed

Wild (Film, 2014)

A Parent’s Guide to Riding Lessons: Everything You Need to Know to Survive and Thrive with a Horse-Loving Kid, by Elise Chand

United States Pony Club

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson
Glacier National Park

Unbranded (Film, 2015)

Next week’s episode of Because of Horses

Writing Horseback


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