|EQUESTRIAN ON A MISSION OF LOVE|
|January 14, 2005 11:00 pm|
By ANDREA BARKAN
Pilot Staff Writer
Gene Glasscock arrived in Brookings-Harbor Tuesday after traveling for two years, over 14,000 miles and through 36 state capitols on horseback.
Long distance rides aren't new to the seasoned equestrian, who made it into "Ripley's Believe It or Not" for riding from the Arctic Circle in Canada to the equator in Ecuador between 1984 and 1986.
What is different this time is the reason for his ride.
"The first ride I did was for the kick in the pants," Glasscock said Tuesday after he turned his horses out to pasture at his local hosts' ranch on Eggers Road.
"This one is for love."
Glasscock's quest to ride through all 48 continental U.S. state capitols is rooted firmly in his love for the children of Paraguay his newly adopted home.
Glasscock lived and taught in Paraguay for two years before embarking on his long-distance ride. He'll return there when he finishes in about a year.
His ride raises money for the Philip Scholarship Fund, which sends Paraguayan children to college in Florida with the guarantee that they return to Paraguay to share their knowledge.
"It's the Paraguayan children that I love," Glasscock said.
"The ones I know are willing to work to get ahead. They haven't given up. In many of the other countries, the young people feel defeated," Glasscock said.
"Love does a lot of things," he said.
"There's many other more comfortable things I could be doing with my time," Glasscock said.
"I wouldn't have done this for a million dollars. I'm enjoying it, but I still wouldn't have done it for a million dollars," he said.
"The more you love, the more you're willing to do."
See Equestrian, Page 2A
And Glasscock, 70, is living proof of that.
On Tuesday, Glasscock rode his Tennessee walker, George, from Klamath to Brookings.
His mustangs Tossie and Traveler's Buddy followed along, carrying the four rectangular plastic bins that contain their supplies.
Glasscock rides an average of 100 miles a week, using secondary roads and sometimes trails.
Almost always, he stays with host families, many of whom have horses of their own.
Elliot and Suzie Q. Schwarz opened up their Brookings home to Glasscock and his three companions.
"The biggest thing I get from this is the people I meet," Glasscock said.
"You learn so much about people. You find that the cowboy culture is still alive and well."
Though he hardly ever knows where he'll sleep tomorrow, he's only found himself without a bed once.
"Pretty much I'm passed along from one person to the next," Glasscock said.
Indeed, just a couple hours after his arrival at the Schwarz's, his host family was already reviewing their mental rolodex for host possibilities in Gold Beach.
Glasscock's whole journey has been laced with this kind of serendipity.
It was summer when he travelled through New Mexico, Arizona and Southern Utah, but miraculously Glasscock said he never found himself without a spot of shade or some way, however small, to escape the oppressive heat.
"When I couldn't do anything for myself, there was always a cloud," Glasscock said.
In the dry desert, he worried his horses wouldn't find water.
"And the night before, it would rain," he said. "And there would be puddles on the road for my horses to drink."
Glasscock said there are baby pictures of him on horseback, in diapers.
He was born in Texas, where he lived until first grade.
Then he moved to Prineville, Ore., where he broke his first horse at 11.
By 13, he was breaking horses for local ranchers regularly.
"Your horses take on your personality," Glasscock said.
"If you're easy going, they're at ease with you."
Glasscock is easy going, with a friendly face and warm brown eyes that crinkle at the edges and twinkle in the center.
He wears basic blue jeans adorned with a brass belt buckle that reads "Trail Ride."
A simple blue fleece pullover keeps him warm.
Glasscock adopted Tossie and Buddy and bought George.
None were well-trained, he said.
"When I got these horses, they were all just a teeny bit nervous," he said.
But it didn't take long for them to calm down.
Glasscock said he instantly clicked with all the horses, especially Buddy.
"He's always had just a terrific personality," he said.
Buddy was gentled in a Colorado prison. Glasscock adopted him in Oklahoma.
"There was a bond between us from the very beginning," he said. "I was very happy to get Buddy."
Glasscock and his horses still have 12 state capitols to visit, including those in Oregon, Washington, Montana, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
He estimates he has between 4,000 and 5,000 miles of road left to cover and about a year to do it in.
His journey has raised money for the Philips Scholarship Fund, but he doesn't know how much.
He doesn't want to know, lest it make him too proud or too disheartened.
He just wants to ride, and let the rest take care of itself.
"I feel like this is something the Lord wants me to do and it's my job to go out and do the best I can," he said.
Donations to the Philip Scholarship Fund may be sent to Pensacola Christian College, 250 Brent Lane, Pensacola, Fl. 32523.
For more information visit www.geneglasscock.org.