Newspaper Archive of
Chester Progressive
Chester , California
March 17, 2010     Chester Progressive
PAGE 17     (17 of 38 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 17     (17 of 38 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
March 17, 2010

Newspaper Archive of Chester Progressive produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2019. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

Bulletin, Progressive, Record, Reporter Wednesday, March 17, 2010 1B REGIONAL Hearts Up: Couple rides US.for healing ranch Kelsey Dayton Special to Feather Publishing Home must fit in four saddle-bags: sleeping bag, tent, a pillow that scrunches down to a portable size. Her back will ache from lifting equipment every day. She will be saddlesore each evening and even more so the next morning when it's time to remount. Her patience with her husband will be tested - 365 days, just the two of them, in the cold, the heat, exhausted, sometimes hungry and other times sick of the dehydrated food that comes meal after meal. But this is her dream. Ever since she was a little girl, Jeannette McGrath, now 28, has wanted to ride a horse across the country. At the end of February, she will leave her Victor, Idaho, home with her husband, Richard McGrath, 30. They will travel the American Discovery Trail, living out a childhood fantasy while working toward an adult goal of raising money to start a ranch for those working through emotional issues. It will be a physical test but also one that tries the power of their dreams. Richard was born in a small town in Southern California. Adults smiled indulgently when he told them he was going to grow up to be a cowboy. He'd grow out of it, they said. In his early teen years, his family moved to a rough inner-city neighborhood, far from the open space and safety in which he grew up. His friends joined gangs, He adapted to everyday violence. "You hear a loud noise and your friend is dying right there," he said. Through everything, his dream of working on a ranch persisted, despite the looks he got from friends. He became swept up in the city life. A beating he com- mitted was on the news. His mother saw the report, not knowing her son was involved. "Whoever did that should be taken out and shot," she said. He felt the burning queasi- ness of shame. Something had to change. He joined the Future Farmers of America. The club began to open him up. It made him aware of the emotional defenses he had built over the years. "Even castles have a draw- bridge, and we pull that up and then see the world only through our defenses," he said. The club grounded him. Learning about and work- ing with animals began to help him move forward, or maybe backward, to the person he once was and the dreams of that boy. "All I ever really wanted to be," he said, "is a cowboy who helps people. ! i : They met at Feather River College, studying horses with a focus on ranch management. At first she thought him strange. A heavy man with long hair and a pierced tongue from a city who wanted to play cowboy. She was nervous and shy. He thought she was stuck-up. But sharing friends and classes, their paths crossed often and soon they were best friends. They kept it platonic. "I knew ifI dated her I'd have to marry her," Richard said. She told him of her dream to ride her horse across America. He told her he thought she'd one day do it, and maybe he'd come along. Friendship finally turned to romance and the couple married in their early 20s. They moved around, find- ing work at guest ranches. Eventually Jeannette found work in Pennsylvania as a horse trainer and Richard worked with troubled kids in a court- ordered program. Then she got mono- nucleosis. It lasted months. She couldn't work. His income didn't cover the bills. Money appeared from friends and neighbors. As Jeannette recovered, the couple promised one day they would do something for others, like those who self- lessly came to their aid. The couple moved to Wyoming and took ranch work, always hoping one day they would have a ranch of their own. Richard and Jeannette McGrath left their home in Idaho late last month to begin a cross-country trek to raise money for their therapeutic Hearts Up Ranch. They will travel with three horses m Apache, a 12-year-old Appaloosa; Satchmo, a 4-year-old half draft; and Tiska0 a 14-year-old Icelandic mare -- and a 15-year-old pack mule, Fiddle. Photos courtesy of Jackson Hole News & Guide cash registers and greeting customers, they knew their heart was still in ranching. They thought they gave up the dream, but it kept edging its way back into their minds and hearts. On winding trails and climbing paths, Jeannette has led hundreds of people on trail rides while working at guest ranches. Out of their comfort zones, suddenly strangers opened up, sharing stories of their families, childhood, the good speak to your soul," Jeanette said. When the McGraths thought of how they wanted to give back to the world, they wanted to find a way to reach into people's hearts, break down barriers and help people move forward. They overcame illness and vio- lence, and a big part of their healing was from animals. They formed Hearts Up Ranch. For now it is just an idea and a brand. But one day, the McGraths hope it is The McGraths have been dehydrating food ----everything from bananas to spinach -- for more than a year in preparation for their cross-country trek. Although their route will take them through some cities, they will need to be self-sufficient for long stretches. About three years ago, they decided it was time to give up the dream. Richard now works at Sports Authority; she works as a customer service agent for SkyWest at the airport. They keep horses on land next to their hou ifi Victor, Wyo. After three years of ringing things in their life and also the bad. She watched as even on short trips, guests built rela- tionships with their horses. People have to trust the animal, but it also has to t00ti00t th6t00. "A horse, when you start working with them, they just a 500-acre working cattle ranch in Montana, Idaho or "Wyoming. It will be a place for people to come to heal, to move past emotional traumas of the past. Trained and licensed counselors will assist 10 - 20 clients at a time, with a 2-to-1 client-to-staff ratio, Richard said. A stay at the Hearts Up Ranch will be affordable, or free, depending on a client's financial situation. They will provide a variety of activities, from moving cattle to horseback riding. There is still a lot the McGraths haven't figured out: If there will be psychia- trists on the ranch, how clients will be seleqted .and how long stays will last. The McGraths want to raise $30 million to open the ranch with an endowment, so there isn't worry about rais- ing money to keep the ranch afloat the next few years after it opens. They think it will cost about $1.5 millto n a yr .... to koap it rt'lg. They are working with national fundraisers and grant writers. "I don't even know how to talk in millions," Jeannette said. But what she does know how to do is ride a horse. A ride across the country won't raise $30 million, Jeannette said. That will take several years. Instead, the ride will bring national awareness to their campaign and hopefully raise at least $2 million. And it could help their new dream come true, while fulfilling an old dream. The American Discovery Trail stretches more than 6,800 miles through 15 states, from California to Delaware. The McGraths will deviate only at the beginning, where they are unable to ride their horses across the Golden Gate Bridge. The journey starts in California and ends in Delaware and crosses the Continental Divide at more than 13,000 feet. A solar charger will keep them connected to the world by cell phone. Four bear canisters will carry enough food for up to three weeks. Then they will call Richard's mother, staying in their Victor house, and she will ship out another box so they can replenish. A year ago, they started dehydrating food. Thirty apples condense down to a 1-gallon plastic bag. There are dehydrated bananas and strawberries blended and then cooked as fruit roll-ups. There are jerked meats and spinach and onions. Potatoes are sliced and then put in the newest machine - they've burned out three dehydrators since they started - for about five days. Richard oiled their saddles and tack to protect it from weather. In the evenings, they take their horses Apache, Satchmo and Tiska and their mule Fde out for rides in deep snow to try to get them in shape. Since they will be crossing state lines, the horses needed vaccines and tests to comply with all state laws. With every item Jeanette crosses off her color-coded to-do lists, it seemsanother is added. With only afew weeks left before their departure, the list was still three pages long: File taxes. Finish flyers and brochures to hand out along the trail. Fix broken stirrup. Patch items mice recently shredded. Despite their vigilance in preparing, there are still un- knowns: Will there be enough for the horses to drink? What about food? How much will they be able to graze and how much must be carried? What if something happens to one of the horses? What if they don't raise enough money? It is a journey of unknowns, but also possibilities. "IfI fail, at least I went after it," Jeannette said. While 365 of days of living on a horse will be at times miserable, Jeanette knows the pain of not going will be worse and last much longer. It will come in the form of regret, a nightmare that will haunt her forever. Reprinted with permission from the Jackson Hole News & Guide t Covering 20 miles a day, the McGraths expect to take a year to complete their 5,057-mile route across the United States. They will be following the southern route shown here, The biggest deadline they face will be crossing the Continental Divide in Colorado by August. You can follow their progress on their website at " Tack and gear for the McGraths' trip range from the traditional -- leather boots and chaps m to the modern -- a solar charger and cell phone.