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An epic journey riding by faith
By Danny Lawrence
BBC Devon

Tracey Elliot-Reep
Her six-month quest in 2007 was her most ambitious

Tracey Elliot-Reep has fulfilled a childhood dream.

In a real-life game of cowboys and Indians, she has ridden on horseback from Mexico to Canada and her new book Riding By Faith tells the story.

Tracey - who grew up on her parents' Dartmoor farm and still lives in Widecombe-in-the-Moor - felt a dream had been put in her heart by God.

The result was her 3,000-mile journey, documented in her book about her ride from Mexico to Canada across the US.

Her mother was involved in breeding Dartmoor ponies, and Tracey started riding them at a young age, imagining she was in her very own Western!

As a professional photographer, and a teacher of horse-riding she gained the experience necessary for the journey of a lifetime.

"God puts dreams in your heart even before you're born," said Tracey, "and I always dreamt of riding across the Wild West of America."

Tracey had already completed plenty of adventures, including a 2,000 mile ride in New Zealand.

Her six-month quest in 2007 was the most ambitious yet.

Some may have thought her unprepared, but the only preparation Tracey says she needed was her faith.

"I just had this feeling that I was going to ride in North America", she said.

So what made her do it?

"I read a story about when the US government was introducing vehicles to take the place of horses," Tracey explained.

"They were just going to destroy the horses, but the officers kidnapped the horses and took them to the Rocky Mountains where they could survive.

Tracey Elliot-Reep
She relied on the hospitality of people she met

"When the soldiers asked the officers where they were going, they said "to Canada".

"I said 'oh God, we're riding to Canada!'"

The journey started in a real cowboy state, Texas, where the Rio Grande divides the USA from Mexico.

From there, Tracey rode north through New Mexico and Colorado to the spectacular Monument Valley in Utah.

Then she returned to Colorado in search of grass for the horses, before continuing through Wyoming and Montana to the Canadian border.

Throughout the journey, she relied on the hospitality of people she met. They gave her grain and helped her find water and shoe the horses.

To begin with though, Tracey didn't even have a horse or a saddle.

"I met a Texan in Dartmoor prison who was working on a Christian programme, and his uncle bred horses in East Texas," Tracey recalled.

This Texan introduced Tracey to Smokey and Pistol, who would carry her across the States.

Despite the obstacles, if you've got faith, you can get through it
Tracey Elliot-Reep

Her initial hesitation over whether to take Smokey and Pistol was halted by a minister who prayed for her in New Zealand.

"I see a red horse in front of you like a war horse, and a white horse beside you, strengthening and comforting you", the minister said.

"The two horses' characters were like that, and the colours were like that", said Tracey.

"I knew this must be a confirmation from God that I was taking Smokey and Pistol."

She found a saddle via another Texan lady whom she met in a village in Somerset, and turned out to sell saddles at Fort Collins in Texas.

Whatever risks may have befallen her - drug smugglers, inhospitable climates, wild animals frightening the horses - Tracey says she knew the Lord was looking after her.

"Despite the obstacles, if you've got faith, you can get through it," she said.

"When I went to Alpine in Western Texas and dropped into a church, I was thinking 'have I taken on too much?'", she confessed.

"The minister there said 'I see angels coming and going over your head. You're going to an area of danger but the angels are going to stay with you.'"

There are more photographs from Tracey's journey on her own website.




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