Gillian Larson and her equine partners have accomplished numerous long distance solo rides on remote wilderness trails in the U.S. Together they have traveled from Mexico to Canada three times: twice on the Pacific Crest Trail (2014 and 2016) and most recently on the Continental Divide Trail (2018).
Gillian has also completed the Arizona Trail and the Colorado Trail in 2017 and rode from the Grand Canyon across Utah to Wyoming in 2019.
Since embarking on her first thru-ride at age 22, Gillian’s main goal has been to learn how to mitigate the many challenges of wilderness riding through proper planning and preparation, and to share this information to help others safely explore backcountry trails on horseback.
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Growing up in a horsey family
Leaning to ride on a shetland pony
Her passion for reptiles
Going on her first overnight with the horses
Going on the Pacific Crest Trail as her first challenge
Why the PCT?
Studying biology and going to grad school fro ecology and evolution with a focus on reptiles
How to thru-ride with horses
The logistics of the challenge
Why its so hard to thru-ride the PCT
The costs involved
2 trucks and 2 trailers
Having to wait for the snow to melt
Figuring out the resupply and keeping your horse well fed
Why horses need quantity of food and not just quality
To have a dedicated support person who drives the truck and meet you on the trail
Why June is such an important month on the thru-ride
Dealing with the wildlife on the trail
Her horses - Shyla and Dakota
Learning her craft
The difference between hiking and riding
Making sure you get the right saddle
Averaging about 25 miles per day with 2 days off per week for the horses
Magical moments on the trail
Loving camp life
Snuggling with the horses?
How horses sleep
Earning a living
Being an egg donor to fund her lifestyle
Turning 29 and going back to grad school
The dream list of thru-riding
Final words of advice