- Associated Press - Monday, May 30, 2016

FORT PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Tony Jones and Orville White Eyes are doing what many might long to do: drop everything and take off on a cross-country road trip.

These two cowboys are planning on doing it horseback and aiming for what they describe as the national center for the west ends of eastbound horses.

“They have so many horses’ (behinds) in Washington, we thought we’d show them some real ones,” chortled Jones as he showed a visitor a couple of the mounts he and White Eyes plan to ride from the Missouri to the Potomac.

Jones, 54, grew up in Fort Pierre.

“All that I’ve really ever done in my life is ride,” Jones said. “So I figured I could do that.”

White Eyes, 44, grew up in Eagle Butte and Gettysburg and is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe headquartered in Eagle Butte.

They don’t have much, in resources for such a big trip or in exact plans.

“But we’ve both done a lot of long rides, spent a few nights under the sky,” White Eyes said.

They do have a higher purpose than just riding.

They are calling it “The Quest for Constitution in honor of Vets: A 1,500 mile journey from Fort Pierre, South Dakota, to Washington, D.C.”

“The purpose of this two-man journey on horseback is to raise awareness for all the vets who served this country,” the men say in a news release. “And fought for our constitution. Which is slowly being stripped away. We’re here to reunite America as a whole and to bring awareness to the people that we still have rights.”

They won’t have any support vehicles trailing them with hot food, beds and a roof over their heads every night.

Instead they are going to pack one horse each to lead behind their mount.

“I’d take off today with just a bedroll behind my saddle,” Jones told the Capital Journal (https://bit.ly/1U7W7lD ).

On a recent Wednesday, out at Joe Thorne’s ranch northeast of Pierre, they had JT, an ordinary looking roan, and a younger, leggy thoroughbred bay with an odd white birthmark on his left shoulder. His name?

Jones smiles, at a loss, since the horse, not long off the race track, isn’t thoroughly trained for trail riding yet and might need a couple days of packing to cool down and still was nameless.

“I guess we’ll call him Spot,” Jones said.

The two men still are picking out a couple of spare horses, to carry packs and share the riding.

Neither man was in the military but they have family members who were.

“My grandfather was in World War II,” Jones said. “He was in Patton’s Third Army.”

They have Google mapped possible routes but don’t have an itinerary, exactly.

“We’ll stay off the beaten path,” White Eyes said.

Their rough plan is to leave from Fort Pierre on Sunday, leave South Dakota in its southeast corner then cross Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky and Virginia to get to Washington.

They will cross bridges when they come to them.

With a tent, grain, fishing gear, saw and hatchet, freeze-dried food and a solar charger for their phones and an abundance of hope in the hospitality of strangers on the way, White Eyes and Jones are confident they can do it.

“I’ve been a cowboy all my life,” White Eyes said. “We know how to shoe horses, know how to doctor them and sew ‘em up if need be.”

“That’s the main thing, is caring for the horses,” Jones said, saying the pace of the trip will depend on the mounts.

They will try to average 15 to 20 miles a day. “That’s a slow walk,” White Eyes said. “Some days it might be 30 miles.”

They are figuring it will take 100 days, maybe more.

“We’ll probably auction off the horses and tack on the White House lawn when we get there,” White Eyes said, not entirely serious about the White House lawn part.

“I’ve been diagnosed with melanoma cancer,” White Eyes said. “I want to get something done before it takes my life.”

Jones said he’s tired of all the talk about doing something for his country and seeing elected officials not doing what they were elected to do.

“If you’re not willing to do something, you got no right to talk about it all the time,” he said. “So I can do this.”

This ride with an old-fashioned pace will let him and White Eyes talk to veterans and others along the way, Jones said.

“So we can get a feel for what America still is. If it still is.”


Information from: Pierre Capital Journal, https://www.capjournal.com

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