Thursday, June 25, 2009

Donna's headin' for Yellowstone....latest update

I pulled this from an article in the Wichita Times Newspaper dated June 24, 2009, there were no pictures with this article and I haven't heard from Donna personally.

Saddled up for travel
Woman is crossing U.S. on horseback
By Hanaba Welch
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
A cowboy’s not really down and out until he sells his saddle.
If the same standard applies to cowgirls, Donna Byrne is doing OK. The Florida cowgirl is homeless and jobless, but she still has her two horses — one to ride and the other to carry her possessions.
Byrne is a phenomenon of the downturn in the American economy — the last domino in the line but knocked down just the same.
“The lady I was working for, she lost her ranch and all her cows,” Byrne said. “I done paid her the rent, but she said I had to get out because the bank was foreclosing.”
With the economy going south, Byrne decided to say goodbye to Arcadia, Fla., and head west.
At first, her destination was just somewhere far beyond the Mississippi where she could find ranch work and a home for herself and her horses. Now it’s Yellowstone or bust.
“I found out I’ve got a job up there,” she said Tuesday as she sat and rested under the canopy at Ole Towne Cotton Gin RV Park at Goodlett while her horses grazed nearby. “They want me to be a cook up there.”
Will she get to keep her horses?
“I ain’t gettin’ rid of ’em,” she said.
So far, both animals are making the long trek just fine. Not that they have any reason to complain — at least not Tonto, a blaze-faced gelding who [Note] that [/NOTE] owes his very life to Byrne. “Tonto was starvin’ to death when I got him,” she said. “The vet did want to put him down. I said let’s give him a chance.”
Now he’s sleek and frisky.
“When he gets an urge, he’ll spin around and start buckin’,” Byrne said.
That’s why he’s the packhorse and Jay, her $100 paint mare, is her ride.
The two horses are cheap transportation across the U.S. But both are getting by nicely on free roadside grass and the kindness of strangers who give them free grazing and hay and sweet feed.
The whole odyssey has put Byrne in the limelight, thanks to news stories and a blog maintained by a friend. Byrne doesn’t mind the attention — not surprising for an ex-rodeo bull rider. In fact, despite doctor’s orders, she entered the bullriding competition at the rodeo in Winnfield, La., a memorable point on her cross-country itinerary.
Byrne didn’t make it till the buzzer, but she did last for 6.7 seconds — not bad, she figures, for someone with not much grip in her holding-on hand.
“I cut this tendon, I cut that tendon, so I’m only holding on with one finger,” she said. Byrne landed flat in the dirt on her once-broken back, but she managed to get up and doff her hat to the stands.
“The whole crowd just stood up,” she said. “It just felt good to get on. I got rid of my frustration.”
Cattle truck driver is also on her resume. She’s seeing places she’s been before, but she’s enjoying the slow pace of her trek. If anybody wants to give her and Jay and Tonto a ride to Yellowstone, it will be harder for her to accept than a bag of feed.
“I’d rather ride it,” she said.
To learn more about Byrne or to help her on her journey, see