Biebers host crew of ‘Best of America by Horseback’
By Sandy Bond
The gentle creak of a well-worn saddle, the jangle of harness fittings, and the soft footfalls of mountain ponies on a trail once trod by the ponies of indigenous people centuries before-they are all part of the “The Best of America by Horseback,” “America’s favorite trail riding television show.”
“You can choose your friends,” it is said, “but you can’t choose your family.” Yet, when your share a passion, sometimes you can do both!
Local ranchers Cliff and Trudy Bieber of Spook Ranch of rural Java hosted “The Best of America by Horseback” trail master, executive producer and host and adopted family member Tom Seay, his wife Pat, producer/director, niece, Kristen Biscoe, videographer, and crew. In the process got to introduce them to friends and Dakota legends, Chief David Bald Eagle, 94, and his wife Josie, of Cherry Creek and World War II nurse Marcella LeBeau, Eagle Butte, a veteran of treating the wounded and dying at the Battle of the Bulge, a recipient of the French Legion of Honor Award.
The RFD-TV series, broadcast weekly since 2005, features breathtaking riding locations around America where viewers can go with their own horses and also trail riding details that you should know before hitting the trail including finding stopover information, safety tips for trailering your horse, vet tips, and even horse nutrition.
Experienced trail riders, Cliff and Trudy and her sister Adella “Jean” Kills Pretty Enemy have ridden their favorite ponies, Chip, Peanut Butter and Bravo on innumerable rides and became captivated by the cable television show. Semi-retired, Cliff and Trudy made the decision to follow their dream and became part of the 89 riders from 42 states and seven countries on the Mexico to Canada ride in 2009. Sitting around the campfire at the end of one of their extraordinary 20-mile a day rides, the friendships were forged. Michael Kills Pretty Enemy, a direct descendant of Sitting Bull, was asked to bless the ride. Recently, Tom was “adopted” as an honorary member into the Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe, Trudy and sister Adella’s heritage, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Michael’s heritage, at the 1,000th airing of the show celebration in Cleveland.
“Respect and love have no boundaries,” Tom said.
With his profound respect for indigenous people, their culture, and contribution to our America, Tom feels complete in his ability to become an honorary member of the two tribes. In his soft Virginian drawl, Tom related his recent meeting with his newfound friends, “ before their experiences are lost forever.”
Chief David’s grandfather was a veteran of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Chief David was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division in World War II who parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, Tom said. He married an English lady and they came back to his home. After her premature and tragic death, he didn’t want to continue his life and engaged in many risk-taking activities including skydiving and bull riding. He eventually became part of Casey Tibbs’ Wild West Show. In Europe he met Josie, a Belgium actress. They married in 1958, and the joy of their lives have been sharing their lives with their 22 natural and adopted children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“Indigenous people were among those minorities that were denied basic civil rights for many years,” Tom said. “Imagine, Marcella LeBeau, returning from serving in the horrendous war and being denied the right to vote.”
The Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 gave Native Americans many rights they had been fighting for.
“No Dogs or Indians Allowed,” was part of the atrocities perpetuated against people, and a painful part of growing up in the Dakotas, Adelle recalled hearing.
The interviews in their entirety were recorded and copies will be presented to family members although only clips will be shown on the show.
“The responsibility of the media is to reveal the story, but not in its entirety,” Tom said, “because some individuals’ attention might waver; instead, our responsibility is to make them ‘thirst’ for more!”
“The majority of our viewers will never be Olympians,” Tom said. “Most may never have the ability to experience far flung parts of this nation, and they may never be recognized for their contribution to their country. They just live their lives in their everyday way.”
But, as a viewer once spontaneously said to him, “watching your show, you allow us to see wonderful places and meet fascinating people. We may never have that opportunity. You allow us to dream!”