Life on the Road with Michelle & Scout Murphy
16 months ago, mother daughter duo, Michelle & Scout Murphy, made the life changing decision to sell off their possessions, hop into an RV and begin their journey riding around the United States of America.
Ever since, Michelle & Scout, their three horses and two dogs, have loved their new life on the road. Spending every moment happy, seeing new places and loving their horses!
Catalina State Park, Arizona
Read on to learn about Michelle & Scout’s new lease on life and how they manage their three horses on the road, with the help of Scoot Boots!
Max Patch Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
Can you Please Introduce Yourselves, Your Three Travelling Horses and Your Two Trail Dogs?
My name is Michelle Murphy, I am a retired firefighter and I teach wilderness medicine. I have a background in search and rescue with dogs and have been an animal trainer for decades.
Hot Springs, North Carolina
My daughter, Scout and I decided that it was time for a change, and since we have a nomadic bug in our DNA, we decided we needed to hit the road and make a change for our mental health. We had previously travelled a bit around the world for 2 years, but needed a life-style change. We needed more happiness, more peace, more relaxation and less stress.
Within 3 weeks of hitting the road, we accomplished all those things (or at least we were on the road to it)! So now, 16 months later, we are happy, healthy and are making some amazing memories, all on horseback (barefooted of course)!
Hi! My name is Scout Murphy and I am 11 years old. 16 months ago, my mum and I finished selling off all of our possessions and loaded ourselves and animals up into our rig!
We have since been travelling for 16 months and I have been learning by experience. I think living on the road is really helping with that.
See you out on the trail!
Scout Murphy at Boulder, Wyoming
This is Joker! He is a 16 year old registered Quarter Horse-Arab. He was trained in western dressage and was the first horse to help me get back into the saddle from anxiety due to a riding accident.
He is loving his new life as a trail horse and is the jokester of the family. He always keeps everyone laughing on the trail, there is never a dull moment with him around!
Green River Lake, Wyoming
This is Takoda! She is an 18 year old Percheron-Quarter Horse.
Michelle rescued her as a when she was just 2 days old, she was destined to die. She has been a huge part of helping Scout turn her anxiety into confidence!
Harriman State Park, Idaho
This is Hettewuti! She is a 29 year old pony of America Appaloosa.
We rescued her from a kill auction about 4 years ago. She follows up the rear on the trail and is living the best retirement life any horse should have!
Puck & Kaya
These are our two trail dogs; Puck and Kaya!
Puck is almost four years old and is a Portuguese Podengo. He hikes in front of our lead horse on the trail and wears a bell to alert wildlife, hikers, bikers and other horses that we are coming. He has seemed to discover that horses have the right of way and will not move off the trail if we see a hiker or a biker.
Carlsbad, New Mexico
This is Kaya! She is a 10 year old Puerto Rican puppy mill breeder. She sits in the saddle, usually on Joker. Kaya is quite funny, when we are getting ready, she sits while we are getting tacked up, and puts her head in her harness and waits by her mount, Joker!
You Travel the USA Full-Time in an RV. How did This all Begin for you two?
About a year prior to starting our journey, we began selling off all of our possessions and searched for the perfect rig to comfortably fit our three horses, two dogs and us! We sold our house in about 6 weeks, loaded everyone into the rig and headed out west.
What Does Your Day-to-Day Life Look Like Whilst Traveling Around the USA?
We have three different types of days; a travel day, a rest day and a ride day.
On our ride day, we will either camp at a trailhead or we will set our camper down at a base camp and trailer out for our trail. Our start time can vary from 8:00am to 12:00pm. We ride between 13km (8 miles) to 35km (22 miles) each ride. We try to do as much research we can on the trail that we are going to be riding on prior to arriving. We do this by looking at different Facebook riding pages, pictures, maps and all sorts of things like that! We do this so we can find out if we need to use Scoot Boots or not. We always make sure to bring snacks and water as one of our favourite things to do is search for the perfect lunch spot! We don’t like to make many solid plans, it is quite rare that we do, actually. We just let the weather, opportunities and circumstances take us where we’re going to be!
On our travel days, we try not to do more than 480km (300 miles), but there have been times where we have had to do 800km (500 miles), which we do not enjoy very much! If it is going to be a hot travel day, before we let the horses onto the trailer that morning, we will give them soaked hay cubes, hay, mineral blocks and salt on the trailer. If it is still going to be hot by the end of the day, we will soak hay cubes for either the middle of the travel day, or when we get to our destination.
On our rest days, if the horses have a nice pen or pasture in a safe place, we may go out into the local town where we are staying and look around; go to a museum, hike, bike, go paddling, or swimming. If we are boondocking or in the deep woods where we do not feel comfortable leaving the horses (such as they are in our portable pen) we may do some painting, maintenance on our rig, or swimming and paddling if we have water near us.
What are Some Highlights of Your Trips Around the USA?
We have been travelling around the USA for 16 months now and some of our highlights have been riding into the old western town Tombstone, Arizona and pack tripping on the Centennial Trail in South Dakota, unsupported, with lots of bison encounters.
Centennial Trail, South Dakota
We also went pack camping into the Solitario and Big Bend Ranch, Texas. We have been able to do a couple of cattle drives in Idaho, as well as riding in the slot canyons in Utah, that was beautiful! Actually, we are currently riding to a slot canyon right now in Buckstongalt, Utah, on the Arizona/Utah border.
Big Bend Ranch, Texas
Willis Creek Slot Canyon, Utah
Some other highlights were riding to Mt Rushmore. We saw some grizzly tracks of a mum and cub in Idaho and black bears swimming across the river on the same ride. So, we have had a lot of amazing adventures!
Mt Rushmore, South Dakoda
We are next headed to the Grand Canyon, which should be pretty amazing!
Grand Canyon, Arizona
How do Your Horses and Travelling Help you Battle Anxiety and Maintain a Happy Life?
14 months ago, I had anxiety and depression, and now, I am completely cured of both! Travelling and horses have definitely helped me by living with them right next to me constantly; having their energy and emotions all the time. Being able to meet new people and see amazing things that I never would have been able to see if we stayed where we were before.
Riding in so many different places on so many different trails has helped calm me down and helped me learn how to ride on different trails. Before, I could barely ride on a flat, easily wide open trail, now I am doing insane things such as cliff trails and big hills that my horse has to canter up.
Utah & Arizona Border
I think when I had anxiety, I was really quite sad as I couldn’t do the things I always wanted to do. Now that I am so confident, I am much more happy and I can do so much more! When we started on our journey, I couldn’t trot, I couldn’t lope, I couldn’t jump and now that is all I want to do! I have actually been looking for more ways to spook my horse, just to make them more desensitised.
Once we got on the road, not even 3 weeks in, we could already see a change in my attitude. When we lived at our house, I would wake up every morning with a sad face, and go through my day with a sad face, and I would go to bed with a sad face. Now, I am rarely ever sad, and experience normal human sadness. I think I am definitely clear of depression and anxiety.
I had riding anxiety, even though I have been riding my entire life. I had a really bad riding accident on my horse Hettewuti. She bolted as she was spooked from behind and I bailed off at a gallop. Thankfully, I didn’t break anything, I just had a lot of pain in my left hip. This was very traumatising and that was 2 years ago, when I was 9 years old. I was definitely matured by that and all of our three horses have helped me come back from it.
Teanaway Community Forest, Washington
Our horse, Joker, was the first horse I rode after the accident, and he helped me get back into the swing of things. When I got back on Joker, I was really scared and nervous and started to spiral into a lot of anxiety. When this happened, he would do something funny, such as what we call a ‘manpoo’. This is when he would go to the bathroom, he would take a nice big sigh! Or he would pick up my phone bag and he would swing it around, or something silly like that! I would forget that I was so scared and would just begin laughing at him because he was so silly! Initially, we thought that this was just a coincidence, but then it began happening every time, so we could tell that it was deliberate.
Catalina State Park, Arizona
When we first got Joker, he was like a runaway train going downhill, he couldn’t engage his butt! Takoda is always looking at the terrain, looking down and seeing what she is stepping on. One of the reasons she has got such a nice booty is because she engages it when going downhill, like a bridal walk, she is acting like she is at a wedding! This means that she is going super slow, both downhill and in anything technical!
Robbers Cave State Park, Oklahoma
Joker, Takoda & Hettewuti are Kept Barefoot. Why Have you Chose to Keep Them Barefoot and Booted?
My horses have been barefoot all of their lives. Takoda, our white mare, is a nurse mare foal, I have had her since she was 2 days old, now she is almost 19 and she has never had shoes.
Royal Gorge Bridge & Park, Colorado
I originally started having them barefoot because I lived in a pine forest, so they didn’t need hoof boots or metal shoes. Then, I tried to educate myself to keep my horses the most natural way I could, and part of that includes a healthy hoof, and a healthy horse is a barefoot horse! So, I never even considered putting metal shoes on them.
When we first decided to embark on the journey we are currently on, we wanted to do a 6 week practice trip. We knew that the horses would not be able to be barefoot in the various different places we were planning to go. I started to do some research on hoof boots for the horses, and Scoot Boots were the one that, after all of my research, seemed to be the best! It was lightweight, easy to put on and off, easy to use, and there weren’t any wires or big clunky ways of attaching it. A lot of the hoof boots I saw were so heavy, it just seemed to be ridiculous to make the horses walk in them, but the Scoot Boots are super lightweight. I really liked the tread on the bottom, and we definitely like that we can get all the different colours! Once we started using them, we definitely loved them and one of the things I love the most is they are designed to fit like human shoes. I can’t wear a shoe a size too small, or a size too big and expect to walk comfortably, and Scoot Boots are similar.
Willis Creek Slot Canyon, Utah
I have always trimmed my own horses since Takoda was a baby, so I have been doing it for a long time. But wearing the hoof boots have made me stay up on it much more, so their feet are much healthier than they have ever been! I don’t even have a trim cycle anymore, I just constantly touch up their feet, and they’ve actually all gone down a size in Scoot Boots since I have begun doing this, because their hooves are so much better shaped!
Joker was losing his hoof boots a lot because I didn’t have his feet properly trimmed. I had to get his toes back and his heels grown up. So, I love that the Scoot Boots have required me to do a much better job trimming and as a result, the horse’s feet are healthier than they have ever been, which of course in turn, leads to a much healthier horse overall. Thanks Scoot Boots!
Willis Creek Slot Canyon, Utah
How do you use Scoot Boots When Dealing with Injuries and Infections?
I have also used Scoot Boots to help the horses when they are dealing with an injury or an infection. One time, while riding barefoot, there was mud out west, we had no idea! When it dries, it dries like cement. Takoda had walked through some and we did not clean it off the back of her foot properly and it ended up drying like cement, creating a pretty bad cut right in the area behind her hoof that would bend when walking, so it was pretty painful. It was quite hard to get it healed due to the location, so we used the Endurance Gaiter and Scoot Boots to protect the bandage while her hoof healed.
Joker once had some stone bruises, and we used Scoot Boots to help protect his feet as they healed. So, they’ve come in really handy for that! The Endurance Gaiters have helped a lot because it acts like having two pairs of socks when wearing them with Scoot Boots. When you have two pairs of socks, the friction rubs against the two socks instead of the skin, preventing blisters. So the Endurance Gaiters rubs against the boot, rather than the horse’s hoof or the back of the leg. So, we have used this quite a lot to protect injuries they have received while riding barefoot or playing in whatever pasture they are in.
Sometimes when crossing rivers, they have received a foot injury. Never anything major, but something that would be painful if you couldn’t protect it. So again, Scoot Boot and its products save the day for us!
What are Some of Your Favourite Scoot Boot Features?
We love Scoot Boots because of their many features! For one, I love all the colours their accessories come with! I love the bottom tread because we do a lot of hard terrains and it prevents the horse’s hooves from slipping.
Robbers Cave State Park, Oklahoma
I absolutely love how easy they are to put on! I am only 11 years old and I can put on all 12 boots for all three of our horses. I love the Scoot Pads that are inserted into the sole of the boots. One of our horses needs them otherwise his feet become very ouchy. I especially love how stretchy they are and how many sizes they come in, that is really amazing!
White Pass Pacific Crest Trail, Washington
What Scoot Boot Accessories do you use? How do These Help you When Riding Over Such Varied Terrain?
My favourite Scoot Boot accessory is, by far, definitely the Mud Straps!
We never ride the same trail twice, so we usually don’t know what it is exactly going to be like. We also ride through water and because of how perfectly the boots fit, combined with the Mud Straps, we never lose a boot!
Big Bend Ranch, Texas
Watch Scout & Michelle’s Story
Building a Supportive Barefoot Community
The team at Scoot Boot believe passionately in the barefoot horse and strive to build a supportive community of barefoot horse lovers.
Find more information about using Scoot Boots here.
About the Author
Blog writer, Macy Wallis has been a member of the Scoot Boot team for 5 years. She has always had a passion for animal welfare and is currently studying to become a Veterinarian at James Cook University based in Northern Queensland. Through her time at Scoot Boot, Macy has gained extensive knowledge about the benefits of being barefoot and loves to share this with other horse owners.