SK woman plans to continue horseback riding across the country, despite setbacks

Tracy Delp and her horses are in Port Orchard, while Delp plans a new rout.  - Kaitlin Strohschein/Staff Photo
Tracy Delp and her horses are in Port Orchard, while Delp plans a new rout.
— image credit: Kaitlin Strohschein/Staff Photo

Tracy Delp, a Port Orchard 46-year-old, doesn’t plan stop her journey across America, despite setbacks she’s faced, recently.

“Common sense would dictate that I should stop riding,” she said. “I’m a woman. I’m in my late 40’s.”

And that’s not all.

Unexpected delays have put her significantly behind schedule, which will impact where she’ll be in winter.

She’d planned to go 20 miles per day and complete the journey in 8 months. But she's averaged 15 miles per day and it has taken two months and three days to get through Washington.

And her partner, 23-year-old Dan Shanafelt, quit at the border of Washington and Idaho, so she’ll continue with just the horses.

“Common sense would dictate that I should stop,” she says, “but it’s not about me, anymore. It’s a give-take relationship that’s been established.”

It’s about supporting people and animals with cancer, she says.

When Tracy Delp’s mother, Millie Delp, was diagnosed with colon cancer, her insurance company refused to help her pay for treatment, she said.

The family didn’t know what to do, she said.

“What do you do?” she asked. “We had no one, no one to turn to.”

And animals, in a similar situation, have an even smaller chance of survival, she said.

“A lot of times, when animals are diagnosed with cancer, it’s a death sentence,” she says, because their owners aren’t willing to pay for treatment.

So, Delp hopes to raise money for cancer cures for both animals through her trip.

It takes a group to fight cancer, she says, just like it takes a support network to ride a horse across the United States.

“I’ve learned to accept things from people, and that’s really different for me,” she says.

Delp also hopes that cancer victims feel empowered as they track her journey across the United States.

“There were days where I was like, ‘I don’t know if I can do this. This is not good. I don’t know why I’m doing this,’” she says.

But there are too many people counting on her, for her to consider turning back, now.

She’s come back to Port Orchard to revamp her rout and get fresh supplies, and then she’ll get back to the trail and continue near where she left off.

“I’m not turning back,” she said.


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