Riding along history: Snoqualmie woman follows Florida’s historic Cracker Trail

With a higher vantage point, you can generally see things better. Kathie Cassady of Snoqualmie knows this is especially true if your vantage point is atop a beautiful white horse. From this position, Cassady was able to see centuries’ worth of Florida’s history on a prayer ride she and her Glory International teammates made across that state in February, and parallels to life in the Valley.

Kathie Cassady mounts her white horse for a day on the Cracker Trail in Florida. Her team

With a higher vantage point, you can generally see things better. Kathie Cassady of Snoqualmie knows this is especially true if your vantage point is atop a beautiful white horse.

From this position, Cassady was able to see centuries’ worth of Florida’s history on a prayer ride she and her Glory International teammates made across that state in February, and parallels to life in the Valley.

“It’s very interesting, historically,” she said of her week-long trek across the state, known as the Cracker Ride for the whip-cracking cowboys who used to drive cattle to market in Bradenton. To prepare for the trip, Cassady researched the state’s earliest settlement of Huguenots in the 1500s, and the later arrival of the Spanish, who nearly wiped out the Huguenots in their search for gold.

“That history is so close to us here, especially on the west coast,” she said. “It’s only been 100 years since people were in the Snoqualmie Valley from a native, indigenous culture.”

The Cracker Ride is a tribute to another, better outcome of the Spaniards’ arrival in Florida.

“They brought with them 223 horses, and they left with something like 40,” Cassady said. The Spanish Andalusians that stayed were cross-bred with other horses to create the Cracker Horse, genetically suited to the hot dry climate of Florida.

“They’re quite nice little horses,” Cassady said.

Cowboys, or Crackers, rode their Cracker Horses when they drove thousands of head of cattle, and they used their whips to keep the animals in a herd, which explains the origin of the name, cracker. Their ride home may explain how the word got its negative sense.

“They would drive the cattle to Bradenton, and then on the way home, they would be kicking up their heels, and having a wild time, and cracking their whips, and getting robbed, and all that kind of stuff,” said Cassady.

When she retraced that path earlier this year, Cassady was less rambunctious but equally enthusiastic. She and teammate Burshet Gua rode 20 miles each day for six days to complete the ride.

“We as a team had been wanting to prayer ride Florida,” said Cassady, “and this was an ideal opportunity, this went right through the middle of the state.”

Glory International is a team of women who offer intercessory prayer on horseback. They have ridden their symbolic-white horses across each of the west coast states, and across the country, from California to Pennsylvania, praying for the nation.

Cassady, who helped form the organization in 1990 after meeting Gua at a March for Jesus event, is grateful for the time these Glory Rides offer her to be “unplugged, and still active, but also passive.”

In Florida, she said, “I liked to be out looking at the land, thinking about the history, thinking about the issues that they dealt with in Florida, and thinking a lot about Native Americans.”

To learn more, visit www.glory-international.org, or www.thegloryride.com.

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