On March 1st, 2010, my friend Walter and I set off on an adventure with my Arabian horse, Sojourner. I rode Soj across America and Walter drove our little truck (with no trailer). The trip began in Los Angeles, California and successfully ended in Bath, New Hampshire 8 months and 14 days later. It was a 3,700 mile ride.
We rode in celebration of family and as an outreach to those dealing with divorce-related depression.
This ride tells a tale of love in many forms - through the people we meet along the way, our connection with the horse, with the land, and with each other.
As this blog goes on it gets more and more in depth with tons of photos and experiences. Snuggle in with a cup of tea and read this like a book. I have switched the blog around so it reads start to finish so you don't have to read backward (except the first entry).
Here is our story...
87 miles in to it....
We met these kids yesterday. They all came screaming when they saw Soj and RAN to the fence. They called Soj a unicorn and me Forrest Gump.
We met these kids today. They were adorable and so happy to be with Sojourner.
Yesterday I was supposed to meet up with a man who was to take me to the woman who had a place for Soj, Walter, and I for the night (last night). I walked about 10 miles or so and then saw a man in a long trench coat and a cool old hat mounted on a big mule standing at the corner in the distance. We waved to each other and when I finally got to him he dismounted and greeted me with a huge smile, water, and beef jerky. Now...I have been a vegetarian for about 10 years now, but little did I now I was about to eat beef jerky, ground beef, and sausage. I think my body could use the protein anyway and I am very grateful of any food offered to me, but I do think I may have thrown my insides for a bit of a loop! Anyway....as I chewed on the jerky we made our way up to this man, Bob's, house. I listened to his stories about how he married his amazing wife after dating eachother for 27 years and how she won him that mule for 15 dollars. We got to his house and he set Soj up with food and water right away. Walter was already there and hopped in his shower (after 5 showerless days). Bob showed me the shoes and clothes his wife, Monica, had laid out for me to rifle through and pick out some things to take with me. I now have some cozy ugg sort of boots and some better walking shoes and a red shirt with bull heads on it. :) But best of all...she gave me a blanket she made. It has horses running all over it and it is incredibly soft. I think it is now my favorite blanket. Yes, it definitely is.
I have been concerned about Sojourner's back and on top of that he is not retaining his water. He has started to pee a lot and is looking a little sunken in. Bob gave me an expensive saddle pad that has memory foam in it and should keep him from having any future back aches. I am so grateful for this. He also gave me electrolytes which I hope will help with Soj's water issues.
When it was time to head to the next stop that day, I grabbed Soj out of the pen and then Bob put me on his mule because I could hardly walk and he led Soj to where we met up with two other lovely women to take us over to Mary's house where we would be sleeping. Sojourner stayed just a few houses down at Linda's house. She kindly gave him shavings to sleep in and hay in an immaculate stall.
That night Mary had everyone over for a big lasagna dinner. It was like I was at one of my own family reunions. Everyone laughed and talked and sat around the table eating. I saw pictures of Mary's daughters in horse shows and was told a story about how Mary recently found the Valentine her husband had given her when they were 5 years old!! I couldn't believe that.
I was given gifts like hand and feet warmers and mole skin to put inside Sojourners shoes. I was even also given a blanket for Sojourner and some weight gain. Between all of them they pretty much set me up from every angle.
Back to when we were at Bob and Monica's house...Walter and Bob played a few games of pool while I took probably the best shower I have ever had (although tonight's was pretty awesome too). One thing about putting yourself in a lot of pain is that it feels SOOOO good to soothe it. It almost makes it worth it.
It's now the next day and Walter and I are back at Mary and Jeff's house now. I walked 21 miles today and once I dropped Soj off Walter and I headed back here to stay another night since we only had sleeping accommodations for Soj tonight . Mary had dinner waiting for us again.
The people I met in this town are amazing. If you are ever a girl on horseback and you want to know where to go, Rancho Cucamonga, CA is the place.
Today I played my harmonica for quite a while for the first time. I love it already. I started writing something, but I've probably forgotten it by now.
Tomorrow I am going to walk again even thought Soj's back seems totally back to normal. The day after tomorrow we aren't riding so he will have a good rest day then so I figured I might as well keep a saddle off tomorrow to give him a solid 4 days in a row without it. Henry's saddle is here now though. My mom sent it over night to Mary and Jeff's house along with some more clothes for me. :)
Today Soj had 2 German Shepherds nearly jump on his back. They were the most vicious dogs I have ever come across. They were drooling and growling and barking and the one just appeared at the top of this stucco fence that was taller than my head! It had jumped and was scrambling to get over just dying to get to Sojourner. It really scared Soj. He heard it before I did so I didn't know why he spooked and then all of a sudden this wild massive animal was right over my head. After that Soj was a little cautious of fences, but only for a minute and then he didn't care and he still isn't scared of barking dogs, thankfully.
I met a photographer who crossed the street to take our picture who is also traveling across the country to get as many different shots as he can.
Well, I have to say...if there is ever a day that I wonder why I am doing this, I just have to think back to the people in Rancho Cucomunga and I will have my answer. They are people I never would have met if I wasn't riding my horse all over the place. Now I have stayed in their house, shared dinner with them, seen their pictures, ridden horses with them, played pool...the list goes on. None of that would have happened otherwise. It's amazing that this happened and it's exactly what I had hoped for-these awesome moments with people. I will spend my life trying to give that to people in return. And yes, Bob, I agree...life is good.
Bob's brother's truck-Walter took this picture
The first night before riding (town of Sylmar) This is me and Becky and Henry and Chewy and a nice old man on a horse
talking with a reporter in Rancho Cucamongo
I set the camera up in the tree to take this. This was a nice little stop for us today. Snow capped mountains were all around us and the grass was nice and high for Soj
going over another bridge