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...
La Canada Flintridge to La Verne - 25 miles
Yesterday we took quite a while to get here to La Verne. I stopped a lot. Sojourner and I had to go on a crazy road where I had to have him on the curb and I walked on the road facing traffic. A woman drove by and asked us to come over to her house so we ran across the street when there was a break in traffic and she filled up a kiddy pool so Soj could have some water and gave me hot tea and chocolate truffles. That was awesome.
We met a lot of kids yesterday and Sojourner is so amazing with them. He puts his head very low-almost to the ground and leaves it down there so the kids can pet him and hug him. They laugh and dance and play all around him and he never budges. I put a shark tooth in Sojourner's bridle and I joke that he is a young unicorn (because it looks like a budding horn), but I never say this to the kids and they always notice and say "he's a unicorn!" I love it. :) No adults have noticed his "horn" yet, but the kids always, always do. At one point there were 6 kids all around him from his tail to his head and we stayed with them for probably 15 minutes. He was so calm and gentle with them.
Last night was rough though. I stopped so much to talk with people that we took about 12 hours to complete yesterday's ride. We did the second half in 3 hours compared to 9 hours in the first half. We trotted a lot. Soj felt fine and ready to go so I just let him. He is a little sore though. This saddle is not working out at all. I am not going to ride him today. I'll just walk beside him. My mom is over nighting the Mexican saddle to us so we will have that soon. I hate to see him sore. It's not bad though. In fact, this morning he is much better. He will be okay once we get this other saddle. I can ride bare back tomorrow.
We got into the ranch really tired and it was kind of drizzly and cold and this really drunk or high or something woman came out and she was just miserable. We had called ahead, but at first a man answered the door and said he had never heard our names and started to shut the door on Walter. Then Walter said "wait, is there someone else I can talk to??" He guessed so and then led him to a couple of woman. One was an 87 yr. old woman who owns the ranch and the other was the drunken lady. By this time I was coming around the corner with Sojourner. Walter walked by me and whispered "this is interesting" and then the woman came out mumbling and stumbling after him. I said my name and put my hand out and she waved her hand in my face to dismiss me and threw herself around Soj's neck. Soj didn't like it and shied away so she grabbed the lead rope above where I was holding it and yanked hard to punish him and pull his head towards her. I was so mad inside and actually wanted to push her down, but I just told her to let go of the rope. She wouldn't so I took it from her and told her to stay away from the horse. I didn't yell or anything, but she made me so mad. Soj worked so hard all day and here is this woman yanking on his face. She never once looked at me-she just kept staring at Soj but then I backed him away from her and she stumbled to the porch steps and sat. I never saw her again. I have to go back there now and get Soj. Walter and I came to this Mc Donald's to use the internet so Soj can finish eating.
I couldn't sleep last night because Walter and I put our tent in the horse stall and we weren't supposed to do that so I kept thinking they were going to come out all drunk and angry and harass us. I got up at 4 and started getting Soj ready. It's 7:30 now and I really should head back and get out of there.
Today we are meeting very nice people though. I have already talked to them and one rider is coming out to meet me to show me some trails. It's a good thing too because one town isn't horse friendly and I could get a ticket. I didn't know there were any towns that aren't horse friendly. I mean-I rode down the busiest streets through tons of different cities in the last couple days and didn't have a problem, but I guess I was just lucky. That reminds me...we went over a crazy bridge and then the side walk we were on just ended. Sojourner must have known how serious the situation was because he did things that would usually scare him. We were on a highway with no shoulder and the sidewalk picked up on the other side across 5 lanes. There was no way I could cross 5 lanes to get there. There was never a break in traffic. It was SO busy. Sojourner and I were on the right side of the road walking with traffic. I had to make him balance on the curb and I stayed in the road with my body weight against him and walked slowly. Then we came to some sort of loud drainage thing and he didn't want to walk by it. Walter showed up at the perfect time and put his flashers on behind us though. We really held up traffic for a minute. SO many cars. I would not normally put us in this situation, but the sidewalk just ended!! It was awful. When we finally got out of there a man in a truck yelled out of his window "are you okay!?" and said that he NEVER could have made it through there with his horse. He said his horse would have flipped. It's funny, Soj is an Arabian and does spook at things sometimes, but when it really comes down to it he is totally solid and it's as if he knows when he really needs to stay calm-like with kids or with millions of cars whizzing by and me in the road. I am trying to be careful though and like I said, that was kind of out of my control.
So we are on day 3 and this is a lot of work, but it's really amazing. I used to dream about this as a little, little girl and now here it is. Yesterday I was looking at the sky and I could feel Soj breathing on my back. He keeps his head so close to me and I just smiled thinking "wow, it happened. Here we are walking to a place I don't know and the only familiar thing is this horse and the same goes for him with me and there are all of these smiling people..." and THEN a woman rolled by and said "you should have to clean up your horse shit just like the people with dogs do!" She was ancient and I told her life was too short to be such a grouch. She was oozing anger. She said "I almost rolled through your shit!" and then she rolled away grimacing and spewing frustration out of her wrinkles. I would have kicked his poop to the side, but I actually didn't know he pooped. It dries up into grass anyway! She is the only negative one so far though. Everyone else has been so excited and so happy to see him. It's like bringing an angel to people. They just stop and stare at him and take pictures and smile and say thank you and it makes me so happy because that's exactly how I feel about this horse and it's so cool to share him even for just a second.
I am going to post a video very soon. Thanks for following along and for all of your comments on facebook and email. I love getting them.