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...
Rough start, good ending.
This morning was tough. I changed Soj's feed and added a weight gain supplement and I don't know if that got him all fired up or what, but he was a nut ball this morning. 87 miles with no problems and then we get to this 4-way intersection and for no reason that I could see he reared a little and backed away from me and I couldn't get a good hold of him and he broke away. He ran into the center of the intersection (in front of a tractor trailer truck) and then froze and then his little freak button was pushed again and he was off again. He stopped in a field, saw the ranch we had just come from, and ran back to where he slept the night before. I worked him out in the round pen for a while and he just ran and ran and ran. It made him sweat a lot which made me cringe because he has been peeing so much and losing water fast making him kind of drawn up looking. Anyway, he never really dropped his tail or calmed down but he had been worked for a while and I needed to get back on the road. Horses tend to repeat things so I knew at that same spot we would have a problem again so I crossed the street to give it a go on the other side. He still was really jumpy, but we were able to get away from whatever it was that he didn't like there. That was probably the scariest thing that has happened yet. It was awful. The thing is, we have gone through so much and he has been so amazing so I wasn't on guard as much as I should have been. Maybe the horses in the stalls on either side of him last night got him worked up. Maybe Soj was telling them our story and what we've gone though and the other horses said "MAN! That's nuts! You have got to be more scared!! You're a HORSE! Be scared like a horse should be in that situation!!" I don't know. Anyway, for the rest of the day I was totally on guard though. So after we were off from there we came to the next road to turn on and there were no shoulders and no sidewalk. We were able to walk fairly safely still on the edge, but it was a government area and we came to a whole bunch of soldiers with guns. They didn't have bullets in the guns, just powder or something, but they were about to practice and Soj already had one eye on them before they were even shooting. He was still on edge from earlier and I hoped and hoped that these guys wouldn't start doing anything. Then, of course, as soon as I was squarely beside them I saw the two sides starting to get behind things. Then there was a yell and they all opened fire. Oh man. Soj was pretty good though. What could have been was scarier than what actually was. He just kind of trotted beside me, but I had a tight hold on him and we got by alright. It made me feel kind of sick in my stomach though watching the guys shoot at each other. I can't believe we actually do that for real. I can't believe my grandfather was in a war. It seemed so unnatural and crazy and wrong.
The rest of the day was full of roads without sidewalks and speeding trucks with supped up engines, but we got here safely. Here is a town called Redlands. Oh wait, before I tell you about Redlands, there was also this nutty old lady who stopped me today. I was waiting for the cross walk to turn and it did and so I walked but there were two cars waiting to make a right. Soj and I have the right of way so I walked and the car behind the first car starting honking like mad! I put my hand out because I thought she was honking at the car in front of her (and they did too) and she started waving her hands frantically at me saying "stop!" I couldn't hear her-her windows were up-but I could read her mouth. I thought she didn't want me to walk so I pointed at the little white lit up man in the box that tells you to walk and just walked on. Then I get to the next block and hear "honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk!!!!" a thousand times more. I turned and here she comes all in a frenzy. I waited for her to turn her car off and she gets out as mad as can be and yells "can't you just WAIT!?! I want to take your PICTURE!" I said "okay okay". She said she didn't mean to scare me with the honking and I told her it didn't scare me it's just that I don't want Soj to get scared. She was still all upset and told me if that scares him he shouldn't be out on the road. I said it doesn't scare him really, he didn't have any reaction to it, it's just usually people just give one little friendly honk and you....well....that was a lot of honking". Anyway-she grumbled and made me pose for her and then that was done. She was so mad yet really wanted that picture.
Anyway-Redlands is a great little town. Right now I am in a cafe and there is a salsa class going on in front of me. We are staying at the most fantastic ranch called Sundance Ranch. The woman who owns it is just wonderful. We had dinner with her and a hot shower. Soj is looking a lot better. His back is 100 percent better and he is looking much fuller today. He still peed more than he should, but not as much as yesterday. I think the electrolytes are helping. It was suggested to me by the woman at Lazy O Ranch, where we stayed last night, the I add some apple juice to his water to get him to drink more. I think this is a fantastic idea. I really think Sojourner is going to shape up on this ride and that I will be able to get everything regulated. He has had this peeing problem before. I had the vet out and we did all of his blood work. He is totally healthy for what we could tell, but it might be good to have a little check up in the next couple days. I have to get a health certificate anyway to cross the border.
Walter mailed off some things for me today and organized the whole truck and let me know how the roads were up ahead. It helps so much having him out there.