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...
when there's time to kill....
...of course there is plenty to do. James is going to work with me and Soj today to get him to trailer a bit easier and yesterday James helped me lunge Soj and the boys and I got a lot of mapping done, but extra time has allowed for other activities such as bouncing bouncy balls in parking lots while waiting for our pizza to cook.
See that sky, guys? THAT is where this ball is going.
On a more real note, yesterday I was out lunging Sojourner and Soj broke away from me like he always does when I try to pick up his speed. He will trot both ways easily, but he doesn't like to canter unless he is in a round pen and cantering freely and not connected to my lead rope. James and Kelly were over feeding the horses and I heard James yell "give me just a second and I'll be over there to help you!" A couple minutes later James was there and started from the top. He would wiggle the rope to have Soj back up, allowing a hula hoop of space around him. The horse needs to be aware of you and your space. James has studied wild horses and their behaviors (James and Kelly both break and train Mustangs) and he has learned through them how to communicate in more natural way that they understand. Sojourner caught on fast and kept his distance squarely facing James in full attention. I am going to make a little video of this today and post it so you can get a taste of how James works. There are no chains or tools on Sojourner and it is the absolute smoothest Soj has ever worked for a human being. It was amazing to see. Sojourner just absolutely will NOT lunge at a canter. I can sometimes get him to go in one direction, but never in the other. After James got him to do it instantly I was blown away, but I didn't think I would be able to do it myself because Soj has learned that he can break away from me. Horses are creatures of habit and have great memories so Soj has learned that I am little and he's big and with a tug and a bolt he's free from me.
I did it though with James coaching from the side, no problem. Sojourner has always been ready to do it, I just wasn't asking him correctly. I am also very loving with Soj. I treat him like a puppy which I think has helped with the fact that I probably could sleep under the horse at night, but in reality Soj could hurt me accidentally because I have never established my space with him. It's hard for me to do because I want to be wrapped around his neck in a hug all the time, but James pointed out that it will actually make for a better relationship and an even more communicative relationship if I make some of these points understood between me and Soj.
Sojourner and I are going to make it to New Hampshire. We are. Live Free Or DIE! But if this ride ended tomorrow it would have been a success as far as the people I've met, the bond I've made with Soj, and the things I've learned.
The boys and I are excited to get back on the road. I don't know about Soj. I think Soj would be happy to lounge around for a while longer, but once Soj gets out he's ready to go too-always with his ears pointed straight forward at what's ahead...