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...


The World Equestrain Games which have never been in the U.S. are going to be in Lexington at the end of September. Walter and I will be in Lexington in about 2 weeks. It sounds like it's going to be a pretty incredible event so we are wondering if we should keep Soj with someone for a night and drive back to volunteer for a day. At the start of the games we will be 2 weeks (maybe 250 miles) past Lexington.

If we did go back because we somehow were able to volunteer then we could get tons of photos of the event and share them here. I don't know if this is a smart idea or not, but it sounds like it's going to be pretty cool. I don't know where we would stay or anything because the whole town will be a zoo, but maybe...I suppose if we should be there it will happen somehow...

Now how to begin...

I told you "wow" was the one word to describe The Rolling Hills Equestrian Center and I am having trouble finding words now to really describe the magnificence of the place and the people we met there.

Soj watching the sun set from his corral

Adrianne and David Garber put us up in the little white house down the way which was just as lovely as it sounds. A white house surrounded by white fences and beautiful rolling fields. Sojourner stayed in a corral right beside the house with plenty of tall grass and a couple of days to rest.

Melissa, who is a trainer at the ranch and an accomplished show jumper (what do you call someone who shows horses in jumping? I don't actually know. I'm just going to say show jumper...but that's not right, is it? Ah well....), picked us up in her pick-up truck and took us to an amazing, home cooked Southern meal that was waiting on a big beautiful counter in an open, happy kitchen at the Garber's place.

Walter and I had the most wonderful time. We met people that we later talked about together all evening after we had gone home. People often remind you of other people and one woman reminded me so much of my mom so I instantly just adored her. We all laughed and talked and ate and Walter and I loved every second of it.

The only thing is...we left the card for the camera in the computer so I don't have any pictures!! Some pictures were taken though so I'm hoping some will pop up in my email soon and if they do I will put them up here in a future entry!

Walter pried me away from the house this morning as I hung on with all of my might.

Look at this sweet little house...!

Adrianne even absolutely STOCKED the fridge full of food!

Then we joined forces and pried Sojourner away from the lovely field he was in and tacked up in the backyard.

I met some very excited, screaming kids who came to see Soj and give him a little love, an old man who sat rocking on his porch and yelled out, "that's the first horse I've seen in a very long time!", and a man named Kenny who showed us his lovely horses, one of which was half Arabian.
We are now at The Bittel Equestrain Center where the Dream Riders of Kentucky operate. Their mission is to provide those with physical, mental, and emotional needs an opportunity to bond with horses and horseback ride.

Walter and I had lunch today with the Vice President of this organization, Suzy, along with Kenny and Judy, who also work with the Dream Riders.

Judy and Suzy watching Soj at the home of the Dream Riders.

Judy of the Dream Riders

Cooperate, Soj! Ears forward, look nice!

President of the Dream Riders, Mike Clark, and Vice President, Suzy Higdon. Mike said he would trade the horse and truck for his bike. Maybe we can just trade the truck and I can be on the horse and Walter on the bike! Now that would be my style!! Nah, that truck's part of the family. (It was just a joke, Yota.)

"She's so incredibly talented and so amazing with the kids", Suzy said to me when Judy left the table to head to the buffet.

Judy had caught us earlier eating some muffins out of the back of the truck after we put Soj up because Walter and I were starving.

"You put that up!" she said as she came to us and closed the container to the muffins. "We're going to get you fed now and then you just head up to the house and relax for the evening."

Before we went out to eat we met Kenny who helped us get a betadine bath ready for Soj and then shaped his hooves a bit with his file.

Me and Kenny with the Sojer. Soj looks like a mini pony next to Kenny! And I look like a mini person!

Dr. Hanson, the nicest vet in the world, came out today (Sunday) to give Soj a check up and make sure he's not feeling sore anywhere. I had been a little concerned because he hadn't had as much pep in his step the last little while. I had forgotten that Soj is a little anemic and one of the first things Dr. Hanson wanted to check was to see if he might be anemic. I told her he in fact is a little anemic and that we have an iron supplement (red cell), but we never really use it because he gets so much grass. She told me that with the amount of work he does he can use the extra iron. She was pretty confident this would help boost his energy.

"Walter, Linny! I didn't brush this morning! You didn't tell me a pretty woman was going to come open my mouth today! Oh man...Oh gosh....oh this is just awful. Oh gosh."

Not only did Dr.Hanson come out on a Sunday with a huge smile, but she donated the visit. As I took the health certificate from her I asked her what I owed her and she said nothing. I couldn't believe it.

After the vet gave him a thorough check-up we put Soj up in the corral and he took off trotting around. Then he decided to do a little jump for joy that he was getting a clean bill of health and threw his back legs high into the air with a good buck!

This tool checks for any sensitivity in his hooves. Nada sensitivity.

She is flexing his leg and then I will take off in a trot with him. This is to check to see if he gets at all gimpy. He'll favor one leg if there is any pain.

After we put Soj up, Judy, Suzy, and Kenny told us to take the 4-wheeler to scoot around while we're there. Judy patted the truck and said that old guy needed a rest, too.

We headed up to the house which is owned by Donnie and Bonnie Bittel. Now if those names don't go together, I don't know what names do!
Again we have a whole house to ourselves! It's a beautiful home with a pool and Soj is just down the hill in a spacious corral that goes into the barn so he can get cover if he wants it. Judy left wine and cheese in the fridge for us and Bonnie bustled around showing us where things were while assuring us that we could call anytime if we needed anything at all.

I am kind of at a loss for words at this point. When I think back to the beginning of this journey at all the people who have helped us and opened their home to us I am left with a blinking cursor in front of me and no words that could do them or what I feel justice. It has not only been my, Walter, and Sojourner's journey, but so many people's journey.

It started with a dream that my dad told me I could do. A little girl looking out of the car window watching a pretend horse run. Can I? Is it possible?

"Yes, Doodle, yes it is."

Thank you, my Daddy. Thank you for making me believe without a shadow of a doubt that you can do what you love and, in fact, to never do anything but what you love. You planted the seed that this was all possible and along with you so many others have come together to make sure it is so.

Sunset in the desert in Arizona many miles ago...


  1. Wow, looks like a fantastic blog tonight! I only read the WEG part and am going to savor the rest here shortly.

    I thought of you guys with regard to the World Equestrian Games about a week ago and figured you'd be way past by then. It will be an amazing event, first time on US soil, incredible all the way around. Having said that, I'd pass on it and keep heading toward NH if you want my opinion.

    It will be crazy busy all over Lexington. The actual events cost a fortune, so you'd definitely have to come up with a volunteer opportunity. You probably could find a host family. I'm beginning to think that Stephen could get you put up in the White House if you were passing through Washington, DC. :) But it's a long backtrack and then return. You also don't have time to take in a bunch of events.

    So, I'd stay focused on the trip and take the rest day to camp and sleep. But I'll be excited for you if you do decide to take in the WEG.

  2. In West Virginia, 90% of the horses there need red cell because the ground and grass does not offer enough iron for a horse's daily dose. I had horse with an iron deficiency collapse under me. I thought he had a heart attack... So I hear what the vet is saying about that...and that Red Cell saved him from ever collapsing again.

    Ride on Cowgirl...I'm cheering for ya from California!

  3. Look at just the fences at the Rolling Hills Equestrian Center!!!! Wow! Now just so I've got this right, you're building a facility just like it when you get to NH and a duplicate called the "Poppy Equestrian Center - West Coast" in CA, right? Cause Buster and I want to visit.

    I don't think you could have gotten me out of that house until the fridge was empty! Like you, I kind of shake my head at the generosity and support of folks you meet. It would be a bit overwhelming to me for sure.

    OK, I see you've got a volunteer opportunity for the WEG. Awesome if you decide to do it. However, I already checked out 2014. They are in Normandy, France. Not too far away and a wonderful place to visit.

    Ride On!

  4. Linnie, I've just spent the weekend reading your blog after finding it through Long Riders Guild. What a journey, what a horse, what a gal, what a support guy! I agree fully with those who encourage you to write the book. I'll be buying plenty of copies for myself and for gifts if you do.

    I am so touched by your relationship with Soj. He's a terrific soul, and your growing partnership is inspirational. I've been getting little glimpses of that sort of bond with my own horse, who I've had for a year now, times in the rest periods after a bit of work where we just savor being together, hanging out. Can't think of anything that quite compares to it.

    Give Soj a big hug from Linda and Shiloh. I'll keep y'all in my prayers.

  5. Wow, Megan...thanks for that confirmation. You know, I thought back and he started to slow down a bit a little while after we stopped giving him the red cell! I should have realized, but he has had so much grass that I didn't even think about it. It's funny because I was telling the vet that he has been a bit sleepy and then I put him up and he started running around and bucking. We all laughed. I think that vet had a bit of a magic touch, too. She was a pretty cool woman.

    Tom, you're probably right. We should probably just stick to our schedule and keep on keepin on. It's hard though because we're going to be so close and I think we could get some good shots and capture some experiences that would be cool for readers here. Tough one...

    Equinas, I'm so happy you found this blog! You know, it took quite a while for me to connect to Soj. It wasn't like that with my first Arab. I was 10 years old when I first got on that horse, Cherokee, and he took my heart away in that second. I don't know what it was. I had looked at so many horses before him. This is part of what makes me know there is definitely a connection that happens...not just with any old horse-there's a certain something with some of them, but if it's not there right away it can most certainly grow.

    Sojourner was more of a horsey horse when I got him. He was very concerned about other horses and less so about me. He was scared of everything (I mean everything) and he just didn't have a whole lot of regard for me. He was always sweet, but not really connected. Then one day he changed. It was the strangest thing. My mom and sister and I used to take him on walks to the park and just hang out with him. I think this helped. We didn't just mean "work" every time he saw us. We meant a nice little walk and grass at the park.

    One day I was sitting on the fence for a long time, maybe 2 hours or so, just watching Soj with the other horses in the pasture. He stayed next to me at the fence and if another tried to come to me he would push them off. He started to guard me and all of a sudden it was me and him, not him and the other horses.

    Since then he has been like a part of the family. It's like we're his herd now. It's very sweet. Horses express love much more subtly than a dog or a cat, but it's definitely there.

    Anyway, I think it's cool that you have a time where you just hang out with your horse. I think that's when the real connection happens and grows. A lot of times I get out of the saddle and walk with Soj because I'm right there by his head and I can feel a little something different. I think he appreciates it somehow in his horse head.

    Anyway, this comment is nearly blog length now! Thank you so much for reading and being a part of this little journey...