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...

Over the river and through the woods!

8/25/10



"She's a double C and I'm an A, how do you figure that?"

The two women are standing side by side in front of a customer's table. There is an old man coughing at the counter so the younger of the two looks up and walks toward the cash register.

"How'd ya like yer pancake?"

"I reckon it was the best pancake I ever had", he sweetly says and coughs again.

"Well, next time you get to coughin' so hard you think you might die, I'd 'ppreciate it if you'd go outside".

"Well, alright", the man says humored by the diner waitress.

The older of the two women (I believe the mother) walks by and says to me, "I wouldn't eat nothin' she cooks for you!" referencing to her daughter behind the cash register who is soon to be behind the skillet cooking our food.

The daughter burps loudly, says excuse me, and sits down at our table to take our order.

Walter got a burger with fried mushrooms and I ordered a catfish sandwich with tator tots. All fried.

The two women got in a bit of an argument as they were preparing our meal.

"Don't make me jump over this counter and get you!" (the men at the other table snicker).


"I bet you could, too.", the daughter says.

"I know I could."

"Ah! I need some medication!", the daughter then lets out in a yell, "I'm ready to take my ovaries out and throw them across the parking lot!"



Welcome to Kentucky.




I didn't like or dislike this diner. More accurately I would say I liked and disliked it. It was an experience, for sure, straight out of a movie. It wasn't the healthiest way to satiate my hunger, but none the less it was satiated. And maybe the conversation in the room wasn't typical dinner conversation, but it was humorous and as Walter put it, it was real, and it was all in good fun.

We are now in Morganfield, Kentucky, and believe it or not, it seems that the heat has broken!!! It has finally crumbled to the threat of fall! I couldn't be happier. We all feel so much better. I feel like myself again! That was such a long hard haul. I have never done well in heat and that was like nothing else.
Alright, no more heat talk...I think it's over! Before we know it I will be talking about snow!! (Hopefully not)

It was hard leaving the cabin at Glendale Stables back in Glendale, Illinois. Carol invited us to stay one more day and that day was one of the last really hot days so it was hard to get on Soj and head 30 miles to the next town when we didn't have to. Although, really, we do have to because none of us want to get caught in the snow on the other end.

The zip line across the lake at Glendale Stables. Fun!


We have ridden nearly 60 miles in two days. It was supposed to be 60 miles exactly, but on the second day we were able to shave 3 miles off of that by taking a short cut. It was quite an adventure! We were supposed to go around this little mountain, but Walter noticed that the telephone poles went right over the mountain. He drove around to make sure the line came out on the other end while Soj and I had a water break.

Walter is a super navigator. I would have never found the poles on the other side because you had to go up this dirt road and then turn onto a tractor road through a crop field, but he came back and told us the poles cut through. Soj and I headed up the hill but got caught up in some nasty thorns. They stuck in my hands and legs and Soj wouldn't go any further. I turned him, headed into the woods, and had a crazy little adventure.

That horse was so amazingly incredible. It was the absolute roughest riding. Walter said there probably aren't a lot of fires around there to burn up some of the underbrush. The forest floor was covered with downed trees, branches, vines everywhere, thorns, and also tons of boulders and rocks. Aside from that we were on a constant incline but walking sideways. It was like when you're skiing and you lose a ski and have to slip and slide your way across the side of the mountain to get your other ski.

But of course he can maneuver on mountains...look at this major burnout he did...


See ya.

Soj and I got into some pretty sticky situations where I needed him to freeze and move absolutely exactly where I told him. He was perfect and listened so carefully. We made it out about .3 miles past Walter. I could see the truck through the field though and we cantered toward him. Walter had driven around and up to the top of the poles to meet us. After we gone longer than he thought it should take he trekked down the telephone wire line and was trying to clear a path for us!


Phew! Back to safety...

I don't know if I would risk such rough riding again just because there were times when I had to hold Soj's mane and just hope he wouldn't slip as he clambered up the side. We were on an incline of rocks. The whole time I was thinking about those 4 little legs scrambling under me. It was nice to save 3 miles though and it was pretty fun. Oh! I left out the craziest part. Soj cut under a fallen tree that had caught itself on some other trees but it was too low for me to get under it on his back so I had to duck fast and grab the tree and kind of shove it behind me as we went under. I must have loosened another tree that fallen and caught up above because it came crashing down right behind us! I felt like I was in Indiana Jones!


On the first 30 mile day we crossed the Ohio river into Kentucky and headed to Elizabethtown. Crossing the river was pretty neat with Sojourner. Again, he was awesome. Luckily the ferry was just taking off when we got there so I had a little time to get him used to the loading dock.


"Yikes. Guys, is this safe??"





He was a little unsure as the boat was turning and leaving shore...
... but after that he was pretty calm and just watched the water go by.



Nice one, Soj. Geez Louise.

T'was a smooth ride...

We entered Kentucky where a lot of Amish live so the roads were very quiet. We only saw a couple cars the entire day until we got close to Elizabethtown. We passed beautiful farms and clothes on the line and lovely gardens.


That night we stayed with Jim Gross, his daughter, Sharon, and her husband, Joe Austin. Joe and Sharon have two lovely, very talented sons, Jaron and BJ. They have both been in magazines and won many competitions in riding. The older son (age 13) was on crutches because he had broken his leg on one of their horses named "Maniac".
BJ laughed and said, "He had the name Maniac when we went to look at him and we still bought him".

Joe and Sharon support their sons completely and bought a big trailer with living quarters for the boys when they go to events which is where Walter and I spent the evening.

We didn't have enough time with the Austin's. They were such kind-hearted people and also offered for us to stay another night. I wanted to, but we really have to keep moving at this point. I don't know how many of you have seen Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (the second one), but I feel like Mr. Snow Miser is at the other end wringing his hands together just waiting for us to slow down! We have already dealt with Mr. Heat Miser and I don't think I can take his brother too!

Snow Miser in THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS [1974] Image

"I'm Mister White Christmas. I'm Mister Snow. I'm Mister Icicle. I'm Mister Ten Below. Friends call me Snow Miser, whatever I touch turns to snow in my clutch. I'm too much!"



Now we are resting in a motel called The Hometown Inn. Paul Monsieur who is President of The Chamber of Commerce donated a room to us here for the night. We had a short ride today so we were able to get in early and enjoy lunch with Paul and his friend and also Chamber of Commerce Administrative Assistant, Becky Greenwell.

We camped out last night at the Sturgis fairgrounds with Sojourner. It was a really nice place for Soj and the woman who greeted us, Misty, kindly took time to show us where everything was, but it sure is nice to be in a motel tonight!

We had a shower in the barn. We have to do stuff like this all the time. I'm always looking over my shoulder so some innocent passerby doesn't get an eye full!


Sojourner is at an absolutely stunning facility right now called the Gumz Farms, Kentucky Division. They breed Quarter Horses there. Most of the horses are for show (Western Pleasure), but the babies are sold before they're shown.


We were greeted at the farm by a woman called Renee who really impressed me with her gentleness and ability to listen. There was not one hint of an ego in her which is such a rare, beautiful quality. She really struck me.



We were also greeted by another nice woman, Genie, and her husband, Ken. Genie is a freelance photographer for Arabian Horse World Magazine so she came out to take some shots for a follow up issue that will come out in a couple of months.


Genie actually knew of Lari Shea who is a close friend of mine and was the previous owner of Sojourner. Click HERE to see Lari's ranch Lari is an incredible endurance rider and Genie has shot her before at some races. Small world!

Sojourner got a very thorough bath and is now chomping on grass in a lovely field. He has a stall set aside for him if we choose to put him in there as well.


I have a little more info from The Arabian Horse Association on Sojourner's mamasita. Here it is:

Okay...Soj's dam, O Piaget, was owned by Soj's breeder, John or Jill Wales of Bryan, Texas. All the horses this couple bred have the WPTR pre-fix and, unfortunately, I have no idea what it stands for. A lot of breeders put some sort of initials in the names of their horses to sort of "brand" their breeding program. The Wales' have been members since 1997, but haven't really been actively breeding since 2003. O Piaget had no other babies by Ortalion, so Soj has no full siblings. She had 14 foals in total, 7 purebreds, and 7 half-Arabians. She is also very Polish. Soj's great grandfather on his dam's side is *Bask++, arguably one of the finest stallions to set foot on American soil--a legendary horse in the Arabian breed, for sure. Bask has a "*" before his name because that means he was imported during a certain time period of history (Soj's sire was imported after that time period, and that's why he doesn't have a "*") The ++ after Bask's name means he has earned a "Legion of Merit," a combination of breeding and performance points at shows. While it’s really cool that Soj has Bask in his pedigree, keep in mind that Bask sired 1,046 horses, so you can imagine how many grand kids and great-grand kids he has. Having Bask in the pedigree is certainly a selling point, for instance, but you couldn’t ask a million dollars or anything Soj has Polish-bred Arabians all over his dam’s side, just like his sire’s. Lastly, Soj was born in Texas, immediately sold to Rocky Mountain Training Center in Woodland Park, Colorado where he stayed until about age 6. Then he was bought by Judith Ogus of Morgan Hill, Calif. and a little over a year later made his way to your friend Lari.
Okay, Linny. Safe Travels!

The other day as I was riding into town I passed an old woman weeding out her garden. She was bent over and didn't hear us coming. I could tell she heard us once we were right next to her and she began to slowly roll up. By the time she was fully upright we were past her but I had turned in my saddle to give her a hello. She responded with the sing songiest "helllooooo!" and a sweet smile.

I giggled a little and kept riding. I only had about a mile and a half left after 30 miles and I just really wanted to settle in for the evening. I should have stopped though. She had so much curiosity in her eyes and I know she wanted to see the horse but I had already passed her and I was tired and so all I gave was a smile and a hello. It left me with kind of a sad feeling inside.

I should take my own advice. Next time I will pull back on my reins just a bit so once the old woman in a pink muumuu slowly rises from her weed picking I will just be approaching instead of just leaving her behind...



For nearly 6 months now Walter has driven ahead to set up the "kitchen" and cook from the back of the truck so there is food for us when we ride up.
One woman pulled up this morning before Soj and I had gotten there and said to Walter, "Well, if I had known you were gonna be cookin' I woulda gotten up earlier and headed out here!"


And then at the end of the day he will drive to our stop for the night and walk back to us. I give him the lead rope and he walks us both in or I'll get down and walk in with him. It's a nice end to a day's ride.

Do I know you?

***
Stay tuned, Grandma, the next blog's for you!
***


5 comments:

  1. OK, first of all ..beginning of this entry, PRICELESS!

    Secondly, does it count if I saw the scene from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in another movie, Batman and Robin? Mr Freeze is playing the very scene you mention above in his ice lair and making all his goons sing along...it's pretty hilarious actually.

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  2. Hey all of you, where are u now? You missed some nice weather in Southern Illinois ( after you left of course)

    Hope Soj is doing well, Mare riding alot for her( not as much as you )

    take care and godspeed

    Rich, Mary Ann and all the furry criiters here in southern Illinois

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  3. I am totally impressed with the way you write your posts!! secondly, pictures are just awesum !!! well done and keep it up !! great work ! www.immunoleader.com

    ReplyDelete