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...

Sojourner the Great


I was listening to a voice mail from Walter's mom on speaker phone and the second it started playing, Sojourner turned his head and listened to the whole message!

I remember this cold.

My blood has thinned after living the life of a Californian for the last 5 or so years and before that the life of a South Carolinian for 3 or so years and before that (for a mere 8 or 9 months, but warm, sunny ones)...a Floridian...and even a spot of time in Nashville. All warm places. Downright hot, some of them, in fact.

What a breakfast we had at The Hill Farm Inn in Sunderland, VT! Delicious! Blueberry Pancakes with Vermont Maple Syrup. Mmmm....

Soj had a lot of animals to play with at the Inn...

"What's it doing, Joe?"
"I'm not sure, Fluff. Should we go help it or what?"
"I think they do that, Bahh man, I think they do that normally. Ah, gosh. This is hard to watch. Alright, maybe we should go help it..."
But once upon a time I wore thick, heavy boots and a plaid shirt, had constant rosy cheeks, ate only potatoes, carried an axe for wood, and "Ho ho'd" when I spoke. No, not really. I was trying to describe a logger or a mountain man...with a touch of Santa (tis the season).

I would be in a little trendy outfit shivering as I ran to my car to brush off the snow with my sweater sleeves pulled down over my bare hands because I couldn't find my gloves and I couldn't find the scraper. That's a more accurate description. And then (because I didn't want to wait for the thick frost to defrost) I would peek through the itty bitty hole in the windshield that had de-thawed and make my way down the slippery driveway (and sometimes I didn't make it. Sometimes I got stuck).

Then I would run back up the long snow covered driveway in my little shoes to the warm house where my dad was still sipping coffee...

"Ah!! Daddy!! I'm stuck in the driveway! Can you get me out!??"

I would be late for school now, but my dad was always able to squiggle the car out of it's stuck place. I didn't really care that I was late for school, that was good news, but I knew my dad wouldn't be thrilled that I had yet again driven off the side of the road and now he, too, would be late for school (he taught). I would just cross my fingers that by the time he got out there the windshield had defrosted!

This weather is reminding me of other memories, too, like when my first pony, Sparky, used to turn into a little woolly creature during the winter and let nearly a foot of snow pile up on his fuzzy back.

"Well, he's not losing heat!", we would laugh and say as we watched the big white snowball with furry, brown legs plow around through the deep snow.

I also had an Arabian then who would do the same. We never blanketed him either. They seemed to be content in a blanket of snow.

Maybe Sojourner will be the same because he managed to take his blanket off in the night last night. He probably got hot and un-clipped it with his mouth. He's getting pretty good with those little finger lips of his...

He's becoming an escape artist in a few different ways, in fact. Sojourner dreams of running in the Kentucky Derby, but he also dreams of living the life of a circus horse. He has been trying out different acts on us over these past few weeks.

While we were at the ever wonderful Pat and Lloyd's home, Sojourner saw a challenge and he took it. This boy's always up for an adventure...

"Linny!", Pat yelled up the stairs a little past 8am. "Your amazing horse has done something amazing! I might need some help getting him back in the barn!"

Walter and I got out of bed and headed outside to find Pat out in a field with Sojourner.

"I wish I had my camera!", she said.

Sojourner had been running back and forth and back and forth with his tail up in the air and his head held high in all his Arabian glory. He must have been thinking, "I did it! I can get any rope loose, crawl through any door, unlatch any blanket!!! Hand me another challenge, you humans! Nothing is too much for the great Sojourner!!"

Leaving Pat and Lloyd's home in Cambridge, NY (come see us soon!)

Pat and Lloyd have mini horses and the mini horses have a mini door to get outside. Sojourner was in the barn behind a door that led to the mini door. He was able to get the first door open and then got down on his hands and knees and crawled through the mini door. For on the other side lied a grassy field and those curious looking alpacas.

The little door

Sojourner was very curious about the sheep and the alpacas he had seen in that field the day before and a gate and one little door wasn't going to stop him from getting to the bottom of the alpaca mystery. What ARE they anyway??

Soj blew me away yesterday. Walter and I kept saying to each other, "What a horse", over and over again. We had taken a short cut that was an old logging road. Beavers had obviously moved in and the logging road turned into a marshy obstacle with tons of downed trees, hidden rocks, and deep water in the middle. Walter had driven up ahead and was going to walk back to us, but this big watery mess separated us.

"Have you gotten to the water yet?", Walter asked through the phone.

"No. There's water?"

"Yeah, there's a big marshy area here. You should be seeing me any second. I'm going to look for a way around."

I had already guided Soj over trees, jumped little streams, plodded through deep mud, and gone off into the woods when the logging road was un-passable. I didn't really want to turn back and take him through all of that again.

Just as I got off the phone I saw the water up ahead and then I could see Walter off in the distance on the other side of it. I yelled to him, "Do you think there's any way through?"

I could see Walter hopping from rock to rock, zig-zagging his way to us.

"I think we can get him through this."

Well, I don't think there are many horses that would have gone through that mess or people who would have taken their horse through that mess, but we were in it now and decided to go for it. Sojourner sunk all the way up above his knees into muck. It was exactly like Atreyu with his horse, Artax, in "The Never Ending Story".

I told Walter I was worried about his legs. The grass was so tall and there were hidden tree trunks and big slippery rocks under it all. Sojourner seemed to actually enjoy it though and would swipe a bite to eat as we passed the tall grass that reached the height of his mouth while at the same time dodging rocks and ripping out of deep mud.

There have been two other times on this trip, once in L.A. when I had to balance Soj up on a curb when we lost our sidewalk all of a sudden and were on a 5 lane highway (and there was a leaking fire hydrant on the other side), and another time when we took a short cut and were on the steep side of a mountain with limited places to go, that Soj has proven his mightiness. He pulls himself together and listens to my every command. It is so incredibly amazing that I don't think I can do the experience justice with words.

At one point yesterday in the marsh Sojourner had to jump a stream, but I was so worried about him sinking in the soft, muddy ground on the other side when his 1,000 pounds hit it. Soj had it under control though and took the mud into account. He took the most beautiful, grand flying leap over the stream, clearing the muddiest land on the other side as well.

Another time he jumped over a mushy area and landed straddling a downed tree. The second I would say "Whoa" he would stop and freeze. It didn't matter what his stance was or how deep the mud was that he was in. If I could see he would hurt himself if he struggled out I would ask him to stop and he would stop, instantly, frozen. It is so unbelievable. He waits for us to show him where to go. It's really exceptional behavior. I can't get over it.

Soj just never, ever loses his cool. Walter and I don't really lose ours either, though, and I think that helps. We always believe we'll figure it out and together the three of us always do. I love that about this trip. Sojourner has never been just our tool to get across America. He is our partner and we all rely on one another to help the other through different situations. No one freaks out and no one ever refuses. Soj always gives off the same vibe-ears forward, tail up in the air, never a pull or a tug in a different direction-up for anything. He follows carefully and gently steps everywhere my feet go in front of him.

He really blew me away yesterday. We always think he's something pretty special, but then obstacles like this show just how carefully he will listen and help us through when we need it. "No big deal", I believe he says, "hop up and let me take you home."


  1. Amazing you didn't loose Soj's little booties in the muck. That's quite a statement for the quality of the product. Maybe some technology that could be incorporated in people boots....
    Every sucking, wet, cold step is one closer to home. Ride on sweet damsel and steed of courage. (your prince is right beside you)
    I'm starting to pack.
    P.S. that was quite the wasp nest in the picture of the mini door
    P.P.S. that was quite the butt shot in the picture of Walter and his new wrangler chaps outfit on the last blog.

  2. Soj is an incredible horse, that's for sure. I think you're running out of superlatives.

    Almost there now! What is it, less than a week?!

    If that hat is real fur, I hope you'll consider getting rid of it and letting me replace it with one of your choice as a gift. It would be my honor.

    Ride On!

  3. What can I say that has not been said above and before? Soj is amazing. I still talk about him falling asleep on my shoulder.