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.
"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..."
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!!"
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.
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."