Page 1

WHAT IN THE

WORLD

by Kirsten Mathieson photos by Walter Rowland and Melissa Wright

A Girl, Her Arabian, and Their Cross-Country Ride

no idea of how I would get a horse and where I would keep him. But pretty soon things just started falling into place.” Sojourner came to her as if by magic. Lari telephoned Linny and said she had the perfect horse. Sojourner was a handsome 1999 gelding with lots of promise. But at his new home at the Hayward boarding facility, goats, pigs, deer, dogs, cats, chickens, roosters, kids, music, trucks, horses surrounded him — and it scared the life out of him. “Soj was a shivering shaking scared mess,” Linny recalls. “It took me about six months to really connect with him. But our bond grew, and when Soj and I finally did connect it was like nothing I have ever experienced before with an animal. “I could go on and on about this horse,” says Linny. “He is almost 100 percent bombproof. I rode him straight through Los Angeles on the sidewalk with people stopping us every five minutes. We’ve gone on highways, overpasses — I’ve had to balance him on a curb to keep him out of a five-lane road in Los Angeles because

Linny Kenney and WPTR Runnin Rebel (Ortalion x Piaget by *Piechur), aka “Sojourner.”


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W O R L D

WHAT IN THE

WORLD

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by Kirsten Mathieson photos by Walter Rowland and Melissa Wright

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10 ▪ ARABIAN HORSE WORLD ▪ JUNE 2010

A Girl, Her Arabian, and Their Cross-Country Ride

I

f you’ve been checking into our Web site or Facebook page lately, you may have come across our posts about Linny Kenney and her purebred gelding WPTR Runnin Rebel (Ortalion x O Piaget by *Piechur), aka “Sojourner,” who are, as you read this, on a cross-country trek from California to New Hampshire. Linny’s story is still evolving (she plans to reach her East Coast destination around the end of September), but through her daily blogs she is keeping all of us apprised of the many adventures she, Sojourner, and friend Walter Rowland have experienced on this ultimate endurance ride. And the many joys and gems along the way. As a young girl, Linny Kenney dreamed of riding a horse cross-country. Born and raised in New Hampshire, Linny acquired Cherokee, her first Arabian, when she was 10. She was forced to sell him when she left for college to study music, and soon after she graduated, her parents divorced. “If I was sad I usually could sing my heart out and feel better, but not this time. I just had to get to a horse.” After college Linny moved from Nashville to California to be with her mother, and was offered a position as a horse wrangler at Lari Shea’s Ricochet Ridge Ranch in Mendocino. One of her “duties” there was to take the ranch’s Arabian horses to a beautiful beach nearby and ride at sunset. “This is when everything turned around for me,” she says. “I thought, if I can bring a horse to people who are going through difficult times like this to give them even five minutes of the peace I know a horse can offer, then that’s what I want to do.” Linny eventually left Mendocino and moved to the East Bay with her mother. “I wanted to save money so I could make this dream happen. I was in the suburbs with


no idea of how I would get a horse and where I would keep him. But pretty soon things just started falling into place.” Sojourner came to her as if by magic. Lari telephoned Linny and said she had the perfect horse. Sojourner was a handsome 1999 gelding with lots of promise. But at his new home at the Hayward boarding facility, goats, pigs, deer, dogs, cats, chickens, roosters, kids, music, trucks, horses surrounded him — and it scared the life out of him. “Soj was a shivering shaking scared mess,” Linny recalls. “It took me about six months to really connect with him. But our bond grew, and when Soj and I finally did connect it was like nothing I have ever experienced before with an animal. “I could go on and on about this horse,” says Linny. “He is almost 100 percent bombproof. I rode him straight through Los Angeles on the sidewalk with people stopping us every five minutes. We’ve gone on highways, overpasses — I’ve had to balance him on a curb to keep him out of a five-lane road in Los Angeles because the sidewalk just ended and there was no shoulder. We’ve gone by crazy dogs and roaring tractor-trailer trucks. Nothing fazes him. If I tell him it’s OK he believes me and he goes for it. It blows my mind every time!”

Linny Kenney and WPTR Runnin Rebel (Ortalion x Piaget by *Piechur), aka “Sojourner.”

11 ▪ ARABIAN HORSE WORLD ▪ JUNE 2010


WHY THE RIDE? “When I first decided I would ride across the country it was to talk to different people about divorce,” Linny says. “This is still a focus, but I’ve decided I want any stories about family — no matter what the story is. I think we all relate and connect to family stories and it doesn’t just have to be a hundred different stories of divorce, just stories about whatever. “This ride is about endurance and stamina, overcoming difficult situations, and connecting with strangers that become family. It’s about being out in the land and with an animal whose life I will depend on as much as he depends on mine. It’s about showing people through my little camcorder that there are others out there who feel the same pains, laugh the same laugh, cry the same tears, and have the same desire we all have to be seen, heard, loved, and live.”

Below: Close to the Arizona/New Mexico border: “At one point we stopped at a windmill for water where a ton of cows had congregated,” says Linny in her blog. “They all moo’d and moo’d like crazy when we showed up! They surrounded us and watched us curiously.”

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TALES FROM THE JOURNEY – Excerpts from Linny’s daily blog

CONNECTING

 I am now riding Soj in just his

halter and I can really feel a difference with him. You know how dogs seem to know when you’re sad? Animals are able to sense each other really well and I can actually feel that Sojourner is so happy to not have that bit in his mouth. He is so responsive now. I really don’t need it. James at Horseman’s Haven in Pie Town, New Mexico, showed me some tricks while longing him, which help to get him in the right mind set in the morning. He is pretty in tune with what I do with my body now. It’s funny because he notices little subtle things I didn’t even realize I was doing. The way I shift my weight just before I’m about

to take my feet out of the stirrups makes him stop every time. Sometimes I just want to take my feet out to ride with them dangling but once he feels the muscles in my legs flex whatever way they flex against him, he stops. It amazes me how in tune he is. He’s always, always listening. I pretty much don’t say a word through most of the day but if I clear my throat or sigh or just do anything, that little ear comes back at me. So, being so in tune, he doesn’t need the bit anymore. He is just as responsive with the halter as he is with the bit. I’ll put it on in cities to be safe in case he spooks, but out in the country like this it’s great and I can really feel how much he enjoys the freedom. Honestly, I think he would be fine in the city in just the halter as well, but for you, mama, I will put in the bit so I have more control.

 Sojourner and I are so loving

and cuddly with each other, so it doesn’t feel like one is really ever all that dominant over the other. I always thought of us sort of as partners. I never have put him under me, really. Not out here, especially. I need him as he needs me. We kind of just do things together, but Jenny (from Horseman’s Haven) pointed out that really he is the dominant one, even though he’s subtle about it out on the trail. Now that I am really trying to control exactly where his feet go, he is getting a little testy with me … testing how far I will go to make him do what I’m asking. He often blocks me with his head. It’s not even something you would necessarily know he was doing if you weren’t taught because it’s not aggressive. He just puts his head in the way and it interferes with what I’m trying to do with him. 13 ▪ ARABIAN HORSE WORLD ▪ JUNE 2010


He is smart though, that little Soj. He’s learning fast. He is already incredibly trusting so we don’t have a huge wall to break down there. It’s not about trust or even so much fear with Soj now, it’s just making him understand what I want, making him know that I am his leader, and figuring out myself how to correctly communicate all of this in a way he understands.

said, “Well, that’s not something you see every day anymore!” I think that’s part of the magic that makes people stop in their tracks. Soj is a return to something beautiful in the past, something old and gone. He’s a little girl’s dream and the strength and speed of many men and the image of cowboys running wild through fields and Bing Crosby through the old-time radio. He’s strong and gentle, fast and relaxed, mystical and oh so simple. He’s innocence. He’s dreams and wishes — the white horse with a long flowing mane, walking through a fast world, waiting at a stoplight. He constantly reminds me to look around, use my senses. He never complains, “Oh man, 25 miles today? 38 miles today!?” He just goes — ears

PERSPECTIVE FROM HORSEBACK

 New Mexico: I have been saying

lately that it’s like stepping back in time in this part of the country. Cowboys rule the land out here and they carry all the integrity and gentlemanly ways that you read about. Most people around here are dressed in plaid shirts tucked into Wranglers and are topped off with a cowboy hat. They stand tall and don’t hesitate to stop and ask if you need help.

 As Sojourner and I rode the 38

miles yesterday from Magdalena, New Mexico, to Lemitar, New Mexico, I could hear my mom saying this to me: “Enjoy this, Linny. Look at where you are.” “Okay, Mama,” I said in my head, “I see it, Ma. I feel it.”

 There’s always someone who

can fix things for you … and it goes for anything — love lost, best friend, love gained, dream to ride: there’s a stranger with an open hand. Someone’s somewhere everywhere and that is what I think makes this world go round.

Above: Cooking dinner after a day’s ride near Pie Town, New Mexico. Left: Linny and Soj sharing a quiet moment. Both photos by Walter Rowland, who not only serves as trip photographer, but also travels alongside Linny and Soj in his white truck.

 We went through Socorro

yesterday and like every city we go through, people were just overjoyed to see Sojourner. Women especially. They smile so big that they laugh and ask if they can please get close to him. A man

14 ▪ ARABIAN HORSE WORLD ▪ JUNE 2010


forward, seeing everything, his mind clear, ready. What a lesson to learn, and from a horse!

 So, now I’m walking along the train tracks and I am so increbibly hot and tired so I dismount because I’ve decided I’m going to ride in my underwear. You see, when I get that hot, I have to get cooler. I was a little ways away from the road so people wouldn’t really see me in my undies. I mean, sometimes they did, but I really don’t care. I couldn’t get to the boys to bring me shorts because I was on the tracks behind a barbed wire fence and they were a ways off anyway. Now we’re riding on and I realize I am going to have to get off the train tracks and get onto a road, but wait a second … What is it you ask? No pants? I hadn’t tied my pants on and they had slipped of the gosh darn stupid godforsaken saddle.  Got on the road and a little

while later a wonderful woman named Susan shows up in the distance in a white jeep that holds a cooler in the back full of beer, soda, and Gatorade. She got out and immediately cracked and handed me a beer and we sat and cooled off for a bit. Soj took a nap while we were talking. Both Soj and I were SO tired. I told Susan I had my eyes closed for half of the ride and to tell you the truth that is probably an understatement. I would open one eye just the tiniest bit to make sure we were still going the right way and then I would close it again and trust that Soj would get me there. Susan let me know I only had about 6 miles left to go and so Soj and I were off again. When we finally got to the BS ranch, we were greeted by tons of fantastic people and a big

turkey dinner with all the fixin’s and homemade pies! Susan directed me to the shower and even had a fantastic tub that I regretfully didn’t have time to relax in, but the shower was awesome. She also did our laundry this morning (which was ready to crawl away) and made us a big pasta lunch. The flowing wave of generosity that has been rolling around Soj and me did not stop at the BS ranch.

 We were only going to take

today off and head off tomorrow to a town called Bouse, but it is so wonderful here and there is so much green grass for Sojourner that we have decided to stay tomorrow as well. Plus, this is the only time we have to be by the Colorado River which is blue and inviting us to come swim. Today I am editing photos and videos, but tomorrow we are going to hike and swim in the river. Riding yesterday was a little difficult so I am so happy to be in the sun now with the birds singing and Soj running around as happy as can be and my clothes drying on the clothes line …

15 ▪ ARABIAN HORSE WORLD ▪ JUNE 2010

it’s all so relaxing and perfect. Yesterday was hot and I was in a lot of pain from the little devil that visits once a month. I mean, serious pain. I was a little panicky inside … well, not panicky, but just a bit overwhelmed by the pain. I just wanted to get to where I could meet Walter. All I need is 4 ibuprofens and 20 minutes and I’m good to go, but without that, I am suffering big time. I was very thirsty as well and felt as weak as a feather. Anyway, Soj and I got to Walter and I curled up in a ball until


it all passed. Then we had to pick up speed to get to the radio station in time.

 On our way to Parker I was pulled over by the border patrol. They sent two cars out to see what I was doing. It was a couple of really nice young guys. One of them was from Michigan and also has an Arab. He said someone called and thought it was “kinda weird to see a girl out in the desert alone riding her horse.” I don’t know what I could have been smuggling into Arizona … but, better safe than sorry I guess. I mean, you never know. You never do know what a girl on a horse could have on her....  James had warned me about

massive anthills and it’s a good thing he

did because I knew what it was when Sojourner and I fell into one. The thing is, the ones I saw with him were black and the one Soj and I hit later on was the same color as the sand. We went in just above Sojourner’s knees. It was about 4 feet by 4 feet so once he sunk we still had to get out of it, but Soj was calm (all things considered) and worked his way to harder ground without too much of a problem. Now I’m more careful when I get off the road and take shortcuts through the desert. We are on Hwy 62 now, 48 miles to Parker, Arizona!

 The desert is bare feet and

barbecues and people who aren’t afraid to tell you they love you. It’s amazing to be here, and on my horse at that.

WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT

 I thought about how this is

the whole point of this ride: Having someone when you’re not feeling 100 percent. There Soj is, standing strong next to me, and Walter is just around the corner, and I had just talked to my mama who was going all over trying to find remedies for me, and it made me really happy.

 I don’t pretend to have any

answers about anything. All I know is that I love the land, this horse, music, people, and art, and I am going to connect them all the best way I know how. Join us at arabianhorseworld.com as we follow Linny and Sojourner on their cross-country ride.

OPEN ROAD, OPEN HEARTS Although the ride’s all about generating spontaneous experiences and enduring whatever challenges the road dishes out, much care and planning has gone into the agenda, especially when it comes to Sojourner’s wellbeing. Sponsoring the ride is Easycare, Inc. who sees to it that Sojourner is equipped with the proper foot/shoe gear to endure the many miles. The company has generously sent old Mac G2s for Soj’s feet in addition to Easyboot Epics. Kent Feeds, also sponsoring the ride, has provided Sojourner with a healthy supply of Dynasty Pro grain. Generous supporters have opened their homes, farms, and barns to “team Sojourner.” They’ve been given free meals and hotel rooms, and one ranch, Horseman’s Haven in Pie Town, New Mexico, provided the trio a much-needed retreat and shared their vast expertise on horse care and training. “They offer some of the best riding anyone could ever dream of,” says Linny, “and nearly every horse is Arabian. They are magical as people and with horses. There is not a horse person out there who wouldn’t benefit from meeting them.”

A Girl, Her Arabian, and Their Cross-Country Ride  

by Kirsten Mathieson photos by Walter Rowland and Melissa Wright Published in the June issue of Arabian Horse World Magazine

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