When her parents divorced, Linny Kenney set off across the country on horse-back to find stories about family.
Along with her horse, Sojourner—a full-blooded Arabian named after women’s rights advocate and abolitionist Sojourner Truth—and her friend Walter Rowland, Kenney has traveled 1,550 miles and found perhaps the beginnings of her own family.
Kenney said she grew up in New England, but lived in northern California off-and-on for the last five years. They set out from Los Angeles on March 1 and arrived in Pickett on July 7. They should reach New Hampshire, their destination, in late October. As Kenney rides, Rowland travels with them in a truck carrying food for Sojourner.
Kenney said she initially met Rowland at Plymouth State University.
“We were best friends from college,” she said. “Since this trip, we fell in love. So much so that I think he’s going to propose to me one of these days.” The couple intends to adopt a puppy soon.
“He still has the cell phone message where I called and I was like, ‘Hey, I think I’m going to ride my horse across the country. Want to go?’” she said. Rowland immediately agreed to the plan, Kenney said.
She said Rowland following with grain for Sojourner has been a big help along the way.
“It took a while to get his diet under control—to find out what he needed for this kind of exercise,” she said.
Kenney and Sojourner travel an average of 25 miles a day. She said the farthest they’ve gone is 39 miles in a day.
“I think I kind of romanticized it in the beginning,” she said. “It’s a lot of work.”
As they travel, Kenney writes songs and updates her blog and website (www.linnykenney.com). She and her sister, Caiti Kenney, perform in a folk band. They will meet to perform shows along the way in Nashville, New York City and New Hampshire.
Kenney said the trip was initially planned as a way to talk to women who have gone through divorce.
“I wanted to ride a horse across the country, talk with women who have gone through divorce and just show them they’re not alone,” she said. “That was the hardest thing for my mom. She was left alone and she was embarrassed.”
She said, as she’s gone, the stories about divorce have turned into stories about family.
“I think a lot of people can connect to each other through pain, in a way,” she said. “The upside is it really opened me up to other people.”
Kenney said other people have opened up their homes and families to her, Walter and Sojourner, as well. Part of the time, they camp, where Kenney said Sojourner sleeps outside of the tent like a dog. Most of the time, however, people in towns along the way open their doors to the traveling trio.
“That’s really been the highlight of the whole trip,” she said. “The way (people) open their homes to us and trust us so quickly has been incredible.”