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MW part of ride across country on horseback

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By Alex Wimsatt

    MOUNT WASHINGTON - Growing up in New Hampshire Linny Kenney loved horses.

    “My first words were “go go horse,” Linny said smiling.

    She got her first horse when she was a young child and she began to dream of one day riding across the United States.

    Linny couldn’t say when or how this lofty goal popped in her head, but it stuck with her.

    Two years ago Linny told her mom and step dad that she was going to go through with it.

    Her stepdad, Stephen Welch, thought it wouldn’t come to pass. Her mother, Wendy, knew better.

    “She gets something in her head and finds a way to do it,” Wendy said.

    Wendy and Stephen’s primary concern was her safety.

    “We thought, how many things can go wrong?” Stephen said. “There were a thousand things for us to worry about.”

    Eventually they came to accept the fact that she had made up her mind,  so they began helping her reach her goal by providing “ground support,” as Stephen called it. Throughout the trip they’ve helped Linny by making travel arrangements with Chambers of Commerce, camp sites and hotels prior to Linny’s arrival at each stop.

    Stephen and Wendy didn’t want her to roam alone either, so Linny enlisted the help of her friend Walter.

    On March 1, Linny mounted her horse Sojourner, leaving her mom and stepdad’s home near San Francisco, Calif., as Walter followed in his white pickup truck, and together they began their 3,600 mile journey to Linny’s hometown of Bath, N.H.

    Mile by mile, month by month Linny’s fulfilling her dream, however, her trek is about much more than bringing a dream to life, it’s about spreading a message of hope and healing.

    Before setting out she decided to dedicate her ride to all those who have endured the pain of divorce and to ride in celebration of strong families.

    After her parents divorced four years ago, Linny wanted to show others with similar experiences that they weren’t alone.

    “I wanted to stress the importance of family,” she said.

    “It’s about connection.”

    Linny said the trip from her mother’s home in California to her father’s home in New Hamshire  has been a healing one thus far, not just for herself, but for her entire family, somehow bringing them all closer.

    Her mother agreed.

    “It’s kind of put our family back together,” Wendy said. “We’re all on good terms now. It’s been great for all of us.”

Linny said the best part of her journey has been having the opportunity to connect with people of all walks of life, the land, her horse and of course Walter.

     A mere two weeks after leaving San Francisco, the friendship Linny and Walter had cultivated since their freshman year at New Hampshire’s Plymouth State University grew into something much deeper.

     Both said it was the trip that brought them together and it was completely unexpected, yet somewhere along the way they fell in love.

    “It was pretty overwhelming,” Walter said.

    Besides finding the love of her life, Linny discovered that Americans by and large were warm, trusting, open people, as she and her entourage have occasionally had to rely on the kindness of strangers.

    Linny, Walter and Sojourner recently stopped in Bullitt County as they traveled along Highway 44 from Westpoint to Mount Washington. Along the way they visited a hand full of local residents who allowed them to stay

with them.

    TNT Security and Bluegrass Security owners John and Diane Thompson had Linny, Walter and Sojourner stay at their home along Highway 44 near Mount Washington for a couple of days.

    Diane was hesitant to allow the strangers into her home at first, but after the Bullitt County Chamber of Commerce contacted her and John to explain that their backgrounds were clean and they could be trusted, Diane was at ease.

    “We have been very blessed. I didn’t mind sharing what we have as long as we knew we could trust them,” she said.

Diane said she and her husband both enjoyed having Linny, Walter and Sojourner as their guests, especially getting to know them.

    “It was definitely interesting,” Diane said. “I can’t imagine riding a horse coast to coast.”

    Linny said it took a lot of trust, not just on her and Walter’s part, but on the part of all their hosts for them to stay at so many strangers homes. Through her journey Linny’s discovered that there were a lot of people in America willing to help their fellow man.

    “There are an awful lot of really good people in this country,” she said.

    From Mount Washington the three of them were off and on their way to New Hampshire.

    With about 2,600 miles down and roughly 1,000 miles left to go, Linny said she’s had to push herself to finish. And while she was looking forward to returning home, she said the experience has been the best time

of her life. If all goes according to plan the three of them should be arrive in New Hampshire by mid-November.

    To learn more about Linny and her journey, browse photos from her trip or read her blog, visit her website at linnykenney.com.