Linda Jenny loves this cartoon. It reads, “Sweat dries. Blood clots. Bones heal. Only the strongest old women ride horses.”
That’s Linda — and, at 68, this retired nurse from Kintnersville is strong, even brave enough to steer a motor home and horse trailer across the country through superhighway traffic. It’s impossible to see this woman as old.
A grieving mother, she and her husband, Dave, lost their 30-year-old helicopter pilot son when his aircraft crashed in 2013.
Five years later Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer. She chose to undergo a bilateral mastectomy, foregoing chemo and radiation. In what was a life-changing moment after that, Linda said she decided “Life isn’t for the fainthearted.” She set a goal for herself — riding Roxy in all the 48 mainland states. They’ve hit 35 so far.
Just days after her surgery, with a bottle of pills in her pocket, Linda loaded Roxy into her trailer and drove her motor home into the sunset on a solo tour all the way to California.
“Roxy has carried me through some of the darkest days of my life,” Linda said.
Now, she’s headed west again, ready to ride in the 2023 Pony Express Re-Ride. She and Roxy did that in 2021 and this time they’ll ride one mile in Nebraska on the eastbound ride from Sacramento, Calif., to St Joseph, Mo.
The 10-day event begins June 7 and commemorates the April 1860 to October 1861 famed mail deliveries which ended with the coming of the telegraph and the railroad.
She and Roxy, an American paint horse, will also attend a horsemanship clinic conducted by famed trainer Clinton Anderson in North Dakota.
Linda said she has “always loved traveling.” Both she and her husband, Dave, have often roamed the United States. In the early days before their sons, Davey and Josh, were born, they sometimes slept in their car, then upgraded to the back of a pickup and now enjoy the comfort of a motor home.
This time, though, Linda’s lone journey is about a woman and her horse. Linda’s husband will stay home and wait for her return sometime in August.
Linda and Roxy will stay overnight with fellow horse lovers, some of whom she has met on previous jaunts. They’ll welcome her and provide comfortable accommodations for the rider and overnight stabling for the horse. She also will probably stop at one of the Horse Motels International scattered across the country. Surprisingly, Pennsylvania lists more than a dozen of these.
Linda said, “I wanted a horse since I was 7 years old.” The much-loved Roxy seems to be the perfect partner, at home in what amounts to a pocket ranch in Upper Bucks but just as willing to climb aboard for a road trip. “Roxy,” Linda said, “is a happy traveler.” She was 6 years old when Linda got her. She is now 23. A breed treasured by Native Americans, these animals have unique coat patterns often resembling abstract art. Linda said, “Roxy has a calm demeanor and is very intelligent.” Linda is rarely without a bag of carrots to feed her, but Roxy’s all-time favorite treats are watermelons. “She’ll scoop the middle out, eat everything but the rind. I’ll be packing a load of watermelons,” Linda said.
Linda is looking forward to riding the beaches in Washington and Oregon. Other Western states she needs to check off are South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada and Arizona.
In the fall she hopes to pick up the East Coast states she’s missed — Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, and finish up with Delaware and West Virginia.
Kathryn Finegan Clark is a freelance writer who lives in Durham Township. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.