9th – 12th July, going nowhere, some much-needed healing, and a difficult dilemma.
Stats for Leg 7: Total miles, 53.53; Total accumulated miles, 567.53; average miles per day, 13.38
Bart, a healer and ‘horse whisperer’, has been following our story and is coming to visit us while we are staying with William. It is lovely to finally meet Bart in person having only met him via the Internet and we spend a warm afternoon in the field with Tommy as he carries on grazing, seemingly oblivious to our administrations.
His visit is timely and Bart tells me things about Tommy and our journey, about his native heritage and his warrior nature. I feel ambivalent about some of the things he has told me but I must put my own doubts to one side and trust in the power of Michael and Mary to protect us.
I am in a quandary. For the first time in my journey, I am seriously contemplating whether to continue or not. Discussing my doubts with William, it seems I have two options. Either I take Tommy home, turn him away and wait for his saddle sores (the hazard of the long distance rider) to completely heal before returning to complete the pilgrimage. Or I continue, with me walking and leading Tommy, possibly for the rest of the way home, hoping that some of our hosts along the way might offer to transport our kit on to the next destination to further ease his burden.
This rest stop has been dominated by two difficult days of soul-searching: grappling not only with trying to decide what to do for the best as Tommy’s wellbeing will always take precedence, but also some of the things Bart has told me have rattled my nerves. Somehow, I need to dig deep to find the resolve to carry on.
Another flying visit from the saddler, Caroline to readjust the saddle once more, (bless her), and I decide we shall continue for the next few days at least to see if the walking / leading option is doable. Breaking the journey now would disrupt our momentum and it is doubtful whether we would return to complete what we set out to do. Before we set off again tomorrow, William and I spend an exhausting final evening pouring over maps and sorting out routes for our next stage and helping source contacts for possible pit stops further down the line.