Patrick Sullivan is riding his horse, Gamilah, bareback and bridleless across country. “We’ve traveled 2,400 miles from California to Kentucky here, and we’re finishing at the Kentucky Horse Park,” he said.
Gamilah is a “liberty horse,” which means Sullivan doesn’t use ropes, reins, a saddle or a bridle. The horses are trained to choose to work with their rider, and it trains using positive reinforcement or clickers.
“We are doing it all for nonprofits,” Sullivan says. “So we started our own nonprofit called Gamilah Unbridled. It’s for underprivileged kids and literally teaching how horses and heal people and people heal horses.”
He said they’ve stopped at 17 nonprofits along the way trying to give back and educate the horse community in how they can give back, too. But going old school for travel wasn’t all easy.
“We got snow. We got some rain. And during the summer months, we got over 100 degrees in Utah and Kansas and Missouri,” he said. “Everybody thought I was completely crazy, probably because I am.”
Sullivan said the journey has taken them into big cities, over the Rocky Mountains and through deserts, and he loves to see the reactions of the people they meet.
“Usually it’s a double-take: Not only are we riding a horse, but it’s also bridle-less,” Sullivan said. “And so usually people are like, ‘Somebody riding a horse? Oh, wait. There’s nothing on its head. How to you steer it?'”
It has been a long trip from California, but Sullivan said he’s tried to take rest days to recover.
“That’s the biggest thing, because the horses, they are doing all the work,” he said. “I’m just along for the ride, literally.”
Now that he’s almost to the finish, he’s all smiles.
“It started off as a big dream, and it’s become a reality,” Sullivan said. “I just can’t put into words how much these horses have given to me and the people that we’ve met have given to me. That is really just a blessing, and it’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. “
Sullivan and Gamilah are headed to the International Liberty Horse Association Championship at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington on Oct. 22-24.
(Courtesy of WDRB Media).