On Tuesday Sarah Murphy, 35, entered Emporia with her horses Rob Roy, 25, a Percheron and UFO, 5, a retired racing horse, and camped for the night in Veterans park as a stop on her 370-mile journey to Robeson County, N.C. in protest of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
It is Murphy’s second trip on horseback since September. Her first trip took her from Staunton to West Virginia and back home. She finished that journey shortly after Christmas. The second journey for the graphic design artist and photographer began April 13.
“I grew up in the mountains and I don’t want to see anything bad happen to the land I love,” Murphy said. “I want to bring attention to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. A lot of people say it’s a done deal, but I don’t think it is. If all the land has been purchased, why are there eminent domain cases going to court.”
On Monday Murphy began the leg of her journey from Brunswick County to Emporia. She journeyed 11 miles before her day of travel was finished. She said traveling amongst a lot of traffic does make her a little nervous at times.
On Monday the horses were spooked by a school bus, a chihuahua and a minivan. Rob Roy was hit by a logging truck six years ago, but has recovered. It is still a potential hazard that keeps Murphy alert.
Both horses and Murphy are packing gear for the journey to Robeson County. She will walk both horses at times. In the morning she will ride Rob Roy. In the afternoon and early evening Murphy will jump in the saddle on the younger UFO. She said horses will graze for approximately 18 hours at home and she stops frequently to let them eat grass.
Murphy runs into people on both sides of the pipeline issue. For the most part she is treated with respect by those with an opposite viewpoint on the pipeline. She believes people see her with the horses and it changes the tone of how she is approached.
Murphy said she has been amazed by the kindness of strangers during her travels. She has spent the night on the farms of strangers, camped or spent the night at inns. She recently attended a church service and those in the congregation managed to rustle up a nice donation to assist on the journey.
She has run into rough weather, though the temperatures have been a little more pleasant than they were during her journey in the fall to West Virginia and back home. Murphy admits there are times she asks herself why she puts herself through it all, but for the most part she has enjoyed the horseback journey.
Murphy should land in Robeson County later this month. You can follow her journey at https://acponhorseback.tumblr.com