Just passin’ through

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SUMNER – Drivers traveling along Route 219 in Sumner on Wednesday afternoon met up with something one doesn’t see everyday: an Old West-looking cowboy and an equestrian lady dressed in black, riding two horses, accompanied by a loaded-down pack horse.

The pair, Robert Parton, 40, of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Miranda Kaiser, 34, of Manhattan, are riding across Maine “to see if you still could ride a horse through safely,” Kaiser said.

“I decided to get out of the city and get on a horse,” she said of the ride that began May 5 in Seal Harbor. They were expecting to arrive in Bethel sometime today.

Wearing a flat-brimmed cowboy hat, Parton, who said he is hard of hearing, sat astride Patriot, an appaloosa so named, Kaiser said, because the steed was born on the Fourth of July.

Kaiser, wearing a black equestrian helmet, rode behind Parton on an Arabian named Lion and held a rope attached to the bridle of another Arabian, Trajen. The whitish-gray pack horse carried 150 pounds of horse gear, Parton said.

Both had to keep the horses in tight check whenever tractor-trailers approached.

“They don’t like the big trucks,” Kaiser said right before one drove by spooking Patriot, who wasn’t sure which way to run. Parton kept a tight grip on the reins, keeping the horse from bolting.

Kaiser, who wasn’t sure of Maine place names, said they’d left Lewiston Falls on Wednesday morning after spending the night at a place called Meadow View, which may have been Meadow View Farm in Livermore Falls.

They were headed, she questioningly asked Parton, to Brookfield, which may have been Buckfield, to spend the night.

Stopping briefly on the edge of the highway, both riders spoke highly of help and care they’d received along the way from strangers. Last week’s heavy rains and sore horses forced them to delay the journey.

“We’ve met a lot of nice people along the way. Mainers are wonderful people,” Kaiser said.

People have put them and their horses up for the night, fed them, let her and Parton take showers, make phone calls and e-mail friends about their whereabouts.

Last seen, the riders were headed west toward Buckfield, Kaiser and Parton’s horses clip-clopping along in the narrow breakdown lane single file, with Trajen trailing.

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