CLIFTON SPRINGS, N.Y. (WROC) — Meredith Cherry is riding her horse Apollo across the entire lower 48 states; a 10,000 mile ride.
“Basically it’s a 48-state ride because I couldn’t decide which ones I wanted to ride to, so I figured I would just do them all,” Cherry said.
This trip is both a trip to find herself, and help others.
“I was the victim of domestic violence myself. I was in an abusive relationship for over a dozen years,” Cherry said. “When I left that relationship, I wanted to do something for myself, and that was to travel around the country on horseback, and while I was at it, I wanted to do something to help others who maybe didn’t have the resources that I also was lacking in that relationship. And let them know that there is hope and help available.”
Cherry has loved horses most of her life. She got Apollo six years ago. He’s a Peruvian-Mustang cross, and at 11 years old, or 36 in human years, he loves his job. The two have developed a symbiotic relationship.
“I know him so well at this point, and he knows me so well, and sometimes he can read my mind, and sometimes I can read his,” Cherry said.
Her ride started in California three years ago. She estimates she has 12 months left to go, with stops to Maine first, then the New England area, and then the south.
“I can tell that I’m making progress, I’m getting towards my goal, but I’m not there yet,” Cherry said.
Cherry calls domestic violence a “silent epidemic,” and says it touches everyone.
“As I ride around, I meet so many people who have never shared their story before,” Cherry said. “Maybe their family doesn’t even know they’ve been abused… It’s something that is an important message.”
Whenever she stops, she talks to people and businesses in the area about the resources that are available locally, ranging from companies that provide services, to supplies, to a place to stay.
“In Rochester, there is Willow,” Cherry said. “Definitely one of the best I’ve seen in the country.”
She urges any victim of domestic violence to reach out to anyone who can help. And most importantly, have hope. As she rides off into the morning sun to Maine and countless lives to help.