That’s the way Bryan Brant feels as he makes his way on horseback across most of the United States. Once confined to a wheelchair and told he would never walk again, he finds himself more vigorous now than when he was younger.
A Canadian, Brant traveled to the Northeast and visited New York and other areas, seeking to retrace his Mohawk Indian (Six Nations) ancestors. He spent the last winter in New York.
A grandfather several times removed was Chief Joseph Brant of the Six Nations.
He started his journey June 12, 2012, just south of St. Louis, Mo., in Illinois. He crossed Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Crossing the Ohio River, he sent through Kentucky and other points before passing through Gilmer Monday morning on his way down Hwy. 155.
His companions are his three horses and Pepper, an Australian Shepherd.
“She’s probably walked 5,000 miles,” Brant said.
Asked how he supports himself, Brant said “I had some savings. It doesn’t take much for me—beef jerky, granola bars, oat meal, stuff like that. And the horses eat for free.” At that moment, the horses were having a snack from grass along a fence row.
He camps out every night. “I couldn’t stand of the thought of being out in the open every day, then being cooped up at night.”
“I’ve been going backwards,” said Brant, who is 41.
He served as a combat medic during the Gulf War, and came down with Gulf War disease. That’s what confined him to a wheelchair. VA doctors told him there was nothing they could do, and that he could expect no improvement.
Brant treated himself with alternative medicine, and proved the doctors wrong.
“Actually, I think vaccinations may have caused the problem,” he said. “As a medic, I gave vaccinations, but quit taking shots myself when I saw the effect they were having on others.”
He said people have generally been kind to him as he travels.
While he was being interviewed for this article, Chris Morrison of Gilmer of Gilmer drove up and let him have his choice of three rope devices designed to keep saddles from slipping off horses.
Chris told Bryan, “someday I might try to do what you’re doing.”
Pepper is a very well-behaved and good-natured dog.
“She’s probably safer than we (him and the horses) are,” Brant said. “We are traveling along the roadside, and she’ll be off in the woods exploring.”
He said he had contemplated going down the entire East Coast from New York to Florida, but said he didn’t because of Pepper.
“She likes the water too much. I’m afraid she’d get eaten by an alligator.”
Brant has a Facebook page which he updates with pictures from his journey.