By Bobbie Poynter
Don’t call him homeless.
Jeremiah Brinkley does not pay rent, nor does he have a mortgage, but that does not make him homeless.
If home is truly where the heart is, then this wandering cowboy’s home is out on the open road.
To put it simply, Jeremiah Brinkley has what a great amount of people in this world would love to have.
“What more could a man ask for? I’ve got my health, my freedom, a lot of good people everywhere I go, and faith that God will take care of me and these animals,” said the man who has not made a house payment in a very long time.
Twenty-eight years ago, Jeremiah Brinkley gave up the daily grind of dragging himself out of bed, showering, shaving and getting dressed up just to spend another eight hours doing the same thing he did yesterday . . . and the day before . . . and the month before. . . and the year before.
Brinkley, now 58 years old, spends his days riding his horse, Anna Marie, across the highways and back roads of the United States.
This particular trip began last March in Imperial Beach, California, and took the cowboy all the way to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The second leg of the trip will now take him to Missouri, where he will meet up with his family and give his horse, Anna Marie, a chance to rest and have her foal. Anna Marie is due to give birth in February. She is the fourth horse Brinkley has ridden on his travels, and her foal will likely take over her traveling duties after it is grown.
Brinkley and his traveling companion, Buddy the Dog (who travels with the cowboy in a warm, snug pouch) were spotted ambling along 25E through Barbourville Monday morning. They had been following the back roads of the Boone Trace before returning to the highway and on to their next stop. The travelers were on their way to Corbin after spending the night at Beacon Baptist Church.
“I don’t know how I could have possibly survived this long without the kindness of strangers,” said Brinkley. “There’s always someone who will help me out, especially with Anna. People have spotted us along the road, gone home, and returned with some food for me and hay for the horse. There’s never been a time when someone didn’t extend us a kind hand.”
Brinkley doesn’t always live off friendly handouts. Oftentimes in his travels, he finds people who are in need of help themselves. It’s at these times, the cowboy does not hesitate to pitch in however he is able and for as long as he is needed.
“I’ve put up fences, done some minor repairs, worked some yards and even shoveled manure,” he explained. “I don’t go looking for something to do or somewhere to stay. It just seems that when people need me, they find me. It makes me feel good to help them, and I believe it makes them feel good to help me.”
Traveling 10 to 25 miles a day won’t get the traveling companions anywhere fast, but the cowboy is in no hurry.
“We don’t have to be anywhere for anything,” said Brinkley. We just take our time, bed down at night and thank the Lord for keeping us safe and allowing me to keep my health.”
As for settling down any time soon, the cowboy has long made up his mind.
“I’ll stop when I fall off the horse and die,” he said. “Even then, I don’t want a funeral. Just bury me alongside the road deep in the Good Lord’s earth and cover me with rocks.”
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