Man riding horse to New Mexico passes through RussellvillePublished 4:30pm Thursday, December 12, 2013
People riding on horses isn’t an uncommon thing to see in Franklin County, but someone riding their horse up to Burger King or tying it up outside the local Wal-Mart while the rider goes in to make a few purchases is a little out of the ordinary.
Joshua Campbell, 23, has been getting quite a few stares in the past month because his only mode of transportation since Nov. 7 has been his 12-year-old black quarter horse named Cojack.
Campbell, who hails from Elizabeth, Ind., was passing through Franklin County last Tuesday on a 2,800-mile trek on horseback from his hometown in Indiana to Roswell, N.M.
Campbell is taking on the monumental task of riding all the way from Indiana to New Mexico with only the bare minimum of necessities – some clothes, some food, supplies for the horse, a bed roll, and a tarp.
He has been sleeping at makeshift campsites and in the homes of good Samaritans who offer to put him up for a night.
He has been eating beef jerky, beans, and whatever else he can afford.
And he is doing all of this to raise money for something he considers a very worthy cause.
Campbell is riding to raise awareness for horse abuse and neglect.
Campbell works closely with Buck Creek Valley Animal Rescue in Elizabeth, Ind.
He said that the owner of the rescue organization, Richard Mills, has done similar awareness rides in the past and he decided to take on the journey to New Mexico as a way to try to raise even more awareness for the cause and to help the rescue organization raise more funds to help the animals.
“In our small town, we’ve done pretty much everything we can do locally to raise money to help fund the rescue center,” Campbell said.
“Our local citizens are very supportive of our efforts, but there is only so much one small community can do, so I decided to do something that would make people aware of our rescue center on a national level. The more attention we get, the more animals we can help, and that’s really the whole purpose.”
Campbell said he carefully planned out the journey with specific places in mind to stop and camp.
“Every day we have a place that we try to get to before dark,” he said. “We have a schedule to keep if we’re going to make it to New Mexico by the end of April or beginning of May like I planned.”
Campbell said the 450-mile journey he had made as of Dec. 3 had been a little challenging at times, but he said he has been overwhelmed with the support of complete strangers he has met along the way.
“Whenever I stop somewhere, there are always people who come talk to me because it’s so unusual for them to see somebody riding down the highway or through town on a horse,” Campbell said.
“I love talking to people because that’s just one more chance I have to talk about our animal rescue and the importance of what Buck Creek is trying to do.
“But I also love talking to these people because I have met so many nice folks who have been willing to help me with meals or find me and Cojack a place to stay. And most of these people are ‘horse people’ – folks who love horses the same way I do.
“On Thanksgiving, I had a couple who invited me in to share their Thanksgiving dinner with them, which was great since I couldn’t spend the holiday with my family or friends.
“It’s great to know there are good people still out there who care about animals and care about other people.”
And even though getting by on minimal food and camping in not-so-great conditions isn’t always an ideal situation, Campbell said all he has to do is look at Cojack and remember why he is going to all this trouble.
“This is an important cause that I really believe in,” Campbell said.
“I’m a horse person. I was raised around horses and I’ve been riding horses since I was young.
“I want this to raise a lot of awareness and attention, but even if my journey gets just one more person to support Buck Creek or become more aware of horse abuse and neglect, I think I will have done my job.”
People can follow Campbell’s journey on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ridetorescuebuckcreek.