Josh Campbell stands with “Cojak” and “Ticket” at the Budget Inn in Columbus on Thursday. Campbell is riding from his hometown in Indiana to New Mexico to raise awareness about animal rescues. He volunteers at Buck Creek Valley Animal Rescue in Elizabeth, Ind. Photo by: William Browning/Dispatch Staff
December 13, 2013 9:48:48 AM
Josh Campbell rode "Cojak" into Columbus on Wednesday shortly after noon. The man and his horse had been traveling for 35 days.
They started their journey in Elizabeth, Ind., and are headed to Roswell, N.M. -- a 2,800-mile trek that Campbell expects to complete by the end of April.
The 23-year-old sat down in a room at the Budget Inn on Thursday afternoon and talked about the trip's purpose. "Cojak," a 12-year-old quarter horse, was just outside the door, chewing on some hay beside a sign Campbell had made that read, "Please don't pet the animals."
They are riding to New Mexico to raise money for Buck Creek Valley Animal Rescue, a non-profit which has operated in Campbell's hometown in Indiana for nearly three decades. Campbell grew up on a southern Indiana farm. He has volunteered at the rescue, which specializes in rehabilitating starved, neglected and abused horses, for the last couple of years.
"Anything I can do, I do it," he said.
There are about 15 rescue horses at Buck Creek Valley Animal Rescue today. Some have seen tough times. Some had been abandoned. But even the most abused animal, Campbell said, can be rehabilitated.
"It might not happen in a year," he said. "Or maybe even two. But we have proven that you can make a difference."
Times are hard, Campbell said. Donations to animal rescues around the country have dropped. So Campbell and "Cojak" are on a journey to raise funds and awareness.
They left on Nov. 7. Campbell packed light: one change of clothes for himself, some grain for "Cojak." He feeds his horse each morning two hours before daylight and each evening two hours before sunset. Sometimes they stay in one place for two days so "Cojak" can rest.
For the most part they have bedded down at night on the sides of roads. When they got to Columbus, the local American Legion paid to get them a hotel room. A local veterinarian came and checked "Cojak" out.
Along the way, strangers have been welcoming. A lot take pictures.
In Alabama, another man rode alongside Campbell for a day and then gave him a second horse for the journey. "Ticket" is a 5-year-old mustang and if she does well on the trip, Campbell said he might put her to work on his family's farm.
Campbell's short-term goal is to make it to New Orleans by Christmas.
"It's a great experience," he said with a laugh. "But it's rough."
Donations may be mailed to Buck Creek Valley Animal Rescue, 4700 Shewmaker Lane, Elizabeth, IN 47117. Buck Creek Valley Animal Rescue is a 501(c)3 organization.
William Browning was managing editor for The Dispatch until June 2016.
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