FOR THE RECORD: This story gave an incorrect first name for a main source in the story, Charles Graham. He is executive director of the New Mexico Horse Rescue at Walkin N Circles Ranch, Inc. Also, the story paraphrased Graham as saying that saddle sores only arise if a horse goes too far and too long without a break. Graham also said saddle sores can result from long stints with a saddle fitted improperly, fatigue and/or malnourishment.
Just 600 miles and two months into a planned worldwide horseback journey aimed at raising awareness about horse abuse, Carl Wayne Cooper is waiting on steed No. 3, after one horse’s back suffered saddle sores and another had to be killed after it broke its leg in a cattle guard near Alamogordo.
On Wednesday, Cooper, a preacher and air conditioner repairman, sat at the Downtown Greyhound bus station in Albuquerque in hopes a friend he met in Hobbs would help him find a replacement horse. He was planning to camp out near the Sandia Mountains on Wednesday night and begin the search for a new horse again today.
Cooper left Weatherford, Texas, two months ago, beginning a 5-year journey across America and the rest of the world in order to raise awareness about horse abuse. He said his faith and concern for widespread animal abuse made him sell his possessions and set off.
“I’m doing the Lord’s work out here,” Cooper told the Journal. “I’ve been helping people out along the way, doing what I’m supposed to do.”
Just weeks into his ride, his first horse, “Ju-Ju Bean,” developed a saddle sore on its back so severe that he had to find a new one. The horse’s vet, Ryan Cate, said the saddle didn’t fit correctly.
Cooper claimed the horse had a gait that made it run unevenly, but Charles Graham, executive director of the Walkin’ N Circles Equine Rescue & Rehabilitation Ranch in Stanley, N.M., said saddle sores only arise if a horse goes too far and too long without a break.
On Sept. 23, Cooper was riding on asphalt near the entrance of Aguirre Springs State Park, when his second horse, “May Day,” got its foot stuck in a cattle guard. The White Sands Missile Range Fire Department responded, but the horse broke its leg as crews were removing their tools, spokesman John Hamilton said. Later, a rancher came by and shot the horse, Cooper and Hamilton said.
“My horse, poor little soul, slid into a cattle guard and I had to put it down,” Cooper said. “It absolutely ripped my guts out to have to do it.”
Cooper claimed the horse was turning away from the cattle guard when its front leg slipped between the bars. But Fire Department representatives said the horse broke one of its front legs as Cooper tried to “walk or lead” the horse across the cattle guard.
On Sept. 22, the day before May Day’s death, Kathy Denton found Cooper without food or water for his horse at the White Sands monument, said Ed Denton, Kathy’s husband.
Kathy Denton brought Cooper food for his horse and a subway sandwich and offered him a place to stay.
From Albuquerque, Cooper hopes to head to San Diego. Once there, it’s on to Russia, Europe, Iceland and back to the U.S.
Cooper said he hopes to lease a horse in each country he passes through.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal