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The world by horse

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By The Staff

After traveling 7,000 miles from coast to coast on horseback, a man rode through Shelbyville Monday -- part of his effort to be the first man to ride across the world on a horse.

Ezra Cooley, 27, left his home in Chico, California in April of 2006 with his horse "Red" and a dream. After making it to New York City, Cooley is now headed down to South America. From there he plans to fly to Australia and ride across the country before heading to the Mediterranean en route to Spain. Cooley expects to travel 30,000 miles on his expedition.

Although the plan is likely to take him eight years, Cooley said that he is ready for the long haul.

"It takes a long time when you're traveling four and a half miles an hour around the world," he said. "But if you take enough steps, you can get past anything."

As Cooley is trotting his way into the record books, he is hoping to raise money for charities as he goes. Cooley is trying to generate funds for the National Children's Cancer Society through his website www.ezrasexpedition.com.

Cooley and his lead horse "Red" usually ride 10 hours a day. Cooley also has a pack horse which he changes periodically. Cooley plans to ride Red the entire trip.

He said that Red, a quarter horse, is healthy and benefits from the daily exercise.

Although Cooley knows the basic route he wants to take, he does not know where he will stop at the end of each day or where he will sleep.

On Sunday evening when traveling through Shelby County, Lloyd Cheek saw Cooley on U.S. 60 in Clay Village. Cheek invited Cooley to have dinner with his family and to spend the night. Cooley ate with the family but stayed the night in the barn with his horses.

The family said that Cooley was charming and was a pleasure to be around.

Cooley said that he was impressed by the hospitality of people in Shelby County.

The next morning Cooley set out through Shelbyville on his way to Louisville and from there he plans to head to St. Louis.

Currently Cooley is hoping to gain a corporate sponsor who can cover his expenses while he is traveling. When funds are low, Cooley has stopped and worked as a ranch-hand. Recently he worked for a week in Mayfield, Ky.

So far in his journey, Cooley has experienced sandstorms, snowstorms, freezing temperatures, heat exhaustion, and has fallen off a cliff. But Cooley said he is steadfast.

"The good Lord has gotten me these 7,000 miles," he said. "I trust he'll get me the rest of the way."

Cooley said that he will likely write a book when his travels are over.

More information about Cooley's travels can be found at his website.