There are times when you meet someone who impacts your life in some profound way.
For me, it happened on April 4th, 2007, and that special person was Ezra Cooley. I had received an email from the president of the Medina Ohio Horseman’s Council that morning about a young man who was traveling across the country on horseback. His dream was to tour around the world with his two horses, Red and Striker, to make money for various charities.
I thought it was interesting, but it ended up in the cyberspace trash bin, and my day went humbly on from there. It so happened that particular day was also my niece's eleventh birthday, and I needed to purchase one last gift for her natal celebration. I gladly trekked over to Valley Tack to search for the perfect item. While I was there, I learned that Ezra planned to arrive at the store sometime in the next hour. For some reason, at that moment, I was moved to find him. I drove west on Route 303 and spotted him within a few miles. He leaned against the frigid snow-laden wind, while his two trusty companions trudged onward. My heart went out to them. We chatted briefly while his horses grazed alongside the road, and the semis roared past us. He responded to my questions with patient politeness, and then we went our separate ways. I was barely two miles down the road when I turned back, bought him a cup of coffee, and invited him to stay with me. And there he stayed for five nights until the flukey spring storm receded.
The second night he was here, his packhorse, Striker, became colicky. Dr. Peckham from the Visiting Vet group attended to his needs, and he responded well to therapy. Ezra slept in the barn that night next to his horse. The following day we struggled through snowy drifts to check fences, and then we turned his road-weary horses out onto the pasture. They frolicked through knee-deep snow, momentarily free of their worldly responsibilities.
On Friday evening, a group of friends braved yet another snowstorm and congregated around the kitchen and listened to some of Ezra’s adventures. He recounted the story of falling off a cliff with his horse, Red. Amazingly neither was hurt in the spill. He told us of how Red nudged him from behind and how he grabbed Red’s tail as he moved past him and how the horse scampered straight back up the rocks with him in tow! He talked of shooting snakes, discovering a newborn elk, traveling through the desert, and meeting tons of wonderful, proud, caring Americans.
On Sunday, Ezra shared Easter dinner with my family. He even volunteered to cook a turkey. He smoked it Western-style, and it was delicious! On Monday morning, I watched him pack his gear onto his two buddies and head down the driveway. I followed his progress north along River Road, willing him to turn and wave. He never looked back. His eyes were on the future, his dream, his passion.
He touched my soul because he had the guts to define and pursue a dream. I observed the bond he had forged with his horses- profound in that they depended on each other for survival. I watched in awe as this unassuming, gentle, polite man shared himself with the world. And I played a small part in history.
Ezra is currently riding for the National Children's Cancer Society, and donations can be made on his website: ezrasexpedition.com. He is also seeking a sponsor to help defray the costs of transporting his horses overseas so that he may complete his journey.
Original published in the Medina County OHC Newsletter May issue 2007
My name is Carrie Griffith. I’m a freelance writer with a love of all critters great and small. I am a published author in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, several wildlife papers, articles, and books. I also self-published a collection of veterinary stories called So How Was Your Day, Doc?Learn more
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At turns hilarious and touching, this delightful book is a great read! Dr. Griffith is America's James Herriot. Don't miss this charming collection of heart warming stories.
So How Was Your Day Doc? by Dr. Carrie A. Griffith is a must-read for anyone who loves animals. The book is a series of short vignettes by different veterinarians that are as much about the owners as their pets. Funny, sad, and heartwarming, the book is filled with evocative descriptions of veterinary practice. From Tootsie, the mischievous Lhasa Apso, to the owner who asked if her dog could have a "distemperment" shot because she was mean, you will enjoy the characters you meet in this book!