Michigan native returns from Texas on horseback

ROYAL OAK (WXYZ) - A Michigan native is recovering from a 5 ½ month trip from Texas to Florida to Michigan that he completed on all horseback.

"I saw a John Wayne movie, and I just said: 'I want to do that'," laughed Leslie Fender.

Fender, 55, is originally from Michigan, but moved to Texas four years ago to take care of his ailing mother. With her health now improving, he made the trip of a lifetime.

For the last two years he's trained his two horses, Angel and Cherokee, for the 3500-mile journey. "You have to let them ride about five days a week, 25-30 miles a day," Fender said.

He slept in a tent most nights, and packed lightly. His wardrobe included four pairs of socks, four sets of underwear, two pants and two shirts. The rest of the space went for food for the horses.

The horseback rider says he never doubted they'd make it, but just 500 miles short of their destination, Fender had to call for a trailer to pick them up. The saddle sores were too much for one of the horses.

All three are now resting in Southfield where Fender's son lives. They'll gain back their strength before they head to Northern Michigan to see Fender's father, and then south to Alabama where they'll make a new home.

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