We were having fun cantering along over near the Coon Bluff picnic area when an older gentleman started walking toward us. I slowed Sassy down to a "dull roar." LOL.
The man smiled and asked why I slowed down. I replied I didn't want to frighten him. He was SO cute! He smiled and said, 'Young lady, you will never, ever show me a horse to be frightened of!'
I immediately knew I would enjoy hearing almost anything this pleasant man had to say. He proudly told me that a couple days before last Christmas, he turned 84. He STILL rides his own equines, one of which is a quarter/cutting horse, named Warrior; the other two horses are gaited. I had no time to respond because next he said his quarter horse is the biggest contradiction alive, and how his name Warrior is just silly because he is the biggest baby 'you'd ever want to meet.'
Laughing, he went on to say that his wife is afraid he's going to get hurt and wishes he'd sell them all. Warrior is one of the main reasons; every day when his "bride" (as he affectionately calls her), goes outside to hang clothes on the line to dry, Warrior sneaks up behind her. When he gets close enough to her, snorts! Of course, the noise startles her, and she gets annoyed, then tells the man to "get rid of those dang things." LOL
The man said it's only because "Warrior" knows she doesn't "like" him. (She likes horses, but has always been afraid of them.)
Next, this entertaining gentleman took out his wallet and showed me pictures of his daughter and her granddaughter, his great-granddaughter! Smiling, but with tears in his eyes, he explained Warrior helped teach all 4 of his children to ride; additionally, together they taught 8 grandchildren to ride, and then taught 3 great-grandchildren to ride! Such a legacy!
Warrior has been with this man and his wife since he was a colt, and is now 38 years old. Proudly he told me, "I broke him myself." The smile on his face was absolutely bedazzling!
Next he told me one of his gaited mares is "just about the size" of Sassy, and that she's as "smooth as silk."
The horses were at home on that particular day because he and his wife were taking a walk in that area to enjoy nature. (He wasn't clear about where his wife was at that time, he just said she was going to meet up with him.)
With that he said he thanks God every day for the life he's been allowed to live, and then looked up at me with bigger tears in his eyes and said all his kids and grandchildren have grown and moved away. "One of 'em will come around once in awhile, but the wife and I don't get to see 'em very often."
I couldn't help but notice the thoughtful look on his face as he said the best thing a parent can do for their kids is tell them to live each moment and appreciate each day because life goes by way too fast. Before I could say a word, he walked away! I told him I enjoyed talking to him, wished him a belated happy birthday and a Merry Christmas, but he never did turn around.
It was almost as if someone had put a quarter in a wind-up doll, and the time had run out. ?? I smiled to myself thinking he was an interesting, kind man, and probably was a character in his younger days.
Throughout this whole time, Sassy stood perfectly still! It was as if she found him as interesting as I did. I mean, she didn't move a muscle; it was amazing.
But then another thought hit me.....you've seen Christmas movies I'm sure where someone meets an individual, only to find out later on, that individual was an ANGEL. Interestingly, each time I think about that "chance encounter," I find myself smiling.