By CHARLES PULLIAMLeslie Fender and his horse, Angel, stopped by Franklin Friday during their cross-country ride from Texas. The pair went to Michigan and are on their way to Alabama.
Angel doesn’t take up much space on the side of the street, plus she hasn’t ever been ticketed. Parallel parking is an ease as well since Angel is much more manueverable than even the smallest Smart car.
Angel is the horse that was parked outside McCreary’s Pub in Franklin for Friday morning as rider and owner Leslie Fender made a pit stop.
Fender and Angel are on a trip some 4,500 miles in the making.
“The best thing about this area are there are horse people around here,” said Fender, who is originally from Michigan, but began his horseback journey with Angel from Dublin, Texas. “The people here are wonderful. We try to stay out of the big cities because of the attention.”
The traveling pair are on their way to Evergreen, Ala., where Fender hopes Angel can have a colt and expand their partnership to a trio. He assured curious passers-by that Angel’s stop is coming later today. Fender hopes to let her graze for the afternoon.
The duo made the stop in downtown Franklin for Fender to grab a drink, a Guinness. The cowboy fits the profile. He wears a white cowboy hat and cowboy boots and black water-proof jacket, looking like a time traveler from the Old West. He has a scraggly white beard but a soft demeanor when he speaks. Anyone that asked about his horse, their trip and why they were in Franklin received answers kindly and swiftly. He begins each answer with “we” to include Angel.
“We are just on a trip,” he said.
This is no typical road trip, though. The pair have been covering about 10 to 15 miles a day through Kentucky and Tennessee because of the hilly areas. Fender walks Angel up steep grades. They stop when necessary and usually stay in a tent. Fender and Angel traveled along Granny White Pike in Brentwood Thursday.
He said there’s room for just the clothes on his back and one pack bag each – one for him and one for Angel.
Fender and Angel went up to Michigan this fall so Fender could check in with his doctor for a seven-year checkup. He had a severe stroke years earlier that left him briefly paralyzed. Fender said he worked with doctors who performed an “experimental surgery” that got him back in the saddle, so to speak.
Fender, who worked as a butler before the stroke, started the journey to say “thank you” to the doctors. He left Texas in April and is maneuvering through regions of the country where friends live. He saw several in Nashville.
“(Franklin) has wonderful people,” the traveler said. “I’m glad we could come by.”
Charles Pulliam is a reporter for Franklin Home Page. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cspulliam.