Sam Chesnut’s tender demeanor around his horse Traveler never hints at his former life as a police force sniper. Though bald and supported by a cane from various rounds of cancer treatments, Sam’s gentle voice shares story after story about his favorite horse…each one ending with a kiss on Traveler’s large, dark cheek.
It’s as if Sam is energized when in the pasture telling horse tales.
I had asked to visit with Sam and Traveler because I had been touched by their story: a formerly abused horse adopted by a Deputy Sheriff in the Oklahoma County mounted patrol, and their life as they learned to work together.
The relationship of a horse and his owner is time-tested and true, and these two were no different. Their love is deep; and perhaps deeper still these past months and years as Sam’s cancer has posed increasingly complex challenges over what course of treatment or options to try next.
See, here’s the thing. Every Point on the Map is a deeply personal and important project for me, and after “sitting on the bench” for almost a year as I transitioned to our new home in Ada, I needed my own “horse.” I waited and waited for inspiration, but never could settle on the vehicle I needed to carry me the next 8 years to the remaining 80% of Oklahoma’s 594 towns not yet visited.
The waiting ended, however, when I learned that VW was putting out their new three-row SUV and naming it…get this…the Atlas. Get it? Atlas? Every Point on the MAP? As soon as I heard “Atlas,” and learned that it was a quality, roomy, safe vehicle…I knew I had to buy one. But not only did I need to buy the right Atlas, I needed to give it the right name.
That is where Sam’s horse, Traveler, comes into the picture. I come from a long line of family members who named inanimate objects. My grandmother’s family named their tractor Elmer and their car Rupert. My uncle Gail named his truck Henry.
I named my former VW Jetta Luitgaard, German for “guarder of the light.” So, you get it that names are a big deal, yes?
But my new Atlas name had to be perfect. I knew that if I’m going to finish the last 80% of Every Point on the Map, I would be bonding deeply with my vehicle, and we would be “traveling together” for miles upon miles.
So, I went to a noble place, and spoke with a noble man, who’s noble horse gave me the blessing and permission to share his name with my own “horse.”
Knowing my own Traveler is carrying the story of Sam and his horse makes me feel more comfortable. They’ve touched my heart.
And, I hope the stories I find in all our Oklahoma towns touch yours.
See you soon…
Lord, if we should stumble, my horse and I,
Please pick him up first,
For he has carried me through
Both heaven and hell.
~prayer author unknown