Those who consider Laurinburg a one-horse town, may not have been disabused of that notion after seeing a horse parked outside the Scotland County Courthouse on Thursday.
Buddy, a four-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse stallion, dozed in courthouse parking lot space for more than 45 minutes, while owner Alex Goode took care of a ticket.
“When [Goode] first walked in, he said I hope you won’t be alarmed, I’ve got a horse parked out in the parking lot,” said Jerome Alford , a Scotland deputy who mane security at the courthouse entrance. “I thought he was kidding, but then I walked out there and saw it and I said wow. The horse stood there the whole time in one position; he didn’t move that whole time. It’s amazing.”
Goode acquired Buddy in February, when he realized his dream of moving to the country and keeping livestock. Goode, who had never owned or worked with a horse at that point, began working with and rehabilitating Buddy, who was severely underweight at the time, based on information he found online.
“I lived in New York all my life, then we came to visit down here and we stayed and I wanted horses when I was a kid so we got horses,” Goode said. “Then I went on YouTube and learned how to saddle, learned how to ride.”
Goode has lived in Laurinburg for several years after moving from New York City, but recently moved from town to a small farm on Leisure Road.
“We lived in town and after a year down here, I told my wife that I don’t want to live in town anymore,” said Goode. “If we’re going to stay down here, then we’ve got to go to the country. I wanted horses, I wanted goats, I wanted cows.”
Goode is two for three, keeping Buddy and two other horses, as well as goats, chickens, and ducks. Cows, he says, will come when he is able to buy more land.
Although a young horse and an inexperienced trainer may not sound like the seeds for a stable working partnership, Goode and Buddy are now a well-travelled pair. “Yesterday me and him went from our house to Bennettsville, then to Tractor Supply and Walmart, then home,” Goode said.
Consistent work as well as exposure to new things have been the key to turning Buddy from a scrawny, unhandled youngster to an ambassador for the equine species. Buddy calmly waited ground-tied - completely untethered with the ends of his reins on the ground - in the courthouse parking lot as people, cars, and even a freight train went on about their daily business around him.
“I don’t just ride Buddy and then go three months down the line without riding,” said Goode. “Me and Buddy ride every day. I feel that, with animals, if you give them a lot of love, they’re going to do what you want them to do,” Goode noted that Buddy’s level of trainability is unusual for a young stallion.
“A lot of people told me I should get him cut when I first got him, told me he was going to act this way, he’s going to act that way, and he’s never acted the way that people said he was going to act,” he said.
Ironically, Goode’s business at the courthouse concerned a ticket he received while riding on a public road. In August, Laurinburg police issued Goode a ticket for impeding traffic on West Boulevard after horse trailer transportation from a family reunion failed to work out as planned.
While Goode does own a more traditional vehicle, he has taken to riding Buddy on many errands.
“We have a car, I just love riding Buddy,” he said. “I believe the way our economy’s going, pretty soon it’s going to be where gas is double the price of it now. There’s got to be a stop somewhere. So my thing is that I feel we’re going to be riding horses and donkeys and bicycles and all of that once again.”
Courthouse passersby were on the whole unconcerned with Goode’s unusual form of transportation, as Buddy and Goode are not an unfamiliar sight around town.
“I think it’s different, and it’s no harm,” said Makayla Godwin of Wagram. “We’ve seen him a lot at Dragon Park and at stores. He let my little brother ride the other day at the park.”
“The horse was well-behaved considering he was parked un-tethered in a parking space for more than 30 minutes,” said County Clerk Ann Kurtzman. “He didn’t get spooked even though cars were pulling in on either side of him and people were walking by showing little reaction, as if this was commonplace.”
Buddy can often be seen parked in car lots, but he’s also game to amble through the drive-through at McDonald’s.
“If I have to go into a store to get him treats or something to drink, I’ll park him, but we’ll go through the drive through together,” said Good. “At McDonald’s I always let them know that I’m riding my horse and they’re like okay you can go through the drive through. If I see a person get scared, I’ll pull him in a parking spot. I don’t want people to be afraid of him.”