Angel wasn’t what the Huddle House would consider an ordinary customer. In fact, she wasn’t there for the bacon or eggs, but rather to munch on the fresh, green lawn in front of the Aiken restaurant.


Angel, a horse who has traveled all the way from Dublin, Texas, with her owner, Leslie Fender, caught the eye of both residents and law enforcement officers when she was parked out in front of the Richland Avenue eatery Tuesday morning. Angel and Fender are on their way to Washington, D.C., in efforts to raise awareness and funds for the National Stroke Association.


Fender himself attracted a bit of attention from the restaurant’s patrons. The blue-eyed stranger donning a cowboy hat and jangling boot spurs was approached by several people asking why he was riding his horse through the city.


“It was different,” said Huddle House employee Christina Finley. “There was a lot of excitement. I think everyone had a lot of fun with it, and when they asked questions, he talked to everybody.”


Fender had his own personal reasons for taking this long journey on horseback; one being that he could simply do it.


About 10 years ago, Felder himself had a stroke.


“My right side was completely paralyzed,” he said. “I was in a wheelchair for six months. I hadn’t moved my right side at all.”


Fender’s doctor suggested a new procedure, he agreed to try it out, and the surgery was successful.


“The surgery was done, I moved my right hand and I could feel my right side,” Fender said. “I said, ‘OK, we’re going now.’”


And “going” meant finding a horse, training her and attempting to ride across the country for the National Stroke Association. After about two years on the road, Fender is expecting to reach his destination in about 30 days.


Fender said he heard that Aiken was a horse community, and that everyone has been very kind to him.


Aiken Public Safety did respond to calls about a horse spotted on the Huddle House lawn from concerned residents thinking that the animal was lost. Officers said Fender had all the proper paperwork regarding the horse’s health and was not in violation of any City ordinances.


Besides taking the opportunity to give Angel a friendly pat on the head or snap a photograph of the horse and cowboy duo, residents seemed pretty inspired by Fender’s story.


“I think that it’s great that he’s doing it for charity,” Finley said. “It’s really, really awesome, and I think he’s doing it for a good reason.”


For more information about the National Stroke Association, visit www.stroke.org.


Amy Banton is the digital news editor for the Aiken Standard.