The Rider

This story involves my great uncle John Tate and took place in Ripley West Virginia. Uncle John Tate used to ride his horse "buddy" to and from church each week down the same old dirt road, a peaceful ride across the creek bed, past grandpa Walkers place through about a four mile stretch of woods to the church. It was usually an uneventful 10 mile ride until this particular Sunday afternoon in late May.

It was a beautiful spring afternoon and was near dusk when the Sunday services ended. Pastor White had given a powerfull sermon and uncle John left the services full of the holy spirit. After speaking with the reverend about his sermon and talking with a couple of his neighbors for a short while Uncle John was on his way down the road.

He was about half way through the 10 mile trip when he noticed clouds quickly beginning to form and winds picking up as the sky began to grow dark. It seemed impossible that the weather could change so quickly but Not wanting to get caught in a storm John stepped up the pace and brought buddy to a full gallop. As the winds increased and lightning now began to flash, heavy rains came down and suddenly John felt a jolt behind him as if someone or something had jumped on the back of the horse and was now riding with him. John turned from side to side attempting to look behind him as the frightened horse had now broke into a full gait.

Uncle John was certain he could feel someone riding with him on the horse but couldn't see anyone through the driving rain, after several miles of galloping uncontrollably through the woods they finally approached the clearing just ahead of them when buddy began to slow down to a steady trot as the storm passed and the sky began to brighten before them. Uncle John couldn't believe what he was seeing as the sky was again clear and the winds calm, the only sound being that of the birds singing and uncle John's nervous breathing.

By now they were only a couple of miles from home and old buddy knew it and began to pick up the pace until they got through the front gate. Once they got to the barn uncle John got off Buddy and began to wipe him down still not understanding exactly what had happened to them, when he noticed strange marks on buddy's hind quarters that looked simular to those left by a riding crop. uncle John had never used any type of whip on buddy and could now see why the horse was so frightened. As he led buddy into the barn uncle John tried to think of a rational explanation for what had happened to them but could not.

John Tate was never one to be frightend by ghosts or spirits, but according to grandma he never took that road through the woods again. Did uncle John "pick up" an unseen rider that afternoon and if he didn't where did the marks on old buddy come from.