When I saw the subject, what I was surprised at was that he wasn't riding a 5-gaited horse, as he still shows (saw him at California Futurity in Vegas in October) and wins in that division, along with Fine Harness - but then saw the show, and sadly, there is no ASB division there anymore, so he was doing what he does - supporting a show in his beloved home state on the breed he loves.
I once "got" to a horse before Martin did (by about 20 minutes). He has never let me forget that - and it ended up as my once in a lifetime horse, who my trainer rode until he was older than Martin is currently. Once Bob died, Martin took over as the elder statesman of the Western U.S. ASB trainers.
That's awesome - he does not look like he's 86!! Good for him, that's inspirational!! Hope I make it that long and am able to still ride!
An aquaintance of mine rode into his 80's. I think he died at 84, but rode until 83. He was a real inspiriation, too.
Another inspiration to me in my discipline is Doug Williamson who is 71 this year. Youngster compared to the 86 yo, but Doug battled cancer in 1987 (almost died form it per the stories) and has come back to be at the top of his game in the Cowhorse world again. He shows in our Association (when he's not showing the BIG shows) and it's awesome to see him ride the rough/tumble cow horses, LOL. Here's another local story on Doug.
Back about 1997, DH bought a Mountain Pleasure (gaited) horse. The seller took on us on a trail ride at Chatfield Dam (south of Denver) and we came across a woman and a slightly younger riding in the opposite direction that the seller knew.
The older woman was 90 and riding a high-stepping horse. Seller said she was often at the gaited shows and often got on the ones who were acting up to settle them down.
I met Martin Cockriel back in 2001 at the Saddlebred sale in St. Louis. We purchased one of the grandest mares I've ever owned, a pinto by the name of Snow Fooling, who was owned and shown by he and his grandson. Martin struck me as being so very similar in personality as the trainer/instructor who taught me as a child. He is a horseman first and a people person second, but that doesn't mean he's not cool to know. The thing that most impressed me was something very trivial to many people, but it left a great impression with me.
Whenever we have purchased a horse through a sale, the owners might hang around afterwards for a little chit chat, but all care for the horse was left up to us. Martin and his wife were different - they beat us to the punch feeding and watering Snow Fooling that evening and they beat us to the punch the next morning even though we got there very early. He had no grooms with him, just he and his wife, but they were concerned about her care even after the sale. That is a gentleman who really does care about his horses!
Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.