No Chance Meetings (1 of 4)


This is a series of stories about four specific incidents of “No Chance Meetings”!

Before the beginning of a time in my life when the only thing that truly mattered to me was my horse, there will be unknown particular people that were destined to touch my life in a profound way.  I think I need to share them, especially this first story with you as it directly ties to Clay’s Blog.

As you will note in Clay’s blog about “My First Horse” in the comments below, there is a statement from me that ‘I do not understand why we had not met well over 40 years ago.’  He and I both are originally from Genesee, Idaho, we both were raised on a farm and we both checked cows for the same people at the same pasture and NEVER crossed paths.  How does that happen you say?  I have asked that question so many times.  Thus, I believe there are ‘NO CHANCE MEETINGS’!  The timing simply was not right, that’s all!

I will start with when I was a little girl…….I was not particularly fond of school, so my love has been and will continue to be horses.  I competed on State and National levels and have broken records in my equestrian youth.  I recall every weekend in the Spring, Summer and Fall devoted to making enough money so that I could compete each weekend somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.  My riding abilities were very skilled and self-taught.  I did not have any pride in my abilities necessarily, I simply wanted to perfect my game.  Other competitors did not share that same vision, they seemed more concerned about how they were going to win more prizes or more money and get their name on the Sports Page of our local printing press “Lewiston Morning Tribune”.   I didn’t care about recognition, I cared about my horse and the ability to get a bit better each time I rode.  As a poor student of a wealthy community, I was scoffed at for my horse prowess.  They used to call me the ‘Goat Roper’, which to me was a good thing, but to them was a dirty word that made them think they were getting away with something.  Occasionally it would hurt my feelings, but for the most part I would just go on with what I loved the most and the heck with them.  They would never understand!

For the times that I was not competing I was excited to be a part of a cow/calf operation owned by Lloyd Wilson.  He and his wife Nellie were some of the kindest, hard-working people anyone would be privileged to know.   My father and mother had just a handful of cows that they ran summer pasture with the Wilson’s.   I would go with Mom and Nellie to check cows in the same pasture as my now partner in crime, Clay.  Sadly, he had moved away to Texas and then Clarkston before I began riding with these ladies.

Let’s jump ahead a bit…..In Junior High and High School I took on the title of Princess and Queen of a local Saddle Club.  In so doing, I participated in local saddle club dances and events.  And, in chatting with my husband about some of these memories, it turns out he was always at those events and YET WE NEVER MET.  I was a pretty shy, backwards person, so if he was boisterous and obnoxious,  most likely that is one of the reasons we did not meet then.  I avoided people like that with the innate fear that my father would kill me for hanging out with someone like that.   For those of you who know my husband, there is NOT ONE BASHFUL BONE in his body.  Yes, he is boisterous and quit a force if he gets started on a particular line of thinking.  He is well read, and likes to argue, so I believe his true calling should have either been a lawyer or a politician.  He is able to do just about anything he sets his mind to!  For that I am most grateful!

How we met…..I had been living on a 2,000 acre ranch in the Kendrick, Idaho area.  My job there was to maintain the house and land around it, which I did until my physical health failed me.  Don’t get me wrong, I paid rent on top of all the other requirements!  Anyway, about the 3rd year I was there the owner leased out a good portion of the land to summer cattle pasture leasers….the Ensley’s.  I was not particularly happy about the arrangement, but it was out of my control.  So, my attitude towards, yet another bunch of cowpunchers, was that I was going to pay dearly because in the past no one had properly taken care of the cows, fences and anything else that needed attention.  The last thing I needed in my life was more work, or a man for that matter.  I had done quite well without someone else to take care of!

I recall having a firm conversation with God the Fall after the Ensley’s ran cows on the place about what I should do next, move, stay, etc.  I also mentioned to Him that I was prepared to be alone for the rest of my life, but if He did not want me to be alone then it was up to Him to provide a proper, kind, like-minded man because I was fed up with fools that were either self-centered or users, or both.  All I can say is God has a sense of Humor!

Ok, here is where it gets interesting……someone with no integrity had the audacity to kill a bull elk, cut out the loins and took the horns, leaving the hide, guts and all else lying in the middle of my driveway.  Mind you, the driveway was about ¾ miles long and this had happened near the bottom where I was unable to see what could have taken place.  I was driving down the driveway headed to work, University of Idaho, and here was this steaming pile in the driveway not allowing me to pass until it was removed.  I was instantly mad and then just as quickly became very concerned for my children’s safety because of large predators in the area.  The girls had to walk to the bottom of the driveway every morning to catch the bus, so naturally, I am thinking it is a very unsafe place for them.  As many of you know……. do not mess with my kids!!!!  Momma bear here!  Then, within the same week, my water source to the house froze up.  What am I to do to get by until it can be rectified?  In ruling out options, and because of a little church on Gold Hill that I had been attending occasionally, I realized that the closest neighbors I knew that I felt compelled to ask if I could get water from were the Ensley’s.  In my quest for water one evening, I told them the story about the bull elk in the driveway.  Something came over me………a weak moment I suppose!  I immediately asked Clay if he would be willing to scope the bottom of the driveway a couple of hunting days to see if we could catch someone poaching on the private party.  Mind you, there were no trespassing and no hunting signs every 50 feet of this property!  He agreed.  The next night he came down, we climbed in his pickup in coveralls with hot cocoa and a nip of something Clay’s mother, Jean, put in it.  I think it was Peppermint Schnapps.  Perfect for a cold night and the first snow of the season.  We sure didn’t catch any poacher, but we had a really good time watching out for one.  So, by February 14th the next Spring we had our first official date.  The rest is for another story to come.

By |2017-10-25T19:56:03+00:00February 2nd, 2017|blog|2 Comments

About the Author:

Shelley Ensley is the owner of C & S Saddlery and runs it along with her master craftsman saddle maker husband Clay Ensley. Together they make the finest in hand-made saddles and many other leather products.


  1. Ellen Heier February 3, 2017 at 12:19 am - Reply

    Waiting for the next chapter…

  2. Mike Jarrett February 4, 2017 at 2:22 am - Reply

    I’m hooked and the both of you are great story tellers/writers. I’m sharing these on my page.

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