Home, home on the North Shore: IHOP cowboy draws attention in Salem

The North Shore got a taste of the old West last weekend, when motorists and passersby shared the streets with a cowboy riding his trusty steed — not to the local saloon, but to an IHOP.

Matt Lovejoy, the cowboy in question, is originally from West Virginia but now lives in Wenham as an accomplished horse trainer.

“I’ve known from the time I was old enough to think I wanted to be a cowboy,” Lovejoy said, noting that his profession isn’t regularly associated with his adopted home. “I mean let’s face it, when you think of Massachusetts, you don’t think of a cowboy riding down the street.”

But that didn’t stop Lovejoy from hitting the road over the weekend when wet weather made trail travel too difficult to train a client’s horse.

‘I said, ‘I’ll take your horse through the McDonalds drive-thru,’ just because you know, it’s kinda muddy out so it’s always dry on the sidewalks and the streets,” Lovejoy said.

Video of Lovejoy on the black-and-white gelding “Echo” has been shared nearly 1,000 times on Facebook. Lovejoy said his riding can draw attention, particularly when a captive audience is self-isolating.

“With everybody being stuck at home, they like to come out on the porch and take pictures and you know they get a kick out of it because it’s not something they’re used to seeing,” Lovejoy said, adding it’s a safe and socially distant activity for him as well. “I figure how many people are gonna get within six feet of a horse!”

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