By Sadie Fowler

More than 50 years ago, then only a teenage boy, King Moore rode his bicycle up to his neighbor’s barn and asked for a job. Carl Edwards figured he could use the extra help and gave the young man a job mucking stalls.

Soon enough, he was in the saddle and found himself with a new nickname, ‘Slim.’ He’s been going strong ever since.

“He is everything to us,” said Paige Edwards. “His birthday is July 4th and I don’t think he’s actually been home in Georgia for his birthday in 42 years because he’s always in Shelbyville working the Fourth of July horse shows.”

Slim says he couldn’t ask for a better way to spend his birthday, summer heat and all.

“I guess if you love horses like I do you have to follow them where they go,” Slim laughed.

While Slim started out simply cleaning stalls, his strong work ethic served him well as he now, at age 62, can look back over a long career of training horses and raising his own family.

“I’ve been doing it a long time and I just try to take good care of myself so I can keep going,” he said. Currently, he’s even doing a little breeding at his own barn, which he shares with wife Beverly. His broodmare, Deion’s Cheerleader, is a former show mare and he’s enjoyed breeding her and raising some of her colts.

Working for Carl Edwards & Sons Stable is the only job Slim has ever had. His family lived just down the road  from the Edwards in Dawson, Georgia, so it was a natural place for him to work, since he could ride his bike to work each night.

“His Mama and Daddy instilled in each one of their children — and Slim has 10 siblings — a strong work ethic,” Paige said. “He’s never asked for time off, other than when his mom and dad died. He’s here six days a week.”

A quiet soul, Slim finds great joy in his career training horses as well as helping owners and children perfect their riding abilities.

“He has a real knack with a horse and is really good handling them,” Paige said. “After 50 years he’s pretty much learned all there is to know. He really means so much to us ... I have seen him catch riders, little girls, mid-air before falling off. He’s great with them. Every owner we’ve ever had has absolutely loved him.”

Paige said she jokes with Slim often, telling him no matter what age he turns, he’s never allowed to retire. “I tell him that’s not even a consideration,” she laughed. “I tell him ‘Don’t you ever think about retiring.’ I also tell him all the time that he will have a giant crown in heaven to have survived 50 years with the Edwards, because they are not easy to work for.”

Life is all about work and family for Slim. When he’s not at the barn, he’s with his own family, including his wife, their children or grandchildren, or his siblings. “With Slim it’s work, family, work, family,” she said. “He was real good to his mom and dad, and they all remain a very close-knit family. His dad had 100 acres, just down the road from us, and all of the siblings still live on that land.”

Slim’s own children have also experienced a great family life. His son, who has two children of his own, has had a prized career in the Army, having gone to Iraq eight times. His daughter is a registered nurse and is expecting her first baby any day.

“He’s just a really good person, you know?” Paige said. “He’s quiet, but he doesn’t mind talking either. He loves watching basketball.

He’s a huge LeBron James fan so I don’t know what he thinks about the latest news with him moving to L.A. I guess he’ll probably become a Lakers fan.”

Just like they have for the past 40-plus years, the Edwards team will be sure and celebrate Slim’s birthday all week long during the 4th of July shows. Birthday cake, friends and horses ... He couldn’t be happier.

“It’s just really neat, because all these years he’s celebrated his birthday here at the show,” Paige said. “It’s extra special for him because he never has family with him.”

Slim said he was ready and looking forward to this weekend, heat and all.

“It’s always hot in Georgia,” he laughed. “We’re good to go and ready for a good weekend. We’re happy to be here.”