a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Sunday, June 1, 2008

At one with Guinness

It’s possible for a town guy like me to catch a bit of Zen on a horse.

That was the playing card a friend drew to sell me on going horseback riding today near Pittsburgh, Pa.

I hadn’t been on a horse since the early 1980s, when a cousin lured me to what turned out to be a poorly run equestrian center. My horse there clearly understood that I had no horse sense and decided to stop dead on the trail and stay put. No kicking, whistling or other forms of coaxing could get him to move more than 50 feet from the barn. I felt like a complete loser.

So I wasn’t expecting a moment or two of peace and silent meditation at some place off Hartz Road called Rolling Hills Ranch in Bridgeville.

To my surprise, the ranch really has it together. It employs experienced cowpokes who take the time to match a horse’s temper to the age, size and experience of each customer. Others are posted along to trail to make sure that everyone is moving along at the right pace.

Further into the woods, by some miracle, I felt as if the world really was moving a bit more peacefully as my horse appropriately named Guinness hauled my butt up a steep hill.

The horse ahead of me then decided to leave behind a load of poop without flinching, and I took it as a weird sort of reminder of life’s basic needs and the path to fulfillment.

(Caption: Guinness is shown, at far left, re-energizing after an hour's romp)

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