Here's the Scoop: November 14, 2012

Riding high at the ranch
I’m not going to detail every adventure experienced during a recent “working vacation” — you’ll have to buy that book to get the unabridged version.

But, after last week’s column recalling the thrills and chills involved in the pursuit of my wife’s lost sunglasses while hiking, I felt it was OK to drop one more teaser tale from my upcoming novel. In short, I rode a horse.

Yes. A horse. With horse hair and all the scents associated with horse-iness. For the most part, I’m a beach vacation kind of guy. A warming sun, mild water and appropriate refreshments keep me quite content.

However, during our recent trip, there wasn’t a beach in sight and the facility where we were staying offered horseback riding. Therefore, my wife thought it would be a good idea for me to experience an equine adventure. I tried to say “Nay,” but with Election Day approaching, I was out-voted. I even attempted to pull my best Karl Rove imitation and refute the rock solid voting results, but it didn’t work for me either.

When we arrived at the livery for our ride, I’ll admit to having some nervous energy. The fellow providing instructions asked about my riding experience and I sheepishly told that I had never been on a horse.

Saddling my fears
Then, before I knew it, my fear took hold and I blurted out, “I can’t even stand the horses on merry-go-rounds — they scare me! Clowns too!”

Obviously, this was a case of Too Much Information and the Bronco Buster really had no interest in my phobias.

“You can’t get your money back, so hop on and try not to fall off!” he ordered.
Wow, I was already starting to have fun.
Because this was my first ride, I was paired up with Sloppy Joe. My horse was about the size of one-liter bottle of soda. That was fine with me, not too far to fall.

My wife had ridden a few times, so she and her much bigger horse followed our guide and I brought up the rear. Her horse was apparently well-fed and had no qualms about relieving itself — frequently — in public. I quickly realized why the instructors warned us about getting too close to the horse in front. I also soon became skilled at pulling up on the reins to protect both myself and Sloppy Joe from a sloppy encounter.

Like riding...a furry bike
Even though I’m a slow learner, it wasn’t difficult to get the hang of riding. As long as we didn’t travel over 1-2 mph, I was good with this new sport. It helped that our guide was very patient — and she didn’t even laugh out loud when witnessing my riding “skills.”
I’ll admit that the adventure, while thankfully slow-paced, was a fun experience. When we concluded our trip, our guide asked if I was ready to buy a horse.

“Not yet,” I responded, “but I think I’ll be getting a bunch of Merry-Go-Round tickets this summer at the carnival.”
— Brian Sweeney