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So I realize many of my blog posts have been about hiking lately.  No worries, you’ll be getting a change of scenery very, very soon.  In the meantime, here’s another post about hiking.  But this time, horses are included.

Meet Max, Rick Holladay, Sammy, and Mary Beth Holladay, from left.

That’s right, folks!  I had an authentic German carriage ride through the Black Forest.  A resident of Tannenkirch, Thomas owns two lovely Clydesdales and exercises them often with the carriage.

The sign reads "Park your horse and stay a while."

Thomas, who is a friend of the Holladays, kindly let us join him for his carriage ride. A tall man, he has a quiet sense of humor and a disarming disposition.  Although he struggles with cancer, he takes excellent care of the horses.

Considering that horses are my favorite animal from childhood, I was remarkably composed.   Inwardly, I was bouncing with delight.  Draft horses in particular have a special place in my heart, because my favorite toy was a large plush Belgian horse who was as big as me when I received him.  These Clydesdales looked a lot like him, and were beautiful.  They gently tolerated our brushing and combing, though they were clearly relieved when Thomas stepped in to put on the harnesses.

While Thomas secured the tack, we packed a small basket with German beer for the men and cold tea for the ladies.  The carriage was ready, so we climbed on back.

First we paraded through town on cobble streets, then we ventured into the farmland, where vineyards waited for spring.

You will see plenty of vineyards in this area, both on the French side and the German side.

We eventually entered the Black Forest, and we cracked open our drinks.  The skies were a deep blue, the sun warm, the wind cool.  Thomas barely ever had to make the horses coordinate; they just automatically turned every time they say a path branch off.  We all chuckled, and Thomas said “They don’t need me.  I’m just for show.”

The trail was *just* wide enough for us.

I have recently had trouble relaxing and just enjoying life–yes, even here in Germany.  It’s been hard not being around my family and friends, and I’ve been too focused on myself and my blunders through another culture.  But, this carriage ride was one of the first times in days where I felt totally relaxed and at peace.  I didn’t have to do anything or watch myself, I could just “sit back, relax, and hold my head to the sun” (Hey Marseilles, “Hold the Morning”).

On our way back through the town, we drove by a house with a young family enjoying their yard.  A two-year-old girl clapped her hands and pointed at our carriage; we waved back.  Her older brother offered a “Hallo!”  I felt like a celebrity.  You know you’re doing something right when you make a little kid’s day.

Come to think of it, the little kid in me–with her love of horses and the forests–also had a much-needed blast.  Yeah, I must be doing something right.

A peaceful place