Trail riding is the term used for trekking on horseback through natural trails. But former American congressman Paul Findley says it is much more than being at one with nature…
The 165 or so ‘trail riders’ who gathered in Jacksonville on June 30 this year for a reunion are, I believe, representative of the heart of America, not just the residents of its heartland. In January 1969, in a remarkable act of patriotism, some of them rode horses much of the way on their journey to Washington, DC to take part in the presidential inauguration parade.
All trail riders revere horses for good reason. They know horseback riding promotes quiet reflection on what is really important in life. It could be said that horses help all riders, even those who live in the city, to remain close to the soil; the beauty of nature; American history; and politics. From America’s earliest days, horses have been a vital part of our life in this country. Those who signed the Declaration of Independence either rode in a saddle or traveled in a horse-drawn carriage for the ceremony. So did the men who drafted and signed the Constitution. Riding a horse is the same in 2012 as it was in 1776.
As I glanced around the rider-filled hall, I thought of how horse sense - it’s exactly the same as common sense - is needed these days in managing the affairs of our troubled nation. A wise man once observed that there is still as much horse sense around today as ever before, but horses have most of it.
My conviction is, that people who climb onto the saddle regularly would never start a war except to defend their territory. They would never permit military forces to kill thousands of unknown people ever year (most of whom are generally decent foreigners) as they have each of the last 11 years. Nor would they hire thousands of federal employees to spy fulltime on US citizens without legal warrants. What’s more they would never let our government finance the humiliation and destruction of an entire society of peaceable human beings in the Holy Land.
Land. The word liberty would mean more to them than the name of a town in Adams County. It’s noteworthy that years ago George Smith, the reunion chairman, named his Christian County farm home ‘Freedom Ranch’.
Trail riders, I believe, could return America to high ground, making it a beacon of hope to the world, once again revered, not reviled. I pray that horse sense can somehow prevail in the councils of our government. Meanwhile, I am grateful for the inspiration the trail riders brought to the reunion. May they grow in number and national influence.