|WHY WILL WE RIDE?|
May 23, 2011 NEW PORT RICHEY
In an era filled with high-tech wizardry, two staffers at a chiropractor's office in urban West Pasco will try out a decidedly antiquated commute to protest high gas prices. They plan to go to work on horseback.
Dr. Cara Hacht and billing staffer Jane Mundy will each trade a bucket seat for a saddle in two weeks for the 4-mile trek from Hacht's home to their office in east New Port Richey. If all goes well, they hope to ride once or twice a month.
"We're chiropractors, we believe in alternative medicine," Hacht said. "It just kind of went hand in hand with alternative riding."
Of course, cutting out a couple of car trips per month won't save much gas. The main goal of the four-legged commute is to inspire people to consider alternate ways to get to work.
"We'd like to encourage people maybe to ride their bike once a week or month," said Hacht, 47. "Maybe even carpool."
Mundy and Hacht go trail riding each weekend on 15 acres Mundy owns in Hudson. She dismissed concerns about starting the equestrian campaign at the onset of summer with only the wind as air conditioning.
"When you ride, you just ride no matter what," she said. "We're not fair-weather riders."
The horses - a 14-year-old blanket Appaloosa named Black Hawk and a 15-year-old Rocky Mountain horse named Maya — are both rescues. Black Hawk came from an older couple in North Florida who could no longer pay their feed bill. He's very loyal to Mundy and wary of other riders. Maya, a Brooksville native, is a gaited horse that Hacht said is "like riding in a Cadillac vs. a Volkswagen."
Of course, riding your horse to work has its share of logistical challenges. First off, downsizing from several hundred horsepower to one translates to a longer commute time. (Hacht estimated the trip will take about half an hour.)
The riders will also have to navigate urban traffic as they travel north on Little Road from the River Side Village subdivision, west on Plathe Road and then north to their office on Rowan Road. Hacht said they will travel mostly on the shoulders and on sidewalks. Mundy said they might also use the grassy medians.
Both Black Hawk and Maya are comfortable in crowds and have experience in parades, including at Chasco Fiesta two years ago. Hacht is more worried about "crazy people driving" who might intentionally scare their mounts.
Once they get to the office, the horses will be tethered outside in a big back yard or shady side yard. They'll have plenty of hay and water and will get a chance for some exercise during a lunch break trail ride.
And what about the chance that the horses will leave behind, well, debris? Hacht was upbeat, saying she will "fertilize as I go."
"They're going to be leaving droppings," she said. "That's good fertilizer for the grass."