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A Nag Called Horse

Appeared in Die Zeit, 6 Oct. 2011

Von Autor Philipp Maußhardt

Overgrown pastures, cranky farmers, kosher wine: just a few of the highlights of an impromptu ride through Siebenbürgen, Romania, on an unhappy plowhorse.

We saddled our horses and rode off. Farmer Roth and the gypsy boy watched us for a moment, then turned away. We set our course through the apple orchard and up into the hills. For the next seven days we would ride unaccompanied through Siebenbürgen on Dora and Horse. “We call her horse,” Roth had said, “but if you want to christen her, feel free.”

He had sounded surprised when I put the question to him a week before by telephone from Germany. I lied: “I’m an old hand with horses.” The truth is that they frighten me terribly, and I thought a week on horseback might cure a phobia unsuitable in a man of 53.

Horse turned out to be a roan mare, ten years old. I forgot to count her ribs, but I could have. “She’s stubborn,” Roth explained. On the advice of a friend I had brought along a brand new curry comb from a tack shop in Germany. When I started to brush her, Roth asked what in God’s name I was doing. I put the brush away. He lent us two beat-up saddles, and broke riding crops for us off a hazelnut bush. He explained how to smear antibiotic ointment on the oozing sore on Horse’s head.

The ointment fit right in. I had packed more emergency supplies than travel gear. One change of underwear, one T-shirt, one bar of soap; dozens of painkillers, bandages, antiseptics, several kinds of mosquito repellent.

Driving Horse turned out to be fairly intuitive. You steer like on a bicycle ….

Zeitenspiegel legend Philipp discovers central Europe as it once was; a land without fences, where people are unfailingly friendly and know all about horses. Should the reader wish to emulate his itinerary Malmkrog-Jakobsdorf-Malmkrog-Neudorf-Großkopisch-Birthälm-Reichesdorf-Nemesch-Meschen-Bussd-Hetzeldorf-Tobsdorf-Birthälm-Großkopisch-Neudorf-Malmkrog), please rent an actual riding horse in good health from one of the following stables:

www.cund.de www.merlelor.com www.cabana3stejari.ro www.hipparion.ro

Other recommended stops:

Organic farm of Willi und Lavinia Schuster, Meschen: www.biocoop.ro/langde/schuster.php Camping/B&B Gerit and Tony Timmermann, Reichesdorf: www.richis.eu General information: www.karpatenwilli.com