Next week the PAgent clan will be spending our second annual week at the ocean. This is a family tradition that I can truly get behind. As I’ve said previously, there is a special brand of serenity and relaxation that is available within earshot of crashing surf that I just can’t find anywhere else.

Of course, since we have children, we have to plan on finding things for them to do, in the interest of maintaining family sanity. My wife, organizational maven that she is, has already been exploring the possibilities. Because my daughter is a freak for the horses, she’s looking into a horseback ride on the beach. And because my son hates being left behind, she’s trying to make it a family activity.

She contacted a stable near where we will be staying, and inquired as to whether they could accommodate us. When I looked at the email she had sent, I noticed that she had indicated to them that I was “comfortable” riding a horse.

Say what, now? I can’t for the life of me understand where she got that impression, because in the 19 years she has known me, she has never seen me on a horse. This is because the last time I was on a horse was when I was about twelve. I remember it well, because the little thing panicked at being left behind by a group of other horses and took off, with me clinging to the saddle and shrieking, until he could be brought under control. At that point I opted out of the horsey ride.

And the most recent time before that was when I was about nine, and was riding bareback on a neighbor’s old mare, when the mare decided to have a meaningful conversation with the horse in the adjacent pasture. Much rearing and neighing ensued, during which I made a less-than-graceful dismount. So, I have a rather spotty history with the equestrian arts.

Don’t misunderstand me. I think they are great animals. I like rubbing their fuzzy noses. I like patting their muscular necks. I like feeding them handfuls of fresh-plucked grass. Through a barbed wire fence, preferably.

I mean, have you ever been next to an adult horse? They’re huge. I think human beings should have enough sense not to put themselves in close proximity to anything that could kill them simply by sitting on them. Of course, I think the horse would take one look at me and decide the same rule applies to them: “I’m supposed to carry that around for two hours?!? Holy crap, I’m dog food for sure!”

Nevertheless, if the family is going horseback riding on the beach, I should try to make the best of it. I will simply request the most docile, most accommodating, and most lethargic horse they have, hope that it just ignores whatever directions I give it, and just goes where it usually goes. I’m sure everything will work out fine.

Maybe I should get a cowboy hat for the occasion…