Past the asphalt of the city, inside fenced acres, green pastures and woods, well-worn trails stand ready for shoed feet - the equine kind.
It's not just urban cowboys or award-winning equestrians who mount up and take to the paths, said Gerry McKie, the office manager at Canterbury Trails Equestrian Center in Grovetown, one of several places in the area that offer trail rides to the public.
"We get couples, 4-H groups, all kinds of people who want to come out and ride a trail," he said. "They're at all skill levels. And we get them all year round."
"It's relaxing," Mr. McKie said matter-of-factly.
It seems there's something about sitting in a saddle and holding the reins as a horse rocks you back and forth that is soothing.
The therapeutic values of going horseback have been touted for years, and for good reason, said Valeria Beard, the owner of Almost Heaven Stables in Warrenville.
"Horseback riding is great exercise. You use muscles you never knew you had because you only use them when you're horseback: the inner thigh, the buttocks, the abdominals. ... People get off (the horse) and say, 'Oh, I'm sore.' They feel like they've been at the gym."
The after-trail aches don't dampen the fun of the ride, though.
The scenery has something to do with that, said Ryan Inglett, a lifelong horse rider who was along for his first trail ride as a Canterbury Trails employee.
"Being outside is about the best thing you can do," he said. "And I love horses, so this is great."
Mrs. Beard agreed.
"You're outside with nature, in the quietness of the woods," she explained. "It's a very relaxing thing to do - getting outdoors in nature and with the animals."
Trail riders need not have years of experience under their belt, either.
"It's not that difficult," Mr. McKie said, "but even an inexperienced rider can take a trail ride. We just give them the basic steering instructions and most of them can do it."
Just don't expect any daring dashes across finish lines, bucking stallions or fast gallops. Most trail rides are leisurely jaunts through the scenery on the backs of horses that are both well-trained and well-behaved. In fact, that's the key to it all, said Anya Roelofs, a trainer at Canterbury Trails.
"We make sure we get them the right horse," she said. "It's all about the horse. If you get put on a good horse, you'll have a good ride."
Not only should riders make sure the horse is the right size for their height and weight, skill and temperament but they should be put on a gentle, laid-back animal, Mrs. Beard said,
She also suggests that first-time and beginner riders go on a guided trail ride to stay as safe as possible.
"If you don't know what you're doing, you need someone there. There are precautions, a right way and wrong way to do it," Mrs. Beard said. "Operating a horse is no different than operating a car."
With one exception, Mr. McKie said during a guided trail ride: "There ain't no power steering."
Just for the record, I never figured I'd be on horseback.
I'm a modern girl, in a modern world, and we have cars and planes to take us places.
In fact, before I arrived at Canterbury Trails Equestrian Center in Grovetown to go along for a trail ride, "stable" was nothing but a state of mind and a "bit" was just a little of something.
I'm no city girl, though. I've seen horses - in people's yards, from the highway, in my car. In addition, I've been watching the TNT series Into the West, in which the only thing more frequent than deaths on the prairie are the number of folks shown on horseback.
Based on that, I figured I could handle getting onto a horse and riding on a trail.
For the most part, I did.
My mount (see, I learned something) was nothing short of flawless. As much as I'd imagined getting on backward or slipping underneath, as all the comedy skits show, I got on Sandy, a quarter horse who obviously got her name from her mane.
Of course, most of the credit has to go to my trainer, Anya Roelofs, who explained the process and guided my misplaced foot.
Off we all went. Down a dirt path, through a grassy meadow, and then deep into a thick forest blanketed with mud.
I was good on the dirt, I was confident on the grass, but I wasn't so good on mud.
Now, I know a horse has four legs, but with such tiny feet (OK, hooves) I was sure I was going to fall off. And when Ms. Roelofs called from the front of our group for me to "lean back" - like the song, I said jokingly - as we went downhill, I was certain I was going to end up in a puddle.
Sandy was not only gentle, though; she was good. I held on and she took me for a delightful ride.
Getting back into my car and watching the fuel needle barely graze a quarter of a tank, I was almost compelled to think that if gas prices continue to rise, I might try getting around with reins instead of keys.
Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or email@example.com.