VALLEY WEEKEND : Trail Rides Bring City Slickers Peace of Mind : Griffith Park Horse Rentals takes those of all abilities on trips through the chaparral-covered hills.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For Karyn Isaacs, it's "solace, therapy and absolute Zen."

She's not talking about yoga, acupuncture or past-life regression. In fact, it's something far simpler--riding a horse.

During the week, Isaacs works as director of legal affairs for a motion picture company. Every Saturday, however, she leaves "the biz" behind and helps out as a volunteer wrangler at Griffith Park Horse Rentals in Burbank.

She showed up at the stables on one recent weekend clad in T-shirt, dusty jeans and a bandanna. "People at work wouldn't believe this," she chuckled.

Patricia Kinnaman, who bought the Los Angeles Equestrian Center business last spring, said she hopes to make it a popular destination for city slickers.

"I want the cowboy or cowgirl in you to come out," she said.

Starting at $15 an hour, riders of all abilities can rent a horse for lazy trips through the chaparral-covered hills of Griffith Park, a quiet microcosm where they might see deer, rabbits, hawks and on rare occasions, rattlesnakes and coyotes.

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And with 50 miles of graded trails, there's plenty to see. "You can ride up there all day long," Kinnaman said.

Isaacs has been exploring the hills for 15 years, ever since she moved to Los Angeles. She insists that it's a peaceful way to pass the time in a city filled with noisy, neon-lit distractions.

"It's like going out of town for two hours," she said.

Manager Sherri Lin estimates that at least 25% of the clientele has never been on a horse, a fact that some are reluctant to admit.

"People overrate themselves," she said. "They don't realize it's very dangerous to do that."

Kinnaman, who began riding horses when she was a young girl growing up in Montana, admits the sport has its risks but stresses that first-timers needn't worry.

"If you haven't ridden, we give you gentle horses," she said. "It's a gentle ride."

Well, sort of.

Novice riders will probably note it's a bumpy trip that jostles everything above the waist and leaves everything below the waist sore.

"If it's your first time and you're not stretched out, you might not feel it tomorrow but you'll probably feel it the day after," Kinnaman said. "Once you get more experienced, you can do the longer rides and your butt doesn't hurt quite as much at the end."

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Burbank resident Alain Matz, who spent a recent Saturday riding with wife Jodie and two friends, said he was unprepared for the toll it took on his body.

"After a half-hour, my butt was killing me," he said. And during the hourlong ride, he and his wife had to change routes when her horse refused to follow the trail.

"If you've never done it before, you have to go with a guide," he said.

Kinnaman acknowledges that riding a horse requires extra patience, warning that people have to realize they are not on machines.

"They tend to treat them like they're jumping on a motorcycle," she said, but admits that she still enjoys seeing novice riders return from a successful trip.

"My reward is watching the contact the horse has given to people," she said. "It's absolutely amazing."

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DETAILS

* WHAT: Horseback rides through the hills of Griffith Park.

* WHERE: Griffith Park Horse Rentals, Los Angeles Equestrian Center, 480 Riverside Drive, Burbank.

* WHEN: Every day, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

* HOW MUCH: Rides start at $15 per hour.

* FYI: (818) 840-8401.

FOR FOTO SLUGGED trail.1

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