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Horses, stars and me

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It is a long time since I rode a horse, and even then it could be debated whether I rode the horse, or the horse carried me around.   I have done a few trails, in Lesotho, when the weather changed everything and the Mountain Club had to rescue us ๐Ÿ™‚   a trail in a private game reserve in the Low veld where one rider fell and broke her arm; one short (very short) trail round this sphinx and pyramids in Cairo, on Arab stallions (so they so much smaller than I anticipated – thankfully) which was thrilling, frightening and left me black and blue for several long painful days ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

These were some forty years ago –

which as I said, makes it a long time since I rode a horse ๐Ÿ™‚

It is also a long time since I wanted to ride a horse!!!

One of the benefits of getting to the age of maturity (others use the word old) is that the short term memory fails one; so I cannot remember whether I decided faint hearted (see blog: ‘me, faint hearted?Me โ€“ Faint Hearted?) was a term I applied to myself, or in fact one I did not use to describe myself.

Which is probably just as well, because I had a glorious day today; even if I find myself ready for bed before the sun is!!!!

You see I received a very generous birthday present a year or so ago – a gift voucher for a horse trail ride with Hepburn Lagoon Trails.   This sat in a drawer waiting for me until, it would appear the stars aligned, and I received through the ether – sometimes I have no idea how things ‘find me’ – an email about a horse trail in Mongolia.    Now wouldn’t you, too, be tempted?   Well, one thing led to another and I found myself driving across Melbourne, roadworks notwithstanding, to finally arrive at a little bit of paradise.img_6356-copy

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Keiran is just the kindest, may I say sweetest person – patient, encouraging, friendly, confident and clearly competent with great horses.   With, minimal formality (ready paperwork) we were helmeted, booted and allocated ponies.   Some instructions and we were off.

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I will not pretend, I was apprehensive,  and wondered again why I hadn’t put ‘novice’ down on the form instead of beginner – the alternatives; intermediate or advanced were easy to decide on.    Keiran had us all trotting after a few minutes; reminding me that I should not double bounce on the saddle (did he really believe that banging my nether regions around like that was by choice ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜œ)  and it didn’t take long for me to find a more comfortable rhythm.

It is almost impossible to describe the feeling of riding through bush, the breeze through the grass, the light playing patterns with the trees, the sound of the horses, the views offered by the extra height of being on horseback.   I love walking, but this is different; this huge animal and me; for those few hours joined, trotting, cantering, walking, just ‘being’ – there is conversation between ourselves, and there is silence as we absorb a silence – that of the bush.   The bell birds, kookaburra, wedge tailed eagles being swooped by magpies, rosellas.   Fields of oats, cattle looking at us, horses calling from far off paddocks.

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And then it was over; and we had to ‘get down’ and feel our legs again. !

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Always a post mortem; sharing, eating, drinking – ‘all’s well with the world’ kinda feeling

I shall let you know in the  morning how these old bones feel, but for tonight, I shall sleep well with memories of a glorious day –  Mongolia still calls, but reality may leave a stronger calling card tomorrow.

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Garrawilla Cattle Station

All’s Well that Ends Well,

so Shakespeare once said,

and who am I to argue.

After all he knew a thing or two about life.

So after a great time at Markdale riding with Brooke and her horses,

(Markdale Madamsโ€ฆ..),

I jumped at the opportunity to go further afield and extend myself.

Ah, and go further afield

and extend myself, I most certainly did.

In more ways than one.

Firstly, the distance.

This country is SO vast it continues to surprise.

The two maps give you some idea of the scale.

Secondly, the time.

We booked these two rides long before the world was turned upside down by our friend with many names, Corona, Delta, Omicron. to mention but a few – there are many other names we down in Victoria have used to describe ‘it’

And so we waited, as the dates were changed again

and again

The Shearing Sheds – still standing, just – pretty much how we felt waiting….

and again.

And what do the trees know of time……

In fact we waited so long

I had forgotten what I had signed up for

and there was no Brooke and her horses,

nor was there the horseman Cody that I was keen to learn from.

Casualties of our country’s interesting handling of the virus.

And by the time we could go,

two years of non living was being condensed into a tight space

before Christmas,

the possibility of more lock downs

and in my case, at least,

age,

reminding me I must be mad…

causeways washed away…..

And Floods.

Did I mention the floods?

How could I forget…..

Driving up, being forced to pull up on the side of the road and wait till we could see.

Rain and rain whichever way you went
water everywhere…whichever way we looked….

Friends having to ‘take the long way round’ to finally make it to our home from home.

HOME

Garrawilla,was established in 1836. It is on the edge of the Kamilaroi Tribal are. 7000 acres of fertile volcanic land. Wagu bulls crossed with Angus heifers produce superb calves which form the foundation of the farming.

We were lucky enough to get involved with how they farm etc.
And stay in the original farmhouse.

The weather broke,

not just the roads,

but the horses

and

fixing bridges and feet kept us busy.

Whether it was riding one another…..
Relying on our own two feet and somewhat unreliable boots….
Or just playing with our trusty steeds……

Most days we played with cattle.

when things go according to plan…..
it is a beautiful, tranquil, ‘quiet’ thing.
and when it doesn’t, it can be ‘messy’
Some horses love this work and others (mine) do not ๐Ÿ™‚
which made for interesting days……

And always we played with our horses.

With views to take your breathe away.

Roads to canter till your breathe went away

And field with grass so high it took ‘the other horses away’

It was ‘hard work’ this playing,

so sometimes we changed the game…..

lazing in the water;

snoozing on a log;

resting on the ground;

catching yabbies

There was down time,

to marvel, to rest,

to sit and think

To play

There was time to rescue;

to link arms

and line dance….

There were wild nights…..

With so much laughter
and joy

and ‘the morning afters’

There were friendships made,

friends come in all sizes…..
Our lovely guide, Carolyn Frost
Ben Newbury – a beautiful horseman.

There were friendships consolidated.

and just like that, two weeks was done.

There were ups and downs, in all sorts of ways,

there were tears and laughter;

there were amazing memories created.

Thank you team for the photos,

thank you Horses & Cattle Australia.

And so it was,

That

all’s well

That ends well.

And End Well, It did.

words words

โ€œWords, words, words, Iโ€™m so sick of words!โ€

Well at least Eliza Doolittle was.

Me, I would be better saying,

โ€œwords, words, words, Iโ€™m so stuck for words!โ€

Which for anyone who knows me, must surely be a first.

I LOVE words.

I love working out their origins, the way they look on paper; their shapes and rhythms.     And I love the way they can have multiple meanings, depending on context, dependant on the company, the glint in an eye, the emphasis on a syllable, the quickness of response, the back and forth.

Words can bind or divide with such ease and speed they become almost the most powerful tool available to us mere mortals.

But I digress โ€“

words, they confuse, confound and cause all sorts of meanderings.

Like our meander into Glenorchy Back Country, South Island, New Zealand.

And for those who donโ€™t know where New Zealand is, the bottom of the planet, almost in the Pacific Ocean.  I think God created the world from the top and as he moved down, his artistry became more and more breathtaking; his masterpiece complete at Glenorchy.

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Don’t click on the blue map – nothing will happen. Just an overview of where ‘we are’

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This is the area we rode in ๐Ÿ™‚

And thatโ€™s the point โ€“ this trip was SO amazing,

So breathtakingly beautiful.

So filled with laughter and energy and love and caring and support that

WORDS FAIL ME!!!!!

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No really, they do.

From our first meeting for a drink, which ended up including a dinner, we knew we were in a special place, where like minded people understood the words spoken, the words unspoken, the meanings behind them.  People who immediately saw the laughter in an eye, or the nervous hesitation in the curve of a mouth.

Barossa Blessings

Exactly the idea….

I felt blessed when Jen & Jeremy of

Australian Horse Adventures

gave up their one free weekend in their Barossa season

and invited me to come and ride with them.

I was doubly blessed to be able to invite four friends.

Each special on their own remarkable way……

Actually,

I rewind…..

I was blessed four times over;

Since to have even one special friend is a blessing;

So to be able to invite

four friends; each so special in their own way;

makes me blessed fourfold.

Friends and Horses = Heaven on earth.

For three days we rode through stunning countryside;

Breath-taking views
whichever way we looked

For three days we rode amazing horses.

whichever angle…..
one chose……..
… they were stunning…..
Although some angles were better……
… than others

We had amazing weather;

clear skies;

no wind,

and one short sharp shower.

Just strong enough to make our horses drop their heads

and canter flat out into and through the rain.

To find a rainbow at the other end.

Absolutely exhilarating.

Every meal was a blessing –

Hot home made soup and bread appeared as if by magic in the middle of ‘nowhere’

Lunch at wineries
celebrations at

Stunning wines and gourmet sandwiches with warm fires.

Tweedie Gully Winery

Country market breakfast.

Degustation dinner and wines.

Langmeil winery
Our FABULOUS hostess, Pauline
a moment captured….

Flowers and pancakes for breakfast on Mother’s day.

This short Barossa breakaway,

after such a tumultuous year

of lock downs in Melbourne,

was an amazingly generous gesture by

Jen & Jeremy

One that will sustain the five of us,

Moment captured

through this never ending see saw that is Melbourne.

One that will stay in my memory forever

as a reminder

to count my blessings.

Thank you both from the bottom of my heart.

And because the Barossa break away Was such a blessing,

I add photographs for those who care to browse.

Thanks to this lovely crew and especially Jen for all these memories.

The matriarch Ruby

Thank you ALL, for being in my life xo
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