Our time here has come to an end and we have had some amazing experiences, some of which have already been regaled but others have not yet made their way into this tale of our adventures. The falls at the waterhole have featured but on this last occasion we merely went down in the truck with lunch to join the ladies who had gone out on a trail ride. When we arrived there were unsaddled horses and some disrobed riders heading straight for the water. I had seen pictures of people swimming with horses but didn’t expect to be involved. The family and Krystal were already in. Some of the other ladies seemed a little reticent but had unsaddled their horses to allow them to cool down. The next moment, a riderless Soxy came trotting purposefully down to the waters edge and started pawing vigorously in the shallows, hooves and splashes flying everywhere. Genine shouted that someone needed to ride her in as she loved swimming. Simone didn’t appear to want to and the next minute the call went up for me to take her in. I had no expectation of this but decided to be game for it, stripped down to my cozzy and T-shirt and took her in to where I could mount (with some help as a wet horse is very slippery). She headed out into the deeper area with me clinging on to her mane. It was a fantastic ‘ride’, not on my bucket list, but can be now! She has been a star for me, even if she is responsible for Genine’s fractured elbow!
We did have one onerous task on one of our latter days. The baby goats were allowed out into the yard to become accustomed to their surroundings (and to help tire them out as they are awake and bleating far too early). Unfortunately though there were few places they couldn’t reach including in to the round pen where some very delicate work was being undertaken. This comprised initially the mounting followed by the moving off with rider in situ, for the first time for these young breakers and inexperienced (in training terms) students. These were also the trickier horses as the ‘easier’ ones had already reached this milestone. In one instance it was the student who was battling her own demons with a slightly sensitive horse but I think he taught and carried her through. However, the last thing they needed was 2 kids running around the hooves so we were tasked with keeping them under control! A tough job but someone had to do it and we took our responsibility very seriously.
One of the jobs when getting a horse used to being handled is to be able to pick up their feet easily so that their hooves can be checked. We couldn’t prepare Frankie for riding as she is so small and young, possibly less than a year but she could learn this. Robert was a huge help and showed Roger how to do it using a rope for guidance initially. She was quite compliant with her front feet but but much more wary with the hind 2 and tending to kick out in apprehension. A method of desensitisation is to use a water hose which she actually ended up enjoying once she realised it didn’t hurt. Perhaps she’ll be another water baby like Soxy.
It has been very difficult to say goodbye to her even though we know she is in such good hands. She seems so vulnerable, from the moment when she was first separated from her mum on the initial muster as I witnessed the desperate calling out across the fences between both her and a distraught mother. She has had her buddy Legs, since he arrived, belatedly, in the yard and they have shared everything apart from when Sadeek, one of the big geldings, defiled her!! and she seemed to change her allegiance to the older horse who was in a position to protect her unlike Legs who doesn’t seem to have an aggressive bone in his body. Sadeek however, is a big Arab kid and his playing can become too vigorous and he does require a lot of space so he was put out again. Due to Legs’ lovely temperament and beautiful potential configuration he is being allowed to keep his bits. So, before he knows how to use it, (he may only be 2) he has been separated from the fillies, including Frankie, his half-sister. She will probably be put out into the big paddock until she is a bit older and will hopefully be adopted by Remix, one of the older mares to whom she seems to relate, once she goes out there as well. Remix turns out to be the top breeding mare on the 2 stations so the recovery from the surgery to remove a tumour from her lady parts has been quite crucial, unbeknown to us until recently. It has been our job, every 2 days, to catch her, bring her in, wash her down and apply healing salve initially and subsequently turmeric paste to the wound. This has been going well and she will be put to the visiting stallion shortly and then turned out, hopefully with Frankie, for her 11 month gestation.
Storm, one of the older geldings, had not been put back in the paddock (by a certain young man!) after being ridden on our final day. We were distressed to observe him charging around the yard after her, with another gelding, Jack, in close pursuit, who probably just thought it was a game, but having seen Storm mount Frankie already, we knew his intentions. Our poor little girl was running round almost in circles around the feeding trough when all her legs slid from under her and she landed heavily in the mud. This did seem to surprise her and them alike, so we were relieved to see that they backed off but Robert was out the house the next minute with the halter to take Storm to where he should have been in the first place. It is very difficult to know that this is what will be happening in our absence but we can’t wrap her up in cotton wool and Legs didn’t seem to have the demeanour to challenge any ‘aggressor’ anyway. Its a tough life for a little girl.