We had a nice early start first day, alarm set for 6.10, ready to go at 6.30. Roger and I rode out with Genine and Agnes, a French girl also helping here. She took us to see the basalt wall which runs across the station, where we spotted a wild boar, well before it saw us and went charging and squealing back into the undergrowth. I rode Riley, a slightly lazy little bay, whilst Roger rode Freckles, an experienced roan.
We headed back to the homestead for breakfast but before that Genine decided that we would take some cattle from the yard to one of the pastures. She had been a bit hesitant about me going, thinking I might take fright at a rather steep creek side. Something must have given her the confidence to let me have a try in the end as there was no mention of me getting off before we set off again, although once I saw the slope I’m not surprised she was concerned, but I wasn’t. We’d got used to steep slopes in Canada. Unfortunately she was riding a young horse who had not had to negotiate water before beyond drinking it, and froze as we crossed the river at the bottom!
Genine yelled at Agnes to catch up and get after the cows (before they disappeared along the creek bed) but her horse was a beautiful showgirl rather than a stock-horse. Meanwhile my little mount seemed to have found his feet, probably helped by my restored confidence, and we set off after her across a lovely wide sandy creek bed, at almost full tilt. We were able to follow the hoof print trail and were relived to see that the cattle had just gone straight across and up the hill on the other side, where they started to slow and we were able to catch them up whilst we waited for Genine and Roger, whose horse, Freckles, had had to tempt Ralf across the water, almost step by step.
We were able to enjoy our surroundings much more on the return trip. Although there was no urgency or dictated pace any more, Riley had decided that it was time to be home and set off at a fast walk, frustrated at the others’ dawdling. Eventually we emerged back in to the yard, after the very steep climb back out the creek, which seemed much more so in this direction, the poor horses struggling to heave the weight of their loads in the heat. Roger and I gave a wry glance at each other, we knew what was coming. After 7 months of no riding at all, followed by nearly 3 hours in the saddle, it was going to be very difficult for each of us to both dismount but also stand up on touching the ground! We weren’t wrong but Riley and Freckles were very patient and tolerant as we heaved ourselves off and propped ourselves up against them, whilst trying to find our feet. We went back into the house for an eagerly awaited breakfast. We were only originally going to have been out for about an hour, not 3 and a half!
In the evening Genine did some ground work training with some young horses she was ‘breaking in’. We sat quite mesmerised at this natural horsemanship technique, which we had first discovered in reality in Canada, based on the work of the original horsewhisperer, although nothing magical. Genine then offered Roger the opportunity to work with Dutch, which he was delighted to do. It was quite a moment for him when this young horse ‘latched’ on to him and followed him around the pen. He managed to resist the urge to throw his arms around his neck to thank him.