I once rode a horse up Beechworth way. He’d just been gelded but our Rover Crew [Senior Scouts] was a bit too large in numbers not to use him. As I rode practically every weekend I was picked as the most experienced. “Who can ride the best out of you here?” was the question and every finger immediately pointed to me. And so I got the fresh gelding.
He was an Australian stock pony; Black with a roan dapple across his rump, Name of Karimba. Now I thought ‘Hmmm, better make a mate out of this bloke or I’ll be in the dirt as fast as sneezing!’ So I went up to him hand out fingers down as if my hand was a nose my arm a head like another horse. I offered it to him to sniff and my shoulder then rubbed necks with him and finally rubbed him all the way round. So when I mounted up he was happy to have me. And he was so comfortable!
As suggested by the threatening owners “Don’t try to tell him what to do, keep him to the back and at a walk or he might bolt on you.” I kept him at the back thinking if he bolts on me he won’t get too far with twelve other rumps in front of him.
Half way down the first lane I’m trying to sort out my right stirrup and dropped the darn thing. Without thinking, I toss the reins over his head and slide off, jog back and collect the stirrup, slip it back on the saddle, collect the reins and mount up on that side (the “Wrong” side). The assistant, who’d come back for me, just sat on his horse and stared in shock. My newly gelded mount was notorious for never standing still and could not be ground tethered. Oh well!
The country we were riding through was hilly the side of the great divide, the foot hills of the High Plains – Mountain Men country, Bush ranger country, depressing logging country. I wasn’t sure if it was plantation trees or just loggers clearing natural bush! It was an eyesore that made my heart sore. I so love trees! Up the top there was a row of felled trunks, about ten of them. We kinda decided to go over them but I couldn’t say who decided first, me or Karimba, but we went over them. It was like riding a rocking horse!
Then we went up the final rise. We’d walked thus far and the rise was to be a canter to stretch their legs. Now this horse I was on was shivering in anticipation. He’d not had a good run since before the knackering; about a month. So they split the group. Second group went when the first was half way up but I kept Karimba in circles until I couldn’t see any of them and then I pulled my hat down, tucked my elbows in and pointed him at the hill.
I remember the trees flashing by as the wind whistled in my ears and I daren’t breathe in case it all vanished! That one run of freedom that few minutes of exhilaration will live in my heart forever! For the first time in my life I was really riding! Really feeling the saddle feeling the horse beneath me and the surge of every stride of his powerful legs! Secure in the knowledge that I was good enough not to fall off; secure in the realisation I was a damned good rider and this was my horse!
We passed both groups and kept on going and I’m thinking ‘Oh-kay, he’s not stopping for no one … ooohhh shit!’ But at the top of the hill I sat up and pulled him up easily and he turned and stood broadside; patiently waiting for the others to catch up. He didn’t even seem to be winded in the slightest! We could have done that ten times over before he got tired I reckon! I sat there looking down at them like the Man from Snowy River himself and I felt 100 feet tall!
The rest of the trip we kept looking for some more fun but found nothing. Every side trail he’d pause in his step and we’d both look up the track … but I would chicken out and kick him on gently after the others. Even then I knew I’d wanted to ride him every day for the rest of his life and I felt he wanted me to too.
Half way down a dry creek bed we came across a herd that had given them trouble before. When we reached them I pulled Karimba up and we just sat and watched the fun of all the others dancing and mucking about, then finally once the coast was clear we walked on past them as calm as you please.
By the time we got home “Last” the assistants had told the owners how we’d got on – Karimba & me. Before I could dismount (I never wanted to ever get off that horse) the owner came over and offered him to me $150 + tack. I could have ridden him away right then and there.
I made the worst decision of my life I said no. I had the money but nowhere to keep him. I thought I was being responsible and doing what would have been expected of me. I’ve regretted it ever since.
Karimba, if he is still alive, would be 28yo now too old to ride but I still love him for that three hours of sheer bliss and that one moment of pure freedom!
adgray © 2008
The advice I listened to back then destroyed all my dreams, not only for this horse but to fulfill my life.
I was eighteen; I could have ridden him home; I wasn’t working I had my camping gear with me we could have trekked home easily and then I would have had the incentive to get work to pay for him to be agisted where I rode every weekend; to have bought my farm.
But to my city loving family they would have thought me crazy. So I didn’t and I stayed in the city doing city things my family approved of and went crazy anyway!
And here I am spending hours on a beautiful day like today writing my dreams on a computer instead of having lived them. You tell me if that’s sane or not.