Four beats to freedom - a horseback journey through New Zealand

Mary's New Zealand Diary   -  3 March

For the first time in the journey we have been 
going seriously ‘west’ rather than ‘north’, 
heading from Fielding out to Bulls, and then 
along the coast to Whanganui and Hawera. We 
visited the school at Mount Biggs, where the 
children asked particularly thoughtful 

I was glad to find a way across the Rangitekei 
river above the hair-raising road bridge at 
Bulls – this stretch of road has a terrific 
density of traffic on it, with many milk 
tankers heading for the vast dairy factory at 
Hawera (it is the largest in the world and 
handles 14 million litres of milk per day) as 
well as sheep trucks and other big lorries, 
and the bridge would have been scary in the 

Leaving Bulls, Foggy excelled himself on a level road by tripping over his toes and coming down, making a big hole in one knee and both fetlock joints and taking the skin off his nose. I think he was bored and fell 
asleep! Fortunately the road wasn’t gritty and I was able to dress the wounds immediately and then spend a long time paddling in the sea later in the day, so they healed incredibly easily with no heat or swelling, but it was ‘one of those moments’ . 

After some long forest tracks which we were lucky to have unlocked for us, we had three lovely days riding along the beach, on the black volcanic sand. 

Both boys viewed the waves with grave distrust 
initially, but by the third day when the wind 
was blowing from the south and keeping the 
tide high so that negotiating a couple of 
rocky points meant braving our way well out 
into where the waves were actually breaking, 
they had resolved their phobias and could 
storm out bravely, keeping their feet despite 
the rocks occasionally lurking beneath the 

In Whanganui we met the Mayor, Chas Poynter, 
and I was honoured to be given the freedom of 
the city – unfortunately I didn’t have the 
digital camera with me at the time. Equally 
unfortunately, Boris was so bored by the whole 
proceedings that he fell asleep and convinced 
a passer by that he was sufficiently ‘travel 
worn’ to warrant ringing the local press to 
express concern! They kindly offered me a 
paddock but in fact the boys were well 
installed in lush grass at RDA and Boris 
looked anything but travel worn when he saw a 
bucket! We also had a successful ride with 
RDA riders on the Saturday .

After a couple of wrong turnings it was good 
to spend a night with James and Tracey Cropp 
at the Egmont and Whanganui hunt kennels . 
James is Huntsman and has 15 couple of hounds 
in kennels to get fit for the coming season. 

However I realised we couldn’t make it to Hawera in time to catch up with the RDA commitments. With not a little regret I was therefore grateful to Hawera RDA for finding us a float (trailer) which had the advantage of taking us off some more horrid main road and giving the boys a lay day that they really were in need of. We are all four a little road weary – more schools, more towns and more RDA events mean that we cover less distance than in the South Island, and yet we have less time to ourselves. 
…None of which detracts from the great days we are enjoying with riders with disabilities in so many places. In Hawera, Foggy played his part yet again, carrying Jacob and then Elisha as we all rode round the showgrounds together. 

After a great Barbecue in the evening, we rode through town on Thursday morning accompanied by the Mayor, Mary Burke, making a collection at the same time. Jacko acquired a travelling companion here – but he will tell you about that!

We head out next towards Mere Mere and Mangamingi going north to Urenui where we will float back to New Plymouth for engagements on 8th and 9th of March. We then aim for Hamilton on 23rd March and on to Pukekohe at the end of that week so as to be in Auckland for the Easter show on 1st April. We will have a couple of weeks break in Auckland, and go on north when the new school term starts.






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