Four beats to freedom - a horseback journey through New Zealand

Mary's New Zealand Diary   -  11 March

Taranaki is gorgeous! We came up through the back blocks – steep , rough country with magnificent bush and fine views across the lower dairy blocks to the mountain itself. At this time of year it has no snow on it, but they say locally ‘If you can see the mountain its going to rain – if you cant see it, it is raining! 

The soil is very sticky and clayey and the boys found it hard going on the Meremere track since the grader had been through just before very heavy rain had fallen. It was like a skating rink and totally different from anything they have encountered in the south island.
 We came through Mangamingi up to Makahu, through the Te Wera forest and then to Matau where we were lent a house for a night – utter bliss to have it all to myself. Have a look on the map page to see the route.

Matau school has only 11 children . They thoroughly enjoyed decking the horses out like a Hindu cow – the boys have these pictures on their pages
Poor old Foggy was in trouble AGAIN – this time he only wanted to have a drink from this innocuous little stream

The bank gave way and he fell in. It was incredibly deep and narrow and very muddy. He came out somewhat bedraggled…

To be fair, Boris has not had a totally easy ride – he went for a vigorous bottom scratch up against a gorse bush not realising that the path came to an abrupt end in the middle of the bush. One hind leg – though fortunately only one – disappeared over the cliff…. Later in the same day I heard a grunt behind me and looked back to see him half way down the slope having apparently fallen off the track – once again I suspect he was going for a good scratch. He is a pony of vulgar habits…. 

Finally we came down Gumboot Gully where Chris Langridge runs horse treks and adventure activities for children and youth groups. Both horses walked without hesitation across a little foot bridge that was only 2 logs wide – it is these little things that make me enormously proud of them.

We had a lift from Okoki into New Plymouth where we visited more schools including the special needs department at Spotsforth College, and where the deputy mayor had his first riding lesson on Foggy at an RDA event on the Saturday morning. 

Both boys are ready for a couple of days off – it has been fairly non-stop since leaving Wellington and Foggy has lost a bit of weight. Since I am unable to carry much hard food I aim to give 10 minutes grazing in every hour. On the beach this was of course impossible and on the many days on which I have had company I have ended up going faster than I would normally wish. This has taken its toll, and in future if I ride with others I will insist on the hourly eating breaks that I know my horses need . 

I have just read an interesting account on the website of the Long Riders Guild, about a lady who travelled extensively with one horse throughout Europe between the wars. She gave her horse little or no eating time during the day – BUT she gave him 22 pounds of oats every night! If you are interested in my journey you will find far more inspirational, bold and moving accounts of equestrian travel on the guild website

Looking Ahead

We will be in Hamilton for a ride in the town with students from The Qaikato Institute of Technology, local Pony Clubs and the RDA on 23rd March. On 1st April we will be in the main arena at the Auckland Easter Show with the Topp Twins and Jayne Craike. Do come to see us at one of these venues.






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