So we packed up the truck full of our things and trailered Matrix, Neptune and Mercury to Jeffereys Bay ready for the 80km on the Saturday. It took us a couple of hours to get to the coast so I either dozed off or stared out at the scenery.
It was terribly windy once at the venue and I actually ended up wearing 2 hoodies and a coat! Think I've become acclimatised to Africa now. Ashley, Sonia (who was leasing Neptune) and I took a short trip out and battled the wind before vetting.
All three horses vetted sound and fine so that was all sorted. Endurance rides here will be weighed in and placed within categories based on their weight; light weight, standard weight and heavy weight, at all rides even though they are not FEI. This actually works out very well and is fairer due to lighter riders being placed in their own class rather than against a rider which would be heavier. So we weighed in with our saddles etc ready for the following day.
Claire Holliday let us stay with her, so I very much appreciated a nice bed before the ride. However, we all woke up to a very wet, windy day. Once at the venue it soon appeared that the course was hazardous due to so much water along the tracks and the markings had been completely washed away. Due to this the ride was cancelled.
I was gutted! There goes the chance of my first ride in Africa. But despite the weather I still managed to get a beach ride in. Ashley, Sonia and I waited until it was light and headed off in the drizzle to the beach.
We did try getting the horses to head to the sea to get their feet wet but they were not at all keen especially with waves coming at them. Matrix and Mercury at one point both span around, with me almost coming unseated but managed to stay aboard. But Mercury got his feet stuck so both Ashley and Mercury had a soaking in the sea. We still had a good gallop down the beach regardless of almost or in Ashley's case actually having a soaking.
So despite not having an official ride I still had a nice beach ride. I was soaked once back from the rain but still thoroughly enjoyed it!
Packed up horses and everything else and headed home back to the farm. I practically slept most of the way back, so the drive passed by pretty quickly.
Glad to be back in sunny Graaff-Reinet and out of the wind. We returned to find that one of the foals had managed to injure herself. Somehow she had torn the front of her chest area, possibly on some wire. So Bob, the on farm vet/farrier, stiched up the little foals chest. Luckly it was superficial with only the skin layer being taken off and no muscle damage being done.
Thank you very much Claire Holliday for allowing me to stay at your house for the weekend it was much appreciated!
So first thing to do was to unpack all the contents of the truck. With all 'hands on deck' it was soon all unpacked and then we could ride!
Ashley and I disappeared off for a spin around 'the track' with Mercury and Liberty. A few laps round at canter and then home. Another moment of finding how to take the breaks off Liberty and we zoomed along at 46kph. This little pony is definitely becoming a favourite of mine!
That afternoon Ashley, Lucy and I rode the 20kms around Roode Bloem loop. We took Mabruk, Kandahar and Martix and cantered most of the distance. With the sun shining it was a very nice ride. Due to Matrix having not doing his 80km at the weekend he felt very fresh and at one point I did feel as though I was about to 'make friends with the ground' but somehow managed to stay in the saddle. This is definitely one of my favourite rides due to it being mostly off road and being able to practically canter the entire distance.
Another bright and sunny morning in Africa. First ride of the day was on Karoo where we were a nanny to Ochre with Ashley riding. Donnalyn had backed Ochre at the weekend whilst we had been at Jeffereys Bay. A very pretty looking mare who has taken being ridden right in her stride.
The next task of the day was to put a saddle on Obelix. It had been well over a week since Bob had sat on him bareback. Seeing as I had never ridden bareback and did not think it wise to have my first attempt on a youngster I roped Ashley in to help. Even though Obelix had not had any work in a week he took it all in his stride and didn't mind one bit, so it was on to putting a saddle on. Very easily done and Ashley was soon leaning across him. Then it was my turn. So lay across the saddle before mounting. With Ashley leading we were walking around the yard quite happily. Obelix has such an easy, relaxed temperament that none of this has phased him at all.
It was a very relaxed afternoon so I spent about an hour or so sat outside in the sun reading my book. Having felt like I had sat still for far to long and really wanting to ride I went to find Laura to see whether I could take Neptune out. With the thumbs up to go I proceeded out for 18kms down the road passed the neighboring farm at an easy canter. We did 18km in 1 hour and a minute without even trying for speed but instead just enjoying the outing. A nice hack out to a good day. Neptune is another favourite of mine!
A new day and a new task, stockwork! The cattle and horses needed to come down off the mountain camp to be checked and moved. The men headed up the mountain in the bakkie whilst Lucy, Ashley and I rode up on Kandahar, Mercury and Nile. This was to be the first time Nile had mountain work. Nile was quite reluctant to head up the mountain over the rocks but once at the top was far more forward going. Lucy and I rounded up cattle and 4 young horses and escorted them down the mountain whilst Ashley went further on to round up some other cattle. Nile found going down hill easier than going up and was very cautious in where he placed his feet. Its a comfort to know your horse is looking exactly where he is placing himself and picking his route, rather than you having to do it for him. Once these cattle and horses had made it down the mountain to the water point, Lucy and I turned round to head back up the mountain to herd a group of horses down. Nile thought this was completely pointless having already been up the mountain once and decided he wasn't going up and we got left behind. So rather then be defeated I jumped off and lead him up a way then got back on. We managed to herd one of the stragglers back down the mountain to the trough and did not need to go up again. The numbers of horses and cattle were counted and we could head for the direction of home. We decided to take the track route so as to give the horses a canter. I was pleased to be able to have the chance to canter Nile again due to him having such a comfy, flowing movement.
That afternoon, Bob asked me if I'd like to ride his stallion Orient out, in which I accepted the challenge. Having never ridden a stallion but only handled or lunged one this was a good opportunity and experience to gain. We had a bit of a hairy start with Orient jumping around and almost heading back to his paddock but once we were on our way he got his mind on his work. He's a young stallion of 5 years old but I felt quite happy riding him, another first experience achieved! A good way to end the day!
First task of the day was to take Mercury and Liberty out. As soon as the endurance horses were up from the camp, and before breakfast we headed out with our Fauresmith mounts. We did a few laps round 'the circuit' in canter and then headed home. Only a light work out before we head for Fauresmith tomorrow.
Back home and the mission of packing! It only seemed like yesterday we had been packing up to go to Jeffereys Bay. We will be going for the week so there is a lot of packing to do. Most of the afternoon was spent packing up all the equipment we will need for the horses.
Tomorrow we shall leave for the week to head to Fauresmith a 201km ride over 3 days. Fingers crossed Team PSV all do well!!