Meet the Marlborough (wo)Man…

(This is an old entry, which I’m moving from my previous MySoreFeet site to this one. I wrote this on February 2009 – almost a year ago. I miss riding horses – even though being on one gave me a massively sore bumbum.)

That’s me and my horse, well, our shadows actually.

Perhaps I should rename this blog “MySoreBum” instead of “MySoreFeet” because the things I did on the last two posts (this and the previous one) gave me sore bums! Hahaha! I was looking through the New Plymouth website and came across a Horse Trekking advertisement. When I read the words “Horse Trekking” all of a sudden, memories of my last horse trekking adventure just came flooding back!

Tekapo’s Turquoise-Coloured Lake (with Mt Cook at the back)

The last time I was up on a horse was sometime in January – when Ms. Kaladkarin and I were at Lake Tekapo in the South Island. After we had dipped our feet in the ice-cold (all right, not ice cold it was just 8C cold. I had to do it, cuz I had sore feet at that time) luminous turquoise coloured waters of the Lake and had hundred photos of and at the Church of Good Shepherd, we basically ran out of things to do, so one morning I decided to go on a 2-hour horse trek around Mount John (where the observatory, which we weren’t able to visit because we didn’t have our own transpo was) . Since I’ve been on a horse before (like, 2 decades ago hahahaha), I felt that the 2-hour trek would be ideal for me: It wouldn’t be too short that I’d feel shortchanged, nor would it be too long that I’d get bored out of my gourd. So I signed up and I went.
I was picked up from the hostel at about 9:00 and, after picking up other adventurous souls, went to the ‘stables’ which was about a 15 minute drive from the town centre itself. When we (since it was now myself and other people) got there and after we were briefed about the safety procedures and were allocated our safety helmets – we were introduced to our partners for the day (well, at least for the next two hours).

The Horses

I wanted to ride the big stallion (I think his name was Trevor) but no – they assigned Trevor to a diminutive German girl and I was paired up with George. He wasn’t at all that bad, but he wasn’t massive. He looked like a fairly normal sized horse unlike Trevor who had massive flanks and a wide back and was just – magnificent. I had no choice but to accept George so I got on his back and waited for the others to get on their respective horses so we can go.
When we were all saddled up and ready to go, Casey (our trek leader) gave us last-minute instructions on how to make the horse move (we’re to gently push our heels into the horse’s tummy – and no, no Hee-ya ala Lone Ranger), turn (just pull the rein towards the direction we want him to go), and stop (pull both reins towards our selves). She also showed us how we were supposed to hold our bodies when the horse is going up a hill (move our bodies forward) and walking downhill (move our bodies back and extend our legs). She also showed us how to hold the reins. Apparently, we were just supposed to hold the reins in our hands with the straps going between our thumbs and forefingers. That’s it! So when I saw that, my first thought was like … “Hey! Don’t I get to grab on to something here? It’s just this?!” Hahaha!
Going up Mount John
So anyway, we rode on and, I think George felt that I wasn’t exactly too pleased that we were paired because he was so hard headed! He would stop and eat at the most inopportune moments and would just refuse to budge! I strained my arms just pulling those reins to pull his head back! He would ‘go’ whenever and wherever, he would walk on the side of the path that was closest to … I don’t know, a ravine or some slip and would (I think) purposely walk really close to brushes and trees so I had to duck my head a couple of times so my head wouldn’t get chopped off by branches! He really was temperamental and he kept neighing and grunting as if I was the heaviest passenger he has ever had.
View on the way to the top
Although controlling George was a struggle and trying to retain my balance so I won’t fall off at the same time was definitely a challenge – when we got to the peak of Mount John, all the trouble was definitely worth it. Actually, the vistas from the time we left the farm to the time we got back were absolutely amazing. Our eyes were treated to a visual feast of colour and texture. We saw vast undulating terrains of purple, green and yellow – broken only by a single, and narrow serpentine strip of asphalt; the tranquil waters of Tekapo and the fluffy white clouds on a sea of cobalt-blue sky. It was breathtaking. I wanted to take pictures but unfortunately, I was scared that George would suddenly bolt and I’d drop my camera. Sorry, I *heart* my camera.
After having photo ops at the top of Mount John with Lake Tekapo in the background, we cantered our way back to the stables. I actually found the descent from Mt John more frightening (if that’s even the right word for it) than the ascent. Again, George was being finicky and kept walking close to the edge of the track. He still chose to go his own way, took shortcuts which made me freak and would walk directly underneath low branches! I felt that he was doing those on purpose because all the other horses were being behaved! He was simply naughty! Ghad, and that naughty beast saved his best trick for last!
Living (or walking) on the Edge!
We had to go through a small thicket on our way back to the stables and, there was a bit of an uphill climb. The other horses went on ahead and George, being the mischievous litle beast that he was, stopped midway. He just stopped. He didn’t stop to eat, nor to poo … he just stopped; and no matter how I pushed my heels into his tumtum (as instructed) he would not budge. Then all of a sudden, that silly horse bolted! He didn’t just start walking again, he actually broke into a full trot / canter and I was like … OH SHIT! Luckily, naughty naughty horse calmed down when he saw his friends again.
George and I eventually made our peace. After scaring me to death with that last-minute-decision-to-run incident at the thicket, he became very docile and obedient and generally .. nice. No more neighing, no more grunting and no more stopping to eat / poo / scare me. So no worries – after a fairly rocky start, we ended up being friends after all.
Going on a horse trek was a big adventure for me but it was fun and it was exhilirating. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone! As I said, I did not have sore feet with this experience, but I did have a sore bum the day after – but it was way worth it.

Author: Viv Phillips

That's not exactly a flattering image. Eh! Anyway, when I'm not taking photos, I do acrylic painting or write about my adventures (and misadventures) in this wonderful journey called life. :)

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