Monday, March 23, 2009

Stage 4 of the Great NZ Trek

This might take a couple of efforts to get it all down so keep checking, OK?!

Taking Gus's cover off to get him ready to float we noticed an unusual lump on his back. Looks like a bite mark possibly? It was off to the side and not directly under the saddle so not a big concern but that spell of bad luck was still haunting me.

Getting to Port Waikato was no problem. At the gate were people I knew from other treks and it was great to get a big warm welcome from them. Gus passed the vet check no problem. I pointed out the mark to Ray and he said we needed to keep an eye on it but no real concern at that point.

The first days ride was fantastic. Bush, hills, farmland, sand dunes and beaches. The sand dunes were amazing to ride down. Its not something I have ever really done before.
Gus of course was perfect. He had his best walking shoes on and was really stepping out.
Jan's friennd Roxanne had her new young thoroughbred on the trek. He went so very well. It was good for me to see her having a lot of the same anxieties that I went through last year.
That night's camp was at Waikaretu. A little bit of swelling on Gus where this lump is so I am a bit worried.

The next day we were heading to Te Akau. I adored the big boulders and rocky outcrops on the farmland through there. Most people who have ridden with me know of my obsession with rocks!
Gus has his best shows on again and we were about the 5th horse home that afternoon.
Later that night though his back is very sore and more swollen. It felt hot to touch and I suspected an infection. Had the saddle slipped back a bit on some of the long hill climbs and irritated it a bit maybe?
I showed him to the other vet and she sold me imflamol to rub onto it.
Too many Bourban's later that day I decide to ride bareback to Ruakiwi..............................

I borrowed a surcingle from Kim, put on a good saddle pad and the gel pad and hopped aboard............bareback. It was a 20 km ride to Ruakiwi. I was confident I would make it. The big thing was to keep Gus going and while I was sure the swelling was not from my gear I wasn't taking any chances.
Agaain I am thinking just how damned lucky am I to have Gus! Apart from foolishly attempting to trot a couple of times (his trot is huge and bouncy) the day went perfectly!
I was buzzing. There is no way I would have ever even thought of riding 20 km's bareback across country not too long ago. We had a couple of canters but mainly just walked. I had been prepared to get off to go down hills if I needed but all was fine.
We rode past Karen's house at one point. Jan had her phone so gave her a call. It seems she too was out riding. The morning was beautiful and even bareback we were into camp very early.

Later in the evening I headed off to feed and cover Gus. He had a swelling like a pudding bowl so I got Ray to look at him this time. He gave him anti inflamatories and antibiotics but said he shouldn't be ridden tomorrow as he was very, very sore. I am of course very upset. Poor Gus. While it was good to know it wasn't caused by the saddle obviously what the heck was I going to do?
Charlie had been home earlier in the day and got a message that Summer was fit to go and join the trek for the last 2 days but I wasn't going to be able to ride her to Te Uku obviously.
So he asked his friend Chris who had 11 hire horses on the trek if one was spare. It seemed it was so I was going to be able ride after all whil Gus was heading home in the float.
Of course for me the idea of getting on an unknown horse was not one I cared to think about to hard.

Part 2

I give Chris and Richard a hand to catch the hire horses. It seems that Mana is spare. The man who had been riding him wanted a bit more horse power. Sounded good to me!
Mana was originally from the area. There had been a lot of horses running wild in rough land till they had a couple of musters. Mana was one of them.
We headed off along the road for about 6 km's before turning into a farm. I started to get a bit concerned as Mana was literally crapping like a cow. Too much good grass for the rough little coastie pony I suspect. Better make sure he takes on plenty of water.
Not long after that though I am a bit more worried. Mana looks like he has sprung a leak the amount of sweat that was running off him was awful. It was a cool morning and we had had an easy ride to that point.
I gave him a bit of a break and he seemed to perk up. I got off and lead him down a very long steep hill just to give him a bit of a break. We stood for a bout 10 minutes in the creek at the bottom and he drank a bit more water.
I climbed on again and we headed off. Mana seemed to be a bit perkier but I was still concerned so when it looked like a nice place I got off again and lead him.
We were walking along happily or so I thought for quite a while. Next thing the lead gets jerked out of my hand and I hear a noise behind me. I turned around in horror to see Mana sitting on the ground. He had decided to have a bit more of a rest it seemed.
I loosened off his girth and let him sit there for 10 minutes. He his panting quite hard, actually really hard considering I had only been leading him!
How embaressing to have all the peole passing me and asking what was wrong.
I knew he couldn't stay there and that to even get him to a float he had to get going down the hill. I guess knowing the area helped with that decision, so I told him he had to get up and keep going. I got him into the bush area where it was cool and when I heard the bike coming I took off his saddle and gave to them to take down for me.
Mana and I kept walking.
A short time after that though Richard came along riding one and leading another hire horse who's rider was not well that day. He just laughed off my concerns about Mana, told me to get on the other horse and he would lead Mana down to camp.
So again I am on a different horse. Ths was was the total opposite to the one I had just got off. Very forward and getting a bit rattled about being out away from his mates. So I stopped him and waited till 2 other horses came along and tucked him in behind them. He was much happier and so was I.
I noticed he tilted his head quite a bit. He had a blind eye which I didn't see till I got off!

Part 3

So I made it through the day. Confidence is soaring but I was worried about Mana. I saw him lead in and apart from walking a bit stiffly he was OK. I talked to Chris later that night and in typical fashion he was totally unconcerned! Aparently though Mana has sat down before today when he thought he needed a rest..............quite a character I suspect! Anyway it was a rest day the following day so Mana was going home. They said they thought he was getting a bit tired the day before. So I was starting to get a bit angry about that. Why let him go out if he was already tired. I do wish that all the hire horses on the treks were well looked after. Some are in superb condition and really up for the job at hand and others, well lets just leave it there. If I had $5.00 to my name right now I would go and buy Mana and sell him onto a child when he was well again. He was a very safe mount and did try his best.

So now I am thinking of the day off and seeing if Summer is going to go the last 2 days to Kawhia.
We headed home in the morning and she was looking really well. I gave her a wash and headed back to camp for lunch.
Came back later in the afternoon with the float and got her sorted for the next day. She had to be vetted but all was fine.

So feeling quite excited to finally have her there I carefully climbed aboard the next morning after lungeing her briefly to get used to the saddle bags again. I had the big Waione woolie saddle blanket on and also the special pad for her treeless saddle and the lambskin girth.
She humped about a bit at first and was firing on on cylinders! She really wanted to get going!
She quickly settled into the ride though and was going like an absolute dream. I couldn't have been happier. The whole day was perfect and just what I had hoped for!
However there were a few little bumps around when I took the gear off and she did have a minor girth gall. Imflamol takes care of that pretty quickly and some gear adjustments the next day.

I think I gave her to much hard feed that night though. Saturdays ride was aa bit of a nightmare. She was so very excited. Cantering sideways, head shaking, rifle snorts as Susan calls them and generally being a pain. She just wasn't thinking. Summer is usually a good drinker and generally takes water whenever we come across it but now way was she stopping to drink this morning. It wasn't until a few hours into the ride that she settled enough to be able to relax.
We went through a beautiful bush block that had some of the biggest Ponga's I have seen in it. We also rode over Okapu Station that is managed by Lance Limmer who is Charlie's cousin. Then into Scotts where the horses were staying. The people were all at the sports ground where the Kawhia pony club is too.
Summer is covered in what looks like a heat rash again I discover when unsadling her. Its small bumps aall under the areas that are covered by the saddle pad and girth. Has she developed an allergy to wool??????
I am so glad there are no more riding days as she wouldn't be going out again. So not exactly the ideal method but we made it through the entire trek.
It took 4 different horses for me to make it to the end but make it I did.

Distance wise we did cover a bit more ground than originally was estimated. However if the distances stay low we aren't going to make it to Bluff for quite some time. Some of the walkers complain about the terrain and the distances but thats what they sign up for so maybe they need to do some thinking. 130 horses this year so a few more than last time. They are an amazing sight all together in the paddocks. All colours, shapes and sizes.

The week was superb apart from all the annoying problems. We had the best set up in the float thanks to the bed Charlie made up. So much better being high up in the float.
The food was fantastic, the company excellent and we are already making plans for next year.

1 comment:

sally said...

I have really enjoyed reading your latest entry about the great NZ horse ride. Well done for completing it despite all your horsey problems. I hope you get to the bottom of the lumps and bumps