I had a sinking feeling about this weekend but pushed it aside. And really what happened was obviously going to happen anyway so no point in avoiding it.
It had been a very wet week. Trying to get everything dry after the Matakana drowning had been an issue but we packed up and headed off to Waiouru on Friday morning as planned.
We took Snoopy the Huntaway along to meet her new owner who was driving up from Hunterville. She met us at the turnoff on SH1 and Snoopy got to get out for a bit of a play. She thought she was there to do some mustering and was all fired up ready to go!
It had rained a fair bit of the trip and seeing Waiouru so damp and wet looking was a bit strange. In the past it has been extremely dry and very dusty.
I was greeted warmly by the people of the Waiouru Saddle Club, which was really great. Its nice to be remembered I guess.
Catching up with people from previous treks and meeting the new faces helps to fill in Friday night while waiting for Saturday to arrive.
That night was absolutely freezing cold, and far from pleasant sleeping! Saturday morning, while looking a bit dismal was however dry and no rain was forecast till later in the day when we should have all been back in camp.
I love Waiouru. The terrain, the views, the mountains and just the great big open space that you don't get anywhere else.
We had a message from home just after 6 am Saturday morning with some unpleasant news. That nagging feeling I had during the week was about to turn into full on stomach churning concern. A stolen car, family member at the police station in a town they shouldn't have been at. Not much we could do right then so we decided to carry on and ride for the day and check things out that evening when we would have more news available.
We didn't see as many wild horses as previous years. Could be just because of the weather but the ones we did see were in reasonable condition and the foals looked great.
The days ride started off with lots of excited people and horses. Charlie's big mare had a minor meltdown near the beginning. 80 horses (lots of them very excited) was maybe a bit more than she could cope with mentally. She decided she was a rodeo bronc after all and tried to put in a couple of bucks. When she wasn't allowed to show her stuff she planted all 4 legs out, hung her head and let her eyes glaze over. I rode back to her, took her by the halter and lead her off as she looked like was shutting down completely.
Had we asked too much of her too soon?
Me taking over seemed to be just enough to snap her out of it and she carried on for most of the day without another hiccup. By the very end she had got got tired and got a bit humpy again but it was a very long (10 hr) day and the horses were all very tired by then. She had a slight tender area on her back the next morning too so may well have been feeling very sore at that time.
The bad weather meant a few unplanned route changes. This causes some real problems and major delays. We were going to cross a swamp and after a couple of horses scrambled badly and one got stuck the rest of us were sent back up and around on a longer but safer track.
Then another crossing held us up as it was not too easy and many horses decided they were not going to cross it. Lots of people had to get off and horses had to be forced across this area. Summer saw others refusing to go and decided she wasn't either. I tried her a couple of times but she was not going so she too had to be lead with lots of encouragement from behind, i.e, a whip over the backside which made her decide to just jump it and look out mum!
One horse was injured at this point so I lead it for quite some time so its rider could walk easier on the difficult terrain.
Another swamp crossing came up and again a few horses managed to get over and then 2 went together and both went down. One rider was trapped between them and was literally run over. She was extremely brave but obviously hurt and couldn't ride. They had to take her out to a road on the 4x4 bike and of course the rest of us again were not allowed to cross so had to go a very long way back around to find a safer route.
"Te A", Summer, Charlie & myself getting a bit damp. I was wearing 4 layers, 2 of them
Argo valley and the DoC muster yards
Argo valley and the DoC muster yards
So to cut a very long story short, we eventually made it back to camp at 7 pm. We had been out on the horses for 10 hrs.
I won't put down too much about the loose horse that I lead. It was wearing hoofboots on its front feet and completely lost its footing at one point, scrambling desperately for traction and tangling itself under Summer who was trying desperately to stay on her feet. Lets just say the weekend could have been better!
We were all feeling very tired and by this stage wet as the forecast rain had arrived. The horses were quickly settled and we got some dry clothes on and headed for dinner as of course we were very hungry by then.
I had messages from home to deal with. Car had been found and towed to a panel beaters, not in great shape but found and family member was safely back home and shaken but OK.
We had made the decision that we would go home Sunday morning though and not ride as there was a lot to be dealt with.
Sunday of course the sun came out and the day was full of promise.