First day nerves took over and I asked Charlie to hop on Chief and just make sure he was going to be OK ish amongst the crowd of horses. He was pretty good so I climbed on and rode off. All with the help of good friend Jan who watched over me the whole week.
Riding with only one arm is not easy let alone on a horse like Chief, but it felt good to be out there and continuing the journey.
It's so good to catch up will this extended family, some we get to see during the year and others that we meet only on this trek. Nice to have some new people too.
But all in all the trip went well. Some very long and hot days. Water in shortage which is never great but they haven't had much rain in that area. A few horses were tying up and a couple had colic symptoms one lunchtime. I don't think I have ever seen so many horses that couldn't be ridden on this trek. After a couple of days, they were carting heaps of them along in the trucks which makes it super that Chief made it through as he wasn't as fit as he could have been.
Seeing my friends going through some tough times is not easy but life's journey is not easy. Together though, we help each other along the way but if I have learnt nothing else from this week, it's that asking for help is actually OK.
Chief is going to be awesome. He may not ever be safe enough to be a childs pony but he doesn't need to be. He is surefooted, smart and can keep out of trouble in the communal paddocks which is a bonus.
Now it's rest time for us both. I need to heal my shoulder and Chief needs to process all that he's done in the past week. He was looking pretty shattered at the end. He has seen and done so much in that one week.
We rode along a disused railway on the last day and had the option of riding through 2 tunnels. The first one was 150 metres in length and had a slight curve to it.
Once you had gone 20 - 30 metres in, it was darker than dark. Shadow had lead us into it and then stopped, wanting to turn and go back out. Chief just toodled around him and I encouraged him to take the lead and walk into the darkness. It felt like the ground was moving under us as you had no focus point.
Once we had gone about 50 metres, the light from the other end started to show and it was easy after that.
A very cool challenge and a lesson in trust.