Monday, February 28, 2011

Taumaranui to Mangaweka

Riding into the Ruatiti camp after a very long, hot day.

Where to start? As always this week brings about so many challenges, for me this year they were challenges of a different kind.

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.
Tired looking Chief

I managed to not hurt myself too badly which the physio's will be pleased about. Riding with the sling prevented anything major and I hurt myself more getting undressed in the shower than I did out riding.
Cowboy Town

One potential catastrophe though is very clear in my mind. I didn't see an old fence line that was laying on the ground and buried in long grass. I heard the wire clink and tried to steer Chief out of it but he got caught up and was dragging the fence with him. He panicked and inside so was I but I hauled him to a halt and told him to stop, I was concentrating on him but the group of others I was with heard the noise, realized what had happened and before I knew it there was 3 people hanging onto him, keeping him still. I asked them if I needed to get off as I didn't want to move in case he started to move also so I couldn't look down. Getting off with one good arm of course is a major issue but I just had to do it and luckily it wasn't too bad. Chief was untangled, no major wounds and I again was grateful to have such amazing friends and helpers with me.
Horses tied to the hitching rails outside the saloon

I haven't got many photos. Camera's are not easy to use with one arm and Chief is still not settled enough that I could do much of anything other than sit up there and keep still. He had to get used to the bikers passing him as well as passing the walkers with the poles. He has done amazingly well!
Chief at Cowboy town

Another funny moment was the day I discovered he will kneel down to drink. Water had been a bit scarce and there was a trickle running down the side of a track that had formed a damp area. I held him to the edge while he drank but then I felt his front end doing down. I thought he had sunk into the mud and was thinking that I could be in trouble here but then he just popped up and jumped across. The people that saw him say he was down on both knee's, something they had never seen ever.
The Colonel (Mule) who is in his thirties now and still going strong

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.
The bridge at Mangaweka

Of course I have come home with a whole new view on life again. My expectations have changed on some levels and as always there will be things to change. I find I learn so much about myself during this week that always amazes me.
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 and his new mate Ollie

And finally I have achieved my goal. I completed the trek and my horse is still ride able at the end!
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.
Jed, who owns The Colonel

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.

Alan, one of the Northland characters

Frank & Pixe's mobile tent

1 comment:

sally said...

good on you!!!!!!!!!. What an awesome achievement, especially one armed. Good boy Chief - what a star. So gald to read about your fun time with awesome people