Saturday, 10 December 2011

Four Weeks…Into the Unknown | Barry Armitage

Four Weeks…Into the Unknown | Barry Armitage

extract from Barry' journal - please go to there site for the full story........

Four Weeks…Into the Unknown (www.barryarmitage.com)

December, 2011 | No Comments

Our stay at Bulungula Backpackers was a highlight of our time on the Wild Coast. It sits humbly in the landscape not out of place alongside the thatch rondavels of the nearby community. Things are simple but stylish with everything you need, and all dealt with responsibly. It is a community initiative started by Dave Martin, with composting toilets, solar electricity and water heating, supporting a large portion of the local community.

It had been very wet the day of our arrival and our gear had taken its time drying around the wood burning stove overnight. A violent squall, just before we enjoyed a slow breakfast while waiting for the low tide to cross the Xhora River, almost undid all that slow evaporation. We got going at around eleven o’clock for the short 17km ride to the Haven. The Xhora had cut three channels separated by sand banks in its estuary, splitting its water into manageable volumes easy to wade through on the horses, but not without our boots and legs getting wet.

A few headlands and wades later we were in the forest of the Cwebe Nature Reserve that surrounds the Haven. Like most of the large coastal forests we had been through, it is a quiet, still place; the sound of the sea and wind drowned out by the dense foliage. There was no sign of any wildlife however, no tracks on the forest path and very few birds. These lush, dense coastal forests don’t seem to be home to many animal species, unlike the patches of coastal bush veld that seemed to always host a few duiker.

Spiders webs, tendrils of thorny creepers and low branches are a constant issue travelling on horseback through forest paths like these. Combine the three and it’s like a ride at the fair with consequences: ducking under branches that could take your head off, missing thorny tendrils that seem to reach out to grab you and rip skin and clothes when you don’t, and then the constant difficult to see spiders webs that always arrive at head height and that you see at the last moment before the web wraps around you face followed by rapid flailing of hands, spitting and spluttering to get the damned thing off. Individually these are not big issues but occasionally you get all three together and it causes humorous mayhem that can result in a little blood, ripped clothing, bash to the head and vegetation attached to your backpack.

We emerged from the forest in the mid afternoon with the buildings of the Haven appearing serene and peaceful in their forest clearing, a reminder of a past era of Wild Coast holidays. It had been a short day, an opportunity to catch up on drying out equipment, to get a bit of admin done, and to ponder the crossing of Mbashe River which had loomed large for the whole journey.

The Mbashe River was the big obstacle on the Wild Coast. With all the rain we were telling ourselves that it must be swollen and all along our approach had reminded us of this: this and the Zambezi sharks resident at the mouth. To drive the point home, in the reception area at the Haven there were photographs of Zambezi’s swimming around in the lagoon with their fins sticking out (as sharks are so fond of doing, just to scare humans) in exactly the spot where we were planning to cross! We had feared this river on the Dick King ride and we had been feeling that same trepidation on this ride too. We had checked it out the night before a few hours before high tide. The rains had not swelled it too much, and we felt that if we crossed at the widest point, it might be shallow enough to wade across the whole way, avoiding the thrashing of limbs that swimming entails sending messages of “food” to the Zambezi’s lurking in the chocolate brown water.

After all the hype the Mbashe had been tame on the Dick King ride, and so it was on this journey. We slipped across its 120m breadth without the horse’s hooves leaving the bottom and without attracting the attention of the legendary Zambezi’s. We seem to be having luck with this river but I won’t ever take crossing it lightly, and never without a slight knot of fear in my belly.

There were six more rivers to cross in the course of the afternoon but once we were across the Mbashe everything else seemed like a breeze. Some were deeper but as the end of the day drew closer we got more and more bold, and less and less inclined to worry about getting ourselves and our gear wet; we just plunged in making sure our cameras and phones were waterproofed or clear. Cherokee is the best swimmer of the horses: a bit timid going in but once under way he goes like a battle cruiser! A long day, but one filled with wilderness areas and spectacular scenery, finally brought us t0 Kob Inn.

I was last at Kob Inn when I was just out of nappies, so was excited to revisit this place that had so many fractured childhood memories: my dad catching huge grunter, the trampoline, my brother standing on an electric eel crossing the river, the children’s dining room and the dinner gong. I must be one of many kids with these sorts of memories and others came flooding back as we rode through the gates to a warm welcome from the staff and guests.

My room has a view of the rocks where my dad caught many sizable fish and I think I can remember being strapped to my nannies back with a blanket and being rushed to see one of the biggest being landed. I was probably too small to actually remember this though and it’s likely to be one of those patched together “memories” from photos, family stories and experiences. I don’t care: I remember it fondly!

The resort has grown and upped its offering since I was here last about 40 years ago; I am sure that there will be many more fond memories being created in the years to come. Many thanks to Daan and his wonderful team for having The Ride, and for the opportunity to revisit childhood memories.

Day 24 started like most of the previous few: a leisurely start to the day involving admin, drying clothes and equipment, and stoking up the engine room with a large breakfast. We tend to skip lunch so breakfast is a very important meal. We got away smartly at 11:30 deciding to risk the river before the low tide to give ourselves every chance to make it to the ferry on the Kei River before six o’clock. We made it easily but not without the obligatory wet boots. We had had wet boots every day since we hitting the Wild Coast a week before.

The riding was simply sensational. The hills open up on this section of the Wild Coast into rolling grasslands which we would alternate with blasts along the hard sand at the water’s edge. Fantastic riding and the horses loved it. Jack had had a few days off and hit the day with a fire in his belly and winning on his mind. Everything is a race when Jack is in this mood. It seems to be brought on by Arabs: he can’t bear to let them be first and Julie-Anne’s horse Tara has a solid dose of Arab.

There were about eight other rivers of various sizes before the Kei, all of which we managed to wade across, but at some there was trepidation as the water lapped over the backs of the horses: is this the one that we are going to get wrong and end up in the drink?

We popped in to meet Justin Bonello’s mum, Jeanne, at Cebe. She, like her son, is very charming, and has conjured a beautiful, stylish home and garden right on the Cebe rocks. We had to leave far too soon to make the last major river crossing of the day, and I still wish we had changed our plans and taken her up on her offer to spend the night. It was a reminder of the concept of this ride, and the need for our schedule to remain as flexible as possible. We had planned too far ahead and missed out on the opportunity to stay at a very beautiful place with great company.

As we approached the ferry crossing on the Kei River, I could feel the mood between the three of us begin to quiet. The ferry crossing would mean the end of the Wild Coast and the end of our time with Julie-Anne. By the time we stepped off the ferry the mood was somber but tinged with happiness. We had experienced an incredible thing together, and for Julie-Anne it was a realization of a dream that she has had for many years.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

The ride Coffee Bay to Bulungulu

Saturday Coffee Bay

We left the farm late morning arriving in Coffee Bay mid afternoon. The crew and guys from THE RIDE were already there after a short riding section that day.
Clint and I stayed at The Sugar Loaf backpackers, while Barry, Joe and the crew were at the Coffee Shack. It was kinda surreal meeting them, after lending them horses for the Dick King ride and then seeing them on TV and networking on Facebook and Twitter with them for the past few months if felt like seeing old friends again.
Dinner was relaxed and the guys great company, I think that I am going to have a great week!

Sunday at Bulungula

There is not much signal here, although there has been signal while we are out riding.
We left Coffee Bay this morning with a break in the rain, but it was wet for most of the day - it was still a good ride, would have been spectacular if the weather was good!
The river at Hole in the wall was unexpectedly deep- we only just got through without getting our seats wet!
Further along as we were crossing one of the many small streams, Barry on Cherokee marched into the what looked like shallow water and disappeared! Joe and I fortunately managed to stop but Barry had an unplanned dunking, cherokee lost his footing, went under and so did barry! Needless to say, Joe and I found a shallow crossing 20m up and paddled through dry. It was one of those moments when everything happens in slow motion and joe and I could not help giggling - sorry Barry, but your face was a picture!!!

The shore line is spectacular and we rode some stunning pathways along the 30km stretch, but it was raining too much to pull out the cameras....

After a 4 hour ride we arrived at Bulungula at 2pm, just making the river crossing before the tide started to push in. This is an authentic African hide away. Run by the local community, it is typically backpacker funky, very laid back and has a very chilled don't worry be happy vibe. If it does not happen now, it will happen just now :-). Lunch was traditional Umngqusho -pronounce nooshu with a click in the middle - or cooked whole maize with potato. This afternoon we are all chilling, catching up with FB and trying to get some clothes dry. The horses are safe in a little paddock between the huts and grazing on knee deep grass. We are in the heart of Xhosa country side, this is real Africa....

We spent the evening sitting on pillows around the fire place, chatting to fellow travellers, wet boots and jods drapped over the fire place, enjoying our wine and a simple supper of chicken curry and rice and apple crumble and cream for pudding.

Bulungulua is a unique place, community run, solar power, rocker showers and compost loos! And cows mow the lawn! Definitely a place worth escaping to.

Monday - Bulungulu to The Haven.

For some silly reason I woke up ridiculously early and saw a sunrise trying very hard to push holes into the rain clouds. By 8am we had several down pours, but miraculously by 10 am it was blue Sky. We headed out in time to cross the Xora river at low tide. Its another stunning river with Mangroves, huge lagoon, vast sand banks and an easy crossing! We got our boots wet but our seats were dry, so that was cool.
From here we had several long stretches of beach and a gorgeous detour through the forests before arriving at the Haven Hotel.

Well, this old beach hotel has apparently changed ownership, had a coat of paint, and provides simple rondavel accommodation (very good bed - I slept like a log) and good food! It is sort of caught in a time warp and stuck in the 60's era and the decor made us smile - but it is lovely, remote and peaceful. Set in the Cwebe nature reserve the surrounding bush is pristine. There is lots of game about, although we did not see any. The Oceananous cruise ship sank just off shore from here in the early 90's.

After dinner we checked our route for tomorrow and we had an early night. Clint and the guys had been down to the Mbashe earlier and it looks good for a safe crossing in the morning. We have a 40km ride through to Kob Inn tomorrow.
Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom - let your email find you!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

How are you feeling?

I seem to be spending a lot of time just being quiet, taking stock of what has happened and coming to terms with it. My garden is a wonderful sanctuary, and is glorious in all its spring splendor at the moment.  A lovely place to be and heal.

Here are some quotes from "Daily teachings" by Rhonda Byrne - its a little book full of quotes and feel good messages.  I thought I would share some with you........

Whatever feelings you have within you are attracting your tomorrow.

Worry attracts more worry.
Anxiety attracts more anxiety.
Unhappiness attracts more unhappiness.
Dissatisfaction attracts more dissatisfaction.

AND

Joy attract more joy.
Happiness attracts more happiness.
Peace attracts more peace.
Gratitude attracts more gratitude.
Kindness attracts more kindness.
Love attracts more love.

Your job is an inside one.
To change your world, all you have to do is change the way you feel inside.
How easy is that?

God is guiding you and communicating with you in every second of your life.  It is responding to your thoughts and He is giving you invaluable feedback through your feelings.  Your feelings are cosmic communications!  They are good for you!
The bad feelings are to get your attentions so that you will change what you are focusing on.

Tune in to the cosmic communication that is with you every day.  You are never alone, not for a second. The Universe is right with you at every step, guiding you.   But you have to listen!


Monday, 17 October 2011

When life changes suddenly......

On the 1st October 2011 my son Branden James died.  In the early hours of Saturday morning, his car went off the road, nose dived into a ditch, bounced over a fence and bushes and landed in a dam.  He was killed instantly, no pain, no suffering.  For that I am very grateful.

Those first few hours on Sunday when we found out were numbing, I could feel nothing, not even my hands.  It took a few hours to finally sink in, and I went to my horses, Moonlight held me while I cried. When I stopped, he simply walked away and sighed, saying, well that's it, you've cried, and that was it, I had cried......

That first week was very fuzzy, nothing was very clear, I looked in the mirror and saw an old woman. I did a lot of walking, a lot of being with the horses - they simply absorbed my pain.  The memorial was up lifting and full of love and left both Clint and I and Ashley with a great sense of peace.

Through all this I have learned some great things about my son.  He was very popular and much loved.  He lived life to the full;  hunting, fishing, tennis, a fanatic Rugby and cricket supporter, always helpful, reliable and gave away huge hugs to everyone who new him.  He was part of so many peoples lives. Wow, I am in awe of who he had become.
I have regrets....we never got to dance together, we should have hugged more, and I dont have a really nice photo of him and me...

I have also learned that it really does take a village to raise a child, in Branden's case it seemed to take the whole communities of Kei Mouth, Morgan Bay, Komga & Brakfontein and in return, these same communities have supported us in our loss - they really do care.  Thank you.

Clint is going to miss him terribly.  They hunted and fished together, talked endlessly as the way guys obsessed with guns and tackle do.  Ashley no longer has a big brother to watch out for him.
People seem surprised that I am not sobbing and crying for my boy.  Am I sad, yes.  Will I miss him? Yes. Will I have tearful moments?  I am sure I will.  But in this moment I am at peace. He is with me - I have had some very real moments where I have felt his presents (he was worried about me!).  I know he is OK, and he knows that I am going to be OK.


Thursday, 29 September 2011

Horseback Riding in Africa

The full dam next to the farm house
Winter on the Wild Coast...


The past winter months seem to have floated by; either in a haze of hectic-ness or totally chilled! There has been some really cold snaps - leaving snow on the distant mountains - and us beach bums shivering from the un accustom icy wind! And then a few days later we are back to the lazy balmy sunshine that we are use to.


Jamie and Puzzle trying out the water in the dam!
June was very laid back here at Sunray Farm, although we had some very heavy un-seasonal rain!  Our little muddy dam, grew to be a stunning mini lake with an island almost over night.  I was so excited - at last after such a long drought, we had enough water to swim the horses.  Our nearby city East London had major flooding with the Nahoon river coming down in full force - quite spectacular, but frightening at the same time.  I was very glad that we live on top of a hill!  This has been the wettest winter in recorded history! (we normally dont have rain in winter and have summer rain fall)


Nevertheless the horses got a bit of a break with only one work rider Jamie helping Amanda, and one small trail at the end of the month, we were all refreshed and ready to get going again.


Visitors from all over ...


Trails in July were very quiet, but we did have a lovely visit from Candice from Cheval D'Adventure.  We have recently gone onto their books and look forward to taking their riding clients on wonderful horse riding holidays.


July was school holidays, so the work riders were all kept pretty busy doing short beach rides for local holiday makers in Kei Mouth and Morgan Bay.  Elisa and Simon from Holland, Hannah Eaton and Laura Loi - Thanks for being with us and for all your help and hard work!


Steph Verney came back to us for a second visit in July - on our 6 month volunteer program, but sadly her Grandfather become very ill and she had to go home after 6 weeks, we were all so disappointed.  You are just going to have to try again Steph.....


Ashley rode his first Fauresmith 200km National Ride, and I went up for a few days to support him. (the tables have turned at last, he has groomed so many times!)  He rode for the Eastern Cape Young Riders team again in a very good time of 9 hours 48 and was placed 17th in the Young riders category   I am so very proud of him. He is on a winning streak at the moment, winning both 80km and 120km rides at FEI level and  also getting best conditioned horse awards.  


We had a lovely visit from Wendy  from Unicorn Trails and her friend Tania who is going to be writing travel articles about our horse trail along the Wild Coast.  It was great catching up - we have not seen each other for ages!  Danni - from Unicorn Trails - is bringing an escorted group to ride with us in October, so the Unicorn Team is all fired up and up to date with what we do and will be sending lots of riders to us this coming season.


Around the paddocks


We tragically lost Tassenberg. I was so heartbroken. He was one of our best and most popular trail horses. I had started riding him for myself, done an endurance ride on him and was training him as a lead horse.  During a trail he cut his back fetlock quite badly and in the weeks that followed developed a secondary infection.  This was treated and he was recovering, but him immunity was compromised and tragically, without warning we found him dead in the paddock one morning.  All indications were that he had got acute African Horse Sickness which caused sudden heart failure.  I miss him terribly.




Spring equals new beginnings


So September has arrived, the orange trees and Jasmine are all in full bloom and the heady scent has brought spring quickly to Sunray Farm.  We have 3 riders on our working riding holiday and they are having a great time.  Hannah Mitchell from Scotland has arrived for 6 months on our Volunteer program, so as usual I am kept busy coordinating and organizing.


I tell you what has been a really pleasant surprise is the sudden popularity of our 2 week Horse Riding Holiday at Sunray Farm!  Angelique (South African) is with us at the moment, and she will end her stay with a 3 night 4 day trail along the coast.  I have another lady booked to arrive on the 14th Sep and there are a couple of other ladies interested.  
Basically you stay with us at the farm, either in the guest room or in The Loft (depending on your budget), and get to do as much riding as you like, and be as involved with the horses as much as you like.  Its informal, and relaxed with riding at the farm (out rides and schooling/lessons) beach rides and riding at the game reserve.  It suits any level of rider, as the riding is tailored to suit each individual.   I was thinking of removing this option, but I am going to keep it available for now, and lets see if the interest grows??


Anyway, that is it in a nut shell for now.  Please leave a comment and share the blog with your friends!


Happy riding 
Julie-Anne



Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Heart breaking decisions, devastating consequence, happy endings....

Olympic, Tanica, Quayle
Last year 2010 was hard.  The recession knocked us off the comfy ladder we were climbing, then the 2010 world cup soccer kicked us in the shins and the worst drought in living history of our area shriveled up every blade of grass and drop of water.  I cant even say that we were keeping our heads above water, there wasn't any - just a sticky black mud to sink into.  So to keep my working team together, I had to make the heartbreaking decision to cut back and sell some horses.  A nearby local breeder was looking for brood mares - perfect - they had lots of space, lots of horses, and it all seemed like a good idea at the time.......my girls would have a good home, be looked after and the deal was made that I would keep the foals that 3 of the 5 mares were carrying.
Brood mares 
A month before the mares were due to foal I delivered Dancing Quayle (not in foal) Olympic Dream (in foal) Torstone Tanica (in foal), Diamond (in foal) & Romance (not in foal) - with great expectation of the first crop of "Bobby" foals were to be born there and would stay with their dams until it was time to wean, in the mean time the mares could be serviced by their Friesien Stallion. Win win , everyone gets what they want........



11 October 2010 Diamond & Trinket
13 Oct 2010 Tanica & Trevor











After a month, I dropped in to check to see how the girls were looking, I was a little concerned that they had lost condition.  I did voice my concern to the person who was suppose to be looking after the horses.  But it was the end of a very dry winter..............I also asked where Quayle was, they said she must be around.........Diamond was the first to foal, she was looking thin but ok, and she had a lovely filly whom we called Trinket, shortly after Tanica foaled, a lovely colt we called Trevor she was also thin.  I kept asking after the other 3 mares, no one had seen them?  Warning bells started to ring in the back of mind head......  I went to visit again  - I am horrified at how the horses had dropped even more - the two mares with foals are very thin.  Olympic was now due to foal, and I want to see her and get told no, she is dead!!  I ask what happened, and get told they dont know but it might have been while she was foaling.....Romance is looking awful.   On further enquiry I am told that Quayle is also dead - fell and broke her neck??  I am beginning to think more like my girls had starved to death!!

I am guilt ridden - my beautiful girls are riddled with rain scald, full of ticks, skin and bones - Oh my God - what have I done?  I cant forgive myself for having to sell them. I dont have the money to buy them back.  So I make a decision to go and get the two foals and hand raise them.  At least that would help the mares and the foals would be OK - so the Saturday I go around and tell the person who was suppose to be looking after the horses that I will come and get the foals on Monday.  The two foals are looking very poor, thin and full of ticks, I give them a shot of vitB (and the mares) and told them to hold on, I will come back for you............................

Monday morning, I get to the farm, Tanica is looking terrible - an old injury is abscessing and very painful, she is horrifically thin.  Little Trevor is weak and wobbly - you can see his hips and ribs sticking out.  Romance and Diamond are eventually found and brought to the sable yard.  Diamonds foal is missing .....and never found.....I was too late.......

Once home, we got Trevor onto a milk/water/tissue salts mix and fed him every two hours.  Darling Tilly without any hesitation took him under her maternal hoof and become his step mom.  Within days, he had stabilized and pickup weight.  Now I knew my worst nightmare was true, Tanica, Diamond & Romance were going to starve to death by neglect....Oh dear God forgive me....please help me.

The following photos were taken on the day we brought the mares back to Sunray Farm. 
23 November 2010

Tanica's abscess on leg
Diamond
Tanica
Romance
Romance
Romance
Tanica
Diamond
Tanica
Diamond
Diamond
Tanica
Romance & Diamond
on the road to  recovery
And He did, He sent an angel Roz, a volunteer at the time, who had help me rescue Trevor, who was there as I sat crying, "If only I had the money to buy them back"   - she raised the money through generous donations from her friends, rallied around and got enough to not only buy the mares back but have a little left over to buy the extra feed and medication they would need.  I could not have done it with her.  Thank You Roz.

So began a week long negotiation to buy the 3 remaining mares back, all the time the girls were getting thinner and weaker.  But we did it, got them home and began nursing them back to health.  We also managed to get Trevor suckling again from Tanica as with food and good grazing she began to produce milk again.


Tanica & Trevor
reunited and getting stronger
I have to give a special mention to Janine in Mthatha who took Romance for a couple of months and got her back to full condition and health - Thank you Janine, I could not have done it without you.

and last but not least to dear Roz & Ana and friends.  Thank you.





Its a happy ending to a painful lesson.
Here are recent photos of the three mares - Tanica will remain a brood mare, as the damage to her leg has made her unsound.  Diamond is loving working at the Game Reserve and has made a full recovery!  Romance  is back from her rehab with Janine, as fat as butter and is used here at the farm as she is a school master and wonderful ride. And Trevor, well he is cute and fat and growing up with the rest of the herd!
Tanica January 2011

Romance 4 June 2011
Diamond enjoys being a safari horse! June 2011


Sunday, 22 May 2011

More like a mad gallop!

Goodness! Cantering about on the Wild Coast was more like a stage coach ride the past few months :-)
Wow, we have had such a wonderful beginning to 2011.
14 trails in 20 weeks with over 50 riders experiencing horse riding along the Wild Coast - it has been awesome. Thank you everyone who has been with us, we have had a great time too!!

So you ask - what exactly have we been up to?

Its all been a bit of a blur actually;  one month has rolled into the next..............

At the beginning of April I took 10 days off to go to the SA International Endurance Challenge.  Ashley was riding the 120km and I was groom for Laura Seegers who rode for the SA Endurance team.  The Perseverance Endurance Horses are wonderful - ridden barefoot they are turning heads on the endurance circuit!  It was a great week of camping, horses and visiting friends.  Go to www.endurancehorse.co.za for the full results and more info on barefoot riding! Perseverance Endurance Horses on Facebook!

Our journey home was an endurance marathon in itself! 24 hours on the road.........Truck, horse trailers & back up vehicle.......
We were packed up and going shortly after 6am when the first vehicle issue happened.   The Masterson's horse box wheel fell off - fortunately this happened in the middle of town and no one or horses were hurt!  But this whole episode took ages to sort out and fix and we were on the road again shortly after 11am.   It was steady driving the rest of the day - I drove through Pretoria/Johannesburg for the first time!! Oh my, so glad I dont live up there - no wonder you guys are all so stressed?  We stopped and had a bite to eat just out side of Bloemfontein, unloaded the horses to stretch their legs and were on our way again.  There had been a lot of road works coming up with stops and go's so we decided to take a back road (thank goodness) to Graaf Rienet via Jaggersfontein.  Well about 50km out of the little Free State town horrific sounds engulfed us and my Mahindra ground to a hault....... it was after 8pm at night, in the middle of now where & raining. All I can say is thank God we had cell phone signal - and managed to stop the convoy of horse boxes and trucks to turn around and come and save us (Bob really is our hero).  And Lucy magically managed to get hold of a loan garage who would help us on a Saturday night...... so off we go to Jaggersfontein - The big truck towing the horse trailer and behind all that; me being towed !!!!
Well to cut a long story short, we had to leave my car, unpack all my camping equipment into the truck and set off again to Graaf Rienet.  Lucy & I kept Bob awake with "transparent questions" and chatter.... it will be a trip that non of us forget.

I set off the next day back home in a borrowed car with Ashley who had a few days off.

So now my Mahindra is stuck 600km away (6 weeks later its still there!)  Then to add to my woes, I used Clint's double cab to go get horse food in East London the following week - and it too broke down - no oil in the engine - (5 weeks later its still at a friends house!)  OK, so we are down to the Landi - guess what - 4 weeks later its still parked in the drive way with a broken wheel hub.....................and I have a hire bakkie which is costing the earth................. oh well, I am not quite sure what the lesson is here, but hell,  to say that I am not having any luck with vehicles at the moment is an understatement.  Maybe something will be fixed by the end of this week???? ??????????????PLEASE?????????
Enough of my car drama...

To top it all I am having a run of lame horses. Three full brothers Time Warp, Tassenburg & Tanu are all lame, Kingston is still not well, but seems to be improving all be it painfully slowly and now Top Deck is lame :-(

The over night trails have been hectically busy, 5 weeks back to back has been hard work (especially without vehicles!!) I just have to say thank you, thank you to Nicky and Amanda - well done - you are both awesome :-)  I am sure that Collin at Peas on Earth will be glad to have his beloved wife back!!

Harry Brouwer rode with us again over Easter together with his friends from Holland.  It was lovely to have Harry ride with again - this is the third time that he has been on trail with us.  And he always brings the most decadent Belgium chocolates for me - who could not love someone who does that :-)

Clint has been away most of the time during all of this - he has been taking clients out hunting & fishing - we are going to need some serious together time after all this - ha ha! (after he has got all the vehicles fixed!!)

Shunter is really training Tashbah hard for the next endurance ride.  I am down to one horse available who is registered Torstone Tambourine - a real sweaty or I could take Tara to do a 30km and see how she does :-)

So finally we have slowed down to a nice hack - time to catch up, fix, clean and prepare for the next great horse riding adventure.  We start to fill up with our Gap Year rides from the middle of June onwards.  - there are still a couple of places available in July/August - so if you have been thinking about riding with us, go to the web site Wild Coast Horseback Adventures fill in an enquiry form and we will find a space for you!

Our 7 night Wild Coast Horse Safari has turn out to be very popular and we have places available on most of the dates that are on the web site - more info on our horse safari

till next time
Happy riding.




Thursday, 17 March 2011

Let go of those that want to hurt you!

Over the past few days the following little clips have come to me. Possibly to prepare me for the spiteful and immature vendetta that someone is trying to create about old stuff that happened years ago, forgotten, done and dusted and put into the files of life's learning experience.  


So, I have a choice; to react with anger and retaliate or just to shrug and let it go.  I am choosing to let it go, but in doing so would just like to share it with others. 


‎... that generosity will make you rich. The best thing to do if you're feeling poor is to give something away. Give a few dollars to a homeless person, some clothes to a thrift store or pay for the person behind you at the drive through. Instead of focusing on what you don't have, focus on what you do have and how you can bless others with it. Being able to give is a Divine gift in itself.
Letting go makes you wealthier. Wealth is never measured by what you have, but by what you can give away. You are rich with money when you can afford to donate. You are rich with love when you can give love freely. You are rich with God when you can behold your enemy with compassion.
So dear lady,
To you who has such hatred, how sad that you are so angry. I would have thought that you had moved on, grown, matured and let go of past unpleasantness. I am stronger because of you, as your actions no longer cause me concern, upset me a little, yes, but then I take a big breath and let you go.........................
Just remember that you reap what you sew...........

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Torstone Moonlight

Moonlight, my sweet darling horse.  We have been together for 20 years, he has been around longer than my kids and hubbie - so yes, he is very much part of who I am and who I have become.

I first met Moonlight as a young colt next to his mom.  A cute foal out of a beautiful Arabian mare Chesyb Dunari, and the father, well he was a "Transkei Special" named Duke.   The breeder Rene (Al Adiyat Arabians), was not very happy about this union, and when Moonlight was 9 months old she gave him to me.
So he grew up with my string of trail ponies that I had in the mountains in Stutterheim.  At 2 he was gelded, but unbeknown to me he had sewn his wild oats and covered my Boerperd mare Danica Dee.  The result = Torstone Starlight  on the 12 August 1992. (that's another tail)

And so Moonlight grew up.  When taking riders out on out rides, I could never keep him in, he would jump the gate and follow us, so that is how he was started!  I just put a saddle on one day and let him come with us.  I was really into showing and dressage at that stage, and did a lot of work with him - even to this day, I dont really ride him, just think what I want and he does it! But he was not big enough to show, and he hated dressage - he was good at it, but would buck in protest down the long side and one judge commented that he did a lovely test, lots of rhythm-um and forward going, but just a little over impulsed!!
I tried to sell him - but no one wanted him :-(

Thats when I was introduced to Endurance Riding.  The East London Endurance club had the Stutterheim ride and I got involved with the organizers and did my first pleasure ride on my mare Danica Dee.  I thought it was a huge achievement to have ridden 20 km ha ha - I knew nothing!!  So one of the guys came and had a look at the little chestnut I had.  He said he is perfect, put some shoes on (we all shod in those days) and do the 80km next year.  And thats what I did.  A year later, 2 March 1996 Moonlight and I finished our first 80km in 5 and a half hours. We were hooked.  It took me another year to get fed up with showing and dressage and then we hit the endurance circuit at a gallop.

For the next two years, Moonlight and I were unbeaten in any race we entered and won several Best Condition awards.  We did Fauresmith two years in a row, finishing 44th the first year in 10 hours 29 min. and then finishing 28th in 9 hours 50 min.  We represented the Eastern Cape on both occasions and got our provincial colors.
Moonlight was award the Eastern Cape Horse of the Year for 1997 and 1998
On the 8 August 1998 we completed our first 100 miler.  It was also the year that South Africa was first invited to ride internationally, things were moving and shaking and Moonlight and I were in the running to represent SA at Fauresmith 1999.  But it was not meant to be.
The following morning Moonlight came out of his stable on 3 legs.  The vets said he would never be ridden again, must they put him down now?  I was horrified and said no, give him enough pain killer to get him home.  During the night he had ripped his deep flexor tendon and his tendon sheath.  I was heart broken.  All my dreams and hard work came crashing down around me :-(

He could put no weight on the damaged leg.  We could not get his shoes off, and immobilizing him in the stable was impossible - he was smashing the door with the injured leg to try and get out.  So for 6 weeks he hobbled around with bandaged legs, finally managing to get his shoes off and feet trimmed.  I then turned him out, lame and hobbling into the veld for the next year.

By the end of that year we had moved to Sunray Farm and I was giving up hope of Moonlight ever been sound again - then I met Kim Dyson.  She started me on homeotoxology treatment - injecting stuff straight into the injured area! (this led to a very grumpy and unhappy horse!) Shortly there after Clive Heersen came into our life - a homeopath and great horse lover, he said give him these little white pills and get on a ride!  What, was he mad?  Use it of loose it he said. 3 months later, many hours and km's of walking road work and buckets of tears, Moonlight was walking and trotting sound!
Moonlight was looking fantastic, and we were having such fun together so I entered him in the local Agricultural Show at Komga. He came home with a dozen rosettes and meddles and the title of Champion three gaited riding horse on show.  My boy was back on track.  (Moonlight went on for the following two years to be Reserve Champion Three Gaited Horse on Show with Branden riding)

It took another year of work and riding. Moonlight took Branden to shows and Tilden riding camp, took Ashley to shows and jumped and generally became our family horse. We even did a few 30 and 60 km endurance rides and Ashley did his first ever 80km on Moonlight.  In May 2002 I rode him in the Eastern Cape Endurance Championships over the Stutterheim course.  2x80km endurance rides ridden back to back (one on Friday and one on Saturday) we finished both in 4hrs 33 and 4 hrs 57 and were rewarded with the title of Reserve Champion.  We did one more 80km after that in 4hrs 25 at Hoffmeyer and I called it a day.  He had not only come back to complete an endurance ride, but came back in good times and qualify for Fauresmith 2000.

He was my hero and beloved friend.

When I started Wild Coast Horse Trails, he was given a new career as my lead trail horse. Moonlight was my compass exploring and finding the different routes and paths along the Wild Coast. For 6 years Moonlight was my right hand man.  He new the route, where to stop, how long it took for riders to take photos, and where we were suppose to stop and get off - he would park himself at the same bush every time!! :-)

He also practiced  escapology - opening gates and taking the trail horses back to the Kei River on several occasions! (NOT good for moms humor!)  He is terrified of oxen pulling slays ladened with wood.  Has never stood still when I want to get on, has no patience and will dig holes in the ground if he thinks he is getting left behind! Pulls like a steam engine and I dare not ride with out gloves - my hands will be torn to shreds!  It was only in the last few months before I retired him as lead horse that any one else could get past him on a gallop down the beach - he was the fastest - and new it!

I retired him a few years ago as lead horse.  His old joints cant take the soft sand and gallops anymore, and he would come home from trail sore and stiff. So now he is still the man, still commands respect in the herd, still wont let anyone else talk to me  - I am his human.  We do the occasional hack on the farm, and did a full day ride on the beach in December.  Him and Suave have been teaching the younger horses about riding with game, but he is back home now.  Grey in the face, and a little sway backed maybe, but much loved and never forgotten.

Through all the years, he has been my constant friend and safe place to be.  He has given me the wings that I needed to fly, the strength to sore when so much else was going wrong, and then the freedom to gallop and make my dreams come true. I salute you my dear, dear friend Torstone Moonlight.

Wednesday, 09 March 2011

Third time lucky!

Ok, so here goes again!!
Will I be able to keep this up - this a the third time that I have sat down with full intentions of keeping and writing a blog, but it gets a bit hectic out here in the bush.  Although I must say I seem to be totally hooked on Facebook, but I dont always say what I want to say cause its a bit short.

We have taken more riders on trails in the past two months than we did the whole of last year.  Thank God!
I never want to go through a tough time like that again.  But thanks to sheer determination, and the good will of people we work with, we have managed to pull through, and this year is looking to be the best ever!

The 7 night safari is a definite success.  A fabulous ride, combining game view and beach riding!
But I digress, this blog is not about flogging the trails, but rather about what we are up to, the horses, and general life in Africa.

I hope to keep it up beat and amusing, occasionally sad, and hopefully I wont need to rant....
Chat to me everyone, I love to hear from you...