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!
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.
Anxiety attracts more anxiety.
Unhappiness attracts more unhappiness.
Dissatisfaction attracts more dissatisfaction.
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!
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.
|The full dam next to the farm house|
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!|
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!
|Olympic, Tanica, Quayle|
|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|
|Romance & Diamond |
on the road to recovery
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
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|
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
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...........
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.
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...