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jaemar
12-06-07, 11:56 AM
Rowdy, I have been totally inspired reading your fantastic journey and have written a short tale of my own. I have attempted to vary it from your own story, but found many similarities kept creeping in! I thought I would post it on a fresh post to give those CHers who were hooked on each chapter something to read until another true life epic can keep us enthralled!

Here are the first 2 chapters:


Tally-ho!

I had been waiting for this opportunity for as long as I could remember. Planning & daydreaming about the places I would go and the experiences I would have along the way consumed my thoughts almost daily. Everyday activities became mundane chores to get through as quickly as possible so I could get back to organising and fantasising about the trip of a lifetime that lay ahead. Finally the day had arrived and I was about to set off on the ultimate trail ride, nothing but me and my horses and a whole country to explore.

I checked the list for the umpteenth time, being slightly obsessive by nature it was common for me to check, and re-check everything frequently. The horse list first, because of course they were the most important part of this journey. All the pre-ride preparations had been done months before and the horses were fit and ready to tackle anything we may encounter. Bundy was a big black Quarter Horse gelding, solid in build and in character. He was ugly but in a beautiful way, with a big boofy head, kind eye, short neck and a huge rump that you could land an aircraft on. He was easy-going , dependable and had the most comfortable gait that could send the rider to sleep with its steady rythym. Bundy was the catalyst of this whole adventure, without him I don’t think I would have been so keen to attempt such an arduous journey. Alfie the pack horse was a shorter, stocky chestnut gelding of unknown breeding but could have passed for a Highland Pony with his thick flowing mane and chunky build. He could be ridden but was not as comfortable as Bundy so would mainly be used to carry all my gear. The good thing about Alfie was his flat, wide back, and the fact he was not very tall so loading the pack onto him was easy and required little effort given that I am also short in stature.

After ensuring that all was as it should be and I hadn’t forgotten anything important, I stood back and pointed the camera at the two horses, who by this time were getting rather bored with the whole thing and refused to prick their ears and look at the camera no matter how much I clucked and stamped my feet. I gave up and had to settle for a rather blurred image of the two standing side by side with their hind legs resting and their bottom lips flopped in total relaxation. At least they were not wasting any more energy than necessary for what was to be a long and sometimes exhausting ride.

I tucked the camera into the pack and with one final check of the girth, I mounted Bundy and leaned forward to gather the long leadrope attached to Alfies’ headcollar. We headed out down the drive and with barely a glance back at the property, began our long-awaited journey.


Sunset

After what seemed like only a few hours, we arrived at our first stopover. I had obtained permission to stay at the saleyards at Barangarook , which required a slight detour off the main road but gave me some comfort as I passed by shops and houses which may be useful in an emergency. Alfie padded steadily down the sealed road on his pre-conditioned barefoot feet, and Bundy clunked ever so slightly in his front boots which he tended to need for protection on the rougher surface we had been travelling along until then. A few curious eyes glanced our way as we made our way to the yards, although this was a country town and horses being ridden around the streets was not uncommon.

I unsaddled Bundy and turned my attention to the pack that held all the gear I would need for the evening. Once I had unloaded my swag and selected the bits & pieces I required, I removed the pack from Alfie and piled it next to the saddle. I gave them both a bit of a rub down with a towel I had packed especially for that purpose, and removed Bundy’s boots, checking for rubbing and was happy to see none had occurred. I found a large yard which had not been used for a while and had a good pick of grass in it. After scooping out the slime from the water trough with my hands and letting it refill with fresh water, I turned the horses loose in the yard. Of course both of them found the only patch of dirt in there and rolled vigorously, reminding me again that I regretted not being able to bring their bulky paddock rugs along. I had removed their rugs a while ago to acclimatise them to being without, and although Alfie turned into a yak almost overnight, Bundy’s coat was still quite fine and I hoped he would not feel the cold too much as we passed through some of the cooler areas.

Satisfied the horses were settled, I chose a spot nearby which had a roof overhead, and lay the swag out after kicking a dried cow pat out of the way. I set up the tiny, one ring gas stove and attached the can of gas to it. I found a tap at the end of the yards and filled the billy up. As I sat there waiting for the water to boil, I looked out across the yards and watched the sun starting to sink low on the horizon. I shivered slightly and rubbed my hands close to the boiling billy. Well this was it, I was well on my way, I thought. I pondered what lay ahead and began to imagine the exciting things that would happen at each place we visited. Little did I know then that things don’t always go according to plan, no matter how many lists you make!

Rowdy
12-06-07, 09:26 PM
Aww this is really sweet, when I was a kid I pretty much only read horse stories, no Enid Blyton for me. I would've loved a book like this. you need to find a good artist who can do drawings go accompany it.

Linda

jaemar
12-06-07, 11:51 PM
Thanks Rowdy, I have always wanted to write something but didn't really know what to write about, so your story gave me some ideas and I thought I'd have a go & see what came out. CHers, feel free to be my critics, I'd like to know if I can write a reasonable story or not!

Next chapter:

The River

The next morning I woke feeling tired and a bit stiff from lying on what felt like a hundred craters left by cattle hooves stomped into the soft ground and left to harden in pointy ridges. The swag mattress was not as thick as I would have liked but I had to limit the weight Alfie could carry and was forced to sacrifice the comfy self-inflating mattress for a thinner piece of foam.

The horses were dozing in the early morning sun and nickered softly to me as I walked past to fill the billy. A short time later I was packed up and ready to move on. I checked my list and made a mental note of the route I would be taking to the next town. I had followed the path many times along the map spread out on my kitchen table and knew exactly where I was headed.

A few kilometres out of town I came across a detour sign re-directing the traffic due to works being carried out on the old bridge. I took a deep breath of annoyance and pulled the map out to see how far out of my way the detour would take me. It seemed that I would have to go quite a way down the side road to the next bridge and then back along the other side of the river to get back on the main road. By car this would not have taken too long, but on horseback it was a long way out of my way. I studied the riverbank on either side of the bridge to see if there was a way I could cross without having to go around. The river, which was inappropriately named Marvin’s Creek because it was a lot wider than any creek I had ever seen, seemed to have a shallow, rocky section a little way down from the bridge that might be suitable to walk across. I walked the horses over to the edge of the bank and saw a narrow track leading down to the river, probably made by roos or wombats as they drank from the fresh, clear water. I guided Bundy down the steep track, and let the leadrope slide through my hand to the very end so Alfie could pick his way down. I chose what looked like a safe spot to enter the water and urged Bundy forward. He hesitated and tentatively placed one booted hoof in the water, trying to get a feel for where the bottom was. I was happy to see that it was quite shallow and encouraged him to go in further. Alfie, following gingerly behind, stopped to sniff the edge of the water, and then refused to go any further, nearly ripping my arm out of its socket as he planted his feet stubbornly. I tried to back Bundy up so I didn’t have to let go of the rope but he was on a mission to get to the other side and just kept on going. I dropped the rope and grabbed both the reins to try & turn him around. Meantime Alfie was calling out, quite distressed at being left behind, and was stomping frantically on the riverbank which was getting muddied and slippery from all the movement. I had just managed to turn Bundy around and was heading back to the other side when suddenly Alfie took a huge cat leap and landed in the water, almost losing his balance and scrambling to stay upright. I tried to calm him with my voice, and pushed Bundy on to reach Alfie before he slipped over. Afterwards I realised what a disaster it would have been if my pack had ended up in the water but at the time all I could think of was getting Alfie to safety. I finally reached him and grabbed the leadrope which by that time was heavy with mud and water. I turned Bundy around and went back through the water, focussed only on getting to the other side. Alfie, relieved to be with his buddy, followed closely behind, nearly clipping Bundy’s heels and pushing him to get out of this horrible place as quickly as possible! We finally reached the other side and scrambled up the bank on to the road. I dismounted to check both horses for any injuries and gave Alfie a big hug when I realised he was in one piece. I pulled out the towel from the pack , wiped the mud off the leadrope and remounted with very shaky legs! Needless to say, in hindsight I probably should have gone the long way around…

Rowdy
13-06-07, 12:03 AM
It's good. Stick a few paragraphs in there, it's easier to read then.

Just some practical suggestions, for authenticity!
I didn't take a swag, it would take up too much room, plus, if it rains you've got no where to go but crawl into your swag. I took a 3 man tent which only weighed 3 kilos & I could fit all my gear in there as well. I slept on a Thermarest, they pack up small & are surprisingly comfy.

Took a metho burning Trangia, reason being, you cant always be sure in the more isolated places that you'll be able to get fuel for the other types of stove, but metho you can usually buy anywhere.

Keep writing.
Linda

jaemar
13-06-07, 02:08 AM
Thanks Rowdy, that's what I wanted, to know if it was believable. I got the idea about the gas stove from my hubby, he has a little one ring burner in his boat and it comes with an aerosol can of gas. The whole thing is quite small so I thought it feasible that it would fit in a pack.

Point taken about the swag, though, I know they can be quite bulky! I have introduced a tent later in the story, so might just change the swag for a Thermarest!

I'll also try to include more paragraphs,, I tend to get a flow of thought and just keep typing. :P

jaemar
13-06-07, 09:20 AM
Here's the next bit, I tried to put more paragraphs in this time!

Old Mac

My second night was to be spent at a farm on the outskirts of JurupJurup and I was hoping to have a shower or at the very least a wash before entering the town. I studied the map and followed the back roads diligently until I came across the entrance to Old MacDonald’s farm (truly, that is what it was called!). I discovered later that the farmer was John MacDonald but the locals called him ‘Old Mac’ because he had a son also called John and it just saved the confusion. I lead both the horses up the endlessly long driveway and finally spotted the ramshackle farmhouse nestled in amongst some very tall pine trees.

Old Mac’s wife, Irene, came out to greet me, along with an assortment of dogs, all barking hysterically at the intruders. I introduced myself over the din but Irene was busy yelling at the dogs to be quiet and probably didn’t hear a word I said. She pointed to some old, run down stables and said I could put the horses in there and then come back to the house for a chat. I grimaced a bit when she had turned away because neither horses particularly liked being stabled and I would have preferred to put them in a paddock or a yard. I told myself not to be picky and the stables would do nicely.

I tied the horses to a branch under an old blackwood tree and walked over to inspect the stables. They were old and looked like they hadn’t been used for a while. The musty smell warned me of mouldy hay and I was alarmed to see bales of it stacked up in one of the two stables. I certainly didn’t want to put them in there where they had access to it, so I walked around the back to see if there was anywhere else that might be more suitable.

Just as I was about to climb thorough a fence to get a better look at the nearest paddock, Old Mac came chugging over the hill on an ancient old Massy Ferguson tractor. He stopped right in front of me and turned the engine off. It took a while to stop, and spluttered and coughed for a few more seconds before being silent.

Old Mac jumped down from the tractor (rather agile for his age, I thought!) and thrust his hand towards me in greeting. I shook it firmly and thanked him for letting me stay. He asked to see the ‘nags’ so I walked back through the stables and showed him where they were tied up. He raised his eyebrows at the size of Bundys’ enormous rump and asked if he was a “bloody clydie or something?” I laughed and set him straight about his breed but being a cattle farmer, he thought horses were all the same anyway.

I thought this might be a good time to ask about a paddock so I explained about the stables not really being that suitable, and would he mind if I popped them into a paddock instead? He waved his arm in a big arc indicating all the nearby paddocks and said to take my pick, so I thanked him gratefully and started unsaddling and sorting out the pack.

I was hungrily tucking into a hearty home-cooked dinner after a long, hot and very welcome shower when the phone rang . Irene got up to answer it and apparently it was the MacDonald’s neighbour, Arthur. Irene glanced at me and said we’d be right there. She hung up and said we’d better hurry, it seems the horses had got out somehow and were wandering up the road! I swore in a most unladylike way and ran to the door, pulling my boots on and grabbing the halters from the porch where I had left all my gear.

Old Mac had already started up the old farm ute and flung the passenger door open for me to jump in. The dogs, sensing the urgency, were running around, barking furiously and Irene was yelling at them to get out of the way. We tore down the drive at an alarming speed, which was probably not a good idea on a bumpy gravel driveway in a ute with absolutely no suspension!

We drove about a kilometre up the road, and I was starting to panic because there was no sign of either horse. I was just about to ask Old Mac to go back the other way when I spotted a flick of blonde mane in the distance. Alfie! I pointed in the direction and sure enough, there they were, grazing happily on the nature strip without a care in the world. I jumped out of the ute and caught them both, feeling furious and relieved at the same time. Assuring Old Mac & Irene that I would be fine, I started leading them back to the farm, thinking that maybe they would have to learn to like being in a stable!