As a little girl in a remote region of New Zealand I read the classic White Mane, and fell in love with the dream of the wild Camargue horses. Based on the iconic 1953 black and white movie Crin Blanc by Albert Lamorisse, the story is of Falco, a small boy who gentles and saves a glorious white stallion in the Camargue. This beautiful coming of age story embodies the classic theme of childhood innocence and the love of horses, and vividly evokes the beauty and wildness of the Camargue.
Horse riders spend so much time and money worrying about our horse’s soundness, shoeing or trimming, getting their backs checked, looking at their teeth. We invest in the best fitting saddles we can find, and trial 20 different bits; we buy jumping boots, brushing boots and tendon boots. We pour effort and time into our horses to ensure they are in the best possible health, then we swing on top and ride perfectly. Or do we?
With the best will in the world, a wonderful riding trainer and a deep and comprehensive knowledge of riding techniques, we can still be our horse’s biggest problem. If we are unbalanced and stiff, our horses cannot move freely and with balance. If we have overly tense muscles or sit unevenly, our horses may fall in on a circle, be heavy on the forehand, or land badly from a jump. Our horse's backs, legs and overall health can be damaged; or they can be dealing with constant discomfort from their rider being unbalanced - or simply not fit enough to ride fluidly.
1. My horse riding childhood
I was given my first horse at 11 by a kind neighbor, and started her myself at 14. My teenaged years were a blur of riding – we galloped 90 Mile Beach, chased wild horses in the coastal hills, rode across every local farm - and jumped every gate! We often rode bareback, and trained our horses to ride tackless. We kids camped out alone with our horses staked nearby, and swam them in the sea. We left at 5am and got home at night, sometimes slipping out at midnight to ride under a full moon. The wildness and wonder of this time helped shape me, and taught me self-reliance and responsibility for other creatures.
This story was written for the fabulous global horse trekking site Equitrekking.
New Zealand is well known for the amazing scenery and the incomparable natural beauty of our beaches and wild spots. As riders, we know that pretty much every view looks better between two furry ears, and New Zealand is no exception to that rule!
For Juno's first show I had one clear goal - for her to stay calm, and not be phased by hundreds of horses and riders. She managed to exceed my expectations by quite a bit!
Over the last year I have been compiling a list of places to ride around the Auckland Area - enjoy!
In late November we joined the Waitemata Hunt in a trek along Te Henga walkway down to the sandune lake at Bethells and along the beach. Stunning scenery, with crashing waves and huge cliffs, and fabulous riding along the streams and through the farms.
I took a week to think about buying this horse. On paper she was perfect... black registered quarterhorse, both parents 15.1hh. In person though, she had an unpredictable streak, and ears that gave fair warning this wasn't going to be straightforward.