Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Muster

You  never stop learning. It doesn't matter what you do, what your profession is, there is always more to know and discover.

In the last few years, I've worked with wild horses, show horses, kids ponies, riding horses. I've run riding camps and worked in some of the top barns in Europe and here in New Zealand. But there is still much more, and so many aspects of horsemanship left for me to discover.

I  just spent the last four days mustering horses in some of the remotest parts of the country. Crossing rivers, climbing mountains and taking a herd of horses where I never thought any horse could go. I learnt a lot, and a lot of what I already know came in handy over four very exhausting days. 

Most importantly that cans of Nestlé condensed milk and coffe in one, are life saving on the mornings you wake up underneath a tree. Sweet goodness & caffeine in one hit equals bliss!

I learnt what is really involved in mustering a herd of horses, from horse back, with dogs and more people on foot. There we little things I understood but wouldnt have thought to do, that made the whole operation run smooth. Like leaving a shirt hanging from a tree to stop 30 horses taking a wrong path .

Some of it wasn't pretty, but I understood for the job at hand how it worked. One or two horses in the mob, most likely to want to run, or turn, or cause genral chaos were roped and haltered and made to drag ropes on the way out, so if they ran they  would stand on the rope and it would slow them down, stopping them form setting the whole herd stampeding,essesntial in areas where your negotiating a goat track along a cliff with no room for error.
Something i knew but came  even more apparent to me, not all aspects of horse riding cross over. You may be able to ride a beautiful workout in the showring but doesn't mean you know how to ride a horse down a mountainside. They are different things, although in the perfect world you should be able to do both. There are some really good riders I would never let do the sort of riding I did the last four days, because they wouldn't know how to do it.


I was lucky I grew up riding across farms and taking my ponies across what I thought until this weekend was steep hills, and deep swamps. I know a horse knows best where it's feet are, and on that kind of country the horse is best left to its own devices, leave its mouth alone and it will negotiate the trail just fine. To many times a rider tries to interfere and more than anything unbalances the horses. However this is someone a lot of riders theses day don't have any experiance with and don't know how to do.

Horses are tougher than we realize to, I rode a borrowed horse and it was a 32km hike out, and that little mare, with her four month old foal tagging a long, carried on just fine. Climbed up landslides, along goat tracks and swam rivers, never got upset , never wore herself out, just got the job done and was ready to do it all again the next day. Working animals like dogs and horses,  i think are actually some of the happiest animals you come across and certainly the most no nonsense.

Anyway here's a couple of pictures from my adventures more to come