As the years went by, I went from being a "rep" of various products, poaching perlamone in the good old days (when there was so much of it, that you didn't think there was anything wrong with it), from plumbing, being a griller, waitering, doing odd bits of this and that, landscaping and garden maintenance, having a roadside nursery, running the first door-to-door food delivery business in Plettenberg Bay, to getting married to my beautiful wife and having three precious daughters... I would tend to forget about my dream.
But every know and then, I would see a horse or watch a "horsey" movie and that urge would get rekindled and awakened all over again and I knew it was something I just had to have. I must mention here that the three horse riding experiences that I had in the interim, never went that well but this never put me off!So along with one of my daughters being absolutely horse mad and having a dream of living on a farm with her own horse, I now had the allie I needed to make my own dream come true! Also, as I mentioned before in a previous blog, that along with my dream of moving to a farm, I was also ensuring that my kids got to experience something other than than crowded shopping malls, movie houses, Steers for entertainment. I wanted them to experience the open space of nature and how they could exist in it every day and not just on an outing or on holiday. Maybe one day when they become adults living in the city and life is perhaps not quite what they want, then they will at least have an alternative existance to fall back on.
|Lush and myself in the middle|
After looking for a farm all over the Western and Eastern Cape, we were constantly drawn back to the Langkloof in the Eastern Cape, where we eventually found our little farm. My daughter Alex accompanied me of these "farm hunting" missions to the Langkloof and being crazy about horses the way she was, she would make me stop if we saw horses in a field and we would just stare at them over the farm fence and if they were close enough, we would go up to stroke them and tell them how beautiful they were! This particular time, however, was the first time she made me stop to take a photo of a horse standing in a field. Little did I know then, that a year later she would become my very own horse!
|Beani's first morning on the farm|
It was a year later that we were finally settled on our farm, now owning three horses that belonged to my daughters, that I replied to an advert stuck on the local farmers co-op message board, of a horse for sale. After phoning the owner and getting the directions, Alex and I set off to go and test ride the horse to see if it was a suitable choice for me to learn to ride on. She was beautiful and her name was Lush but after Alex had tacked her up and was walking her down the field, she suddenly went into a trot and then a canter and suddenly Alex was airborn, she went flying through the air and landed on her knees!! My heart came to a leaping halt, but she promptly stood up and climbed right back onto Lush, trotted back down the field toward us and happily announced that she was the perfect horse for me! The owner had also told us that his daughter had given up riding Lush, as she had been bucked off and was now to scared to ride. He said that she always seem to do it when going from a trot into a canter. Anyway, taking my daughters word for it, we took ownership of Lush. When we left, we both came to the realisation that this was the same horse we had taken a photo of a year earlier.
So, Lush became the horse I learnt to ride on.... in total, she bucked me off twice and the other times I fell off her was through my own stupidity and inexperience, but at the end of the day, Lush was the horse that I climbed mountains and crossed rivers with.
How I cured her of the bucking was easy, whether this was the correct way or not, I dont know but it seemed to work. I would go riding with my daughters and instead of me putting her into a canter, I would let her follow the "lead horse" into a canter and soon she trusted me to put her into a canter without the bucking.
Suddenly, after three very happy years together, she had an accident and I had to make the terrible decision to put her down. It was possibly the worst day, of my adult life so far and there will always be an empty space in my heart left by her, that will never be filled. Her fellow equine friends on the farm, "Gwho-Gwho", "Jack" and her daughter, "Lulu Long Legs" ( now nicknamed "Beanie"), spent the rest of the day after Lush's departure, just standing up on the hill staring down at the farmhouse and it was obvious that they knew Lush was gone. Although a beautiful sunny day, there was an oppressive silence for the rest of the day, as there was someone missing that had meant so much and will never, ever be forgotten by me or her equine family.
|Mommy and foal|
|Pablo and bullet|
The following day, we thought we would go and tell Lush's previous owner the wonderful news and see if we could find out who "Beanie's" father was. We then made the amazing discovery that a 35 year old stallion had been kept in a field with Lush for a while and his name was "Flicka".
It has been almost a year since I lost Lush and I have started to feel that I am ready for another horse and that I really need one soon, so every few days, I would mention it to my family, saying that I would really like to get another horse before I turn 50, hoping they would just somehow produce one!!. A couple of evenings ago, we got a call from one of Alex's friends in Plettenberg Bay, asking us if we would like to take on a 20 year old Percheron horse that had been used for logging in the Knysna Forest. He had been rescued by animal welfare three years ago, as he had been abused.
Everybody was so excited and I could not believe how my silent prayers had been answered. Later that night while discussing the matter with my wife, a bit of apprehension set in, as we realized we would be taking on another animal to add to our already large menagerie of animals to feed and look after, especially since we are wanting to sell our farm and find a bigger farm. Then later that night, unbeknown to me, my wife, before getting into bed to read, said a little prayer, asking if this was in fact the right thing to do. Afterwards, she settled down to read her book, "The Horse Whisperer" by Nicholas Evans. She started reading where she last left off on pg.134 and on pg.135, the following sentence came up,
"His mother used like telling how, at two years old, they found him in the barn, curled up in the straw asleep, between the massive hooves of a Percheron stallion. It was as though the horse was guarding him."
If you have read the book, you will know it has nothing to do with a Percheron and this is the only time it is mentioned in the book. So the decision was made and he arrived 3 days later, all nervous and shaken from his 2 hour trip in a horse box.
|Pablo and me going for a ride|
|A kind eye|
I really love him and he has stolen my heart in a very short space of time, I enjoy riding him but will take it easy because he is here to retire and forget about the abuse the past humans have put him through.
|Riding off into the distance|