Friday, June 17, 2016
One bright sunny morning as I was splitting a few logs in Arthurs' backyard I heard the sound of hoofs trotting behind me, somewhere. As I turned around I saw a magnificent-looking chestnut stallion, snorting and throwing his head back as his shiny, long mane danced in the mornings sunlight.
Just then, the side house-gate opened and Arthur came walking out,
"Ya got a new horse Arthur?"
"No mate, why?"
"Look over there, near the silos. Isn't that one of yours?"
"No way Yorky. I dunno' who owns him and besides he's a blood stallion. I can't think of anyone around here who would have a blood horse on his property. They can be pretty cranky at times."
As Arthur walked towards the horse, he lifted his front feet off the ground about 2 feet and threw his head back and gave a happy, neighing sound. Arthur kept walking straight towards him and when he got a few feet away, the stallion turned and ran off up the yard towards the fence. When he came to the stock ramp, he cleared it in one mighty leap and ran around the paddock, obviously to show off his breeding.
"Let's get some tucker for him Yorky. We'll put a saddle and bridle in the back of the Ute and take a few handfuls of horse-nuts. I think he's hungry."
"What's the saddle and bridle for Arthur ? Are you going to ride him?"
"No mate. You are!"
"Me! He's a race horse Arthur. I've only ridden stock horses mate, that were well-broken in!"
"No worries Yorky. There's always a first time for everything mate!"
"Tell ya what Arthur, you ride him first and I'll ride him after, alright?"
"Sounds good to me Yorky, lets git the gear."
Once the gear was in the back of Arthurs' old work Ute, we drove over the ramp and into the paddock where the racehorse was cantering around. Arthur stopped the Ute and got out to get the small bag of nuts. He walked over to the stallion with his hand out-stretched and palm up so the horse could see what was on his hand. As soon as he smelled and saw the nuts he came cantering over. Arthur let him eat what was on his hand and at the same time he was talking softly to him.
"Fetch the bridle over Yorky.", he said softly and don't make any jerky movements or he may shy,"
Very easily I got the bridle out from the back of the Ute and took it over to Arthur who now had the racehorse eating out of his hand, without a care.
Slowly Arthur slipped the bridle over his head and palmed the bit into his mouth. All the horse was interested in was some more nuts.
As soon as the bridle was in place, Arthur walked him around the paddock in a large circle. Then he said, "Grab the blanket and saddle Yorky. Here mate, you hold onto him while I saddle him up."
The horse didn't seem to mind the saddle too much but every now and again he'd jump sideways as Arthur said, "Whoah boy, steady on there big fella'."
Once the saddle was in place, Arthur took the reins and mounted the big horse. He was a bit frisky but Arthur was a great stockman so it only took a minute or so before the horse knew that Arthur was in full control.
"I'll ride him down the Lucerne paddock Yorky and we'll put him in the big open paddock across the road till I can find out who owns him. Follow me down in the Ute mate, will ya?"
"No worries Arthur.", I said, as I hopped in the drivers seat. I was, by this time, a pretty good driver.
When Arthur and the horse got close to the ramp, the stallion took a great big leap with Arthur on his back. He very easily sailed across the six-foot stock ramp.
"That looked great Arthur!", I yelled from out of the Utes' window.
"Open the gate across the road there Yorky.", shouted Arthur.
I pushed the large gate open and Arthur and the big stallion rode through and I closed it behind them. Arthur dismounted and held him by the reins,
"Come on Yorky, hop up on him. It'll be a good bit of experience for ya mate. This is an 500 acre paddock mate, give him his head and let's see how good he really is!"
"Your fuckin' joking Arthur.", I said as I swung mi leg over him. "What if I fall off? I'll break mi fuckin' neck mate!"
"Come on Yorky, you're not gonna fall off. Just remember to keep ya knees tucked in tight. She'll be right mate."
The stallion was no fool. He knew that I was nowhere near the horseman that Arthur was and as soon as I let a' bit of tension off the reins, he was off like a bat out a' hell. Straight up the big open paddock he went, gaining speed at every stride. It was only a matter of seconds till he found his pace and then started to pull away, towards his top speed.
With mi squatters hat jammed down hard on mi ears, I was hangin' on for dear life. I tried to rein him in a bit but there was no stopping him at all now. I applied a bit more tension to the reins but it made no difference whatsoever. He just kept pulling away. At one point, I looked down towards the stirrup and the ground seemed to be a brown blur.
'Oh what the hell', I thought. 'There's no turning back now.' I gave him a bit of encouragement by loosening the reins and giving him his head. A good dig from my boot heels and he knew what to do.
The fence posts were turning into a blur as he reached out for more ground. It was what I would have imagined it to be like, going around the race track. I was starting to like this so I stood up in the stirrups and leaned down over his neck like I'd seen the jockeys do on mi dads' TV. The fence was coming up soon so I put a bit of pressure on the left-hand rein and the stallion started to veer off to the left. We made a very large turn and he pushed the ground from beneath his feet as he pounded them at full gallop. The blood was pumping through our veins and the brim of mi squatters hat was standing straight to attention as the wind made it quiver. His long chestnut mane was straight back as the wind whipped it from side to side.
'What a thrill!', I thought, as I looked out over his large head and ears.
I started to rein him in as we flew past the last pine trees. We still had a fair way to go to where Arthur was standing. I was taking no chances because he was a strong horse, plus the fact that I'd already experienced being thrown over a fence by Patches and I didn’t need that little experience again. It took me all my strength to pull him in and I thought I was pretty strong. The more I pulled, the more he tried to pull against me. I was almost going to panic when I felt him ease up a bit. He was hardly even blowing when we cantered up to where Arthur was standing by the old Ute. I think my heart was beating harder than his when I finally dismounted.
Arthur held the reins and I slid out of the saddle onto a pair of rubbery legs.
"We could make a jockey out of ya'", said Arthur, with a big grin on his face.
"Fuck you Arthur!", I said, as I walked around in a circle. "There's easier ways to make money than that."
"Ya' did pretty good Yorky, at least ya' stayed on him but I had mi doubts at one point there."
"Yeah mate. Once he got wound up into his stride there was no stopping him. I was gonna' walk him back but he had other ideas."
"OK mate, let's turn him loose. There's a dam in this paddock so he's got some water and we'll fetch him some chaff down after breakfast, then I'll make a few phone calls tonight, see if I can find out who owns him."
As we drove back to the house I rolled a Drum and said to Arthur,
"That was a pretty exciting start to the day, eh."
"A good ride, first thing in the morning, gets ya heart started Yorky. Ask any married cocky around the Bush. They'll all tell ya the same mate."