If you have any news please send it to me to be published on this page. If you need a horse to ride or if you have a horse that needs a rider for any of our endurance rides you could put that up here, or anything you would like other members to see. You can send photos but if you email them please keep them below about 250kb. Just contact Shirley on email@example.com or by phone on 08640024/0414436307 or mail to PO Box 600, Nuriootpa SA 5355.
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These photos of Tracy Brandon and Castlebar Photon were taken at the APSB All Breeds Show (Arabian Classes) on 28/1/13 just showing what they were doing during the off season. (photos by Karen Sheridan).
1st Novice Ridden Derivative, 1st Ridden Derivative Mare, Champion Ridden Derivative, 2nd Bridle Path Hack, 3rd Show Hunter
Well done to Tracy and Photon.
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WALVIS BAY 2011
I'm not sure what it is that draws me to Africa .... just a couple of weeks ago was my third trip to that amazing continent to, once again, ride a horse! I told my South African friends this would be my last trip .... but, well you never know what the future holds....
Just before I left Fauresmith last year, while saying my goodbyes Don van Zyl (organiser of our trip in 2009) said to me , Come to Walvis Bay next year, I'll bring Brandit for you to ride ...
And so the seed was sown!
Ozzies are not new in Walvis Bay, Namibia. 2007 saw an Australian team and some individuals complete the notorious 120km desert race, I remember admiring the photos from their trip ... who could forget the haunting shot of Meg with wrap arounds and face scarf in the blowing sand !
Then I received the photos taken at last years ride of my friends the Kasselmanns in the desert, on Dune 7 and galloping along the beach and made up my mind ..... I had to go !
Husband Pip, having been team manager at last year's Fauresmith, decided he'd done South Africa,
so I had to look for another companion. I put my proposition of riding in the African Championships to my young friend (often referred to as our adopted daughter) Jody Smith and blow me down if she said Yes let's do it!
Okay so now there was no turning back .....
Full credit to Jody though, not many young riders would be prepared to fork out the $$$ to satisfy all the FEI criteria full membership/International competitor's license/LNO/squad membership PLUS airfare/accommodation/hire car/entry fees etc.etc. But as an astute young rider she recognised what a wonderful chance this was to compete overseas and what an adventure it would be !!!
And so we arrived at Windhoek on Friday morning 26th September and by 6:30 pm we were ensconced in our accommodation 400kms away overlooking Flamingo Lagoon in Walvis Bay.
Saturday we perused the ride base and soon ran into our horse owners and several of my South African friends (Squad jackets and an Aussie flag on the car are a dead give away!)
It wasn't long before we were trying out our horses me on part arab gelding Djokker and Jody happy as the proverbial on grey mare Hello Dolly!
We got the chance during the weekend to walk up Dune 7, go quadding in the dunes and check out the very touristy Swakopmund (mainly on the quest for a saddlery shop which was no easy task to find!)
The next few days were committed to getting to know our horses (and their owners) and organising our tack. I had luckily borrowed the wintec saddle I had ridden in and sold at Fauresmith in 2009 from the Kasselmanns and after a bit of maintenance, a new girth and woolly bumnah it fitted the narrow but athletic Tjokker and we were ready to go. Jody's South African endurance saddle was improved with a bumnah and by using one of the Archer Equine saddlepads we had brought (in Namibian National colours) almost fitted the very lean Dolly.
Ride day came around all too quickly 5am Wedneday August 31 we rode out of the Walvis Bay Equestrian Centre with 60 other standard weights out of some 120 all up competitors in the 2011 African Championships.
I'm reasonably confident, as dark as it was, we were the only riders wearing headlights! The track however, was easy to follow and there were plenty of other riders going the same way ! There were some sections with flashing lights which helped a lot.
Even though we were trying to hold our horses steady we zoomed around the first 35km leg in just under two hours without much effort, apart from my aching arms trying to keep Tjokker under control he only knew one speed !
The second leg of 30kms was the notorious Dune 7 loop, but with still fresh horses we knocked it over in about 1:40. The highlight for me on this loop, apart from the fantastic vista from the top of the dunes, was cantering along right next to a train heading in the opposite direction toward the Walvis Bay port ! Jody was getting much better present times with Dolly so I began to lag behind her. I caught up to her again on the beach (3rd) leg only to have Tjokker hit the wall at about 90kms further than he had successfully completed to date so now we were in unknown territory and I can tell you he wasn't happy ! Because he hadn't eaten much during the last hold and had drunk very little this leg I was naturally worried about his metabolics, but he vetted through and with the prospect of only 25kms over two legs to go I was determined to do it even if I had to walk much of it on foot well as it turned out .....
And so before nightfall Tjokker and I crossed the finish line, Jody having completed two hours before me was there to give me a hand along with Peter and Isak Grobbelaar (the owners). Saddle off and straight to the vet for a 52 HR and a perfect trot up and the overwhelming satisfation of having got through Walvis Bay!! My official place was 31st in a time of 9:46 I wasn't quite last standard weight!
Jody and Hello Dolly had completed in a very respectable time of 7:48hrs for 26th position so naturally she was over the moon about her first International ride which at the end of the day was quite a tough one. The fastest time of 6:01 was put in by a junior rider, the standard weight winner 6:32 and the fastest heavyweight at 6:38. Considering the whole course is sand to very deep sand, these times are extraordinary.
I have mainly concentrated on the ride for this write up, being the purpose of our Namibian odyssey but the trip as a whole was a fantastic experience/adventure and holiday as I'm sure Jody would agree. I'm hoping to infect some of you riders out there with our enthusiasm to look beyond your own back yard. Of course there is a cost to travel overseas to pursue our sport but if you set your goals to include such an experience I assure you, you can only learn and grow from it. The life long friends you may make along the way are another bonus. The World is not such a big place and we endurance riders are so lucky to have horses as a common bond where ever we go, so I say just do it! As long as I can still wrap my legs around a good horse I'll be checking out a few more rides in a few more countries before I hang up my saddle pad!