Thursday, March 06, 2008

New Zealand: Days of Our Rides: Manakau

Wellington Area Trail Riding Club - Issue 107

by Jo Lake

Where has the summer gone? Loading Palo just after 6am it is dark. The inside light is not working. He looks at me, questioning. I say "it is not the Black Hole of no return. We are going TRAIL riding". He walks on. It is the high point of his week too!

Palo and I are riding novice-20kms in 2.5 hours-nice and cruisey. Both of us are getting on a bit, and we enjoy each other’s company. So why rush?

This is the first beach ride organized by WATRC-and we are looking forward to it. Palo and I team up with two other novice rides-"Echo" a beautiful 5 year old Arab with Kate and "Roughey" a kind 17 year old hack with Jen. Echo's first time on a ride, first time on a beach! Roughey has been on a beach once before. Echo's rider (Kate) has been on one trail ride; this is Jen's first. The horses are not used to water, but will be fine to follow another horse through. OK.

The ride begins with a short (about 10-15minute) walk through the streets, onto the beach, south for 5km towards Otaki, then back north (it's ok, all in a straight line, I can do this) 10km toward Levin, then turn back south 5km, turn left onto the streets and right turn, left turn, right turn, you’re home. What could be simpler!?

On the beach Palo leads the way through the first river crossing-fetlock deep, quite easy, although the sand gives a bit. Echo and Roughey follow and then quickly take the lead, trotting along. I look at their hoof prints: dainty and shallow! Palo cruises along behind; he is 16hh station-bred, good bone, solid and strong; his big feet sink in the sand.

We pass a family fishing –sitting on the quad-bike, the little girl waves, then so does her wee brother. They are really waving at Palo the palomino-every little girl's dream horse, but I wave back anyway. Palo is busy.

There are riders going north and riders going south: horses cantering, trotting, walking; riders waving, chatting, laughing. Freeze-frame now-let it last forever!

We make good time-the first 5 km in 20 minutes and then we turn. Palo thinks we are going home, so tosses his head and bounces. I agree to canter again. He is having fun. We take the lead for a little while.

Locals are walking their dogs, and families are playing on the beach...


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