Friday, April 13, 2007

Dingley Maze Paradise

April 12-16 2007

The Raven and I arrived at beautiful Dingley Maze Paradise on the border of New South Wales and Victoria in southern Australia, home of Meg Wade's Castlebar Endurance. We're here to visit for a week or two and ride some endurance horses belonging to one of the leading endurance riders and breeders in Australia.

The Raven met Meg's pet kangaroo - the first marsupial to make the Raven's acquaintance!

The Raven had his first ride in Australia - several rides in fact. He liked to check the training charts every morning to see which horse he was assigned to ride. His favorite horse? Difficult to choose... but if you pick by names, how can you not like a horse named Demon? Which was his favorite ride? Hard to say… all were enjoyable no matter how long or short they were; all were beautiful rides to our eyes, whether we were up high with views or down low just following a logging road through the forest, the horses were all fun in their own way, and the company was always excellent.

One day we did a good long 2 ½ hour ride for some of the fit working horses. We started up a long uphill climb through the forest, then up on top we wound around the maze of logging roads, trotting, cantering the flats and uphills, walking the downhills. It was mostly eucalyptus forests, with a few areas of pine trees. Nasari was tough, chugging right on up the hills like they were nothing, wanting to get ahead - he just wanted to GO! He has a lovely canter. There was one long uphill stretch, about a mile or so, that we just cantered along up the gradual climb, and while I could hear the other horses huffing and puffing behind me, and dropping further back, Nasari didn’t seem to be breathing at all, and he left them behind with his easy rocking chair canter. I was in dreamland bliss or something on my horse, because apparently a wallaby hopped across the road right in front of us, spooked the other girls’ horses, and I didn’t even see it! I think the Raven did though. I can’t believe I missed it! But no matter because man, what a great ride that was.

What a great ride! It wasn’t too hot, and on the last bit coming home, we got a strong breeze for a while. It felt good and it eventually cleared the air a bit of the persistent smoke always hanging in the air, though the fires are still going pretty well on that one mountain in the not-so-distance.

Then there was the day of the Reserve ride - a group of us just cantering a couple of miles on the side of the road and back, and I had this great little gray gelding Deviate that had this great Go attitude, and he was push-button to ride. Miles of lively cantering past scarey cows and screeching cockatoos (and over cockatoo feathers - somebody had a cockatoo for lunch). Always the cockatoos everywhere - flocks of them!

Wildlife spotted besides the ubiquitous parrots (never get tired of them) were a wedge-tailed eagle, a kookaburra (!! This one was just sitting by the acorn tree inhabited by green and red parrots), a marmot, a black snake, a deer; and the Raven and everybody else saw a wallaby. Oh, and flocks of kangaroos at night time in a pasture of a nearby resort, where they probably throw food out for them.

The Raven loves the colorful parrots that are everywhere, but boy are they LOUD!

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