Thursday, May 10, 2007

Toft Endurance Finale

Thursday May 10 2007

Sadly, it is coming down to my last week in Australia. Same thing as in New Zealand: HOW DID THIS HAPPEN SO FAST?

I was torn between two choices: staying another weekend with the Tofts, and riding in a 40 km training ride with them, or heading off to Sydney before the weekend to visit with Ron and Val Males of Ralvon Arab Stud. Obviously, either one I chose would have been an excellent choice, but either one I missed would be an experience sorely missed. But like I always say when I’m disappointed that I miss a ride, there’s always another ride, so, I booked a ticket to Sydney for Friday to visit with the Males.

Thursday morning, my last full day at the Tofts’, I went to the barn and hung around a while, watching another load of horses being loaded on another van, and watching Peter watch horses trot out. He was studying them at the walk, at the trot, on a hard dirt road, up a hill and down. He probed for sore spots, he looked at feet. “There are 3 things we look at,” he told me, “soundness obviously, heart rate recovery, and supple muscles. See this here?” He was standing behind Murdoch, and ‘fluffing up’ his butt, and it jiggled like jello. Of course Murdoch is a little fat right now because he’s had a little rest, but he said when they’re fit, you still want to see loose, supple muscles, not muscles hard as a rock. (I think my horse Stormy’s are pretty loose but that’s because it’s all fat and no muscle! And his heart rate stays pretty low, because he doesn’t do much!)

Today I saw Murdoch’s 5-year-old appaloosa half-brother; he’s not done any rides yet. Penny said he has the look and feel and attitude of Murdoch, but, Peter said it’s just too early to tell how he’ll perform. Later I also saw a full sister to Murdoch, who they’re keeping as a broodmare. She’s with another hundred or so Toft horses at Peter’s sister’s place about 20 minutes away. Everything there is also brown, brown, brown. Peter’s having to haul all his water onto his farm, (and you can’t use city water for your garden, only for household use and livestock.), but his sister’s farm has its own spring water, though the paddocks here are pretty bare also. Out here are horses vacationing from breaking, and some just growing up - yearlings, two-year-olds, mares, oh, and a mob of wild kangaroos. In one paddock, a 17-year-old gelding, a former 2nd place finisher in the President’s Cup, Kadish, has the enviable job of babysitting the mob of yearling fillies. “He’s pretty special to us,” said Peter. “He’s the strongest horse I ever rode. In one ride we were going sideways, and he was so strong, I thought we were going to crash into this telephone pole and knock it right over.” Maybe Kadish will be giving the fillies some pointers.

Friday Peter had a meeting in Brisbane, and he took me along to drop me off at the airport afterwards. We passed RIGHT BY the street where I lost the Raven. I kept my eyes peeled, and told Peter he’d have to stop in the middle of the road should I happen to scream because I saw it, which he readily agreed to, but sadly, I did not see it.

I boarded the plane and headed off to the Sydney area. Now I’ve really left Brisbane and the Raven behind. (Unless it finds its way back to me…)

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