and rediscovering passion – it’s a pretty big deal for anyone. Anna rubin has
recently taken up riding despite a negative experience with a horse as a child.
She’s faced her fear, with some expert guidance, and consequently experienced
one of the best getaways of her life – and has found a new, lifelong love.
My earliest riding memories are as a five-year-old growing up in Moscow. My grandfather took me horse-riding only for me to have a nasty fall from my horse. I became terrified and had to be carried away from the scene in my loving grandfather’s arms. Not the best start to a horse-riding pastime and an experience that left me very nervous about ever riding again.Living on the Sunshine Coast and being an artist has made me appreciate the beautiful, natural surroundings we enjoy here. This has fuelled my thirst for nature-based adventure. I decided to take the plunge and try to overcome my fear of riding horses. I’d heard about riding on the beach at Noosa North Shore with an operator there called Equathon. The owner of the business, Alex Watson, is a triple Olympian, so I thought they might know a thing or two about horses.
Horse-riding on the beach sounds glamorous, so despite my nervousness I indulged in one of my other passions – fashion – so took the opportunity to dress in an amazingly good looking riding outfit. If my riding skills weren’t totally up to scratch at least I’d look the part!
Alex and his team at Equathon guided me through basic riding skills and helped dispel my nerves by keeping things fun. The magnificent views of the bush and a beautiful surf beach on Noosa North Shore provided plenty of distractions from my fears. Getting back in the saddle has been a really beneficial process for my personal development. Since that first ride with Equathon, I have embarked on numerous beach and longer Hinterland rides on a variety of trails. I’ve come to understand and appreciate horses in a new light, led by the ‘Ride Easy’ program Equathon offer clients.
The culmination of my development as a rider was to join the annual Kilkivan Great Horse Ride, held around Easter in a former gold-rush town in the South Burnett region about 1.5 hours north-west of Noosa. The Kilkivan Great Horse Ride involves starting at dawn on one of four nominated trails and riding 30 to 35 kilometres until sunset when up to 1,000 riders meet up and ride together down Kilkivan’s main street. Team Equathon chose to ride the Widgee – Hanging Rock Trail which passes through some majestic and mountainous countryside along the Bicentennial National Trail.
This horseback riding adventure was nothing short of bliss for me. I felt comfortable moving forward on my horse with security and advice on how to stay out of trouble. The experience was made all the better thanks to cozy accommodation at The Left Bank Bed and Breakfast, delicious meals and wonderful company around the dinner table. My equine companion for this adventure was Roberto (Robbie is his real name), a trusty 15-hands-high Australian stock horse gelding, beautifully trained and cared for by the team at Equathon.
There is nothing that compares with riding through the rolling hills and timber country of the Australian bush. As part of our three-day Kilkivan Great Horse Ride, we also had a trial at cattle mustering and the swiftly-growing sport of campdrafting with expert local stockman Mike Webb. Mike’s uncle, Fabian Webb, started the Great Horse Ride some 25 years ago and is one of the famous Webb Brothers musical trio who created the Gympie Music Muster. Obviously I was in good company!
We played and learned on our horses until dinner was ready at The Left Bank. This heritage building in the heart of Kilkivan was once the local bank and bank manager’s residence, and it’s charming to boot.
Being part of the Kilkivan Great Horse Ride was a thrill I had never anticipated. To be riding out in company with several hundred other horses and riders is incredibly exhilarating. The whole scene looked like something from a Jack London Gold Rush novel. The atmosphere was unbelievable! So many riders of all ages, shapes and sizes on every possible breed of horse created a day-long stream of sights and interesting conversations. There are few buildings, machines, noises of civilisation or any other barriers between you and this nature-based experience. I loved it more than I could have possibly imagined. I also received more than a few interesting looks being dressed in my fabulous English hunter outfit while almost everyone around me was outfitted as cowboys or jillaroos.
I’m hooked! Riding is now part of my life and loves. I enjoy the physical and intellectual challenge and have learned the finer details of mastering a horse that I never would just riding in the arena. Alex Watson, his wife, Rebecca, and the staff at Equathon have been friendly and encouraging all the way through my journey back to loving horses. It’s a love affair I intend to continue for the rest of my life.
For more information please phone Equathon on 5474 2665 or visit www.equathon.com.au