Worlds within Worlds (3)

posted in: Australia | 1

Worlds within worlds… last weekend I had the joy of joining in another of these fascinating worlds and came away deciding that, even though they can look exclusive or divisive, I think they are actually the bridges that bring us together.

Where else would you find big, burly, bearded, beer-drinking blokes chatting enthusiastically with dainty, well-turned out ladies of a certain age who look as if their home is in front of a dainty china tea set?  Where else would a pretty 19 year old be happy to spend a whole weekend with people 3 times her age?  This lovely mixing of people, sharing an interest bridges gaps and creates strong communities.

This world within was a horse riding/camping gathering.  While not everyone knew everyone, everyone knew at least someone there, and the sharing of food, alcohol, stories, and laughter around the campfires meant people became friends pretty quickly.  Of course the conversation was pretty much horse (and float and rig, and tack) oriented but these were the spans that brought this disparate group into being.

And oh wow! Were there some beautiful horses there!!  I love horses, and for the past few years my only horse outlet has been the tough little Tibetan mountain horses.   Tibetan horses are brought up rough and tough and they look it.  They can work for hours, but would never win in any flash horse show.  These horses were a mix herd of pure-bred Arabs, Welsh Mountain pony, wonderful Australian stock and quarter horses, thoroughbred crosses and one massive Clydesdale cross.  And every single one of them had been cared for and, even if used as working horses, cossetted.  Some were used as polo horses, others as stock horses, and some were stud horses.

The ride was held on a 5,000 acres property owned by one of the riders and we all set up camp not far from his ‘shack’ (Shack is Tasmanian for holiday house), which meant that we ladies could use the bathroom and not have to head for the bush.  Terribly civilized.  Swags were de rigueur – and for non- Aussies, a swag is a canvas bedroll with a padded base, room for sleeping bag and pillow. Sort of like a mini-one man tent/sleeping bag.  The one I was using has a flap that can be tied up to protect you from the rain or snow, plus a mesh cover for your face to prevent the mozzies and spiders from dropping in on you.  However the two nights we spent camping were so glorious that I didn’t bother with either of those extras, just lay there looking at the fantastic Milky Way, trying to figure out if it was possible to shut my eyes on that crystal beauty.

Bonfires are another bonding experience.  The leap of the flames, the crackle of the wood, the meteoric sparks and the intense warmth create a mesmerizing aura, leading to quiet chats, sharing, story telling and ease of friendship.  Fires had a place in our society far beyond their cooking and heating properties.

Although I didn’t have a chance to ride this time, and was one of the lunch crew, BBQing and making salads out at the half-way point of the ride, I still had a wonderful time and was able to pat and talk to some lovely horses and really nice people.  These people may not have looked twice at me down the street, but with this horse world bond, I have another world within to explore.

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