Posted on Thursday, January 31st, 2013
Going back home to Australia is always a treat for me. This time I was lucky enough to combine visiting my family with a scouting trip to one of Australia’s most beautiful destinations- Noosa, Queensland which is on the east coast, north of Sydney.
Although this was winter in Australia, the days were mild and I was comfortable in a t-shirt and jeans. The evenings were cool and crisp, allowing a welcome glass of wine to warm the senses just enough to bring your body temperature back to perfect. In my mind this is ideal riding vacation weather.
Without a doubt, the highlight of this riding vacation was the day spent at “Jaylyn Downs”. Horses and riders were transferred to a working cattle and Australian Stock Horse breeding farm for a day of real Aussie culture. Jaylyn Downs is horse paradise. With over 200 horses, the farm has an exceptionally successful breeding operation and sells horses all over Australia.
We started that morning with a brief tour of the farm with its many one, two and three year old colts and fillies, brood mares and shining happy bright- eyed stallions. We were shortly taken to our starting point for the ride and given our task: find some stray cattle in a 10,000 acre property of rolling hills, gullies, gum trees, and hidden valleys-Fantastic!
Dan- my Australian Stock Horse- was willing and sure footed. We did some quite fast canters up and down these rolling hills, in and out of trees and occasionally over them. Dan, and the other horses did not take an incorrect step. All guests, including myself, were very impressed. We topped out on a mountain overlooking our stray cattle and set to the task of moving them. Dan again proved confident and eager in this task and we accomplished our job in a relaxed manner, being able to chat to the other riders and staff from the ranch.
The afternoon at Jaylyn Downs was spent playing (or attempting to play) polo cross. In a nutshell, polo cross is La Cross on horseback; just as fierce and fast with the added benefit (or disadvantage) of being on horseback. I don’t believe I have laughed at myself so freely in many years. What a blast. This is a must when you join this ride. The trained horses we used for this adventure were safe and sure footed and certainly knew the rules better than we did, and played to win.
Over a delicious dinner that night we relived the events of the day and again ended up rolling in laughter and sheer joy. We all started to fade quite early and enjoyed a well earned sleep in our comfortable accommodations.
Although this day was the highlight, the whole six day ride was impressive. From the great horses taking you through varied scenery such as state forests, beach and open ranges, to the hospitable owner/guide and accommodation hosts serving a delicious array of meals and conversation. I found this ride a memorable Australian experience that I enjoyed thoroughly.