Gentle clip clops like drums in the background. A track of shoe prints curved and deeply etched into the dirt. Fluffy chocolate browns, deep glistening black shades and patches of white mane decorate the paddock. These are all so pure, even the greys we usually try to mask with dyes and expensive haircuts. Strolling up to them wearing sneakers and a baseball cap, I feel very much out of place.
I don’t mind feeling the odd one out if it means I’m not paired with the equine equivalent of a radio shock jock. I need a horse that likes easy listening FM.
After signing the usual waivers and taking mental note of the other adventure sports on offer, I get ready to saddle up (can’t believe I just said that).
Charlie gives me the run down, showing me how to mount my ride, how to steer, speed up, stop and eventually handle a three point turn. My trusty steed looks nonplussed. I really shouldn’t have worn sneakers. Stepping aboard, my horse begins a gentle trot over fresh fields with gum trees on either side of our trail. The dirt track steadily leads us higher into the valley bottom and the trees grow close in, shading us with colourful greens and yellows. The wildlife noise also intensifies. Birds echo through the canopy, lizards and frogs warble and streams trickle into lakes and pools I hope to spot soon.
‘Hello Mr Ed’ I said, as my horse neighs and tail swishes to brush away flies. After only 20 minutes, I’m swaying in time with my horse’s gait, feeling almost like a cowboy, comfortable in this carbon neutral transportation.
It’s too easy to relax and loosen the grip on the reins though. Brown Beauty (my name for him) begins charging up a hill, rocking as loose stones thunder into the streams below. I instinctively lurch forward, grabbing hold of his broad neck like a baby pining for his mummy. If horses can laugh, mine was guffawing at that moment. I could see this new relationship would become a straight man, funny man routine.
Cresting the hill, we spot the broad, smooth lake and I realise why he was eager to charge. It’s already hosting 3 other horses up to their knees as they cool off and gossip about the latest round of tourists bumbling around in the scrub.
I gingerly dismount, feeling jelly legs as I get used to walking again. Brown Beauty sidles into the water to debrief and I sit on a large boulder, staring at a vast blue sky, drinking in nature I’d felt so distant from 1 hour ago. The cowboy life doesn’t seem so bad, riding around in Aussie forests, saying ‘giddy up’ and ‘whoa’, absently gnawing on a piece of hay (easier than tobacco) and walking around bow legged, tipping my hat to fair ladies. I could get used to this, finishing with a cup of tea boiled over a fire and warm damper with golden syrup.
Need to know: Glenworth offer a variety of outdoor activities for families, friends and office groups. Try the abseiling, quad bikes, laser skirmish or kayaking. They offer accommodation to make it a weekend adventure too. The Glenworth Valley is 1 hours drive north of Sydney. Gosford is the nearest train station.
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