An accomplished, well travelled writer and reviewer, Michele resides in Brisbane. Witty and highly articulate, her rivetting reviews show life through the eyes of a highly Gifted Adult viewing a world where she has an IQ in the top 1% of that world.
On the first part of the journey I was looking at all the life
there were plants and birds and rocks and things'
Sprawling over 3500 glorious Australian acres is a place a mere 50 minute drive from Brisbane where all your horse riding dreams can come true for an hour or for days.
Slickers offers the most amazing, varied menu of horse riding that I have ever seen and it is upon a spectacular changing landscape. Your child or children can join you for a trail ride for an hour or more. If you can't give them some basic instructions, lessons are available and trail rides start from $20.
Depending on the length of your ride, you can tread grassy plains, pass through koala inhabited forest, rain forest with trickling creeks, dense Aussie bush, daring deep gullies or challenging mountainous terrain all on one incredible property. They don't just draw the equine line at horse riding, there is a 40 acre lake which is used by those who stay on the property for swimming, canoeing and water skiing.
If you choose the farm stay you will be comfortably accommodated in quarters on a 900 acre cattle farm. This is one busy place. Farmers can do so many things because they get up at 4 am and return for hot breakfast at 6.30 am in all kinds of weather. They see the sunrise and the sunset, morning dew and the land wake up to a chorus of bird calls. We simply miss out. I have never seen a fat farmer. They are hard working, even tempered, ingenious and the spine of our land. They have the power of enduring hope where others give up or in. I'm real proud of my step dad who knows everything.
At points in my life I have caught both dawn and dusk and written in my brain since childhood is the wise rhyme, "A red sky in the morning is the shepherds' warning. A red sky at night is the shepherds' delight." More accurate than meteorology and easier to remember.
At Slicker's they have camping trips. Stay country bound in the saddle all day, watch that shepherd's delight sunset, cook on and sing around a campfire then caterpiller into your sleeping bag for a true Waltzing Matilda colonial experience in your long johns.
Some saddle soreness may be inevitable. That deep pain is coming from what we call the 'sit bones' at the back of the pelvis. It's just your body thanking you for staying in one position for too long. Walk around, stretch, lie on your side. A saddle sore is when the skin is damaged. It can vary from chafing, which can make a grown man scream to a serious abscess. Prevention is better than cure and includes screening what you are wearing, how you are seated and the saddle itself.
Nothing ruins anything more than being uncomfortable and then sore, especially over a long period of time. If you are booking yourself in for a half or full day ride or a camping trip, prepare your body and follow some advice. I have had a horse and although you can bring your own horse along, most visitors to a riding school are not saddle regulars and if you know nothing, you will feel something. Stretch daily.
Jeans are okay but avoid bulky inner leg in-seams. Corduroy can work but leggings are the best. There are cyclists' underpants with back and front padding and women have a right to access them too. Alternatively, you can wear a maternity pad. They are thick and soft and padded. If you can get away with it guys, it's an option for you too. You are not cross dressing, you are looking after yourself. If your pain threshold is low and your ability to complain high, you can get a tush cushion at a saddlery. You can use a sheep skin and then put it in your bed.
What you want to avoid when riding is any friction. Stirrups are not just for staying aboard, hold on with your inner legs, find your balance, keep your back straight and you shouldn't be sliding around in the saddle. Your legs should not be swinging, they should be gripping. Control your stirrups. Put one third of your boot into the stirrup, put weight on them. Your shoulders, hips and heels should be aligned. You will be given advice on how to get moving, to turn and to halt.
Wear long sleeves and sunscreen for sun protection. If it is cool, a vest is less restricting. Your boots should be light with a small heel. Hiking boots are not meant for horse riding. If you fall off one side, your foot may be caught in the stirrup and you will be dragged. Unless they're on top of a patch of fresh grass, a horse will not stop because you have fallen. They are escape artists. Try catching your horse when it's thrown you and cantered onto a golf course covered in delicious grass during a golf game. If you fall and are not dragged, roll on impact. When you put a helmet on, nod and shake your head, it should stay still.
Slickers offers both a winery ride and a pub ride. You may feel more relaxed. Personally, I think the sunset/moonlit ride sounds the best but done in the warmer months. They are even available as a venue for a Musicfest. They cater for anything, even kids' parties.
Remember horses were once prey and are designed to protect themselves. They have large eyes, 360 degree vision, can rear or kick if you walk behind them. I once used my horse to kick a predatory, glue sniffing guy I stumbled upon, when he got to his feet and approached me with an obscene request. I spun the horse around, he said 'hello' to the legs and I cantered off. That will not happen at Slickers. Check the website for what's available and for how much.
'I've been through the desert on a horse with no name.'