Irene at Reflections and Nightmares asked for input from fellow horse tragics.
A Baby Boomer I grew up in an Australian city but our suburb and others nearby included some swampy areas where horses were kept.
I loved horses and occasionally I was able to go on trail rides through the swampland in an area which is now totally reclaimed and the site of fancy houses, businesses and a large shopping centre. On some of the swampy ground an old man, “Mr Gray”, used to live in a caravan, not the modern type but more like a gypsy caravan, an old wooden one with steps up to it. In a circle around his caravan were low corrugated iron stables, not at all fancy, I think probably cobbled together from second hand sheets of iron. There must have been about 10 horses. Nowadays, if kids were going off to such a place alone everyone would be suspicious of the old man’s motives but as far as I know there was absolutely nothing untoward about it. We paid to go on a trail ride which he led and I suppose he and his horses were able to live on the meagre proceeds.
While I was at Primary School every weekend I used to hang around another place with horses, that was near the Breakout at West Beach. People agisted horses on the Breakout and on weekends girls would gather with their horses. I still remember some of the horses. Tiny was 16 hands high, an ex-racehorse and Rita (named after an actress, Rita Hayworth, a redhead) was a chestnut ex-trotter and once I was doubled up on her as her owner tried desperately to get her to break into a canter. It didn’t happen that day, she just trotted faster and faster! There was an old shaggy horse someone owned and you could hire it for the day, 10/-, I think. One day I was lucky enough to be given the money to hire it and I had a lovely day with it. I snuggled up to its old neck and felt wonderful having a horse all to myself.
After my day hiring the shaggy, old horse I went home happy but later that night I was scratching and scratching. Mum checked my head and said it was full of bugs, I had to get into the bath and have my head scrubbed then submerge myself under the water. It must have been powerful soap because it dealt a killer blow to the lice or whatever they were! After that I never felt tempted to snuggle up to that old horse again.
When I was about 13 I regularly went on trail rides with a girl from school, her mother would drive us across town to the stables. I remember one day being happy to be able to ride, “Ginger” because she wasn’t an old plodder but I discovered she did know when we turned for home. When we reached a straight, dirt road she took off, I had no control over her at all. Luckily there was no traffic on the main road as we bolted across it and I was still in the saddle when we came to a stop. I think terror kept me stuck there because I know I often fell off for no apparent reason.
I only recall one boy having a horse but he wasn’t a regular at The Breakout.