Here is a collection of articles I have written for the Morgan Messenger Magazine, the official publication of the Morgan Horse Association of Australia.

December 2019

Two beautiful foals are on the ground at Challa Station, the first foals by Mountain Creek Cartier. We have Spinifex, our buckskin colt who was foaled on Sep 30th out of Greenstone Dandaloo and the very beautiful chestnut filly, Challa Station Tarantella, out of Mt Tawonga Belinda, born on Oct 17th. Both foals are an absolute delight, both as friendly as puppies and very nicely put together. I have really enjoyed handling them and teaching them about wearing halters and carefully giving them very basic leading skills. When they are young, I also spend some time on hoof and leg handling. It is incredibly important to set a young horse up for life if you are going to breed them.

Tarantella and Spinifex

When Spinifex was about a week old, I put his dam, Dandaloo, back in with Cartier. I loved seeing the three of them running together as a little “family.” Cartier was so good with his foal and they were a picture of contentment. Challa Station Captivate (Molly) has also run with Cartier – my goodness, I’m looking forward to seeing the foal they produce! My guess is that both mares are in foal now. Because I live so far from a vet, I can’t have them scanned to confirm a pregnancy, so I get my information from what the mares are telling Cartier. Both of them are telling him to go away now, so it looks like his work is done. Do I worry about twins? A little, but no more than I worry about the other things that can go wrong in a horses’ life.

Challa Station Walkabout is heading to Perth with Lenny and I next week to be gelded. He is such a cheery young horse and so easy to work with. I had to remind him about the horse float in preparation for his big trip. He remembered the float lessons he had with his mother when he was a few months old, and walked straight back onto the float when I asked him. He had a little drive with Lenny and coped really well. Walkabout impresses me with his really friendly but not coltish nature. He is really ‘with me’ when I work with him, light on the lead and watching me for my next move. He’s had hardly any training, and that was a deliberate move on my behalf. Because his dam, Willow is so quiet, I ran a real risk of turning out a bossy little colt with Walkabout if I had handled him too much. My conservative handling has produced a very respectful horse who is gorgeous work with.

Lenny is coming to Perth with Walkabout to be his travel friend for his first long trip. Luckily for Lenny there are a few very interesting clinics on while we are there. We are going to do some classical dressage, extreme cowboy racing, working equitation and some liberty training. Luckily Lenny is your typical, versatile Morgan!

We wish everybody a very merry Christmas and a prosperous and happy new year!

October 2019

We were very excited to welcome our first foal for the season on Sep 30th. Greenstone Dandaloo had a trouble-free birth and presented us with a lovely buckskin colt. This is the first foal by Mountain Creek Cartier and he’s a real beauty! He has a little star on his forehead, just to give that hint of bling, and his sire’s cute little ears. It wasn’t long before he was up and running – it's lovely when they are born correct and healthy. And I will admit, I was really hoping for a buckskin. Dandaloo gave birth in the yard at mid-morning, surrounded by the peanut gallery of horses and pet calves. Even the bowerbird was chiming in, mimicking horses snorting and squealing just to really confuse the onlookers. Her colt is strong, with good bone and what appears to be a really easy-going temperament. Mt Tawonga Belinda is looking longingly over the fence, and as I write this her udder is huge. She’s not far away from foaling so we look forward to seeing Cartier’s second foal shortly. The birth of foals always means that the ridden horses get some time off.

Spinifex 4 days old

Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) and Challa Station Willow have some work ahead of them though. It involves camels, carts and an old shanty town. Next week, Mount Magnet will transform into movie central as the film crew from “The Furnace” comes to town. “The Furnace” is a movie set in the WA gold rush in the 1890s. Lenny and Willow will be used as set dressing horses. I wasn’t going to let an inexperienced actor ride any of my horses, but I was happy for them to be tied up in the background or to wander along the main street looking fat and shiny. Willow may be pulling a cart for a short scene, providing she’s happy to do so. The exciting thing is that there will be camels on set too. Horses are, as a general rule, terrified of camels. Lenny and Willow will be having some pre-movie camel training sessions prior to filming so let’s hope they cope with all of the action, the non-horse people and the camels. “The Furnace” master of horses is coming to town with a team of riders, he has worked with the Mounted Police for years, so he’ll have some very good tips for me I think. He’s keen to meet the Challa Morgans I’m looking forward to doing some training with him, along with the 120 cast and crew. They are planning on having an actor boot camp here at Challa for a weekend, using our arena, to show the actors how to look like they can ride a horse.

The Visible Farmer series was launched on August 28th. Visible farmer is a series of short documentaries that showcase women farmers. I was lucky enough to be filmed for the series and even luckier to be the first episode. Lenny gets some really good coverage and I was able to show off my Morgan horses to the audience. If you haven’t seen the Challa Morgans on the Visible Farmer clip yet, please have a look. It’s now embedded into our website; www.challamorgans.com I’m sure that those of you who follow us on Facebook will stay informed about the next foal.

I wish all breeders a successful season and I really look forward to seeing the foals everybody else produces.

August 2019

I now have clear proof that Morgans can read. Facing the tail end of an incredibly hot and dry summer with ten horses to worry about, I knew I have to rationalise my numbers. I mentally went through my list of horses and came up with a small number that I would be prepared to part with. Amongst that small number was Challa Station Willow, and the reason I decided that she could go is that she is so quiet to ride, she’s probably a bit too quiet for me. I thought that a person looking for a really steady horse to ride would be incredibly grateful for the opportunity to purchase a mare like Willow. So for a week her ad was live, and I had enquiries about her from all over Australia. There was so much interest, in fact, that I decided I should wean her colt and put her back into work.

It didn’t take much, but Eva Hornung talked me out of selling Willow shortly after I posted the ad. And I am so grateful that she did. I am quite convinced that Willow read the ad and listened to me telling people that she was just too quiet to ride. Since she came back into work, Willow has been a plucky little courageous mare, who is quiet but eager to ride. No longer the steady little mare who is too quiet for me, but forward enough and bright enough to be considered for the number two riding horse spot, after Lenny the Legend, (Tandarra Millennium).

Since she read the ad, Willow has helped with cattle work, taking charge of the heifers and maintaining her composure as a mob of 100 of them galloped past. She competed in and won her first ridden competition in, of all things, Extreme Cowboy Racing in an indoor arena! That’s a story for another time. Willow and I are going on some great trail rides and she moves forward eagerly with her ears pricked, knowing she has places to go and things to do. We are building a real partnership, consolidating what she learned before she went on maternity leave and advancing her training with a new, sharper outlook.


Debbie and Willow

I did end up selling three horses. Youngsters Challa Station Wildflower and Justified have found new homes, as has the beautiful Greenstone Giaginye. But I think Willow will be staying with me for life now. What a clever horse she is!

In other news, Challa Station Morgans will be hitting the social media pages soon as a result of our participation of the (In)Visible Farmer Project. The project serves to highlight the contribution of women in farming. You might recall they visited Challa last November and filmed my episode, it’s only seven minutes long but I was able to promote Morgan horses. There’s no way they could document my story without including Lenny the Legend! The series launches on August 28th and mine is the first episode, so look out for it.

June 2019

Cattle work has to be one of the best ways to train a horse. The horse has a purpose, plenty to think about and can always learn something. We have just finished mustering and we have almost 100 weanling heifers in the yards being trained. We train the heifers for a couple of weeks before we let them back into their paddocks. This means that when they come in for mustering they won’t be wild and terrified and dangerous, rather they will have an idea about moving away from pressure and working with people and horses.

Young horses like Challa Station Captivate, are introduced gradually to the cattle. They are put in yards adjacent to the race when we are working the heifers and they experience the excitement of cattle rushing past them. They are ridden in the paddock with the cows but not pressured into doing too much. They just need to cope with simple facts such as cows that are lying down get up when the horse comes, and if the horse moves closer, the cows move away.

The next step is for the horse to cope with a bit of action without getting too excited. Challa Station Willow had only been in work for a week when she got to experience more excitement than we had planned with the cattle, who were giving us a hard time as we were yarding them. Three times the cattle broke away from us. Horse trainer, Margi Weir, who was here to work with Mountain Creek Cartier was on Tandarra Millennium, (Lenny). As the cattle broke, Margi took off on Lenny and Willow stood beautifully amidst the chaos of four hundred and four galloping hooves passing her by and disappearing across the paddock. When I asked Willow to walk and then trot after the cows, she did so steadily and in complete control. I couldn’t have been happier with my lovely mare.

After the horse can cope with cattle action, they are trained to be able to move with balance and agility so that the cattle can be controlled easily. A good horse makes a massive difference, and sometimes all you need from that horse is a shift of weight and the cattle respond. Good lateral movements make the horse extremely useful because of the way the energy is projected to the cattle with the different movements. Individual beasts can be influenced, or the whole mob can be, depending on what you do with your horse. Lenny the Legend works the cattle beautifully and gives me far better lateral work on the mob than in the arena. He understands why we need to move in certain ways when the cows are involved.

Mountain Creek Cartier has not yet been introduced to the cattle. His trainer, Margi Weir, came and worked with him for a couple of days as a precursor to him going to her property for further training in August. I need to be able to get him off the property so that he can learn to behave himself when he travels off the property. Margi will take him to her place for a little while and if he copes he will get an outing or two around other horses before he comes home. The plan is that he will visit Margi from time to time as he learns to be a well-mannered young stallion.

Margi and Cartier

Challa Station Justified has been sold and is going to his new home on a farm south of Perth. I am sure he will be very happy there and I hope he doesn’t eat too much of that green grass! That just leaves one youngster to sell, Challa Station Walkabout.

Walkabout has just been weaned. I’d love to have him gelded but he hasn’t dropped both testicles yet so he’s still entire. My best option for paddocking him was to put him in with Cartier and the pregnant mares. He can’t go back in with him dam Willow, and Willow can’t run with Cartier yet, so my limited paddocking options meant that Cartier was going to get a real go at being a herd stallion by having a weanling coly put in with him. Luckily Walkabout and Cartier have settled in well together. Greenstone Dandaloo acts as Walkabout’s shield when he needs to get away from Cartier, and Cartier is a much better playmate than Dandaloo when Walkabout wants to have some fun. Grandma Mt Tawonga Belinda is in the mix as well and she provides some discipline to Walkabout as well as Cartier when they get too cheeky.

 

I am very lucky to be able to offer Cartier the chance to run in a herd. I appreciate the fact that many young stallions must live alone out of necessity. I hope that the herd environment contributes towards him becoming a well balanced and sensible stallion as he matures. And I hope that when his first foals are on the ground, they too can run in the ten thousand acre paddock with their extremely glamorous, very contented sire.

April 2019

There’s no doubt it's tough at Challa right now. Drought has forced me to reassess what I can manage here in terms of running horses and as a result I have put six of my ten Morgans on the market. I have sold one already, beautiful Challa Station Wildflower and I am very happy with Marian, the owner she has chosen. Marian is a 21-year-old vet student who has worked with a Morgan cross in Canada. It was clear from the moment they met that they were meant for each other and I look forward to seeing the partnership between these two grow.

Marian and Wildflower

I don’t imagine I’ll sell all of the five remaining horses I have advertised. I’ll get down to a more manageable number then take the rest off the market, all the while hoping for some substantial rain. We have just received a wonderful donation of hay from Farmers Across Borders, the same mob that trucked all the hay over to the eastern states a little while ago. The hay is meant for the cattle, but I’m sure I’ll get away with a few bales for the horses.

Right now, its Challa float training week. I have the float set up in the gateway to a yard and Challa Station Willow and her foal, CS Walkabout, are eating in there. After breakfast, the horses line up to have a turn standing in the float. In a few days I’ll take Willow and her foal for a ride in the float, then Justified and Molly (Captivate) will want a turn, then the two Greenstone Mares will get on and I may get around to taking Mountain Creek Cartier for a spin just for a bit of practice.

Cartier is still impressive with his temperament and conformation and I have decided that his colour is my favourite horse colour in the world! He’s a dappled, chocolate palomino and his coat gleams in the sun. He is enjoying a very easy life at the moment and quite content running with a mare or two. Now that the weather is cool I am excited about getting my horses back into work. Its nice to be spending time outdoors with them and enjoying the cooler days. Now all we need is a decent bit of rain and we will be set.

February 2019

Summer is always a show stopper here at Challa. Whilst it is OK to ride a horse on the iciest of winter days, riding is extreme heat is something I won’t do. Here, the temperatures soar in summer and all of the important outdoor jobs are crammed into the brief hour of reasonable weather in the morning. So riding comes to a halt.

But summer doesn’t stop the Photo Show. Entering the Photo Show is bloody hard work. It’s a job that you can’t do on your own, it really takes three people to get the good shots, one to hold the horse, one to get the horses attention, and one to photograph the horse. And its not always easy to find three willing people to help photograph the horses here at Challa, especially when one of them is building a shed and the only other available human never seems to get out of bed. Imagine my delight when our new Rangelands Natural Resource Management (NRM) Officer decided to pay a visit!

Rangelands NRM are a not for profit organisation that supports land managers in the outback of WA. Our new Rangelands NRM lady shows Arabs as her hobby. I couldn’t believe my luck. After we completed all of the official station duties, discussing our environmental management plan and driving around looking at all of the important stuff, I asked her if she would help me prepare Mountain Creek Cartier, our 2yo colt, for the Photo Show. “I haven’t had much to do with stallions,” she said.

I wasn’t going to let that stop her.

Cartier lives in a paddock with two mares. The paddock has only the most basic facilities. That is, it has a trough. No hose, no lovely bit of cement to stand on to wash those long white hind socks. However, over summer I have taught Cartier to accept me pouring buckets of water over him from the trough. Our NRM officer must have thought my stallion washing facilities were fairly agricultural, but she was happy to help.

I promise you that I did scrub Cartier for the Photo Show. In the photos it is barely noticeable that I washed his mane and tail, trying desperately to change it from orange back to its natural white. His socks scrubbed up well but got covered in red dirt again as he was drying. My NRM officer was giving advice and passing me what I needed. I think she was still a bit concerned about being around a colt, and given that a lot of two-year-old colts can be naughty little buggers I don’t blame her.

Then it came time to take the photos. I called the flapper on the radio who came down with his white sheet, ready to scare the beejeezus out of Cartier so I could get a good photo. I asked my NRM lady if she would hold Cartier while I took the photos.

Our NRM lady presents Cartier for the Photo Show photos

I guess in hindsight, she thought she was in for a hell of a time. A two-year-old colt, freshly washed, and a teenage boy waving a sheet around is not a good combination on paper. She stood Cartier up beautifully for me, and I gave the flapper the word. The flapper went mad, furiously waving his sheet in the wind like a sail that had come loose from a boat. I saw her brace, ready for that Arab action she is so used to. And Cartier looked with mild interest at the flapper. He stood like a gentleman while I snapped away with my camera.

Our NRM lady couldn’t believe how well behaved our lovely colt was for her. Of course, it was no surprise to me. I selected Cartier as our stallion not just for his good looks. His sire, MCM Tequila Cuervo, consistently passed on his gentle nature to his progeny. Sadly, Tequila has just passed away, but I am extremely grateful to have one of his sons as the Stallion of Challa. Cartier is such a lovely horse, and I now have the photos to prove it.

December 2018

It’s amazing the difference a year makes. About 12 months ago, Mountain Crk Cartier arrived at Challa Station after a 3000km journey across Australia from Leonie Kable’s picturesque property. He was just a yearling, still a baby, apologising to all the big horses for his abrupt arrival. He was paddocked with Challa Station Willow as she was the pregnant mare. Even then, the colt showed promise.

 

Twelve months later he has grown in size and confidence and everybody who sees him cannot help but exclaim about his beauty and presence. I believe that only the most exceptional animals should remain entire, and I am confident that Cartier’s conformation and temperament completely justify the fact he is still entire.

Being so isolated means that I have to be a bit innovative when I promote my horses. I have begun making videos of my horses as a way to share them with a wider audience. I also decided that making a video would be a good personal challenge for me. My first video was about Cartier and why we have chosen him as the future stallion of Challa Station. I enjoyed making it and was very nervous about posting it but was very pleased when my post reached 1500 people. So I decided to make another video, this time explaining why we run Morgans at Challa Station. I was absolutely amazed when this post reached 22 500 people, from all over the world! It struck a chord with a lot of Morgan lovers and many people agreed with me about why you would choose a Morgan.

My third video is about how good Morgans’ hooves are. I appreciate that I have a unique environment and my horses’ lives mimic the lives of their wild ancestors. It is good to be able to share their lives with a wider audience. If you haven’t seen my videos, have a look at the Challa Station Morgans Facebook page or my website.

We currently have ten Morgans here; one part bred gelding (Tandarra Millennium), six mares or fillies, one colt, Cartier, and two youngsters. The two youngsters are Challa Station Justified, who looks extremely beautiful at the moment. He has shed his fluffy winter coat and is now almost black. He is full brother to Challa Station Captivate. He must know that she is his big sister, because when I took his mother away, he immediately turned to his big sister for support and protection. Even now, they share a feed bin. Justified is now a yearling and so he is having a little more education in terms of leading, groundwork and float training. He is such a relaxed, calm horse that he learns rapidly and without fuss.

The other youngster is Challa Station Walkabout, our foal colt by Watching Royalty out of Challa Station Willow. He has joined the herd and is very happy to have Justified to play with. Being Willow’s son, he is genetically destined to have a marvellous nature and we are giving him every chance to bring out his best. He leads very nicely, picks up all four hooves and stands quietly to be handled. We are really pleased with the way he is growing and Willow is still loving being a mother.

Moving into summer, things will be winding down for the Challa Station Morgans. The riding horses get a well-deserved break over the hottest time of the year. We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year. See you in 2019!

October 2018

It was 2:30 in the morning when Challa Station Willow gave birth to her first foal. The night was dark and cool, Willow strained for longer than most to deliver her colt. As the colt struggled to his feet, Willow lay still, exhausted. For a moment, that terrible reality came closer to me. We were alone, if Willow had a major problem the likelihood would be that I couldn’t save her. Five hours from a vet, I have always accepted the risks. Perhaps the day will come when I will lose a mare or foal, but it wouldn’t be tonight. Willow began to regain some strength and started to look around to see her new foal. She stood up and I relaxed a little, relieved to start believing that everything would be OK.

By daylight, the new bay colt was drinking. He was steady enough on his feet to canter around the yard, his worried mother trotting and nickering behind him. He was a nice, strong colt and she was utterly besotted with him.

I have always thought that mares should have a ridden career before having foals. Willow has proven herself a quiet and reliable mare under saddle and in harness. I had been a little reluctant to put her in foal, jealously guarding the privilege of riding and driving her. But when I saw how deeply she loves her foal, I know I have done the right thing. She has been completed by motherhood.

Challa Station Walkabout never really seemed surprised to meet me. He accepted my presence from the beginning, perhaps from my first touch when I cleared around his nostrils as his mother was still straining to deliver him. He has accepted me as a normal part of life and comes willingly for a scratch. I can see has his mother’s same exceptional temperament shining through.

Now a week old, Walkabout loves to gallop, just like his sire Watching Royalty did at that age. He seems to spend the day drinking, sleeping and galloping around the nursery paddock. He’s a real joy to his mother and her humans. He accepted the halter with little fuss and is learning to lead. He’s happy for me to handle his legs and pick up his hooves. He has a classic Morgan temperament, which I am absolutely delighted about.

Challa Station Captivate has now accrued 15 hours under saddle. We are taking things very steady and she is coping really well with being a ridden horse. She is a willing yet quiet mare who shows great promise. I try to ride her a few times a week, and if she has time off I skip the preamble of lunging to make sure she’s going to be safe to ride. There’s no need to doubt this mare.

Greenstone Giaginye hasn’t had quite as much ridden time as Molly but she too is progressing nicely. She has the basics in place and now its all a matter of time and exposure to different things to have her confident under saddle. With two mares newly under saddle I’m pretty busy but I still try to make time to ride Tandarra Millennium a few times a week. He doesn’t mind too much if he gets the day off though.

Walkabout was our only one for this season, and we hope everybody who is breeding has trouble free deliveries. I look forward to seeing all the new foals born in the next few months.

Challa Station Willow with Walkabout

August 2018

Challa Station Captivate is the ‘Morgan of the Month’ at Challa Station! Otherwise known as Molly, this endearing young mare has captured the hearts of us all as she has progressed under saddle. Molly is a very special mare. She is by Tandarra Millennium (Lenny’s) half-brother, my first Morgan stallion, Koolaroo Klasique Ebony (Wally), out of my first Morgan mare, Mt Tawonga Belinda, (Holly). Half-sister to Challa Station Willow, the most even-tempered mare in the universe, Molly is an exciting young riding proposition. Her education had been somewhat hampered by delays due to hot weather, mustering and holidays. Further compounding this has been the lack of on-site supervision for the rider: me. But one day, I just decided to bite the bullet. Even when my husband Ashley goes away and I am the only person on the property, I ride Molly. I send a text to my Ash, 600km away and tell him I’m riding for an hour, then text him when I return.

Lately I have been lucky; our grader has broken down so Ash has been in the workshop for the past 2 weeks fixing it. When I’m riding Molly, I tell him where I’m going and how long I will be and he looks out for me. And it’s never just in the arena. When I start a horse under saddle I get them out on the trail as soon as I can. Almost all of my schooling is done on the trail and I aim to allow the young horse to enjoy themselves as we go riding. Once the head is in the right place we can work on the learning. Every day we face a new but small challenge, increasing exposure to new experiences and giving the horse the opportunity to work things out while feeling safe. My aim is to produce a willing, yet calm horse, who is able to do a variety of jobs. So far Molly is heading in that direction.

Most days I would carry my saddle and bridle out to Molly past our beautiful, athletic chestnut brood mare called Greenstone Giaginye. Unbroken, unblemished, smart, quiet, her first foal has just been weaned. Standing there with no job… I had advertised her very briefly for lease and then Ashley informed me that he likes Giaginye and she could be his riding horse. So her future was decided. Giaginye, you can call her Gee if you like, is rising nine and now in early work. She has been bridled and saddled, long reined and lead off Lenny on trail rides. Ash was first up on Gee and I have had two short rides on her. I’m taking her to Perth for some education by the legendary Sam Jones (see the latest Outback Magazine) and then when she returns to Challa, Ash and I will continue riding her. I will breed her again one day, I do like my brood mares to be able to be ridden if required, but now Ash has a new riding horse she may not have another foal for a year or two. Like Challa Station Willow… heavily pregnant with her first foal and due in September, I hopped on her on a whim, and went for a ride bareback in just a halter. It’s been months since I last rode her and she was perfect! That’s what a good riding horse is all about. I want Giaginye and Molly to be like this. And the fact that they are beautiful, level headed Morgan mares who are easy and enjoyable to train means that there’s every chance they will become level; headed, honest working horses like the rest of the mob here at Challa.

Guiaginye being lead off Lenny

June 2018

The last two months have been cattle months here at Challa Station. First came mustering; twelve days of alternating between thrills, excitement and sheer boredom, depending on where the action is. We don’t use the horses for mustering, unfortunately. It’s too vast and fast for the horses to be much use. But once this year’s muster was finished, I had 108 newly weaned heifers, plus a few steers, to work the horses with for two weeks.

The main aim of working the heifers is to quieten them down and get them used to moving away from pressure. Then when they come in for subsequent musters they are not wild and dangerous and everybody’s life is a little easier. I ride Lenny in the yards with them, and occasionally introduce a young horse to them in preparation for some time in the future. This time it was four-year-old Challa Station Captivate (Molly’s) turn.

My horses don’t live in the same paddocks as the cattle so Molly has never seen a cow. It took mere moments for the dark-haired beauty to realise where she stood in the hierarchy of four legged beasts. After introducing her to the cattle, I left her in the yards with them. Upon my return a couple of hours later, Molly, Queen of the Bovines, was enjoying her very own round bale of hay and 108 cattle were pushing and shoving around the other bale. I think she’s got them sorted.

Molly bossing the cattle around

Lenny and I train the cattle in the yards, let them in the holding paddock during the day and move them back into the yards at night. Ash had to go away for a few days and left Lenny and I to do this. Not a problem for us, but I did spend some time reflecting on how vital it is to have a good working horse when you are the sole occupant of a half a million acres. The consequences of a fall don’t bear thinking about … I do carry my SPOT tracker to mitigate some of the risk, but I can’t activate it if I am unconscious. Lucky I have Lenny, that’s all I can say.

After working the cattle in the yard, we go tailing out. This is when we take the cows to their new home and settle them in on a windmill, shepherding them out for a few hours each day and then putting them back into the yards. This is best done on horseback and is supposed to be one of those jobs where one does not ever have to break out of a walk. One cannot always see all of the cattle because they feed amongst the trees, but being on a horse means that you can see and hear more than somebody in a buggy. So this one day, our new jackeroo was having trouble with the carburettor in his buggy. He decided to try and fix it while the cattle were grazing. Ash soon saw an opportunity to put his head under a bonnet so he was gone too. The engine revved, the cattle ran away. Simple as that. Alone and unassisted, Lenny and I cantered through the trees and over the sticks and rocks to head them off. One handed, I steered my mighty beast through the scrub, advising the other members of my team over the UHF radio what had just happened. Afterwards Ash explained to me that he can’t actually hear what I am saying when I yell into the radio… apparently next time I am to speak calmly into the hand-held whilst describing exactly what is going on.

After tailing out was finished we had a few days away from the cattle then headed 400km westward to attend a five-day cattle working clinic with Californian Vaquero Jeff Sanders. I have come away from that with a whole new arsenal of skills as well as the further knowledge that though I will never even make it as a Vaquero’s elbow, they have some really neat games you can play with cows that train horses to be really clever. If you want to improve your shoulder in, work a cow through a gate or out of the herd. A good rollback is essential, as is a clam, relaxed horse. I’ll be honest; my rollbacks leave a lot to be desired and Lenny braces in the poll much more than Jeff Sanders likes, but I have a good safe horse who is reliable and fun to ride and a proven cattle horse over some of the most treacherous ground and in some of the most testing conditions in the country.

I just had a read through my last few Morgan Messenger articles, that also appear on my Challa Morgans website, and there are many mentions of this great plan to ride Molly. Well I am pleased to say that we now have completed ride number three, and Molly can sort-of walk in a straight line, turn, stop and back up. Well, she’s been able to do this since she was born, but now she is doing it under command with a rider on her back. I am hampered by the fact that I am on my own so much and really shouldn’t get on a breaker until there is somebody around to keep an eye on me. But we are progressing slowly and hopefully I can safely and quietly get this mare going under saddle.

Challa Gold Rush has left for her new home with Teresa Schwaiger. Teresa owns Crossmatch Cadyllac (Caddy) who is a beautiful ¾ Morgan gelding. She fell in love with Gold Rush when she was born and has waited patiently for her to be old enough to be weaned before coming up to Challa with Caddy to take her home. Teresa and I enjoyed a couple of days together, riding out and sharing stories about horses. Then Teresa and Caddy took Gold Rush to her new home just south of Perth. It is quite clear that Gold Rush has found a very lovely and capable person to share her future.