Morgan Messenger Feb 2018
As Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) rests in the shade of the verandah to escape the scorching heat, the foals lie in the sun and the brood mares wait in the shade of the trees before the evening comes and its cool enough for them to feed out. This is summer at Challa Station. Horses don’t get ridden and if the morning is cool enough we work with the foals, hose down a youngster or attend to any other jobs that have been waiting until we’re not so busy and can be done in the shade.
This is the Challa that Mountain Crk Cartier arrived at just before Christmas. Cartier is a stunning palomino colt bred in the purple by Leonie Kable. He is by the highly regarded American stallion, MEMC Tequila Cuervo, out of Mountain Crk Helena. Leonie has done a brilliant job raising him as a foal and prepared him perfectly for his long trip west. Cartier travelled over 4200km and was on the road for more than a week before he arrived at Challa.
Our intention is that Cartier will be the next Challa Stallion and so far, he has done nothing but impress us with his temperament and conformation.
Cartier is unaware of his future, he is running with Challa Station Willow and is still occasionally trying to tell her that he is a foal. Sometimes he looks like a little baby, yielding to Willow and apologising for himself if he’s in the wrong place or somehow offended the mighty Willow. Other times, when he is perhaps looking attentively at a distant kangaroo, I see the stallion in him and I think to myself, “wow, this colt is going to be something special” and I feel deep gratitude to all of the people who played a part in this colt finding his way home to Challa.
Beautiful Challa Station Symphony (Twisty) will soon be joining her new owner, Karen, in Perth. She was sold to a wonderful home last year and stayed at Challa until now. She will be started soon and become a lovely riding horse for her new owner. She is a special young mare who has shown some talent for early harness work and I look forward to hearing of her adventures in her new home.
I keep looking at the horses and wishing the weather was cooler! There’s so many great rides to go on and so much for them to do. Four-year-old Challa Station Captivate is definitely ready to be started and I can’t wait to get her going under saddle. Willow’s cart is waiting for her and her saddle is dusty and of course all the cows are out on the station just waiting for Lenny the Legend to come along and round them up. I don’t ride in summer, it is far too hot, but I do spend my time productively by planning our next adventures.
See you in autumn!
Morgan Messenger Dec 2017
It has taken six years, but Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) and I have finally reached our 1000-hour milestone under the Morgans for Pleasure Program. I have logged the time I have spent riding him since our very first ride and I am a little surprised it has taken us so long to reach 1000 hours. I am very proud of our achievement and the fact that Lenny is such a great riding partner. I think we are a pretty good combination and I have had a lot of adventures with him over the hours.
Our most recent adventure was to travel to Perth to participate in a clinic with Californian Vaquero Jeff Sanders. I love the way Jeff combines classical dressage with cattle work to create a versatile and elegant working horse with a long working life. His work really challenges me and motivates me to become a better rider. It was really lovely to spend time with like-minded people who are also striving to improve their riding. Lenny was a true legend and a great ambassador for the breed.
The other amazing news coming out of Challa Station is the birth of our first colt! Over the years we have bred ten foals for ten fillies and to finally see a colt hit the ground was wonderful. Challa Station Justified is by Koolaroo Klasique Ebony out of Mt Tawonga Belinda (Holly), a full brother to Challa Station Captivate. He is your classic Morgan, as friendly and curious as a puppy. Challa Gold Rush is very pleased to have a friend and the two foals spend hours playing together. Both foals have started their education and will hopefully become awesome riding partners for their humans when the time comes for them to leave.
I recently made the decision to put Challa Station Willow in foal. It was a difficult decision, only because I will lose a great riding and harness horse for a short while. I am sure Willow will be a perfect mother, she is very maternal around the foals and she is such a lovely natured mare. She is the oldest mare with the Challa Station prefix and the first one to breed. It is very exciting knowing my first-born Challa Morgan is having a baby! She is in foal to Watching Royalty and is due in September 2018.
I would like to make special mention of Challa Station Amazon, a lovely part bred mare by Eiben’s Sterling that I sold to Wendy Hegarty when Amazon was a youngster. Wendy started Amazon herself and has just started competing in One Day Events. Wendy says that she is amazing to ride and such a pleasure to be around. It is so fulfilling to see a horse that we bred have such a great beginning in competition. I love seeing how Amazon is progressing and will no doubt be sharing more of her photos in the future.
Morgan Messenger Oct 2017
We welcomed our new foal, palomino part bred Challa Gold Rush, on August 31 in the middle of the Carlos Tabernaberri clinic here at Challa. For the first time in history, I had a vet standing next to me as one of my mares foaled down. Dr Lisa Clarke was riding at the clinic and she had heard the foaling alarm go off at 10:30 pm. We watched as Greenstone Giaginye gave birth to her first foal in textbook style. I quietly sidled over to see what I had and was pleasantly surprised to see another filly. This is the tenth foal I have bred in my life and the tenth filly.
I decided to put Giaginye in foal to an Australian Stock Horse because they are a brilliant cross. Giaginye was in foal to Watching Royalty when she left Victoria to move to Challa Station, but somewhere along the line, that foal was lost. Now she has a beautiful filly and has proven to be a wonderful mother.
The Carlos Tabernaberri Clinic was a great success. I loaned Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) to Carlos for the five days and I rode Challa Station Willow. Willow is an absolute sweetheart, so placid and calm. She did really well at the clinic and had a couple of different riders try her out just for fun. Carlos really enjoyed riding Lenny but a couple of times I took him back for the more technical lessons. My private lesson with Carlos was on Lenny doing bridle-less dressage.
Lenny and I have been competing in online dressage competitions all year and I have been riding bridle-less. I get a mixed reaction from the judges, some are impressed and others think I should put a bridle on. But I have won a couple of ribbons and met the criteria for a medal in the National Morgan Awards so I am satisfied. Lenny likes being ridden without a bridle and it is one way to really improve communication between horse and rider. I like the challenge of seeing just how precise I can be without using a bridle, and am always striving to achieve a similar level of finesse with no bridle as I can with one.
During the clinic, Carlos Tabernaberri rode Challa Station Captivate (Molly) for the first time. She is four years old now and growing into a nice mare. I had done some work with Molly, she had been long reined bitless a few times and had a surcingle on. Carlos only spent one afternoon with Molly but he rode her bareback, and also saddled, around the round yard. Molly looks great under saddle and she is next on the list for some under saddle education. Of course, she took it all in her stride and seemed to enjoy the attention. I just need to get mustering out if the way and I’ll bring Molly in for some work.
Mt Tawonga Belinda (Holly) is getting ready to foal now, and I really don’t mind if I get a colt or a filly – but it would be quite funny if the filly run continued. Holly looks huge as her body relaxes during the final weeks of pregnancy. She is beautiful and shiny and is fulfilling her role as the senior mare very well. She is helping to educate and look after young Gold Rush as she waits for her own foal. This very special mare is in foal to my ex-stallion, Koolaroo Klasique Ebony by frozen semen, so will produce a full brother or sister to Molly. I hope to be able to bring you news of that new foal soon.
The winter weather here is truly magnificent! Unlike a lot of riders across the country in winter, I am blessed with some perfect riding weather here at Challa Station. I look for any excuse to be outside with the horses and so they are all getting plenty of attention. The young mares, CS Symphony and Captivate are having some pre-harness training. All the while they cope with the situation and the weather is so perfect, I intend to keep progressing them. Both show great promise as harness horses as well as ridden. Highly trainable and very sensible, they are fun to work with. CS Boudicca, who is home for a while, has been learning to pony off Uncle Lenny. She can come out for a ride with me now on the lead and seems to really enjoy herself. She shows great promise as a riding horse and reminds me so much of Lenny that sometimes I mistake them from a distance. I think if she is given the chance, she will ride like Lenny too. She’s a really nice young mare.
CS Willow finally has a cart, well 2 carts in fact. Both are old and they come with a history. I bought one cart from Griselda Hitchcock, who is very well known in WA. She has trekked in harness for years. It is a basic, home built cart, but built with some very useful features. The other cart was bought from another trekker, Trevor Hayes, who has also done a lot of miles in it. This one is easy to take apart and transport.
It was a simple procedure to put Willow in the cart after all of the preparation she has done. She can now take me out for a nice walk and trot and she is so calm and accepting it looks like she has been in harness for years. Willow is by Mt Tawonga Tobey and if anybody is looking for a really quiet Morgan that is awesome to work with, I would suggest looking at the Tobey progeny. If I ever breed from this mare, I think she will produce foals with the same sweet nature.
Speaking of breeding, I have two very beautifully pregnant mares who are in the final weeks and months of gestation. Greenstone Giaginye is set to foal at the end of August with her first foal. It will be a palomino and it is by Benelong Waymore Wishes. Mt Tawonga Belinda will foal in October and produce a full sibling to CS Captivate. I love seeing the pregnant mares with their huge bellies and forming udders. They have a soft energy about them that resonates calm and a promise for the future.
And as we breed, so shall we wean. Challa Station Wildflower has now been successfully weaned. I had hoped to keep her on Dandaloo for another month, but we have had no rain and so no fresh feed and it was in her mother’s best interests to wean at 9 months. There were a few days of crying out but Wildflower soon accepted that her mum had left and she has remained as part of the young mare herd. CS Symphony (Twisty) looks after her now, she bonded with her when she was little and has been very fond of her. They stick together and Twisty lets her share her breakfast sometimes.
Lenny the Legend (Tandarra Millennium) and I are still working on our online dressage competitions. We are competing without a bridle just for fun. We are also going to try our first online trail competition this month. I would actually love to get off the property to compete but the competitions never seem to align with when I can get away. Luckily I have Carlos Tabernaberri returning at the end of the month, I really enjoy getting together with horse people and spend the whole time talking about horses, horse and horses. Carlos is a great trainer who is highly ethical. I like the way he respects horses and treats them with care and compassion. He also gives us plenty to work with and inspires us to be better horse owners. I look forward to telling you all about the foals when they arrive. Until then, enjoy your Morgans!
Challa Station Boudicca, Symphony and Captivate, four years apart
Morgan Messenger June 2017
When you live five hours from the nearest repro vet, and even further from the nearest Morgan stallion, breeding Morgans can be almost impossible. Last year, in order to prove to myself that it was not cost effective, I sent two mares to be bred via artificial insemination in Perth. They were away for three months and only one came back pregnant. I’m now beyond doubt that was most certainly an expensive exercise and I would be better off if I bought foals rather than bred them. I also sent one mare off to breed with a very nice ASH stallion. Even that was a three hour trip, and three months away from home, but she has come back pregnant. This year, I had a decision to make; stop breeding pure Morgans or buy my own stallion. Most people will agree that having a stallion is a huge commitment and often an inconvenience. However, I have decided that, for Challa Station Morgans, having a stallion is pretty much a necessity.
Enter one superbly bred palomino colt by MEMC Tequila Cuervo out of Mountain Crk Helena, born last year at Mt Beauty in Victoria. I have had my eye on Mountain Crk Cartier since he was born and once it was clear he was colt material I decided to go and see him in person. It was a whirlwind 8400km round trip, one night in Victoria and back home the next day. I met Cartier and handled him and I was pretty happy with what I saw. I was extremely fortunate to have the chance to look around Leonie Kable’s paddocks and there were a number of beauties I would love to be bringing home, but I need to keep my numbers manageable. I will, however, be bringing home that very promising colt. Cartier will move west once he is old enough and with any luck he will remain sufficiently magnificent enough to be the next Challa Stallion.
Back at home, Challa Station Willow has been broadening her horizons under saddle. If we liken her level of training to a driver’s license, she is now on “green P’s” – relatively safe with a bit of experience. She is at the stage now where I want her to learn that going riding is enjoyable. Too much time in the arena makes for a bored horse, especially when there are so many opportunities for riding out here on the station. And so many ‘arenas’ for us to ride to and have a few minutes of schooling before riding home. One beautiful autumn day not long ago, I decided it was time for us to have an adventure. I loaded Willow on the float and drove 45 minutes to one of my favourite Challa landmarks, the Windimurra Lake. The 1km long lake is currently dry and the cracked clay surface makes for an awesome arena – international standard, in my opinion. Willow and I had a great solo ride, with nothing but thousands of acres in each direction. She is superbly sensible for a green horse. We rode to the middle of the dry lake where we spotted a couple of kangaroos grazing on the tiny plants emerging from the cracked clay. She looked over at them to acknowledge their presence before carrying on.
When you have a horse that is so calm under saddle that she will canter along on a loose rein, along a newly graded road, past the big piles of tree roots that have been pushed up, you know you have got a good horse. Good enough to go into harness! After just five training sessions, Willow was harnessed up and dragging an old tyre through the bush like she had been doing it all her life. Unfortunately, I only have a pony cart here so I will have to organise a bigger cart, but in the meantime we are honing our harness skills using a combination of tyre dragging and log snigging.
My two riding Morgans are worlds apart in their attitudes. With 1000 hours of saddle time, Lenny is highly trained; sensitive and alert. He powers along, full of energy and enthusiasm for his job. He and I are now so in tune that we work as one. He is an incredible working horse. Willow, on the other hand, is calm and relaxed. She is a perfect family horse. Safe enough for the kids to ride, to put in a cart, to take on a trail ride or to a clinic. One day under saddle, the next day in harness. Morgans are so diverse in nature, but the characteristic that runs through them all is the fact that they are so good at doing so much. That’s why I love to breed them. And that’s why Mountain Crk Cartier will be joining the Challa Station Morgans, so more people can share this wonderful breed.
Meeting MCM Cartier
Imagine this …. Its forty degrees in the shade and the Photo Show deadline is drawing closer and closer. I am trying to bribe my family members into helping me photograph seven horses and a foal for the ANMS Photo Show. Our son, eleven-year-old Michael is dressed in a sheet, waving his arms and trying to get the attention of the very unflappable Morgans. Ash, exhausted from a day fixing windmills, is patiently trying to get the horses standing correctly for their photos. He has with him the “flapper arsenal”, consisting of a number of items, one of which I hope will get the horses to prick their ears for the photo. Then the fuel truck turns up, the driver is wondering what on earth we are doing and Ashley welcomes the release from his tedious task. I am forced to suspend the photography and release the horse back into the dusty paddock to try again later.
Luckily the Online Dressage Competition is easier to film. I still have to wait until the temperature is below searing, and I saddle up, warm up the horse and call Michael on the UHF to come down with the video. He wanders down to the arena, sets up the tripod, and I ride the test. If I make a mistake of if the video doesn’t work for some reason, we try again. I have been doing online dressage for a year now so we really do have a good system worked out. However, I was a bit ambitious when I tried to video three tests in one morning after changing the arena around. I had decided that I needed to swap the arena around for a morning video so the sun wasn’t shining into the camera. I knew the three tests but after I had changed the arena I had trouble remembering them all and only managed to video one and a half before abandoning my efforts. Luckily we were given a week to video the tests and I managed to get them all done. I wasn’t at all happy with the tests but the video provides me with an opportunity to self-reflect and collaborate with other people and I have set some goals for improvement. I do remember how beautifully Helena Shanal rode Lenny at the ANMS in Perth two years ago and I wish I could reach her standard.
All of this work was in preparation for the ANMS that was to be held in Queensland. Ashley and I flew over for five days. We stayed with six other Morgan enthusiasts from South Australia and together we visited some of the studs in Queensland. I finally met some of the people I had only known by name before. On the day before the show began, we had our first stud tour. We visited Lynnie Bennet and met her beautiful stallion, DWPs Hot Gossip. She has some other very nice Morgans tucked away in the Glasshouse Mountains. Hot Gossip put on a lovely display for us, he looked very pleased to have such a large audience to impress. After a lovely lunch, we went to Lynda Kingdom’s property and were equally impressed by her Morgans. Wirraway Johnny Walker is an impressive stallion who was greatly admired by us all. We also loved meeting the beautiful Spellbinder, her junior stallion. We also headed south to visit Alanna Marcham at Morgan dream Park. What a lovely lady she is! She showed us her imported mares and the young colts she had bred. We were lucky enough to be treated to a liberty display in the arena as Mich Meijer wanted to get some nice photos of them. It was so nice to finally meet people we have been facebook friends with for so long.
The ANMS Show was the highlight of our trip. We spent three days watching the events, admiring the horses and meeting new friends. Lisa and Tim Wong and the rest of the Show Committee should be very proud of themselves for putting on such a great show where we were made to feel so very welcome. We met the representatives from the American Horse Association, Erica Richards and Tony Lee. They were on their way to Judi Anderson’s place after the show to inspect the records as the final stage of the MHAA’s reciprocity application.
After the show, we managed to visit some more studs. We had a brief visit to Eatons Hill Stud and then made our way out to Leambro Morgans, where Steve and Leonie welcomed us with a hearty breakfast before giving us the stud tour. They have some very nice horses at their property and we will be waiting with great anticipation to see the foals by SFG Drayton that will be born next season and also the first foal by Leambro Somelikeithot. Then it was on to Wilga Park, a place I always love to visit. It was really nice to hear all of the lovely comments about the horses from the group of admirers. I loved the trail paddock that they have built and their new arena looks great! After a lovely lunch on the veranda, we saw Rhonda Menzies-Moreland’s lovely Warrabel Morgans and then as daylight faded we visited Ruth McGill at Cockatoo Park. Kathy and Greg were such great company, they came with us and we shared a roadhouse dinner before heading back to Brisbane. We were exhausted but so pleased we had managed to see so many beautiful horses and meet so many lovely people. Thankyou, Queensland, for putting on a great show, for welcoming us so warmly, and for holding off the cyclone damage until after the show.
Challa Station Symphony has found a new owner but will remain here at Challa for another year until she is four years old and ready to be started. The breeding mares are home from stud and the young foal is growing very nicely. Lenny is currently taking his annual leave and not planning on being back at work until the weather cools off.
It’s far too hot to be doing much with the Challa Morgans right now. January and February are always our quietest months as the temperature settles into the mid-forties on most days. During the really hot days, Lenny (Tandarra Millennium) and the six mares enjoy lazing under the ‘meeting tree’ around the water trough, and they head off to feed out at night. The mares usually go out to their paddock to graze, and Lenny and Willow stay around the house paddock. The mares and little Challa Station Wildflower are often referred to as ‘the lost herd’, as the paddock they live in is 80 square kilometres! If I need to find them, well forget it …. I have to wait until they find me. They don’t utilise all of that land, they mainly wander around the sand hills where the best feed is. They come in every morning for their grain and their daily check, and head back out again when it is cool.
Lately, the six mares and the foal have been coming in for breakfast and then going straight out again, always moving as a herd, never far away from each other. It is really convenient for me that the mares come in every day, especially when one requires medication. Holly (Mt Tawonga Belinda) is currently receiving an injection once a week, on a Friday. However, last Friday, Ashley and I had to head out at the crack of dawn to check some cattle who were watering on a dam that had just dried up. If the cattle were there, we would need to shift them across to a windmill so they didn’t perish. My father in law was here and he offered to feed the horses for me but I didn’t ask him to give Holly her needle. I decided she would have to wait until the later on or even the next day so I could do it myself. We took the bull buggies and spent a couple of hours checking the cattle and fixing a windmill. When I got home I looked over and saw that the horses had gone out. Much to my disappointment, Holly’s injection would be a day late. But then I looked again and saw one horse standing alone in the shade of the shearer’s quarters. It was Holly. I went over and gave her the shot and then she wandered off to find the rest of the herd. She had waited for me to come home.
There is something really special about that mare that I will never really understand, but she knows. She knows when I need her to be there, she knows when we are helping her; even when it hurts she will stand stoically to be treated. She even knows when I need her to pose beautifully for a photo. I remember when Holly was at Mt Tawonga and she chose us to bring her home. I’m glad she did. I remember her fascination when she saw me riding Lenny and later she ‘asked’ me to ride her, and I did, and I didn’t start her the way I would normally start a horse.
Holly has given us three fillies and we have retained two of them, Challa Station Willow and Challa Station Captivate. She produces foals with quite extraordinary natures, a reflection of herself. I will be the first to admit her conformation is not perfect, but I have never known a horse quite like her, and sometimes, just sometimes, one can overlook the flaws and see that heart of gold beneath. I strive to improve on conformation her every time I breed from her, and I hope that her foal inherits that same magical temperament. The world should have more horses like her. Yes, Morgans are special horses.
What was I thinking when I decided to send three mares off to stud this season? It is so quiet here at Challa with just four – no, make that five … OK now it’s six - Morgans wandering around. Perhaps quiet is not the right word.
Greenstone Dandaloo presented us with a beautiful Watching Royalty filly three weeks early, but apparently fully cooked, at the end of October. Dandaloo was a maiden mare and it was fortunate that I had brought her in to get her settled ready for foaling when I did. Any later and she would have foaled somewhere ‘out there.’ Hours after I made the decision it was time to keep a closer eye on her, she was dripping milk. Then just before midnight I was trying to be unobtrusive as I quietly broke the bag for her new foal.
We have called the new foal Challa Station Wildflower and she is the little horse with the big personality. She has formed a special bond with my husband, Ashley. She loved it when he goes to talk to her and cuddles him by resting her head on his shoulder.
Dandaloo’s full sister, Greenstone Giaginye, has just returned from a leisurely two-month holiday with a very handsome cremello stock horse stallion. She was mesmerised when she saw her sister’s foal for the first time. I would love to have been privy to the conversation they may have had. I wish I could tell her that with any luck she will be a mother this time next year.
Challa Station Willow and Mt Tawonga Belinda (Holly) are away in Perth being AI’d. So far they have been away from home for two months and I can’t wait to have them home. I wish I lived closer to a repro vet. The seven-hour journey means that they stay away from home until they are either 45 days pregnant or I give up. I have a lovely lady looking after them but I do miss them both. I feel that Giaginye has had the best deal of the three breeding mares; at least she actually met the sire of her foal!
With Willow away, Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) is back to being the only riding horse. It is quite amazing what we get up to sometimes. Every now and then I put a bridle on him, but we are mainly riding with the cordeo. I had a leather cordeo made up for him so I don’t have to use baling twine around his neck any more. All year, Lenny and I have been competing in online Western Dressage competitions – I use a bosal. For the final comp, Level 1 Test 4, I rode him bridle less, with just the Cordeo. I sent in the video, not quite knowing what the judge would say. In my heart, I knew I had ridden an awesome dressage test on Lenny. Technically it had its flaws, but if the judge could feel how little I had to do to get that beautiful big Morgan performing, how light he was, how happy he felt … she would score me very well indeed. When I review the video I can see room to improve and I want to see how far we can get bridle less in terms of technical precision, so I have still have plenty to work on.
So from all of us at Challa Station, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May your 2017 be prosperous and peaceful.
Morgan Messenger October 2016
There’s fur flying everywhere as the Challa Morgans shed their coats in preparation for summer. Lenny (Tandarra Millennium) has had a trace clip to compensate for his ridiculously thick winter coat that really does make him sweat when he works hard. And work hard he has!
We had a five day Carlos Tabernaberri clinic here at the end of August. I lent Lenny to Carlos for the clinic – Carlos loves Lenny – and I rode Challa Station Willow. Both horses were great ambassadors for their breed during the clinic, with Lenny performing canter pirouettes and Willow developing her canter transitions. We used the garrocha extensively during the clinic and Lenny was the demo horse for Carlos.
I continue to ride Lenny bridle less most of the time. I ride with just a strap (cordeo) around his neck everywhere. Lenny really prefers it and as time passes and we progress our training he is becoming more sensitive and refined with the cordeo. Lenny has been a headstrong, forward horse in the past with way more go than whoa, but he now understands what is being asked of him with the cordeo and his training is solid enough now that we really can do most things without a bridle.
I did put the bridle on the other day when we went mustering cattle. Mustering in the outback is not a peaceful walk with some nice quiet cattle for an hour or two. It is full on, with motorbikes and bull buggies roaring around, aeroplane flying low overhead, constant radio talk and half- wild cattle galloping through the scrub. It is enough to test even the best trained horse. Fortunately, I was on a Morgan, a horse that remains level headed in the most intense situations.
It is largely impractical to muster half a million acres on horseback and I really only took Lenny because I had a friend up from Perth who was keen to ride out for the muster. The horses are not used for gathering the cattle, but once the cows are together the horses can drive them along quietly. Often you have to hold the mob up and wait for another mob that the motorbikes are bringing in. Horses are good for holding cattle.
This time, I took Lenny up the front and we led the cattle. A very good horse can do a very good job up the front, turning sideways to block them if they start to run, and leading them along as they quieten. When you have small calves in the mob you have to make sure the cattle travel slowly. You can only go as fast as the slowest beast. Lenny had to adjust his normal brisk walk to the speed of the little calf that was right down the back. We would be out in front and he would be creeping along and stopping to let the cattle catch up. After a while, Lenny could judge when to stop for them and I would just allow him to. He would grab a mouthful of grass while they caught up and then move off again. Meanwhile the motorbikes, buggies and the other horse were making sure the tail end of the mob kept moving. It was a gentle, five-hour drive and we yarded about eighty cattle that day. Lenny was, of course, a legend, and he never once let me down.
The mares are looking exceptionally well at Challa, Greenstone Dandaloo is glowing with her healthy pregnancy. Sadly, her sister Greenstone Giaginye slipped her Watching Royalty foal, so she has gone to a cremello Australian Stock Horse stallion owned by Devilscreek Stockhorses. Mt Tawonga Belinda and Challa Station Willow will be travelling to Perth for the breeding season and will be agisted near the vet until they are pregnant enough to come home.
The weather is magnificent here at the moment and Lenny, Willow and I have been clocking up plenty of hours for the Morgans for Pleasure Program. Ian Leighton is due here next week for a five day clinic and when we mustered the cattle, we drafted off our weanling heifers for training. They are waiting in the yards near the house, ready for any riders who wish to try some cattle work on horseback.
Morgan Messenger August 2016
You may recall that last year, we purchased two purebred sisters by Tui’s Nimrod, had them put in foal to Watching Royalty and imported them to WA. Whilst they both seem to have adapted to life at Challa Station, Greenstone Giaginye slipped her foal at some stage and so we are only expecting one foal this season. Greenstone Dandaloo is still looking beautifully pregnant and she is sure to produce something special by Roy.
Ashley and I travelled to South Australia and had a wonderful six days talking Morgans. We stayed with Eva Hornung at her beautiful stud, Wildu Mandaawi and we visited as many Morgans and their owners as we could. Eva, as we expected, takes enormous care with the breeding and training of her horses. She studies bloodlines, conformation, temperament and type and carefully chooses the very best matches for her mares. This year, she is hosting Mt Tawonga King as he stands at public stud for the final time. King’s stud book is already full for the season and I am pleased to say that one of his mares will be our own Challa Station Willow.
Eva’s horses are an absolute credit to her and it was a privilege to be able to get to know them. I was lucky enough to have a ride with Eva, she on Fernleigh Creek Madralena and me on Phoenix of Belvue.
We also visited Crystanby, where Mich Meijer gave me a lesson on Mt Tawonga Kitty. What a beautiful mare she is! We loved Mich’s youngsters and I would have been delighted to add any of them to the Challa stable, especially her young colt, Crystanby Aqarian. He is stunning to look at and has a really kind nature. I’m looking forward to watching him mature and sire lovely foals in the future.
We saw the horses at Gumbooya, including the old gentleman, Taproot Messenger. We met the stunning Fernleigh Creek Leander, who is even more magnificent in real life than he is in his photos. Kelly Murphy proudly showed us her lovely horses. We visited Deb Thompson’s very lovely Morgans and of course we went to Fernleigh Creek and saw Mt Tawonga King. He is a truly magnificent stallion in every sense of the word and I am so pleased that we have the chance to breed to him this year.
Eva very kindly arranged a dinner with all of the SA Morgan members, we had a wonderful evening at a local restaurant, talking Morgans. Thankyou to Eva and all of the SA members who made our holiday so special.
Back at Challa Station I am very pleased with Willow’s progress under saddle. She is a pleasure to ride out and about or in the arena. She is one of those horses that everybody is looking for but nobody ever sells; cool headed and warm hearted. Despite the freezing weather I ride her as often as I can, with my little dog Makara, who came from Makara Park Morgan Stud at my side. We have had fantastic winter rain at Challa and the wildflowers are beginning to bloom. Soon there will be flocks of wild budgerigars to see while I’m out riding. There’s no better way to appreciate the bush than from the back of a lovely Morgan!
Morgan Messenger June 2016
When you live in a semi-arid environment, you never ride in the rain. For the eight days a year it rains, you just leave the horses in the paddock rather than go slipping around on the wet clay wearing wet weather gear. However, it becomes a different situation when you travel off the station.
Months ago, I booked in to a Steve Halfpenny clinic. I was supposed to go to one in Geraldton, 400km from here, but my husband had an accident and I had to cancel. So I re-booked to go to one south of Perth, about 800km away. This was to be Challa Station Willow’s first clinic away from home as well as another one for Tandarra Millennium (Lenny.)
As the clinic date drew closer the weather forecast was worsening. Three days before the clinic, I left Challa and seven hours later, we arrived at Kath Hare’s place where the horses overnighted. Then we loaded up again the next day to go the rest of the way to the clinic. The weather forecast was awful – but I had committed when I left Challa and I couldn’t back out.
Perth was hit by the worst storms of the season on day one of the clinic. Standing out in gale force winds and driving rain had me wondering what on earth I was doing. This was not my idea of fun. All the other riders were south west riders, so they all took the foul weather in their stride. But Debbie, Queen of the Desert, was not so happy. The heavy showers were intermittent and pretty quickly I learned to time it so I could sneak out of the arena and get to the shed before the rain came. Steve would be teaching, I would have one eye on him and one eye on the weather and would discreetly slip out of the gate to the shed when the rain came. Once it cleared I would re-join the lesson. This was not un-noticed by the Steve and the other riders.
By day two of the clinic, the weather was beginning to ease. The showers were less frequent and less intense. One of the novelties at this clinic was that it was held on an alpaca stud and I decided to take full advantage of the new beasts and introduce the Morgans to them. Again, I snuck out of the clinic and rode Lenny down a laneway with paddocks of alpacas on both sides. There were a few alpacas next to the fence and they ran away when Lenny and I turned up, so he was mildly fascinated by them. Then we found out that the alpacas are curious creatures and these ones had just run over to their friends and informed them of the new horse on the property! Moments later, I had herds of alpacas galloping towards me on both sides of the laneway. I wasn’t quick enough to turn this into a training situation and finally get piaffe out of Lenny, but we were pretty close! It was both terrifying and hilarious.
Undaunted by this experience, and in between sneaking in and out of the arena for ‘training purposes,’ I asked Jenny, the property owner, if it was possible for me to take Lenny into an alpaca paddock and get a feel for how they work. “No problems at all,” said Jenny as she showed me the paddock. It looked like there wouldn’t be a shower for a while so I left my raincoat behind and enjoyed the sunshine while I was herding the alpacas on my number one mustering horse. They work a lot like sheep and a bit like goats. Lenny didn’t care that they were “emu-sheep”, he knew the drill and soon we had the alpacas moving around the paddock this way and that way. Just as we turned to go back to the clinic, Jenny rode up and asked if we could give her a hand shifting the alpacas to a new paddock. “Absolutely yes!” was my response and off we went. And then the heavens opened. Jenny had her raincoat on and mine was back at the arena. So we shifted the alpacas in the driving rain, getting absolutely soaked to the skin. Lenny was not impressed either with the rain, but we had a job to do.
It turned out that Jenny had seen me ducking into the shed each time a shower of rain came by and had timed the task of moving the alpacas so that I had an opportunity to ride in the rain, like normal riders have to do! She knew I wouldn’t say no to a chance to work the alpacas and thought it was hilarious that I got soaked after all my efforts at staying dry!
Willow didn’t really enjoy the rain either, but she learned to wear a rug and how to leave the group of horses and stand in the shed when it rained. I rode her lightly and she impressed me with her behaviour but we didn’t do anything too challenging, like the alpaca piaffe or the deep rinse cycle whilst moving stock in the rain.
After the clinic, Lenny and Willow had a couple of days off at Melissa Guest’s beautiful property (with Hodgson Park Buckingham.) The day before I left to travel home the sun shone and Melissa and I went for a beautiful ride in the nearby forest with our three wonderful Morgans. I rode Lenny and lead Willow, giving her the opportunity to be on a trail ride in a new part of the world. She was beautifully behaved the whole time, as was Bucky, who was happy to let Lenny lead the way through the winding trails. We were all so pleased to have had such a wonderful ride with our gorgeous horses.
We headed home after our big adventure in Perth and started watching the weather in preparation for the following weekend – a 40km endurance ride at Maranalgo Station, just 2.5 hours away. Seven days out, rain was forecast but I entered anyway, because forecasts can change. The best weather looked like it was going to be on Sunday. Four days out, I was saying, “How about the Mullewa Rodeo instead of the Maranalgo Ride?” But by Friday morning the forecast had improved and I was confident that we would stay dry. The bureau was forecasting 60% chance of 5-10mm of rain starting at noon. I figured I could live with that, as I would be likely to be close to finishing the ride by then. We loaded Lenny into the float and headed down on the Friday afternoon ready for a ride on Saturday.
Camping out on the Friday was glorious! Friendly faces, blazing campfires and true stories. Sam Jones was there, she and I are partners in Challa Station Boudicca, (Boudie). Boudie shredded an extensor tendon about a year ago and Sam was very pleased to report how well she has recovered. She told me how beautiful and tall she has grown and how she will have no trouble being a riding horse in the future.
On Saturday morning, Lenny and I were ready to go on the 40km ride and just as my bum hit the saddle, the first drops of rain fell. By the 10km mark I was already quite wet and decided that what I had hoped was a brief shower was actually developing into steady rain. I put on my raincoat and accepted that my fate was to ride in the rain yet again. Never mind, I thought, now I am a real endurance rider. Lenny and I teamed up with a lady riding a lovely Arab mare and completed the 40km ride with ease. My tough Morgan gelding was as strong coming home as he was going out. He vetted in after just 15 minutes rest with a heart rate of 42, just 6 beats up from his pre - ride heart rate. There was no doubt in my mind that he could have done the same ride again had I asked him to. But by then I was soaked to the skin and the tracks were getting slippery and I was ready to go home to a warm fire. Yes, I am considering doing an 80 km ride on him, and I’ll tell you a secret; we hadn’t put a day’s training in for the endurance ride. Even though I am riding him almost every day, we have been just going on short rides, training for online dressage competitions and preparing for the clinic. Imagine what he could do if I actually trained him!
Finally, Lenny and Willow have been competing in some online dressage competitions. Willow has competed once at Prep level for a second place and Lenny has competed three times for two firsts in Western Dressage and a second in Prelim English. It’s all good fun and provides motivation to train.
With mustering coming up in July there’s hopefully going to be more chances for me to get the horses out with the cattle. That’s as long as it isn’t raining!
Morgan Messenger April 2016
Let me tell you about our new mares; they’re full sisters by Tui’s Nimrod out of Mt Tawonga Vicky and couldn’t be more different! Greenstone Giaginye is a chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail, tall and slim with the most beautiful legs and hooves. Her sister, younger by a year, is Greenstone Dandaloo. Dandaloo is a very pretty bright bay, shorter and stockier than her sister and the image of her dam. They came from the High Country in Victoria, where they were raised in the natural bush in a herd environment. They were both put in foal to Watching Royalty before making their trip over to the West.
When new horses arrive at Challa, we can’t just release them. They will go for a walk and never return. They have to spend at least five days in the yards learning where home is. New horses often find themselves separated from the herd, so when they go for their first walk they need to know where to come back to.
It was with a great deal of trepidation that I let them out for the first time, but it was a hot day and they remained relatively sensible. Challa Station Captivate (Molly) couldn’t join them initially because of her injured leg. Challa Station Symphony, my lovely young palomino, thought the new horses were terribly nice and followed them everywhere. The pecking order was sorted with threats and gestures rather than actual contact, and Giaginye won her way to the top.
A couple of months later, they have settled in very nicely and as the weather starts to cool they will begin the training befitting of a Challa broodmare who may very well go under saddle one of these days.
Lovely young Challa Station Willow is still “on her L plates” under saddle and the heat has prevented us from progressing much more. As the weather cools she will be brought back into work. She lives in the house paddock now, not in with the broodmares, as she is now a saddle horse. She will come back in to work very soon so that my daughter and I can go riding together during the school holidays.
I decided to enter the Challa Station Morgan in the ANMS Photo Show. What a day! I should have checked my show supplies well before the photo shoot because on the morning I discovered I had no baby oil for their faces, and no hoof black, and I’m 400km away from the nearest saddle shop. A bottle of olive oil solved problem number one and after a little thought, no hoof black was applied. In hindsight I could have used black art paint from the schoolroom.
I had booked by strapper (Ash) and my flapper (Jim, our visiting biosecurity officer) beforehand so it was simply a matter of grooming each horse, standing it up and snapping the photo. Jim flapped the flag, Ash moved the horses into position, and I took the photos according to Eva Hornung’s guidelines. Trying to find a plain background proved to be quite a challenge. So did getting the horses in exactly the right position, getting their ears pricked and taking the photo. It took a few hours, but we finished before the heat of the day and I managed to get a collection of photos that I was reasonably happy with.
We won some prizes; Willow won her class, Dandaloo came second. Beautiful Mt Tawonga Belinda, with her one eye came third in her class. Tandarra Millennium came second. I was so proud!
The Photo Show has some awesome spin offs. I have updated my website with the photos, had a mouse pad made with all of my horses on it and I have a record of how my horses looked this year that I can use as a reference for the future. Plus we participated in a National competition and earned some recognition. I will be entering this competition again in the future.
Morgan Messenger Feb 2016
Summer is usually the quietest time at Challa Station Morgan, but this summer has been very different.
We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our two new Victorian mares, Greenstone Giaginye and Greenstone Dandaloo, both in foal to Watching Royalty. They are in transit as I write and I can’t wait to see them safe and healthy here at Challa. Neither have left home before but Giaginye is the more confident of the two. She is the older of the sisters and has been exposed to more of life than her younger sister, Dandaloo. Dandaloo has been on a huge learning curve since she left her mother and her birth home in the high country. I know the trip will worry her and I feel a little on edge knowing this. They will have a couple of days with Rene’e and Tim at Crossmatch Morgans before coming home to Challa.
Meanwhile, back at Challa, young Challa Station Willow has been on a learning curve of her own. We had another group of cows we need to tail out for five days and Willow had, by then, been under saddle for 15 hours so she was ready to step up and do some cattle work. I had used Tandarra Millennium (Lenny the Legend) for the first four days as we spend up to five hours in the saddle when tailing out. Five hours is much too long for Willow so I just used her on the last day when we let the cows out, watch them for an hour, then leave them at the water.
The most confronting part for Willow was just at the start when we opened the gates of the yards and let the cattle out. The horse’s job is to go in front and stop the cattle from racing ahead. I decided to lead Willow off Lenny for this new experience. Willow wasn’t sure why sixty cows were rushing towards her when the gates opened and she danced around a little but Lenny the Legend kept things under control. I then handed Lenny over to my daughter, Emily, and I rode Willow around the cows. Once the cows settled, Willow began to enjoy the idea that she was the boss and that the cows respected her and moved out of her space when she commanded.
I realise that I am very lucky, not only to be able to give a young horse a job like tailing out cattle, but also because my young horse is a Morgan – surely the best working horse available.
I’m not sure I can really be as positive about Challa Station Captivate (Molly’s) big learning curve over Christmas. But I can be positive about the way she handled it all. Two year old Molly caught her hind leg in a plain wire fence and ripped it open to the bone. She had to go to Perth to have surgery to curette the bone and tidy the wound up. Seven hours on the float with Grumpy Uncle Lenny, a week in hospital and then a few days at Kath Hare’s place (with Red Bluff Clearwind) and Molly handled it all beautifully. Molly’s dam is Mt Tawonga Belinda (Holly) and I am going to credit her for producing fillies with wonderful temperaments, (Willow is another of her daughters.) I developed a new appreciation for just how much Holly’s daughters understand us. Molly knew, right from the beginning, that we were helping her and she never once complained about having to have her dressing changed. She is a marvellous patient and a true testament to her mother’s wonderful nature. The leg is healing extremely well and in time will not cause her any trouble.
So a number of steep learning curves have happened over the last couple of months for the Challa Morgans as we look forward to the arrival of our new mares. The journey continues.
Morgan Messenger December 2015
Sometimes our journey through life takes some unexpected turns. I could have been destiny that lead me to find a mob of hidden Morgans deep in the Victorian High Country. Perhaps it was more good fortune. Whatever the case, it was an exciting find that I never expected to make.
Ashley and I had booked a five day “Man from Snowy River” Horse trek which wound its way along the Howqua River. We flew to Victoria and did a whirlwind tour of a few Morgan studs; first to Mt Beauty to finally meet Leonie Kable and to visit her lovely horses for the second time. Leonie was away when we first visited about six years ago so it was a real treat to finally meet her.
Mountain Creek Moriesians could be the biggest Morgan stud in Australia. Leonie has Morgans of all different ages, colours and genders. It is a real treat to walk around her beautiful property and meet the horses she has. Her carefully considered breeding program is producing some high quality stock and he passion is clear as she talks about her Morgans. I lost count of how many she has as I walked around, but I saw some of the real icons of the Australian Morgan world and progeny from some of the best international stallions available.
After saying our goodbyes, Ashley and I drove to Haymeron Park, the home of two of my favourite stallions; Karenza Apollo and Baptiste Levi Strauss. The two stallions are worlds apart in terms of looks and personality. Levi, sire of my lovely palomino filly, likes to know everything that is going on, he watches all the time. Apollo’s paddock is just outside Jo’s back door and I think he actually knows everything that’s going on! Apollo is especially dear to me as he is the sire of my number one riding horse, Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) and the grand sire of one of my fillies. Rick and Jo Hayes have some magnificent Morgans! They are a credit to them. I also met Karen Pullen and Haymeron Park Archimedes, who I could have easily stolen and brought back to WA! Karen was doing some work with Archimedes and, wow, he reminds me of Lenny!
We stayed the night with Rick and Jo, and then we began our trip towards Mansfield and our horse trek. On the way we passed by Samaria Creek so we dropped in for a cuppa and to visit Judy’s lovely Morgans. Off for a tour in Buck, the paddock 4WD, we visited the mares and youngsters and of course, Tui’s Nimrod. Judy had two heavily pregnant mares who were waiting for their foals to be born.
So our horse trek began. On the first night, we were getting to know each other and I may have mentioned Morgan horses. One of the ride guides said, “Oh, Wendy breeds Morgans. We are going to stop at her place.” I didn’t recognise the name but I was hoping it was true. What a treat, to meet another Morgan lover!
Wendy hasn’t been a member of the association for a few years, which is why I hadn’t heard her name before. But she did, indeed, have five Morgan mares in her paddocks. Three were pures, one being Mt Tawonga Vicky and the other two her daughters by Tui’s Nimrod. The other two were partbreds by Nimrod. As part of the trek we had a full day at the Stoney’s property and it was really nice to be able to show the other trekkers some Morgan horses (after I had been talking about them for two full days.)
A comment lead to a conversation and then a deal was struck – we went back after the trek and bought two of her mares, both of Mt Tawonga Vicky’s daughters by Nimrod. Full sisters yet very different, they will be put in foal to Watching Royalty before heading back to WA to join the Challa Station Morgans. I had not gone to Victoria thinking I would come home with two new mares. I was grateful just to be able to visit some Morgan studs, and ended up buying these mares who I referred to as my ‘hidden treasures’ and who I had no idea even existed!
So allow me to introduce my new mares; Greenstone Giaginye, whose name means ‘pleased to meet you’ in the local Aboriginal dialect, she is a chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail. Greenstone Dandaloo, whose name means ‘pretty little thing’ is a bright bay and is the image of her dam. I hope to have them home by Christmas.
As is that wasn’t enough excitement for one holiday, just before returning to Perth, Ash and I dropped in to see Watching Royalty and Beccara Lloyd at a Working Equitation clinic they were attending. Sue Buckley from WA was also there, it was great to catch up and talk WE and Morgan horses. Beccara and Roy are doing great things together and it was awesome watching the partnership they have built up.
Then it was back to WA to hit the ground running, back up to Challa Station and back into the cattle work. We bought some new cattle and Lenny and I spent a few days settling them in to their new windmills. I can see that Lenny is now thinking more when we are on cattle, taking the initiative if he sees a wayward one.
I guess the most memorable day was when we had to drive the mob across country to their new paddock. They were all young heifers and so the plan was for me to ride in front on Lenny and they would soon figure out to follow him. Once the cattle were settled in behind Lenny they followed him so well that I felt like the pied piper. Our daughter remarked that the heifers see Lenny as a sort of cow-god, but I just think he reminded them of their mothers. After a four hour drive we settled them into their new temporary yards and then floated to the next place and tailed out the other new mob. I spent seven hours in the saddle that day and five hours for the next few days. Good old Lenny never missed a beat. Is there any better working horse than a Morgan? I doubt it.
Shortly after that, I took Lenny to Perth to attend a six day California Vaquero clinic with Jeff Sanders. I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful the clinic was, we experienced riding like never before. One of the highlights was when Melissa Guest brought Hodgson Park Buckingham down for his first outing. I could be using a bit of poetic license when I say that Lenny and Bucky recognised each other as kindred spirits but that was how it could have been interpreted by some. Lenny had been surrounded by strange horses all week, but as soon as he saw Bucky he really needed to go over to him and say hello. Melissa is doing a great job with Bucky and he looks magnificent.
I can’t imagine the next two months will be as action packed as these ones have been. Merry Christmas from Challa Station Morgans.
Morgan Messenger Oct 2015
Challa Station recently hosted another five day Carlos Tabernaberri clinic and this time Challa Station Willow attended along with Tandarra Millennium (Lenny.) Both Morgans behaved beautifully and Carlos borrowed Lenny from time to time to ride out with some of the more difficult horses. Carlos loves riding Lenny and over the years he has seen him transform into the good working horse he is now.
I began breaking Willow in shortly before Carlos visited and she had her seventh to tenth rides during the clinic. “Breaking her in” is such a silly term to use for this mare. It was a mere formality to sit upon her back and begin to ride her. By the second day we were trotting in the arena, away from her friends, doing figures of eight, stopping and backing up, all in a halter and a little dressage saddle. By day four we were out on the trail and we have been making steady, though intermittent progress since.
It is surprising how many people who visit Challa pick Willow out as their favourite. She is quite a plain looking mare, overshadowed in looks by the glamorously beautiful palomino filly Challa Station Symphony. Time and time again horse people visit and, time and time again, Willow is selected as the favourite. She has beautiful manners, lovely clean legs and aura of calm dependability and that special something that endears her to many.
It takes years to train a good saddle horse and I hope I can put the time into Willow and have her realise her potential as a great riding horse. It is hard going back to the beginning when I have Lenny at my disposal, and while he is in work any other horse will always be my number two riding horse, but Willow shows enormous promise. Perhaps she could topple the king one day for the number one riding horse spot!
Lenny and I recently went across to Geraldton for a short holiday. I had to go over to attend a School of the Air camp with my son and so put Lenny in the float and took him along. We attended a trek with my Midwest Horse Trekkers Club and caught up with Phelcrest Savannah and her owner Bethny while we were there. Bethny and I love riding together and our two Morgans match each other really well, both in looks and in pace. Bethny was telling me that no other horse could keep up with Savannah when she did an extended trot, so we tried it out. Yes, Lenny kept up with her… the trotting ability of these two Morgans was abundantly clear to see. Their power and pace was awesome.
My husband and I are travelling across to Victoria for a short holiday in early October for a five day “Man from Snowy River” horse trek. He has limited me to visiting just two Morgan studs but we will also go to see the Working Equitation Clinic with Eduardo so will have the chance to catch up with a few other Morgan people there.
Lenny has been selected as the Horse Deals Equine Transformation of the Month. If you have a look at the October issue you will see a two page spread featuring Lenny the Legend!
Morgan Messenger August 2015
Some massive changes have recently taken place on Challa Station and these changes have a flow on effect for the Challa Morgans. For over a hundred years Challa grew Merino sheep for wool and meat. However an influx of wild dogs in the Southern Rangelands of WA has forced us to change to cattle. In order to become viable we needed more land.
Challa has now doubled in size to half a million acres. We purchased Windimurra Station, a run-down station next door to us and by combining both stations we are big enough to be a viable cattle property. We aim to run 1500 breeders within the next five years.
Horses play a key part in the Challa Cattle Enterprise. Morgan horses, of course.
When we buy new cattle in to Challa we can’t just take them out to their paddock and let them go. When our new cattle arrived we kept them in the house yards for a couple of days and then we trucked them out as close as we could get to their new home, then we had to walk (we call it drive) them the rest of the way. They had been cooped up for a few days and were keen to run when we opened the gates and started the drive. I was on Lenny, and we had a couple of bull buggies and some motorbikes as well.
The cattle started running and very quickly reached “Bullock Well Creek” a series of dry creek beds. We had to cross this and then keep them going towards their new home. The dry creek beds are surrounded by trees and bushes and there was no open country for the first few kilometres. You can’t see all of the cattle because of the trees. You have to listen and look and make sure you don’t lose any.
Lenny and I took the lead. It was our job to slow down the cattle who wanted to run so the little calves at the back could keep up. The mob can only travel as fast as the slowest calf. We were assisted on the ‘wings’ by Ash on his motorbike and his father John in a bull buggy. The agility and skill of my Morgan horse was appreciated both by myself and the supporting crew on bikes and buggies. We had to negotiate the challenging terrain and dense bushes as we headed the mob. It was hard riding and there was no room for error. Every time we headed a running cow we would turn side on to slow her down. Then another one would decide to run so we would turn and canter in front, sometimes sideways, to head her off. All this time we were jumping up and down the creek beds and dodging the scrub and it felt as though Lenny’s legs were my own. I could simply think where I needed to be and he would take me there. It was complete unity. There was no doubt in my mind that this horse and I were working as one and there was no doubt in his mind what our job was. And over the radio they were saying, “It’s OK, Deb’s got them.”
After the cows had their run they began to settle and the rest of the drive went smoothly. I stayed up front, firstly keeping the cattle steady and secondly giving them something to follow. We arrived at their new home and let them eat for a while before yarding them. Lenny loved that bit the most. He also had a lovely feed and a drink before we headed back home over the wild country that we had just come across, following the cattle tracks back to the horse float.
On a station it is vital to settle cattle onto a water so that when they go out to feed they can remember where to come back to for a drink. We ‘tail them out’ from portable yards for four or five days, each day letting them out and watching them eat then returning them to the yard once they have had enough. Lenny loves this job because he gets to eat most of the time, only moving when a cow looks like she’s moving too far away. I posted a short video of Lenny tailing out on Facebook.
A mob of wild stallions are living on Windimurra Station. We are going to geld and release them so they don’t pose a threat to the Challa Morgans in the future.
All of the work associated with getting Windimurra back into production has taken up a great deal of my time. Instead of riding horses I am going out and helping with fencing and fixing windmills and checking cattle. But I have finally begun the process of “breaking in” Challa Station Willow, the first Morgan horse born at Challa. She is rising five and, being a Tobey foal, has taken her time maturing so I have been in no hurry to start her. This is the same filly who had a snooze in the sun in her yard at the ANMS – her very first time off the station! This is also the filly who won her ANMS in hand trail class first time in an indoor arena, and first time off the station! She has been very well prepared for riding, and mounting her for the first time was a mere formality. By the second ride we were away from her friends in the arena trotting figures of eight, stopping and even backing up – all in just a halter! She shows great promise under saddle and I hope to have her out tailing cattle very shortly.
Morgan Messenger June 2015
We have just finished an amazing weekend, hosting the Challa Station Mill Run Endurance Ride. Twenty eight riders came from all over WA, eleven of them to compete in a two day, 160km ride. As ride organiser, I had a little time on my hands so Lenny the Legend and I participated in a 20km social ride with some very experienced endurance riders who thought he was just lovely. 20km is not a big ride, but it was enough for my rather porky Morgan who has spent most of his time eating since it rained in March. He really stood out from the crowd of mostly lightweight Arabians and did the Morgan breed proud.
Every year I tell riders that Morgans are as good as the Arabs at endurance and I tell them the story of Rik’s Quilty conquest. I think it would be nice if there were some more Morgans competing seriously in endurance in Australia so I could further prove my point. From time to time I think maybe I should take Lenny in an 80km ride but that isn’t likely to happen any time soon!
I have been, from time to time, riding Holly. She is still very green but she is a gentle and willing mare to ride. She’s as stiff as a board on her right side, though, which is her blind side. I’m undecided how much time I will put into her as a riding horse but the thing I really like is that, green as she is, I can just hop straight on her after she has had a long spell and she is as good as gold.
Ian Leighton visited Challa in April and all of the horses received a good dose of training. The yearlings CS Captivate (Molly) and CS Symphony (Twisty) did particularly well with Ian. They responded very well to his advanced ground work exercises and I really love the fact that they are so soft and easy to work with. He did two days with the horses and I before holding a 5 day “Improve Your Horse” Clinic.
The ten strange horses at the Ian Leighton clinic provided me with an opportunity to expose the Morgans to all the fun of a clinic. I love taking Willow, she just slots in as though she has been to a hundred clinics. Maybe Challa Station Willow will be my future endurance Morgan. She is still waiting to be started and I should have the time to put into her very soon. Holly participated a few times too, but not under saddle. She is still a little too nervous amongst a lot of horses and I need to get her more confident before putting her under too much pressure.
Lenny and I did some work with the Garrocha and under Ian’s supervision improved a little more. He listens intently to my body weight and responds to the softest of cues so I can usually manage the reins and the pole with a degree of finesse. He forgives my occasional clumsiness as I don’t quite get the pole smoothly across his rump, or I misjudge getting it over his head as I change direction. One day I will ask somebody to get some photos of Lenny working with the Garrocha but for now you just have to imagine.
It has rained, both literally and metaphorically here at Challa Station. In early March we received a magnificent, drought-breaking 132 mm of beautiful rain on our parched land. The earth has sprung to life before our eyes. Swans have flown in from nowhere to settle on the new lake just a few hundred metres from the back door. Tiny iridescent green seedlings have sprung up from the bare ground, each day doubling in size. The land has heaved a sigh of relief. Rain…… thank goodness.
Success at the Australian National Morgan Show (ANMS) was our metaphorical rain….. Showered with prizes. How lovely to have the two major events almost in unison with each other.
I had planned to leave for the ANMS with Challa Station Willow and Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) on the Tuesday before the show. However our road was so flooded I had to wait until the next day to get out. I drove for a few hours through rain before it cleared so when I arrived at Kath Hare’s place I joked that I had already washed the horses ready for the show.
Those of you who know me well will know how worried I was about the ANMS. For months I panicked about the show. The riding bit wasn’t what was keeping me awake, it was the show etiquette, equipment, presentation and rules that worried me. I am so out of touch with the show scene it is like I have never been in touch with it. Lucky for me, Helena Shanal, my ANMS Angel, had offered to help. I couldn’t have achieved anywhere near the success we had without her. The consummate professional, she was knowledgeable, prepared and carried with her the Lucky Hacking Cane! This cane had taken Helena to ANMS success four times and she assured me that it remembered every workout within its fibres. Helena also brought her CD of music for the freestyle dressage, which lead to one of our many great adventures for the weekend.
Helena had agreed to ride Lenny in the dressage and jumping for me. I explained to her that, “I have done my best to prepare but have not had the benefit eyes on the ground giving me feedback before the show. I have had to do everything by feel, but I think Lenny is going to go OK. I put him in the Novice dressage but, not really knowing much about dressage competition, I don’t really know what level he is. I read through the tests and I reckon he can do all of that stuff so I thought we should give it a crack. Oh, and he’s never done a showjumping course before. I’m not really into jumping these days but I’ve popped him over a couple of logs in the bush and he’s nice and bold so we’ll see how he goes. If we have to, we can scratch him from the versatility jumping because he can long rein really well.” Helena had a couple of practice rides on Lenny and she was pretty happy with what he did and declared him ready to compete.
After a couple of days of preparation at Kath’s place, the two Challa Station Morgans arrived at Brookleigh early on the first day of the show. I did wash them of course, but chose not to plait Lenny, my part bred, preferring to show off his lovely mane and tail naturally. He did get a smudge of make-up and a trim but that was all I was prepared to do. The boy has dignity, after all. Whiskers intact, we headed to the show ring. Willow was presented even more naturally, with no hoof black, makeup and not even a trim. She is beautiful all by herself.
I was very worried about the show, but I knew I had two good horses who were well trained and I knew I could rely on them. Willow is still not under saddle, but she came for the experience. Lenny is solid under saddle and I knew that if anything untoward happened I had a safe horse under me and I needn’t worry. But neither horse had ever been to a show. I hadn’t ridden in a show since my teenage pony club days and a lot has changed since then.
If you have a close look at some of the photos of me riding Lenny against Michelle Moller and Wilga Park Tibouchina for the Grand Champion Ridden Exhibit you can see my face is ashen and very serious looking. A stark contrast to the happy, relaxed expression that I usually wear when riding Lenny. The Lucky Hacking Cane had taken us from first place in the Ridden Part Bred Gelding six years and over all the way to the Grand Champion workout. I couldn’t believe it. I forgot everything I have ever known about relaxed riding and made a bit of a mess of the workout. However it was fine to be beaten by such a beautiful combination in Michelle and Tibby.
After the terror and shock of getting all the way to Grand Champion I was ready to retire from the show ring. I asked Helena if she could ride Lenny in a few events for me. She did and came back with a stash of blue ribbons. Lenny and Helena conducted themselves with such style and professionalism they were unbeatable. Pleasure Hack, Best Educated, Show Hunter, Working Hunter. Once the English classes had finished I was happy to remount and take my good horse through the trail class.
All this time young Willow was quite enjoying the show. She met quite a few new friends and seemed to appreciate the ambiance of the magnificent Brookleigh Equestrian Estate. After her in hand event, where she behaved like a perfect young lady, she lay down had a snooze in the yards. Later in the day she came out with me and won the in hand trail class scoring a perfect 10 in the “High Five the Swaggie” and “Walk Over the Bridge” then placed third in the Liberty. I couldn’t be any happier than that with her.
That evening, we took the horses back to Kath’s, had a quick shower then went off to the ANMS dinner. Exhausted yet very happy we had a lovely meal with the rest of the Morgan community before heading off to bed.
Sunday was the big dressage and jumping day. I competed in the Western classes early and picked up some more ribbons, whipped Lenny the Legend around the barrel race for a handy second place, then handed him to Helena so she could ride him in the dressage.
Helena had been trying to get Lenny to a 60x20 arena so she could practice her freestyle test but to no avail. Worse than that, however, was the fact that she had listened to her freestyle CD in the car before the show and the car’s CD player was refusing to relinquish the CD for the freestyle dressage test. My husband, Ashley was informed of the dilemma and he, the man who can fix anything, spent the next 2 hours in the car trying to get the CD out. I told Helena about the problem and she handled it all with such aplomb it made me feel as though there was no problem at all. No worries, we can park the car near the arena and turn the music on. No we couldn’t. The music refused to play at all. More bashing and crashing at the CD player and Ash managed to get the music to play. Sitting in the car with the windows up being completely silent, inspired by a stroke of genius, our daughter Kate recorded the song on her iPhone. Helena entered the arena for her freestyle test a few minutes later. She raised her hand to indicate she was ready for the music. There was an awkward silence while last minute, behind the scenes, hilarious hijinks ensued. The iPhone was finally plugged into the sound system at Brookleigh, the music began and Helena and Lenny entered the ring. They gave such a wonderful performance that the earlier panic dissipated and was replaced with awe. Wow, that’s my horse there. My working horse from Challa Station was transformed into this magnificent creature who was now dancing to the music in unison with his rider. I was so proud. I was also very pleased that what I had thought was correct training back at home seemed to be on the right track. A nice validation of my solo efforts and my reliance on listening to my horse.
After the dressage we had the showjumping. Helena had done a few practice jumps on Lenny the day before the show. She assured me he’d go fine and we really didn’t need to scratch him from the jumps. So the station horse, who had never seen a showjumping course in his life, was asked to jump first a 44 cm then a 60cm course. If you didn’t know, you would never have known that it was Lenny’s first ever round. Helena handled him beautifully and helped him around the course into fourth and fifth place. I was pretty damn proud of that, He never once baulked at a jump and he did the best that his honest Morgan heart could do.
So Lenny, Helena and I went on to win the Versatility Challenge, the Supreme Champion Ridden Part Bred and the High Point Part Bred of the show. My cup runneth over.
Lenny and Willow have returned from the ANMS to the now green fields and brimming lakes of Challa. Lenny can rest on his laurels and has forever broken the shackles of the name, “the Divorce Horse” as Ashley proudly tells our visitors about the champion Morgan horses his wife owns. Whilst Helena continues with her outstanding show ring successes back home, I don’t see a new career in showing looming for myself in the near future, but I may consider a comeback to the show ring in five years’ time when the next ANMS comes to WA.
The ANMS was a very busy show and it took me a long while to recover from it. But Kath, Helena, Clarie, Ashley, Kate, Michael and I had a lot of laughs. I met Lisa and Tim Wong and Kerry and John Hill. I also met Bill and Yda Tomsett, who are the people who imported the first Morgan into WA. Clarie stayed with Ash and I for a while then visited us at Challa Station after the show. I learned a great deal about showing, especially from Helena, but most of all we had a lot of really good fun. We worked well as a team and did our best. And on the day our best was good enough.
Everything has gone very quiet around Challa Station. With just six horses here and summer in full swing the workload has decreased as the temperature has soared. We are in desperate need of some rain and I’m glad I reduced numbers before the summer. Challa Station Tirrakoa and Ariga Park Loquacious have gone back to live in Perth with Jess Blackwell. I know Jess loves her new filly and I am happy with the way things worked out. Challa Station Forever has gone to her new home in southern WA. Even though she bought her sight unseen, it was abundantly clear that Forever was with the right person when they met for the first time. Challa Station Boudicca, who shredded her digital extensor tendon in a freak accident is recovering well at her new part time home. It couldn’t be repaired, she just has to learn to compensate for it. Sam Jones and I have decided to form a partnership in Boudicca and perhaps ride her in the future but definitely breed from her. Between us we will provide a good future for this lovely filly.
Prior to Christmas our new cattle arrived. For 125 years, Challa Station grew white wool from merino sheep. The plague of wild dogs forced us out of sheep and into cattle. Running cattle here provides the horses and I with some wonderful opportunities to learn new skills. Before we bought our new cows we had to muster some of the scrub bulls off the property. Mustering these huge, dangerous bulls is risky and it alternates between terrifying and thrilling. It involves the aeroplane, bull buggies and motorbikes. Muggins here was on a motorbike but that was better than putting Lenny at risk by taking him on one of these musters. Once our new cows arrived, it was a different story. They were off a station further north so were a little touchy but not mad like the bulls. We kept them in the new cattle yards here at the homestead for ten days to settle them. Every day I had to go down on the horses and ride amongst them, keep them quiet and teach them to move away from pressure. If I tried to walk amongst the cows on foot they would be very reactive. On horseback I was accepted much more readily. Even though I only rode Lenny and Bella (stockhorse,) I brought CS Willow and Holly (Mt Tawonga Belinda) down to have some time with the cattle in preparation for the future.
After the cattle were deemed quiet enough, and the Christmas festivities were over, it was time to take the cattle to their new home, 60km away at the top end of Challa. They are a little bit like horses; if we had trucked them there and just let them go, they would very likely have wandered away, got lost and perished on a fenceline somewhere. They needed to learn where the water was before it was safe to let them go. We put them in yards near the windmill at Top Camp and every day would go up there at dawn and tail them out for a few hours before putting them back into the yards. Tailing them out is Lenny’s absolute favourite job. We start off a bit quick, when the cattle are first let out; there’s a bit of cantering amongst the trees while we settle the lead. Then Lenny and I walk quietly ahead of them and the motorbikes keep the tail of the mob following. The cows have to learn to follow Lenny out to the grassy patch a couple of km from the yards. Then they have to eat until they are full then we take them home. Lenny also eats until he is full, then he eats a bit more. Then we quietly walk them back to the yards.
Tailing out the cattle is relaxing and enjoyable for both horse and rider. The only downside is that the best grass is in the crabhole country. Imagine a patch of grass amongst shady trees but where the ground is pockmarked with deep holes about 50cm deep, and about the size of a horses’ hoof. If you try to walk across it on horseback the horse frequently slips into an existing hole or opens up a new one as it treads on some delicate ground. You can only walk and you have to be really careful. The horse has to do the bulk of the work in the crabhole country because none of the motorbike riders like getting stuck in it. Lenny put up with it because there was so much feed there and it felt good to have such a reliable horse under me. I remember the time Lenny and I rode back through the crabhole country at night, coming back from a late trek. (Trust your horse, his night vision is better than yours.) Daytime through crabhole country is easy in comparison.
We tailed the cattle out for four days and then left them at the windmill once we were sure they knew where the water was.
Before summer hit with a vengeance I was working at getting Holly back under saddle. She has seven hours total time and hasn’t been ridden for about three years so I’m pretty much starting again with her. I’m aiming to have her going quietly under saddle by the time Ian Leighton is here for his clinic in late April. I also have to get Willow going under saddle, she is four years old now and whilst she is still growing she is ready for some light work. So why would I bother with a one eyed, twelve year old mare when I have so many others to work? Well, I did have her on the market, but as soon as I put a saddle on Holly and she transformed into a magnificent creature with natural self-carriage, elevated knee action and a promise of great potential, I knew I had to try. She is also a very sensitive mare and the lightest touch gets a response. If I can put the time into her I believe it will be worth it. I also believe she wants to be ridden. If she sees me saddling up another horse she often comes over as if to offer her services.
With the ANMS rapidly approaching I would like to say I have my horses in work, but I don’t. It’s too hot. I am, however, teaching the yearlings to be hosed off in case they make it to the show and have to be washed beforehand. I have bought a western saddle and bosal for Lenny and when we have had a few cooler days I have been riding him. I dragged my daughter Kate out to my “international equestrian arena” – a huge dry claypan that is our skiing lake after it rains– and did a photo shoot with Lenny in his cowboy dressage gear. I was very happy with the photos but it didn’t really advance my training towards the ANMS too much. While we were tailing out cattle I noticed some knots in Lenny’s mane and I got them out with my fingers. Is that OK preparation for the ANMS? Showing horses is a world away from what I normally do. But I’m doing it just once because the ANMS is in Perth for the very first time. I hope to see you there!
The Mongol Derby is a horse race over 1000km where the rider swaps horses every 40km. It is a gruelling ride across remote Mongolia, where riders sleep in local yurts and eat traditional Mongolian food. This year it was won by a West Australian rider, Sam Jones. If you have time google her win, it was absolutely inspirational.
When Sam Jones contacted me asking to overnight at Challa on her way home from the Landor Bush Races I was very happy to say yes and introduce her to the Challa Station Morgans.
After visiting the new foal, Tirrakoa, I took her to try and find the Lost Herd. I knew Sam was interested in Challa Station Boudiucca and even though she wasn’t on the market I asked if she would like to see her.
Despite the Lost Herd being out in their 160 square km paddock, it didn’t take long for us to locate them - but one was missing. My heart sank. Challa Station Symphony (Twisty,) my beautiful palomino filly out of Red Bluff Just the Ticket, was not with them. Immediately we went into search and rescue mode, deciding to check the fences in case she was caught in one of them. When we reached the trough we could see that there had been a problem. Through the fading daylight I could see hair and blood covering the smashed trough. I had seen them last 10 days ago and I suspect the accident had occurred shortly after that.
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that Twisty was badly hurt and unable to keep up with the herd. As night fell I had to give up searching and try to get some sleep.
To compound matters even further I was due to head to Perth the next day to pick up my daughter from the airport. I had to go. Early the next morning, Sam and I went out for another look but the hopelessness of it was abundantly clear. If she was dead or dying she could be anywhere. The bush is so thick in places and the paddock so huge I may never find her body. Sam left and I headed to Perth, carrying a dreadful feeling in my still churning stomach. The saddest thing for me was imagining how she had suffered.
I was waiting at the airport for my daughter to turn up when the phone rang. Ashley, my husband was on the other end. “I found her…… she is OK. She’s been through a lot but she’s here now at the homestead.” I cried with relief as he told me the story. He had come home from work just after lunch and headed out to track her up. He followed her tracks for three hours and could see where she had separated from the herd and gone on alone. He finally found her towards the eastern end of the paddock where the horses rarely go, but the same direction her mother had gone when she was gravely ill with colic. Twisty, who is usually very friendly, didn’t want to be caught. When he finally caught her he could see she had been through an ordeal but the worst was over. She had swelling and a laceration on her belly but her legs were still in good order. He fashioned a halter out of a rope he had on his handlebars and gave her a quick lesson in leading off a motorbike. On the way home he came across the rest of the herd but Twisty absolutely refused to go near them! Regardless of what he did she would not go close to her friends, so he continued leading her home. Twisty was travelling along alright but it still took him three hours to reach the homestead.
It was still another few days before I could get back home to see her in the flesh, and it was wonderful to do so. Her wounds were well under control by the time I returned and now, nearly two months later they are fully healed. I still see her every day and haven’t made the final commitment of closing the gate and keeping the Lost Herd away from the homestead.
As I look back on Twisty’s big adventure I wonder why she separated herself from the herd. She could have stayed with them but chose not to. I would have thought that an injured horses’ chances of survival would be much greater if she stayed with them. Perhaps some primitive instinct told her to keep away and not slow the herd down- I will never know. She is now back with her herd and perfectly content, showing no signs of her ordeal. I, on the other hand, have many more grey hairs and an occasional nervous tic.
Lenny’s job is about to get a whole lot more fun! He is going to become a cow pony. Some of you may know that for 120 years Challa Station was a beautiful sheep property, running up to 10 000 merinos until 2008 when wild dogs forced us to sell our sheep. We recently made moves to acquire 250 000 acres next door, which we will combine with our 250 000 acres and develop as a cattle station. We have been mustering the scrub bulls in preparation for introducing our herd of droughtmaster/santa gertrudis crosses. There is no way on this known earth that I will work the scrub bulls with Lenny, they are just too dangerous. A tonne and a half of angry bull that’s never been told what to do in its life is a bigger challenge than I am prepared to take on with my horse. Their power and fury is incredible and can they only be safely worked by a person in a bull buggy. But I digress. When we get our cattle I will be doing as much cattle work on horseback as possible. We should have the start of our herd by the new year. Challa Station Willow will be started under saddle after summer and will learn to work the cattle as well.
National Ride A Morgan Day occurred as we were building our new cattle yards, that will double as brilliant horse yards when the need arises. Despite being really busy, I decided to take Lenny to what I call the “Wild Dog Arena,” about 4 or 5 km from the homestead where I regularly see wild dog tracks. We had a wonderful ride for about an hour and a half and I made a video of some of it. Lenny even managed to write his name in the salt lake, if you went out there now in the plane you would still be able to see it. It was a fantastic ride and one I would not have made time for if it had not been NRAMD.
Some of you will know that Challa Station Forever has been on the market. She has now found her “Forever home” and will be moving to Jerramungup next week. Jerramungup is as green and cool as Challa is dry and hot. I am sure that she will love it there and I am happy that she has found a very nice owner.
We are starting to get excited about the ANMS to be held in Perth in March next year. Not long to go now! We hope that some of you are able to come across and meet our lovely WA Morgans.
The big news here at Challa Station Morgans is the arrival of our beautiful, black ¾ Morgan filly, Challa Station Tirrakoa on August 31st. She is by Koolaroo Klasique Ebony and the first foal for Ariga Park Loquacious (Quai.)
I will be perfectly honest, I hadn’t done my homework properly on Quai. I was expecting a bay or brown foal and was delighted when a black filly was born and later learned that Quai’s dam was black, hence the chances of a black foal by Koolaroo Klasique Ebony were greatly increased.
Tirrakoa is now almost a month old and has developed quite a sturdy frame from all the rich milk her mother is producing for her. Quai is a brilliant first time mum and has had no trouble at all adapting to her new role. It is a pleasure watching those two together, little Tirrakoa always close to her mother and Quai with that look of wisdom mixed with contentment that new mothers have.
Lenny (Tandarra Millennium) and I have been having all sorts of adventures since Carlos Tabernaberri held his clinic in early October. I have been practicing using the Garrocha whilst riding him and, inspired by a youtube clip of Jeff Sanders carrying the Garrocha during a cowboy dressage display, I have been carrying it whilst attempting dressage. It opens up a whole new world of mistakes that I had never even imagined, but challenges Lenny and I and builds our training. And you never know, I may need to use the Garrocha one day on some of Challa Station’s new cattle. The Vaqueros use them for poking cattle around the yards and that seems to me to be a fairly useful skill to try and master.
Lenny and I also took advantage of the good weather here to go for a few great treks. The most memorable one was down the old Rabbit – Proof fence, now called the Murchison Regional Vermin Council (MRVC) fence. It’s only about 40km from home so we floated out there and spent five and a half hours riding in some of the most godforsaken, motherless country I have ever been through. Desolate, dry and lonely is all I can say. Once we left the fence to ride back to the float it was no better and the scrub was so thick that you had to walk all the way through it. Normally when I trek I change gait regularly because that stops us from getting stiff and sore, but there were very few opportunities to get out of a walk, so by the time I returned I felt less than average. However, I can now cross “riding the rabbitty” off my bucket list.
I hope that all Morgan breeders have a trouble free foaling season and I look forward to hearing about all the new foals born.
News from Challa MorgansLenny and I are still recovering from a fantastic five day Carlos Tabernaberri clinic here at Challa Station last week. Fourteen riders from the south joined us for five days of training and challenges. The Challa Morgans once again shone in the spotlight. On the second day of the clinic, Lenny and I escorted six adventurous riders on what I had planned was a short, easy ride up the sandhills. Clearly what is short and easy for Lenny and I can be an arduous ordeal for others. The ride turned in to a kind of a circus with all of those city horses going bananas because it was their first ride in the bush. Lenny couldn’t believe that they were making such a fuss and he just continued on as reliable as ever. The next day Carlos used him for a demonstration using the Garrocha. Good old Lenny turned into a magnificent bull fighting horse and then on the last day I put him in harness and long reined him with the Clydesdale. He showed everybody what a truly versatile horse is.
He wasn’t the only superstar. Challa Station Willow was used as a demo horse for Carlos to show how he starts a horse. I am sure all of the Morgan people reading this can imagine how well behaved she was. We just expect that from our Morgans. Forever was as always “Miss Friendly” and she went from person to person saying hello then settled down to watch the horse starting demo. I feel Willow is going to be another great riding horse and look forward to keeping you updated with her progress.
Some weeks prior to the Carlos Clinic I took Lenny to a very special place that I had always wanted to ride. Imagine, if you will, a vast uninhabited expanse with a large lake as a feature and hills on the western side. This is our largest skiing lake and I have often sat there looking at the hills in the distance saying that I would love to ride there one day. Well that day finally arrived. The ride was very beautiful and we were very much alone in the outback. The feeling of riding into forever is one that I never take for granted on my lovely Morgan horse. Complete solitude in a place where nobody has ridden, or even travelled over, for many years is very good for the soul. We rode up a rocky hill barefoot of course, and his hooves were unscathed. We waded into the lake and splashed and drank and enjoyed as the sun went down. However it wasn’t all beer and skittles. By the time we loaded onto the float ready to go home the sun had gone down. Driving back I realised I had no headlights. My clever husband had to come and rescue us as it was pitch black and I couldn’t see anything in front of me, let alone an isolated gravel road.
I had to rush Lenny to the vet a little while ago. He came down with colic. I treated him with Flunixin but his symptoms came back after 5 hours so I decided to head to Geraldton – five hours away – to get him treated. There is no way I was going to lose Lenny to colic, and was especially fearful after losing Ticket earlier this year. However, my car broke down on the way, some people say it was due to the tremendous amount of pressure I put on it in my attempt to get Lenny quickly to the vet. It is pretty easy to break down out of a mobile coverage area where I live but luckily some station people I know drove by and I managed to get their attention. We got my car and float back to their place and once again called my superhero husband for help. He came out with a spare car so I could continue my journey to Geraldton. By the time we arrived the colic had pretty much resolved but we stayed there over night and I kept watch on him. It all ended well, but I can’t imagine how life would be if it hadn’t. That horse of mine is a one in a million, a true gift from God, and I am grateful to be able to have some more time with him. Every day is special, every ride is unforgettable, with Lenny the Legend.
I look forward to hearing news of foals being born this season. Meanwhile treasure your Morgans and make every day with them count because time riding a Morgan is not deducted from one’s lifespan.
I’m bursting to tell you how great Koolaroo Klasique Ebony (Wallis) is doing! He was gelded in February and has become the most wonderful, warm, friendly, gorgeous horse I could have ever wished for! I am so lucky to have this lovely boy, who now shares a paddock with his paternal half brother Tandarra Millennium (Lenny.)
Lenny wasn’t too sure about Wallis when they first went in together. As far as Lenny was concerned, Wallis was still a stallion and should be avoided at all costs. Each morning when I went to feed them, Wallis would be in prime position and Lenny would be, as we teachers say, “smart ignoring” him. Lenny figured if he kept his head down and stayed away then Wally the ‘stallion’ would leave him alone. After about a week or so, I went to feed them and Lenny was back in the number one spot. Wallis had a single hoof mark on his rump. Lenny had discovered that the once fierce stallion was now a pushover. The natural order of Challa was restored. King Lenny was back on top!
Once I had the boys running together it was time for me to start riding Wally again. He had accrued about seven hours under saddle as a stallion before the last breeding season kicked in, so he was still as green as grass.
Steve Halfpenny was heading to Geraldton for a 5 day clinic and I had booked in my two geldings, Lenny and Wally, months ago. With just 4 more hours under saddle as a gelding, and with some degree of trepidation on my behalf, I loaded Wally on the float next to Lenny and headed to Geraldton.
I was worried about how Wally would behave, it wasn’t that long ago that he was a stallion, and I wasn’t sure how much that would influence his behaviour in company. Luckily the first session was groundwork. Wally settled in like only a Morgan could. By the second morning I had my big breakthrough…… I rode him in the company of 12 other horses, bareback and in a halter. It was a major milestone for Wally and I and the turning point for our relationship. It was from that moment I knew I had a really good horse under me.
Now, with still less than 20 hours under saddle, Wally is awesome! Every day I ride him out by himself and really enjoy it! He instills a sense of confidence that one rarely experiences with green horses. Nothing worries Wally. Nothing worries me. Finally we’re a team. One day he may even be as good as his big brother, Lenny!
Lenny was my second horse at the Steve Halfpenny clinic. After I did the hard work on Wally each morning, it was time to bring out the fun horse! What can I say about Lenny, other than the fact that Steve loved him! He is just the type of horse that Steve likes, soft yet very responsive, with natural self carriage, a great attitude and keen to please. Steve helped to develop Lenny’s softness even further. He likened the rare relationship that a rider can have with a horse like him to the ‘Avatar’ experience, where the two become one. Steve softened his cues to a point where they were so light it appeared as though they had become thoughts rather than actions. “Wow, this horse is awesome. Morgans are awesome, maybe I should get one.”
I feel extremely blessed. This morning Wally and I went for a ride, just the two of us, with the dog following behind. It was one of those perfect mornings, dew on the green grass after good rains at Challa. The warm sun on our backs, we rode, without a care in the world, in perfect harmony. We have taken a long time to get to this point and it feels really good to be here.
Morgan Messenger April 2014
A major change has taken place at Challa Station Morgans. Despite the fact that he has produced two extremely nice fillies, Koolaroo Klasique Ebony (Wallis) has been gelded. It’s not that we were unhappy with his progeny, quite the opposite; we are delighted with them. It’s not because there was some fault with his conformation or temperament, it was just a lifestyle choice that lead us to geld our lovely young stallion.
We made the decision to have Wallis collected prior to him being gelded so that we have the option to breed from him in the future. He was floated to Perth and he stayed at Kath Hare’s property before and after gelding. Kath was a bit worried about having a stallion on her place but she needn’t have been. Wallis settled in and behaved like a perfect gentleman. Leonie Pallentine, owner of Haymeron Park Epona, visited Wallis and was delighted to find he was very similar to her mare and it was as plain as day that they were both Karenza Apollo progeny.
Wallis made a big impact on the staff at the Equine Hospital too. They hadn’t had anything to do with Morgans before and I walked in and made the big statement that Morgans are not like other horses to train, he will learn super quickly and be a perfect gentleman at the same time. And he did …… and he was. They loved him and Wallis forged a solid bond with all of the staff, especially Warwick, the big strong vet who lead him out to the jump dummy. During the week of training and collection Wallis quickly learned that Warwick was the man he should listen to and he would be well rewarded by him. Warwick would enter the yard and Wallis would follow him around like a puppy and obey his every command.
Sadly their relationship was doomed. Warwick gelded Wallis and the next time they met, Wallis wasn’t so friendly. He singled Warwick out as the one who did the dirty on him and gestured to him with his ears flat back. Incredibly intelligent and sensitive, this horse had shown no malice towards any other staff member except Warwick. Of course no harm was done but again it showed me how different a Morgan is to any other horse. Wallis demonstrated not only a keen memory but also his heightened sense of justice, something that has characterised Wally since I have owned him.
Eight weeks later I have a lovely young gelding here at Challa who is destined to lead a much happier and more relaxed life now, and the part of him that was stallion is stored for future use – the best of both worlds. It’s much easier to keep my stallion in a container of liquid nitrogen and then go and have fun on my gelding!
As we all know one can have an enormous amount of fun with a Morgan gelding. Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) and I have begun to explore the world of classical dressage and working equitation. Can any other breed be as versatile as a Morgan? I think not. Lenny has had a few great years as a very solid working horse here at Challa and I have always wondered how on earth they train those horses to do classical dressage. So we have decided to dabble in Working Equitation. We had a clinic with Beccara Lloyd last year to whet the appetite and have sort of been trying to practice it since then. I heard of a lady in Perth who was running a two day clinic and after speaking to her I decided to lock the date in and make the huge haul down to the big some to attend. Luckily Kath Hare was keen to come too so we booked in together, her on Red Bluff Clearwind (Bailey) and myself on Lenny.
Kath and I think we did the Morgans proud at the Working Equitation clinic. It was very quickly clear to all who were there that the Morgans were uncomplicated, fun horses. Whilst we didn’t wow them with our classical dressage skills, we showed everybody how easy life was when you have a Morgan. I don’t even need to tell you that the obstacles were no obstacles to the Morgan horses and that by the end of the clinic there were some people saying, “I think my next horse will be a Morgan.” An American rider on a quarter horse was very pleased to see some Morgans in Australia, discussing the virtues of the Morgans to everybody and was saying she couldn’t understand why there weren’t more Morgans around; they suit the Australian riders needs so perfectly.
Although Lenny and I have much to learn if we are to become masters of Working Equitation, our instructor, Rebecca Desmond, saw real dressage potential in him. I have a feeling we will be pursuing this sport a bit more seriously in the future and I love the fact that I can do it with my Morgan. They are the ultimate “do everything” horse. Why would you bother with any other breed when you can have it all in one neat, fun package?
I am grateful for all of the support I have received from the Morgan community since the loss of Red Bluff Just the Ticket. I can tell you all that her little foal Twisty is doing well. She is running with the mares and foals in the “Lost Herd” paddock. Although you can see she has been physically affected by the loss of her mother she is as tough a survivor as you will ever meet.
Morgan Messenger February 2014
Tragedy has befallen the Challa Station Morgans with the death of the beautiful mare, Red Bluff Just the Ticket. Ticket was pregnant to Koolaroo Klasique Ebony so in essence we have lost two horses.
To say we are devastated is an understatement. Not only was Ticket our finest bred mare, beautifully conformed with great bloodlines, she was also a very special horse. She was a real character, as greedy as she was friendly and a fine mother to her palomino filly Challa Station Symphony (Twisty.)
The tragedy unfolded over almost two weeks. It began on the morning of Jan 4th when Ticket and her foal failed to turn up for breakfast. Almost instantly my husband Ashley and I began searching. First we went in the vehicle and ran around the nearby fences to see if one was caught up. After we failed to find them we both took motorbikes and UHF radios and began a desperate ground search. I gridded out the smaller paddock, whilst Ashley went to track them up in the huge 80 square kilometer paddock that is home to the horses. I thought something was very wrong and I was now looking for a sick or dying mare or foal. The paddock is comprised of low shrub and trees and it was a case of gridding so tightly that I couldn’t miss an animal lying under a tree.
Ashley had followed the tracks of the main herd for almost 5 hours and had determined that Ticket and Twisty had not been with them the evening prior but he had no idea where they had gone. He searched wider and further than he thought necessary but still no luck. My search failed to find them. The temperature by then was scorching and I was desperately worried.
Ashley thought he would be able to find them quicker by tracking them up than looking from the air, but when the ground search failed he took the plane up. Later I found out that because of the high air temperature the fuel kept vaporising in the plane’s fuel lines, causing an occasional heartstopping loss of power to the engine, but Ash kept systematically gridding out the paddock. Meanwhile I was sitting in the house, almost immobilised by panic and praying that we could find them. I knew I couldn’t do this alone so I opened Facebook and told my friends that they were missing. Almost instantly I felt as though I was not alone.
Finally the call came over the radio “I’ve found them! They’re both OK! Twisty is walking in front and Ticket is walking very slowly behind her. I can see she has mud on her side and her head is hanging very low but they are heading for home.” Twisty was leading her mother home. She would walk in front and stop and look back and wait for her, then walk a little more. “They have about 5km to go, but they’re heading the right way. I’m going back to land.”
There was no way we could have gone to pick them up with the float, the terrain is only passable on motorbike or horseback so we had no option but to wait for them to walk home. We think they would have stayed there until Ticket died had the noise of the aeroplane not jarred her into action. She must have gathered all of her strength to make the long walk home.
As soon as I laid eyes on Ticket I could see she had endured a terrible ordeal. Skin was worn off both hips, behind her eyes and under her chest as a result of struggling on the ground. She was badly dehydrated, her heart rate was over 80 and she seemed to have halved her body weight overnight. But it was still Ticket inside and her mighty spirit was doing all it could to survive.
So there we were, 400km from our nearest vet with a critically ill horse with a four month old foal at foot. I had to make the call as best I could. I began first aid. I administered flunixin and Ticket’s poor body responded well. She relaxed and drank lots of water. We hosed her off, her pulse was coming down and she even started to look at some food. I had begun to think that we might have a glimmer of hope.
However by 7pm her pains had returned and I administered more flunixin. Judging by her condition she would not be able to survive a 5 hour float ride to the vet, so I decided to keep treating her overnight and hope that she was looking better by the morning.
By 5am the pains were still wracking her exhausted body. We needed help. Ashley and I discussed our options. We had two: shoot her right then or get veterinary assistance.
I was still convinced that she would die if she made the float trip over to Geraldton so we tried to get the vet to fly out to Challa. After careful consideration the vet said that we would have to admit her to the vet hospital if she had any real chance of survival. Left with no options we took Twisty away from her mum, and modified the float so that Ticket could safely lie down in it. I was in no fit state to drive her over so Ashley offered to go. I administered more flunixin to try to minimise her pain for the journey and packed some more for Ash to carry in case he needed it. He also put his gun in the car, so unsure we were of Ticket’s ability to survive the trip.
Five hours later they arrived at the vet and the work began. The vet, Steph, was American and she had worked in a referral hospital, where the most severe cases are taken. She knew her stuff. She also holds Morgans in great esteem and knows how tough they are. Steph diagnosed a displaced intestine; the large intestine had flipped backwards and was restricting the rest of the intestines. All of Steph’s procedures went perfectly and she managed to get Ticket through the night and into the next day. Each day, although there were lots of things to worry about, Ticket improved. She gave us hope. By the Tuesday her intestine was back in place and her foal still had a strong heartbeat. We were talking about her future and it was decided that if she continued to improve she could leave hospital by the end of the week.
There was no way Ticket was coming back to Challa straight away so I made a phone call to Suellen, a vet friend of mine, hoping she could point me in the direction of a suitable agistment centre where Ticket would be supervised. “She can come here,” was the reply. I was so relieved….. Ticket couldn’t be in better hands. Ticket was released from hospital on the Friday afternoon. Although she wasn’t 100%, the vet was confident that she had the right supervision and it would be OK for her to go to Suellen’s place.
Being the dedicated vet she is, and unknown to me until the next morning, Suellen stayed up nearly the whole first night with her. I was staying with Bethny, (who owns part bred Morgan Phelcrest Savannah,) and when we heard this news we went straight there to give Suellen a much needed break. I phoned my teenage daughters at home and told them I would be staying in Geraldton with Ticket and could they please keep looking after things for me. The weather was forecast to be 45 degrees and none of us wanted to see Ticket suffer any further. So for the whole day we hosed her, covered her body in wet towels, cajoled her to eat, stopped her from rolling and helped her walk through the cramps. That night Suellen and Bethny took turns watching her, letting me sleep because I was exhausted. Sunday we continued our vigil, Sunday night as well.
Every day Ticket was showing us encouraging signs of improving. Her heart rate stabilized, she was going longer between cramps, she was drinking and nibbling at food. She was looking brighter and happier. But she still hadn’t passed any manure. Rectal examinations suggested that her intestines were still in the correct place and that food was moving very slowly through them. We had reason to hope.
Believing we were over the worst, I left to go back to Challa. Suellen and Bethny started to return to their normal lives, with Suellen keeping a close eye on Ticket and calling me three times a day to discuss her condition and treatment.
However, Ticket took a turn for the worst around midnight an Jan 15th. It was clear to Suellen that something had ruptured and the little mare had no hope. She phoned me and I asked her to put Ticket to sleep.
Ticket was buried in Suellen’s back paddock, next to her old horse. We are desperately sad to have lost her but we know we did everything we could have done to save her. She fought as hard as she could and so did we, but unfortunately too much damage had been done.
I was so lucky to have support from many friends on Facebook, some of whom I have never met, but all of whom offered words of support, encouragement and sympathy during this tragedy. This trauma will leave its emotional scars I am sure. At this point in time I have decided to suspend my breeding program. I am keeping and gelding my stallion but freezing some semen beforehand. I will go back to doing what I do best, training young horses and spending time in the saddle.
Morgan Messenger Dec 2013
This is tough country out here sometimes .We have experienced one of the driest winters on record here at Challa. I am now hand feeding every horse on the property, as the parched ground is offering up very little in the way of feed, and there is little nutrition left in the dried grasses and bushes. The horses are still browsing on what vegetation there is but the wet mares need a decent feed, and so do the youngsters. There are a couple of horses here that could still manage quite well on the paddock feed, but they look so desperate at feed time that they get a little bit as well. We are certainly hoping that we get a cyclone over summer ….. if we had just 4 inches of rain we would have abundant feed for a year!
So in amongst the driest of seasons, and in keeping with our colt –free zone, clever Wally (Koolaroo Klasique Ebony) has produced another filly! Mt Tawonga Belinda (Holly) gave birth to a filly foal that initially looked like she had a deformed lower lip. Images of trips to the vet and operations faded when I saw that it was just inside out, and when I turned it the right way I could see that it was perfectly normal, to my enormous relief!
So what do we call a filly who’s grandfather is Polly (Apollo), dad is Wally and mum is Holly? Molly of course! Molly has lovely long legs and is the image of her sire. She is a rich chocolate colour with no white markings and is unmistakably Morgan – from the day we met she has been the friendliest filly and there was never any of the usual handling down. It’s quite remarkable how she sees humans as extremely lovely creatures who are very interesting and very nice, in contrast to foals of other breeds who prefer to stay behind their mother in case the two legged creature hurts them.
Why would you have any other breed?
Challa Station Amazon has left us to begin her new life in Perth with a new owner. I had arranged to take Amazon to Perth and I put Lenny on the float as well to keep her company during the long journey. Lenny and I enjoyed four fantastic days in Perth, riding with our friends. The highlight was when we rode around the grounds of the State Equestrian Centre, with me on Lenny (Tandarra Millennium) , Kath Hare on Red Bluff Clearwind, and Leonie Pallentine on Haymeron Park Epona. It was wonderful being able to share the ride with great friends on beautiful Morgans!
Lenny and I have been enjoying some great rides, we are making the most of it before the really hot weather sets in. We hope that all organ owners get to spend some time with their horses over the festive season.
Morgan Messenger October 2013
We are blessed to have two new fillies on the ground here at Challa. Our ASH mare produced the first foal by Koolaroo Klasique Ebony (Wallis), and she is a beautiful bay filly with a star. I love the Morgan – Stockhorse cross, I think it is one of the most useful types to run up in our country. I think that modern stockhorses often carry too much thoroughbred blood in them which is not ideal when you raise horses in a semi-desert environment like Challa Station. The Morgan brings the hardiness, vigour and bone back to the stockhorses and I look forward to seeing how this filly matures. Like her half sister Amazon out of the same mare, this foal was born two weeks early, looking like she was a month old. She was another beautiful big, strong filly and she needed a name that would reflect this. I called her Boudicca, after the Celtic Queen who lead her tribe to conquer Londinium, as London was known back then. Her dam will have a year or two off breeding once Boudicca is weaned and go back under saddle, as she is an exceptionally good riding horse.
Five days later, Red Bluff Just the Ticket produced her first foal, our long awaited, beautiful pure Morgan palomino filly by Baptiste Levi Strauss. This filly is a delight, she is energetic, lively and so pretty! Ticket is doing a great job with her and has taken to the job of motherhood like a real pro. I have named this filly Challa Station Symphony.
Wallis is very happy to have a new girlfriend here, too. I have leased Ariga Park Loquacious from Jess Blackwell who has just had her first baby! Wally and Quai are now happily sharing the same paddock, even the same feed bin! Quai is a very nicely put together mare by Justin Morning Glory and I think she and Wally will produce a beautiful foal together.
Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) is an uncle now, and although he is not allowed in with the foals, he dotes on them over the fence. Boudicca looks just like Lenny, which must really annoy his half brother – new father Wally. I hope that she grows up to be just like her Uncle Lenny, who remains my steadfast, rock-solid and reliable number one riding horse. Just last weekend we were clerks of the course again at the Mt Magnet races. Lenny remembered the last time he did it. This was his second time and I can say with absolute certainty that he understands the job and has taken ownership of it. He took control of the racehorses as we ponied them to the barriers, stood like a rock when they jumped and then waited for them to come back around before calmly joining them for the ride back to the mounting enclosure. That wonderful horse did not put a hoof wrong all day. He also drew a number of admiring comments from the jockeys, despite the funny looking trace clip I had given him the day before, many wanting to know what he was. I am so proud when I tell them that he is a Morgan.
Early in August, Carlos Tabernaberri once again visited Challa Station to hold a five day clinic. I handed Lenny over to him to ride for the week and used the opportunity to bring the youngsters and Wally over to socialise them. All of them went very well, including Wally, who was really hoping to find a new girlfriend. But the youngster that I was really proud of was Challa Station Willow. Three years old now, Willow has such a solid grounding that she handled it all like a real pro. She was familiar with all of the groundwork and conducted herself in a big group of horses like a lady. I am planning to put Willow under saddle next year, as a four year old. All indications are that it will be a mere formality to pop the saddle on and ride her “off into the sunset.”
Please send any spare rain you have to Challa Station, Mt Magnet. Some green feed would make the world of difference.
Morgan Messenger August 2013
When I look at my little herd of Morgans I still think I am privy to a great truth – that the Morgan horse is a unique animal, a horse that surpasses all others in the way it can develop a bond with a person. It helps that they are also versatile, hardy and beautiful, but I feel as though I am luckier than most horse owners because I have the great privilege to own a Morgan. Sometimes, I look in exasperation at people struggling with a horse they dearly love and just wish that that person had discovered Morgans before they came across the difficult horses they persevere with.
I am very proud of my little herd and how they are coming along. My young stallion, Koolaroo Klasique Ebony, (Wallis,) has always been a pussycat deep down, even though he tries to pretend he is otherwise. He has been started under saddle and he is also showing an inclination towards harness work. Sometimes I wonder just how different he is to Figure, the original Morgan, and I wonder if Justin Morgan would think that Wally is a worthy descendent of this fine stallion. I hope so and I am inspired by the legend of Figure when I work with Wallis.
The beautiful Mt Tawonga Belinda (Holly) seems to whisper secrets to us and understands what we are doing and why. She can communicate on a level deeper than most people could imagine a horse is capable of. She understood that we were helping her when she was in Perth for six long weeks after the removal of her damaged eye. My good friend, Kath Hare, kindly offered to nurse Holly back to health after the operation and went to great lengths to make sure Holly recovered comfortably and safely. The beautiful mare showed her that she understood that Kath was helping her and even though she didn’t enjoy the daily routine, she never once flinched away. Kath knew that Holly understood what was happening. She told me that she has never met a mare with such a beautiful temperament.
Holly’s daughters, Willow and Forever, are just like their mother, hinting at a wisdom beyond their years. They are quick to greet me when I walk into their paddock and love to be with me for no reason other than the fact that we are friends. In their presence I cannot help but feel a sense of calm come over me, and I know that my world is a better place with these two lovely fillies around.
When Just The Ticket came into our lives, she immediately took on the role as aunty to the young weanlings and promises to be a wonderful mother. Her beauty will be passed on to her progeny and with good luck she will produce some wonderful foals for us. I remember the day she stepped off the float and onto the Challa soil for the first time. She gleamed in the sun and her superb breeding was easily recognizable in her faultless conformation and regal presence.
Then there’s Lenny, the Legend. Tandarra Millennium, the horse who started the Morgan journey for me. His quirky nature gives him the edge over most other horses I have ever owned. Trainable and sensitive, he is a true working horse and is never happier than when he is under saddle. I can ask Lenny to do anything for me and he will. I can depend on Lenny, and although we may never be showring champions, we are a team and I reckon I could ride to the ends of the earth and back on him.
I have years of experience with horses and I know that I have now found the breed that is worth breeding. Through a combination of luck, chance and careful planning, I have in my care a team of remarkable Morgans who I hope will be able to perpetuate the legend that was Figure.
Morgan Messenger June 2013
Flat out like a lizard drinking. That’s how you would describe me at Challa at the moment. From Lenny’s hooves to broodmare’s eyes, weaning foals to missing Morgans and Working Equitation!
We’ve had some rain. Not much by Tasmanian standards, but enough to bring tinge of much needed green to the bush. Rain brings puddles and opens up country that the horses haven’t grazed because it’s too far from a watering point. Once the Morgans get onto the fresh feed and puddles they go a lot further from home and don’t come in for breakfast as often – hence the missing Morgans. “Don’t worry, Deb,” I hear you say, “they’re Morgans, they’ll be right!” But worry I do, especially when Lenny and I found wild pony hoofprints when we were trekking down the far south end of the station! I think there’s probably 20km as the crow flies between my prize Morgan herd a mob of nasty, runty, flea-bitten, inbred wild ponies! I am making plans for some friends to come up and help me to at least sight the wild ponies and preferably remove them from the property. I’ll let you know how we go.
Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) and I enjoyed the company of some of our trekking group when we hosted a 4 day trek here at Challa Station. Lenny was, as always, the perfect partner and his rock-resistant hooves stood up to the hardest country. Gee, I love my Morgans! Unbelievable hooves, carry you forever over the most challenging country, then you can tie them to a tree with a cobweb and they’ll stand there all day for you. Brilliant animals!
One of the trekkers who came with us is a vet and I asked her to look at Mt Tawonga Belinda (Holly’s) already damaged eye as it had a low grade infection. Lucy for us she did look because she recognised an early stage cancer in the eye. Holly is heading to Perth next week to have the eye removed. Because my husband is currently working away I am not able to go to Perth with Holly for the operation. My eternal thanks goes to Kath Hare who is looking after her for me for the duration of her stay. Holly is already blind in that eye, so she will hardly notice that anything has been done to it.
OK, so now for the really awesome bit of news: Lenny and I travelled almost 2000km – don’t worry, I put him in the float this time – to attend Beccara Lloyd’s first WA Working Equitation clinic. Sue Buckley organised the clinic and very kindly offered Lenny and I a place to stay for the weekend. Three part bred Morgans attended; Lenny, Crossmatch Anastasia and Jenny Martin came with Phelcrest Kilargo, who the spitting image of his full sister, Phelcrest Savannah! We had a brilliant weekend and Beccara gave Lenny and I plenty of challenges to go away and work with. It was wonderful to have a go at the working equitation obstacles and to understand what is involved in trying to perfect them. It was also fantastic talking Morgans the whole weekend and explaining to the people who don’t yet own a Morgan just how absolutely wonderful these horses are.
Whilst trying my hand at working Equitation on Lenny I am always mindful of the other Karenza Apollo boy I have at home – Koolaroo Klasique Ebony (Wallis) – and planning his future as a ridden horse. I have been preparing him for life under saddle but have had a number of setbacks; the biggest of which is the fact that my husband is often away and I really shouldn’t break in my young stallion on my own, on an isolated outback property, 60km from any kind of help, with my 7 year old son in my care…. even if he IS a Morgan (the horse, not the son). Despite that fact that I haven’t actually ridden him, I am getting Wally used to the idea that we work together and have great adventures. Even this morning when I went to catch him he neighed and left his two mares to come up to me ready for work. You have to love an attitude like that! I am cautiously optimistic that this promising fellow will make a decent riding horse one day. Maybe good enough to impress Beccara at a working equitation clinic!
The Challa Station “Horse of the Two Months” award this time goes to Mt Tawonga Belinda for being so stoic and unflinching as she has her bad eye treated for the infection, and because I know she will be so brave and good at the vets when they take her eye out.
The highlight of the past two months for me was going to the Australian National Morgan Show in Adelaide with fellow West Australians Kath Hare, Sue Buckley and Leonie Pallentine. What a fantastic extravaganza of all things Morgan it was! We enjoyed every moment of the show and my congratulations goes out to Kelly Murphy and her team who made the show a great success. It was my first ANMS and it was fantastic putting faces to names and seeing the horses in the flesh rather than in photos. After the show we were lucky enough to visit Crystanby Morgans where we saw, amongst others, the new colt Hrimfaxi. We also visited Wildu Mandaawi Morgans and saw Eva Hornung’s lovely Morgans – what a promising young colt she has, too!
Two things really strike you about the South Australian Morgan bunch; they have some really good quality horses and a strong, supportive group of friends united by these beautiful horses. It was inspiring and encouraging to be part of their world for the few short days of the ANMS. I look forward to going to SA back next year.
Back at Challa Station the horses have been my own support network as I said goodbye to young Emily, my third daughter as she begins her five years at boarding school. The horses keep me grounded and mostly happy through these sometimes difficult times.
As the weather has begun to cool I have been out with the horses more and more. Koolaroo Klasique Ebony, (Wallis the Karenza Apollo colt) has had the lion’s share of my attention lately as I have begun to prepare him for life under saddle. Through this work I have developed a very strong relationship with Wally. When he started calling to me and trotting over for his training session, I knew we had something really special going on. It’s nice to now have a promising three year old rather than a naughty two year old colt! I am finding him to be one of the most willing, intelligent equine students I have ever had the pleasure to work with. I plan to put him under saddle in a couple of months and look forward to seeing what the future brings.
My other Karenza Apollo offspring is Tandarra Millennium, (Lenny). Since we came back from the ANMS I have realised we had better start brushing up our show horse skills a bit in case we compete in an ANMS one day. I am now combining more dressage training with my bush riding. I have some awesome natural arenas here at Challa Station (as long as it doesn’t rain,) and I use them to educate the green horses as well as Lenny. Occasionally we work in the home arena as well, but bush dressage gives the horse a purpose as well as a fresh environment. You can also do some quite advanced movements as you weave in and out of the scrub at a trot or canter on the way to the arenas. The horse has to concentrate on the job to avoid fallen logs and holes in the ground and it is much more intense than arena work. And extremely enjoyable! I think it will marry very well with Working Equitation and am looking forward to participating in my first WE clinic with Beccara Lloyd in early May.
Lenny has also been doing his usual station horse duties, like taking me to throw out poison baits for the wild dogs, helping me to find horses, change paddocks, check fences, and look for dog tracks. He is Mr Reliable who will do anything I ask of him willingly and with panache.
The mares and youngstock are all supposed to be out in the big paddock, running as the Lost Herd, but we had a recent breach of security. Nasty Pony and Fuggles, the two non-Morgans of the Lost Herd, turned up, uninvited, for breakfast. I was concerned that the maiden mares could come into contact with the colt, so I put Wallis in the maximum security section with his mare while I looked for the other members of the Lost Herd. To my great relief, all of the angelic Morgans were exactly where they were supposed to be! It was only the non-Morgans who had decided to be naughty and walk out over the section of fence that we later found a massive lone bull had pushed down for them.
The “Challa Station Horse of the Two Months Award” goes to Lenny this time, for assisting me with Wally’s training. He was big and brave enough to lead Wallis the colt 5km through his paddock with Wally’s girlfriend following behind. Probably not normally what you would do with a colt with his mare around, but the other alternative was for me to do it on foot which wasn’t very appealing. Plus, inspired by Ranchboss Cortez, Lenny did a beautiful bridleless dressage display for a bunch of pink and grey galahs in our home arena.
We are looking forward to some more trekking now the weather is cooling down and have a 4 day trek planned for late April here at Challa. It has been a long, hot summer with very little time in the saddle and we are ready for another great year of adventures!
In all honesty it’s too hot to do much with the horses at the moment. A couple of weeks ago the temperature was around the fifty degree mark, so all of the horses have been lying low. If the weather cools off I pop the saddle on Lenny and go out for a ride but generally things are very quiet.
So for this MM, I decided I would tell you a little about the Lost Herd of Challa. It is currently comprised of pure breds Mt Tawonga Belinda, Red Bluff Just the Ticket, Challa Station Willow, Challa Station Forever, part bred Challa Station Amazon, Fuggles the brumby, and Nasty Pony.
The Lost Herd of Challa are not, in fact, lost. They know exactly where they are. The difficulty for me arises in the fact that their paddock is 80, (yes eighty!) square kilometers! The horses like it just fine, they have the run of the place, pretending to be wild brumbies. However it can, as you would imagine, make managing my horses particularly challenging at times.
Any horse that is in work or due to foal, or injured can’t go out with The Lost Herd, simply because it can take up to a week to find them. If I need to have a horse in on a Saturday, I will generally start looking for that horse on the Monday. In summertime it is simply a matter of looking for tracks to see where they are watering and trying to find them at the watering points. There are two main watering points in their paddock, about 8km apart. They water twice a day in summer, so once I work out where they are watering I go out either in the morning or the evening and try to bump into them. If I really need them I can leave some hay at the watering point and that will usually cause them to linger long enough for me to see them. If I need to bring them in I put the halter on the lead mare and lead her out of the car window all the way home, the herd following along behind.
However, if we have had rain, there are waterholes filled up all over their paddock so they don’t need to visit the troughs and they go out and feed on fresh grass. The best I can hope for in this case is to go out and count the fresh tracks, check that they are all there, and if the hoofprints look even I know that nobody is lame and I can sleep well that night.
In the cooler months it can be really hard to find The Lost Herd. When I am in a car I can’t leave the road in my search for them as it does too much damage to the fragile vegetation. Occasionally I am lucky and spot them not far off the road. Sometimes I drive out twice a day for a week and don’t see them. They used to come over to me when they heard the car, but we have exploration geologists driving through their paddock at the moment and the horses no longer associate the noise of the vehicle with a bucket of oats. So I drive slowly, trying to spot them through the scrub. As I scan the bush for signs of them, I have learned to ignore the dark shadows that pretend to be horses. The dark horses are hard to see because they blend in with the shadows. It is very useful to have a light coloured horse running with The Lost Herd because they stand out so much better against the bush. Of course most of my horses here are dark.
Sometimes I find The Lost Herd by pure luck. Other times the days progress and I get more and more desperate to bring a horse in. I can ask Ashley, my very lovely and extremely busy husband, who happens to be a highly qualified mustering pilot, to take the aeroplane up and spot them from the air. He can usually then muster them towards the road where I can be waiting with my bucket of oats and pick them up. There’s always the exception to the rule. Mt Tawonga William used to run towards the plane, not away from it, thinking that if the cars have buckets of oats the plane would too!
I will admit it can be very difficult for me to run my horses as the Lost Herd. There are times when I would love to be able to wander outside and within 10 minutes have checked every horse on the property. Sometimes I can be really worried about the new horses or the foals. Even though I have a very thorough program of integrating the new horses into The Lost Herd, I still worry. At the end of the day, I have to put my complete faith in the horses and trust them to look after themselves.
There are many pluses for the horses running as The Lost Herd. I can say without a doubt that they are very lucky horses to be living as their wild ancestors did. They develop great temperaments and fantastic muscular-skeletal systems. The ground here is just right for developing hooves of steel and the water seems to contain the right amount of calcium and magnesium to keep the horse laid back and worry free. They are a happy bunch of horses and very much a part of our lives.
Imagine the buzz I get when I finally find the horses and they are all fat and shiny and full of fun. One look at the car and they start racing me for home, nimble and agile as they gallop over kilometers of rough ground, flanking the road and including me as one them for just a few fleeting moments of pure exhilaration. I get them into the house yards and they are all desperate for a pat and some oats. Afterwards I stand back and admire them, the very unique Lost Herd of Challa.
The Challa Station “Horse of the Two Months Award” this time goes to Red Bluff Just the Ticket. She did an outstanding job fostering CS Amazon when she was weaned. To the outsider it would appear that Ticket is Amazon’s dam. Ticket has also held her condition beautifully despite arriving just prior to summer. Most horses lose a bit of weight when they first arrive here and work out what to eat. Their digestive systems need to integrate new microbes and grass is not the main source of nutrition. Se well done to Ticket, the foster mother and eating machine!
Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) and I have been busily working towards our 500 hour milestone for the Morgans for Pleasure program. We are less than 5 hours away at the time of writing this and should be at our goal in a week or so. We have been restricted to riding around home for the past couple of months because my husband has been working away, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t had lots of fun! One of our favorite jobs is to go out on foal patrol. Once our foals are a few days old they progressively begin to move into bigger (stage 2) and bigger (stage 3) paddocks. However, the stage three foal paddocks are so big that when the mares finish breakfast and go out for the day, they wander out to graze and we can’t see them. So in the afternoons I saddle up Lenny and go for a wander around the paddock on a foal patrol. Once we have seen that the foals are OK, and watched them for a while (they are SO cute!) we wander home and I can sleep easy that night. I do worry about the foals when they go out in the big paddocks but I have to place trust in their mothers to care for them. They are, after all, far more qualified than I am to look after foals. By the time they are a few weeks old the foals have learned to tread carefully between fallen logs and saltbushes and have proven perfectly capable of taking care of themselves. I believe that this sets them up for life and prevents them from becoming accident prone horses later on.
Being station bound hasn’t prevented us from getting some expert horse handling tuition. I was lucky enough to have Ian Leighton come to Challa Station to work with all of the horses. We worked in with Ian’s trip to Perth for a clinic and he flew up here to work one on one with my horses and I for 3 days. Foals Forever and Amazon brushed up on their basic education whilst two year old Challa Station Willow extended hers. Three year old colt Koolaroo Klasique Ebony (Wallis) thoroughly enjoyed the intellectual challenge of working with Ian and it would have been a mere formality to ride him, but I prefer to give him a bit more time to grow. Lenny the absolute Legend worked like he was heading towards the Cowboy dressage arena as Ian put him through his paces. Lenny also assisted Ian and I further the education of an extremely green brumby mare. The very exciting thing that has grown from this visit is that Ian is returning next June to run a seven day horse starting clinic. I am hoping that some other Morgan owners will take advantage of this and join us.
Wallis, in particular, has enjoyed the past two months because he has served his first mares. My lovely stockhorse, Struan Parks Outback Justice was the first girl to fall madly in love with him, albeit very briefly. A month on she greeted him, seething with hatred, with bared teeth and flying hooves. I am guessing she is in foal – you have to love an expressive mare! Our breeding program had to be suspended briefly in October to try to work around another exciting project that Lenny and I are planning for – The Great Trek! A ten day trek from Shark Bay to Kalbarri. We (as the Midwest Horse Trekkers Club) are still in the initial planning stages for this trek but are working with the Kalbarri Zest Festival and re-enacting rides of the early days. We plan to arrive in Kalbarri during the festival weekend and are hoping to be greeted by a cheering crowd. Or at least by a nice, hot shower and a cold beer.
As you can imagine, I didn’t really want the worry of having a foal due during The Great Trek, so Wallis has only just covered Holly (Mt Tawonga Belinda). Hopefully she will be pregnant with a late October foal and then we will just be faced with the dilemma of what to call a foal by Wally out of Holly!
I think I will start a new award here at Challa – “Horse of the Last Two Months.” This Last Two Month’s award has to go to Wallis because he is the one who has surprised and impressed me the most with the ease by which I can handle him as he serves mares and with the way he responded to Ian Leighton’s training.
So as we wind down in preparation for the long hot summer here in WA, some of us are really looking forward to going to the ANMS in Adelaide, and we hope to see you there! Have a great Christmas and I hope you find a Morgan under your tree!
We have had another really fantastic couple of months here at Challa Station. From clinics, to treks, to new foals, to new mares! We seem to have covered a lot of Morgan ground lately!
Early in August, Carlos Tabernaberri visited Challa Station to run a five day clinic. Eleven riders travelled the long, straight road to spend five intensive days with Carlos. It was a fantastic clinic and the Challa Station Morgans really excelled. Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) was his usual reliable self and did everything I asked of him and more. The highlight for me was when Lenny and I had a cordeo (bridleless) demonstration lesson with Carlos. All those hours of training paid off as I had Lenny showing off his skills. However, the best bit was when Carlos came up to me after the demo and said, “I’ve got to get myself a Morgan.”
Heavily pregnant Holly would come and stand by the arena and watch all the action most mornings and she joined in with a couple of groundwork lessons. I brought Challa Station Willow, her 2yo filly over a couple of times to expose her to the big group of horses. Then one month old Challa Station Amazon also had some demonstration lessons with Carlos, as did 3yo colt Koolaroo Klasique Ebony. It was wonderful to have such an accomplished horseman work with my horses and to hear so many positive comments about my Morgans.
In early September, Lenny and I headed off on a 3 day trek to Wagga Wagga Station, a couple of hours east of here. Bethny Armstrong was there with Phelcrest Savannah. We rode with 7 other people and had a great time, camping in the shearers quarters and exploring the beauty of Wagga Wagga Station. The two barefoot troopers, Lenny and Savannah were great ambassadors for the breed with their incredible hooves and easy dispositions. It was a fantastic trek, we rode almost 70km over the three days and I clocked up another few more hours for the Morgans for Pleasure program.
The other week I was at a field day at Kirkalocka Station just south of us, and enjoying my third beer, when the Vice President of the race club approached me and asked would I be Clerk of the Course at the Mt Magnet races. I have done the job before, but not with Lenny, but was reasonably confident that Lenny would be up to the job so I agreed to do it. I think the third beer helped me make that decision, too.
Race day came and I crossed my fingers a little as we headed out, escorting my first crazy racehorse of the day to the barriers. As they jumped I could imagine Lenny wondering why these slick town horses were trekking so fast, but he didn’t feel any urgent need to join them – which I was decidedly pleased about. Lenny worked like a champion throughout the day, his quiet confidence making my job easy and calming some of the more difficult racehorses down so we could get them out to the barriers. I was really proud of the way he handled the job and represented the breed. And of course extremely happy to tell everybody who enquired, and even some who didn’t, all about the Morgan breed.
Throughout all these adventures time I was eagerly awaiting the birth of Mt Tawonga Belinda’s (Holly) foal. Some of my facebook friends can testify to the frustration I was feeling. Let me take you back 12 months or so to Eibens Sterling’s visit to Challa. He was presented with two very attractive mares and served them both within a couple of weeks of each other. I carefully noted the dates and to my satisfaction, saw that neither mare came back into season and thanked Sterling for a job well done. As you would imagine, 11 months later, when Challa Station Amazon was born it was a reasonable assumption that Holly’s foal would soon join her.
Holly kept me waiting.I waited until she was, by my calculations, over 380 days pregnant. I had been expecting her to foal in early August. To make matters even trickier, she didn’t follow the same pattern that she did when she foaled down here two years ago with Willow. Finally she waited until we were all at the races and gave birth to a beautiful filly who we named Challa Station Forever. Not only does her name commemorate how long we waited for her birth, it also promises a long future together. Forever is a really leggy, elegant filly with a pretty head and a really friendly nature. She was well and truly worth the wait. With the benefit of hindsight I would suggest that Holly didn’t get in foal the first time and that she and Sterling must have had a midnight rendezvous behind the shearing shed some time later. Holly has taught me to look at the mare, not the calendar, when I am waiting for my future foals.
Speaking of future foals, I am very pleased to announce that we have purchased Red Bluff Just the Ticket from Jenny Bird’s stud. Ticket is by Justin Morning Glory out of Mt Tawonga Nicolla. She will be put in foal to Baptiste Levis Strauss prior to travelling to WA. She’s a lovely chestnut mare who will be a great asset to my small but rapidly expanding stud.
It won’t be long now before I introduce Koolaroo Klasique Ebony to his potential mates but I will tell you how he goes with them in the next MM. Until then, happy trails!
As usual life at Challa has been full on in the last couple of months. Early June saw the running of the two day Challa Station Mill Run Endurance Ride. As predicted, the number of Morgans participating doubled this year to two! Bethny Armstrong rode Phelcrest Savannah and I rode Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) in the 20km on the Saturday then the 40km on the Sunday. Both part Morgans travelled beautifully together. They look very similar, have similar length strides, similar heart rates and both are barefoot.
I had to bring all of the horses in while the endurance ride was on because the ride travelled through the main paddocks and some of those endurance riders baulked at the though of riding through the colt’s paddock. So in they came, the entire herd, and waited and watched all of the comings and goings. During the quiet times there were plenty of people wandering over to check out the Morgans, including the youngsters; Koolaroo Klasique Ebony, Mt Tawonga William and Challa Station Willow. The Morgans, I hope, have made a lasting impression on our visitors with their wonderful temperaments, great constitutions (“What on earth do they eat out here? “) and sound hooves. Lenny and Savannah were great ridden ambassadors for the breed and I always cheekily blamed Savannah’s occasional hissy fits on the one quarter of arab that she has in her blood.
We are very lucky to be able to host an endurance ride on our own property. We feel as though the bush gets new life breathed back into it when the endurance riders go through. The local pastoral industry is going through a particularly difficult time with the increase in wild dog numbers causing massive problems. The endurance ride gives us a reason to look at our station in a positive light, meet some great people and make the most of the fact that we still live here.
Soon after the endurance ride, Lenny and I headed off to Perth for our very first Ian Leighton clinic, and Ian’s first one in WA. It was fantastic to meet Ian and a great opportunity to develop our skills further. Over the weekend we were introduced to Ian’s style of training and were very impressed with how quickly he can achieve softness with a horse. I came away from the clinic having learned a great deal, but with the realisation that I still have so much to learn.
All this time I had been watching those two lovely pregnant mares, Mt Tawonga Belinda (Holly) and ASH Struan Parks Outback Justice (Bella). I bought a new foaling alarm because it would be Bella’s first foal and I really wanted to be there to keep an eye on things. Just prior to leaving for a 2 week holiday I brought the mares in closer to home. When we returned home, they both looked superb and even though they were still a few weeks away I moved their gelding friends into a different paddock. I was keeping a close eye on the mares. Bella had bagged up but still had a while to go…. or so I thought! On the morning of July 9th, after having two cups of tea and saying goodbye to a visitor I wandered out to feed the horses and there was a new foal running around next to Bella! The foaling alarm was still in its box in the office and the foal was already on the ground! But what a beauty she is! She looks just like her sire, Eiben’s Sterling. My first impression was that she big strong filly and for that we have named her Amazon.
Lenny and I are readying ourselves for the five day Carlos Tabernaberri Clinic we are having here at Challa in the second week of August. We are also waiting for Holly to produce Amazon’s playmate in the next couple of weeks and look forward to telling you all about that, reading about the other foals being born, and other Morgan adventures in the next issue of the MM.
We are just days away from the Challa Station Mill Run Endurance Ride and I am pleased to say that we have double the number of Morgans competing this year! Yes, Phelcrest Savannah has been entered by Bethny Armstrong and she is expected to make a strong appearance alongside seasoned Mill Run campaigner, Tandarra Millennium (Lenny).That makes two Morgans who will be riding in the 40km section.
This year the Challa Mill Run is a two day event, with riders tackling 20km, 40km, 80km or a 2 day 160km course. As Bethny and I consider ourselves more trekkers than endurance riders we are not terribly competitive but we have a lot of fun! I sometimes think that if I didn’t live so far away I would like to be a bit more competitive in endurance. However with the commitments I have to my family and this property it would be very difficult to do much more.
Lenny and I have been trekking a great deal lately and building hours for the Morgans for Pleasure program. In May we hosted a four day trek here at Challa and in June we went across to Glengarry Station near Geraldton for a weekend ride. We were joined both times by Bethny on Savannah and the mighty Morgans have done a fine job of carrying us through some spectacular countryside. We ride them barefoot and are absolutely delighted and amazed with how well their hooves handle the work. Morgans are the perfect trekking horses and they are no trouble and lots of fun.
Koolaroo Klasique Ebony (Wallis) has finally joined the herd out in the huge paddock we call Jinner (the local word for foot.) It is 10km x 8 km and has some really good country in it. When the horses are out there I can’t check them every day so I need to trust them to be sensible and safe. Not long after I put Wallis is with them I was riding Lenny through the paddock when found a pool of blood near the gate. Convinced one of my horses – probably Wallis - was bleeding to death, Lenny and I began searching for them. After an hour and a half of trotting through the paddock, trying to make a lucky guess where they cloud be, I decided to go back home and call in the plane for a full scale search. That’s when I found a pool of blood on the other side of the gate and realised it had been left by the roo shooter as he had passed through gate the night before.
I have has the pleasure of hosting a Las Vegas photographer and his family here for the past few weeks as part of the Help Exchange scheme where people come to your property and work for a few hours a day in return for food and board. He has taken some stunning photos of my horses and I have taken advantage of this and created a website: Challa Station Morgans. You can find us at challamorgans.com – please have a look.
My pregnant mares, Mt Tawonga Belinda (Holly) and Struans Park Outback Justice (Bella) who are both in foal to Eibens Sterling are absolutely glowing. The whole family is looking forward to the foals being born. As their delivery date gets closer they will be brought in from the bush and settled in closer to the house so we can keep an eye on them.
I hope all Morgan enthusiasts keep warm over winter and you manage to spend lots of quality time with your fabulous horses. I look forward to reading your news in the next MM.
A great horse trekking friend of mine, Bethny Armstrong, has recently made the very smart move of buying Phelcrest Savannah. Bethny and I share the same interest in long distance riding but I had my doubts that the quaterhorse she was riding could make the distance. When Savannah came on the market it seemed to me as though the two were a match made in heaven and I persuaded Bethny to give the mare a try. It turned out she loved her and so she has bought her as her new trekking horse.
So Bethny and I are cranking up to do some serious Morgan trekking this winter. I have got all of my gear sorted, the final piece being a gel seat saver and saddle pad to keep my bum and Lenny’s (Tandarra Millennium) back from getting sore.
Bethny and I decided to take the Morgans to Perth for a few days of horse adventures. We met up with Nat Wegner and her two lovely horses on an ungodly hot morning and went trail riding together. It was fantastic to see Nat with Scarlett and Reg and a real treat to ride in a different place.
The same weekend, Bethny and I took our horses to the Jarrahdale Endurance Training Ride, just south of Perth. Both Lenny and Savannah completed the 43km ride beautifully, despite the very hot weather. We rode them both barefoot and the vet was surprised and impressed that we made it through the very tough course with no hoof protection. In fact, you could barely notice the wear on their beautiful Morgan hooves.
As most endurance riders do, Bethny and I camped at the grounds the night before the ride. Lenny was asked to do a modelling shoot with the very beautiful Kirby Gamble (who owns Mt Tawonga William) and her photographer friend. Just another job for a busy Morgan!
The following day, I took Lenny to Brookleigh Indoor Arena, a beautiful world class venue in Perth and spent a day at a Colleen Kelly Clinic to see if there were any biomechanical issues I needed to sort out. She gave me some really good tips for long distance riding and also really liked my Morgan, who behaved flawlessly and can now perform basic dressage movements like traverse and renvers- That’s a bit flash for a boy from the bush!
Meanwhile, back at the station, young Koolaroo Klasique Ebony is shaping up to be a magnificent colt. He has beautiful herd manners now, and is currently running with two geldings and a pregnant mare. He is the friendliest fellow and will follow me anywhere, which is very useful when I need to move him. He has a really typical Morgan character; fearless and inquisitive. I am really pleased with how well he has settled in here and I am very optimistic about our future together.
The pregnant mares are positively glowing as we have been enjoying another lovely season with grass everywhere. The youngsters are growing like weeds and if you want to have a look for yourself, my ANMS videos are on YouTube. Just search YouTube for Deb Dowden and you’ll be able to see all of the Challa Station Morgans for yourself.
I think I can speak for all Morgan owners in the west when I say Congratulations to all who participated in the ANMS in Toowoomba. We enjoyed being a part of it via “The Morgans of WA” DVD that was shown to the audience at the dinner.
The new colt arrived just before Christmas. I named him Wallis, after Pam Wallis and his place of birth, Mount Wallace.
Wallis is a rather handsome, almost black colt by Karenza Apollo – the same sire as Lenny. If he behaves himself and grows nicely he could produce some lovely foals in the future. He has been on a bit of a learning curve since he arrived, though. He was quite boisterous so I put him in with Lenny and Nasty Pony to settle him down. A bit of skin was lost while Wallis learned what type of behaviour is acceptable, but now Wallis is integrating into the herd nicely. Lenny will now allow him to graze peacefully nearby but still doesn’t tolerate any funny business. The rest of the horses are yet to meet him, and he doesn’t even know they exist. That’s the beauty of having such a large property.
The summer has been very kind to us here at Challa and as a result I have been spending some time riding Lenny and making my video for the Australian National Morgan Show (ANMS.) I set up a bit of a trail riding challenge, based on the ANMS course. My daughter, Emily filmed me whilst I found out what Lenny could and couldn’t do. I was pretty happy with the video of what he could do and I’m working on the things we need to improve on ready for next year’s video.
I could also see that 300 hour Morgans for Pleasure milestone coming up and I’ve been riding Lenny most days to build my hours. A funny thing happens when you are building hours for MFP. You ride slowly. I try to do at least an hour each time I ride, and I check my watch and make sure I make my full hour before I get home. Obviously the slower we ride, the more time we log. It pays off in many ways, as you will see.
I used to have a fantastic buckskin mare that I could ride with just a piece of twine around her neck. I bred her and broke her in myself and she was my partner for 25 sweet years. We went everywhere together and I could trust her implicitly. I have long held the opinion that you only get one really good horse in your life. I thought I could never ride Lenny without a bridle or halter, like I could ride her. He has always been so forward moving and headstrong I just didn’t think I could do it safely. But lately I had the hankering to give it another go. ….Lenny was nice and quiet after all this slow riding, and I was looking for a new challenge. So I spent some time experimenting… riding with the twine but having the halter on as a backup (I don’t use a bridle much these days). It all went OK, so I rode in the arena with just the twine…. And survived! In fact, I felt as though I had complete control. I knew I had to add this to Lenny’s ANMS video, but it wasn’t challenging enough to do it in the arena. We had to use the airstrip, a wide open space where Lenny’s behaviour wasn’t influenced by the arena fence.
Early the following day, I managed to get my other daughter, teenager Kate out of bed to film the big event. I rode up to the airstrip and for the first time ever, rode Lenny with just the baling twine around his neck out in the open. Not only did we walk and trot, but we cantered along the airstrip completely unhindered by any headgear. It’s a nice way to ride a horse, and I’m glad my big achievement was captured on film for the ANMS video. I’m also rethinking my belief that you only get one really good horse in your life…. Maybe I have been blessed with two.
Here at Challa Station I have had the most amazing couple of months that began with me telling my husband not to be stupid and ended up with me leasing Eiben’s Sterling from Peter and Shabbi Phelps. Here is the official copy of the conversation between my husband and I during which you’ll see that I was wrong (for the first time in our marriage)
“Nobody leases their stallion out, Ashley,” I said, “there’s no way he’ll let Sterling come up here! We’ll have to take Holly down to him and then she’ll have to stay there for ages….”
“Just ask him” said Ash.
So I sent an email off to Peter to ask if Sterling could come up here for a holiday. I fully expected him to say no and I almost hyperventilated with a mixture of excitement and amazement when he said yes!
We already had a trip scheduled to Perth so we put the float on the back of the car and brought back the beautiful Morgan stallion for his holidays. Sterling is by Marvelous Encore and by all accounts is very similar to him. He’s a powerful looking horse with a kind eye. Unfortunately he had his tail shortened by a calf next to Peter’s place, but that wasn’t enough to deter my mares from thinking he is the most handsome thing that’s ever walked.
Sterling is now running with my “huge herd” of 2 mares – Mt Tawonga Belinda (Holly) and my lovely stockhorse Bella. I did consider buying another mare or two to run with him, but I’m going for quality rather than quantity and I don’t want to breed something that I’m not really proud of. As you may recall, my nearest vet is 400km away so I have to leave it completely up to the horses to get this right. It looks like they know what they’re doing so I feel confident I’ll end up with at least one foal next year.
However, I wasn’t going to stop there. No way was Eiben’s Sterling going to be at Challa Station and not have a saddle on his back! I decided I’d pop the saddle on and see what he did. I thought I’d just do a bit of groundwork with a halter and leadrope to sound the big boy out. Well, after a few minutes I could see I was on a winner, and although I had sandshoes and not riding boots, a cap and no helmet and a halter and no bridle, I just HAD to hop on. Sterling was beautiful to ride and I can tell you that I was so proud to be on his back.
But where was Lenny during all of this? I wasn’t risking any gelding vs stallion encounters so Lenny was turned out. I can still hear his “whoopppeee!” as he was put into the paddock with the babies and the non-ridden horses, far away from the stables. I have been riding Bella and Sterling lightly and have broken Holly in. Holly has one eye but I can still lunge her and long rein her from both sides. Its certainly a skilltester for me when I work her on her blind side but I insist on doing things as I would with a normally sighted horse, buoyed by my firm belief that a Morgan is capable of extraordinary things. We are still in the very early days under saddle but she has nearly a year to get established as a riding horse before she has another foal.
A long time before I knew Sterling was coming up here, I had invited the WA Trekkers’ Club to come here for their annual trek. So in early September, amongst the wildflowers and hundreds of flocks of budgies, they trekked around our station for 10 days. They usually do about 30-40km a day and I brought Lenny in from the distant paddock so we could ride with them. I was able to show them Sterling and Holly as well as the two youngsters, Willow and Mt Tawonga William. I spent a great deal of time telling the trekkers about Morgans and I know that there are a number of trekkers considering a Morgan as their next mount.
I seized the opportunity to ride Lenny and lead Holly with the trekkers as it was such a good opportunity to educate Holly. She was outstanding considering that a year ago she would look at a horse with a rider in utter amazement, having never seen that before. Lenny and I lead them on some amazing and very memorable rides. I must say there were occasional pangs of regret that my number two and three riding horses will be out of action next year with their babies, but if I am planning for the future I know we will need more Morgans.
So it has been an exciting time at Challa! I must add a photo of when my daughter, Emily and I took the horses to Sandstone and rode the tourist trail. We finished up at the Sandstone Pub where my lovely husband and son were waiting. Sadly, Ashley is a bit of a funbuster and wouldn’t let me ride Lenny into the pub for a photo so we took one from outside.
Lenny “the Legend” once again represented the Morgans with style at our endurance ride in July. We held the Challa Station Mill Run here on the 16th and this time we offered 80km, 40km and 20km divisions. Being the devoted mother I am, I chose to ride with my girls in the 20km. Sadly they bickered for most of the way, you know how they go: “Kate, get your stupid horses’ bum out of my horses face!,” that kind of thing. However, I am happy to say we all completed, I murdered none of my children, and Lenny vetted with impressive heart rates. His pre ride rate was 31bpm and his post ride was 36. Looks like Lenny will be up for some longer distances as soon as I can organise myself! Shame it will be too far for the girls to ride with mum! Lucky for me Kate’s horse is ancient and Emily doesn’t think she can do a 40!
It was actually really beneficial to do the shorter ride because I had a chance to see how the 80k riders strapped their horses and learn from them. Plus it was rainy and I NEVER ride in the rain. Living in semi desert country with 11 years of drought behind us means that my riding program is rarely interrupted with rain. On the one rainy day a year here at Challa, the horses get a day off and I stay inside near the fire. However, this winter has been really wet and I was actually forced to ride in the rain for the endurance ride!
It was awesome fun hosting the endurance ride at our station. 49 horses participated, some travelling more than 2000 km round trip to be here! People began arriving on the Wednesday prior to the ride. We had the opportunity to meet and become friends with so many lovely people that I have decided I will make the effort to head down south for a ride sometime soon.
I spent a lot of time promoting the Morgan breed. I wore all of my MHAA gear and talked about Morgans to all those endurance people. Luckily ex West Australian, Christine Maroni has completed the Tom Quilty Ride (160km) on her Morab, Amber, so many of the endurance people have already been impressed by the mare by Sumicaro Beau Geste so they already know how good Morgans are.
Holly (Mt Tawonga Belinda) and her foal, Willow, are extremely well. I am currently agonizing about whether to put Holly in foal this season – and if so, to whom - or ride her for a year. For me to breed her takes a mammoth effort because unfortunately my husband has not bought me a Morgan colt yet. (Nor have I flown to the moon in a paper aeroplane!) I have to take her to Perth to be either served or AI’d. Hopefully I will have it sorted by the next MM.
How much fun can one person and one horse have? Lenny and I can show you! Since the weather has cooled off we have had one adventure after another, beginning with our awesome week in the big smoke.
For the first time since I moved to the station, I went to Perth with my horse and spent a few days with Kath Hare and Bailey. We rode together every day and the horses were brilliant! We could put Lenny and Bailey on to the float, drive to our location and go for the most wonderful ride on these beautifully behaved horses. I found out that Lenny was safe with traffic (I had no idea prior to this trip) and that was a bit of a relief as we rode along one of Perth’s major arterial routes, then through the bush, to the beautiful valley where I used to ride as a teenager. Bailey and Lenny worked exceptionally well together, they must have known they are distant relations.
The road trip culminated in a two day clinic with Carlos Tabernaberri. Kath was there on Bailey, Anika on Aandrik, and I was on Lenny. Carlos spoke very highly of the Morgan breed during the clinic. It was a brilliant week culminating in a fantastic clinic and we had an absolute ball! Thanks to Carlos, I have actually begun to prefer riding Lenny in a halter and now only use the bridle when I think I really need it.
A few days after I returned home, a packhorse rider visited us. His plan was to ride around our property and camp out with this horses, completely self sufficient, for a week. He brought a spare packsaddle that I tried out on all of my eligible horses except Holly who was with the herd, somewhere in the south end of the station. I picked this man’s brains for tips on how to pack a horse properly and how to travel comfortably. Because it was school holidays, I chose not to camp out with him, and its just as well because it rained! However, I did put Lenny on the float and take him to the top end of our station and ride out for a day with the packhorses. I had to take a bag of poisoned wild dog baits in a backpack to throw out as I went so it was lucky I had a good Morgan to ride! It was interesting to see how he travelled with the horses. I’m looking forward to the time when I can have a pair of morgans and a packsaddle and bit of spare time.
During the school holidays the kids and I took the horses out to our nearby lake and waded them in the water. I’ve not met a Morgan who doesn’t love the water, and Lenny was no exception.
Anika Smith dropped in to visit us with her husband and grandson and we had a fantastic couple of days, and as well as riding, we were hatching up plans to have a week long horse station adventure later in the year.
Then it was off to Geraldton to another clinic with Lenny. The instructor spoke very highly of the Morgan breed. This guy is onto campdrafting, and Lenny and I had a go at working the mechanical cow, which is really just a movable bag on the fence that looks a bit like grandma’s bloomers. Lenny did a brilliant job and I could see what a great training aid this contraption could be for an intelligent horse.
Thanks to a brilliant couple of months, Lenny and I have blasted past the 150 hours milestone for the Morgans for Pleasure Program. I love keeping track of my time riding him and the MFP program gives me a reason to do so. If you haven’t signed up yet, consider doing so because the time spent riding a Morgan is not deducted from your lifespan!
Challa is just blooming after a magnificent summer with over 200mm of rain. This country is incredible when you add water. The horses look magnificent and I’m really enjoying my rides through green grass at the moment. Our main herd has the run of a 50 000 acre section of the place. Holly (Mt Tawonga Belinda) leads the mob that consists of her foal Willow, a couple of stockhorses and the very handsome Mt Tawonga William who is now owned by Kirby Gamble and is up here on agistment. We had a horseman come out the other week to show my husband and I that new fangled barefoot trimming technique and he loved the Morgan’s hooves...…and temperaments of course. I think Morgans are the perfect station horse and I am glad I worked this out before I made any more horse buying mistakes.
Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) is back in work and my favourite thing to do is to ride out and try to find the herd to check them. It doesn’t really matter if we see them or not, it’s just an excuse to track them up, see where they’re watering and have a lovely ride. Sometimes we go looking for wild dog tracks or checking fences, sometimes we just go looking. The other day my daughter Emily rode Nasty Pony and I rode rode Lenny to the summer lake, unsaddled them and waded shoulder high in the water. But its not all beer and skittles here at Challa. Lenny also has to do some arena training to prepare him for our trip to Perth. We are going to stay with Kath Hare and Bailey and do fun horsey stuff for a few days before participating in a clinic with Carlos Tabernaberri. So Lenny and I have been working hard in the arena, fine tuning our fancy moves ready for the big trip. After we return we will have a very interesting visitor, a guy who has a couple of horses, a packsaddle, a swag and some hobbles and rides off into the distance for 10 days at a time. He’s going to do a big ride here at Challa and guess whose going to tag along and ask questions all day long. I’ll let you know how we go.
Mt Tawonga Belinda (Holly) finally has her full registration through with MHAA and AMHA. I haven’t progressed with putting her under saddle yet as I bought a lovely little Arab from Chris Maroni and have been putting my time into him instead. However, Holly is next on the list.
It’s too hot to think at Challa right now. Temperatures exceed 40 degrees on most days and we have runs of 5-7 days where the temperature is over 45. We were extremely fortunate to have some wonderful rain just before Christmas so we actually have green grass! The wet mares are especially grateful and Holly (Mt Tawonga Belinda) is now looking great, her coat shining and dappled with health. Her foal, Willow, looks equally lovely and is enjoying the company of her new buckskin stockhorse playmate. On the occasional morning that we have had a breath of cool air I have been putting some work into the foals as well as Holly. Holly is now mouthed and lunges both ways with the saddle (not bad for a one eyed horse.) Teaching her to lunge was very easy, even on her blind side. She has developed her other senses to compensate for her blindness and she responds to me just like a completely sighted horse. What a lovely mare! I’m taking her very steady, I am in no hurry to ride off into the sunset as we still have to allow for Willow who is not weaned yet.
Because of the heat, the four riding horses have been turned out into what I call a “wild horse paddock,” Lenny (Tandarra Millennium) is amongst them. The paddock is about 10km x 15km and has one road running through which forks halfway. Actually, the gate is open, so the horses theoretically have access to the entire top end of our station, about 150 000 acres. It is almost impossible to find the horses unless they want to be found. That’s why it’s called the wild horse paddock.
Before I can turn a horse out there, I have to be confident that it will be sensible enough to stay out of trouble. The first timers, like Lenny, have to have proven themselves, usually over a 12 month period, before I will let them out wild with the experienced horses. They are expected to stay together and the old hands guide the new ones to the good feed and water points. I can admit that at the time of writing I haven’t seen Lenny for about 5 days. I’ve driven out into the paddock to their favourite spot a few times, but it has been overrun with a mob of about 30 wild cattle the horses have moved to a different place. There are lots of patches of green grass around, and as the horses eat the grass out that’s closest to the windmill, they have to walk further and further between the mill and the grass. Keeps their hooves lovely, and I still don’t have a fat Morgan.
Every time anybody drives through the paddock they are required to give a horse report if they see them. It’s a huge leap of faith for me to let them out there, and I do worry about them a little, but it’s so good for the horses to live almost as wild as their ancestors have lived. I believe that this way of life allows the horses to become as mentally and physically fit as a horse can be these days. I appreciate how lucky I am to be able to offer this to my Morgans.
The mares and foals are still hand fed every morning, despite the green feed everywhere, because I like to keep an eye on them and handle the foals regularly. However, they are still free to wander as far as they like down the south end of the station. My husband just came back from a mill run and said that he saw their tracks 10km from home. The mares had taken their foals for a 20km wander, and the youngest foal is only one month old! I can only imagine how good this is for their little muscular-skeletal systems but I think they would have slept well that night!
Lenny and Holly must make the most of their summer holiday. Little does he know but Lenny has a 40km endurance ride and Carlos Tabernaberri clinic in April. Holly will be under saddle just as soon as it cools off enough for me to give her consistent work. The year has just begun and I’m also well into planning another ride to a neighbour’s station. The Challa Mill Run endurance ride is in September……. Look out, Lenny!
I find it difficult to believe that it has been just over a year since I bought Lenny, my first Morgan. Now I have three Morgans here at Challa Station and I know I’m very lucky to have them.
In the 12 months since I have broken Lenny in, I have completed a 40km endurance ride and logged over 100 hours of riding time in the MFP program. I achieved one of my goals when I took him for a 60km solo ride to visit the northern neighbours at Wondinong Station. We camped overnight in some sheep yards up the top end of Challa then rode the rest of the way in the morning.
I am hoping to do some more overnight camping next year and my plan is to take Lenny and my young stockhorse mare, Bella. They will take turns being ridden and carrying the pack (If I ever make a pack). To that end, I took them both on a training run this morning. Lenny was under saddle and Bella was the stockhorse packhorse. This was the first time I had asked Lenny to be the lead horse and he’s actually perfect for the job. He’s a big, strong boy who leads the way with enthusiasm and confidence.
Of course, now I keep looking at Holly, the one eyed mare who had her foal weeks after arriving from Victoria. She’s a fine animal and wasted as a broodmare. She’s not broken but I’ve popped the saddle on her a couple of times just to test the water. I’ll wait until little Willow is weaned then I will have to see how Holly takes to being broken in. She’ll be a great mount and will double nicely as a packhorse if I decide to take an all Morgan team.
Holly’s foal, Willow, is doing very nicely. She was born chestnut but she is turning a soft, chocolate brown, much to the dismay of the children who want me to have different coloured horses so they can tell them apart. Willow has brought so much happiness to our family already. She is a gentle soul like her mother.
I feel like I have been channeling Judy Oldmeadow lately. Not only am I riding Lenny in his new bitless bridle, but the other day I lead him out of the window of the old station ute. We had just finished riding and I promised I would take him back to his mates. Judy leads all of hers from the farm vehicle and it’s a great way to shift horses. I thought I’d try it with Lenny. I didn’t really have to teach Lenny how to do it, he seemed to know what to do, and I wish I had taken a photo to show Judy. Next time!
Lenny stayed at Leonie Kables (Mountain Creek Moriesians) as a yearling and she taught him the basics. People like me are so grateful to breeders who handle their youngstock correctly. It sets the horse up for life. Its thanks to Leonie that Lenny leads so well, picks up his hooves, floats and ties up. I think it was because of the foundation training she gave him that it was so easy for me to lead Lenny out of the car window. Thanks, Leonie!
Last weekend I visited Peter and Sharon Phelps at Phelcrest Morgans. I was so happy to see Karenza Minette looking superb in the paddock with an equally beautiful Phelcrest Mighty Montana. It is likely that she is already in foal, although it has not been confirmed at the time of writing. It is great that Montana is now passing on his genetics and looking extremely pleased with himself. Montana’s sire, Eibens Striling, also looked beautiful and with any luck he will also have some foals on the ground next year.
Finally, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, filled with happiness and, of course, Morgans.
I’ve been riding a wave of excitement for the past two months with so many Morgan filled adventures from completing my first 40km endurance ride on Lenny (Tandarra Millennium) to the arrival of Holly and the birth of Willow.
I’ll begin at the beginning. Back in February, my husband, Ashley and I visited Mt Tawonga Stud and a particular mare really caught our attention. She was a one-eyed mare running with Tobey who had a very gentle disposition. However, she wasn’t really pointed out to us as one of the ones for sale so I assumed Bill Powell was keeping her.
It took me a while to work out that she was actually for sale and she was the right mare for me. We had her preg tested and when the vet confirmed she was between 7 and 9 months pregnant, we bought her. There was a bit of confusion with her name but Bill was calling her Holly and I love that name so we have stuck with it. We had her trucked over in August and she had three weeks with Christine Maroni and her old paddock mate, Tabitha. She was only supposed to be at Christine’s for a week but my trip to pick her up was delayed by a sick stockhorse, then the Challa Endurance Ride…. which I’ll tell you about in a minute.
Well, I finally got Holly home in true station style – as you may have read – and she foaled down eleven days later. Had I known how far pregnant she was I would not have been brave enough to transport her over from Victoria when I did. However, with an uncertain due date and a fair degree of aussie optimism, I thought she had plenty of time to travel before she foaled.
Holly stands as testimony to the hardiness and resilience of the Morgan breed. Not only did she travel 3000km when she was ten months pregnant, she adapted to a new home and foaled down easily to present me with my purebred filly, who I have called Willow. Holly is an outstanding mother with a new found commanding presence, and young Willow is thriving. There is something very special about this gentle, one-eyed mare and I feel as though she will teach me a lot more that I will teach her.
Now, back to the endurance ride….. Lenny’s chance to shine! We had 22 riders travel up to 1000km to ride at our inaugural Challa Station Mill Run endurance ride. We called it the Mill Run because in the old days the stockmen used to ride the horses on the very same tracks to check the windmills. This time, we only checked about 3 mills out of 30 but it was only a 40km ride. Next year we’ll do an 80 and get a few more mills done. With any luck, we’ll work up to a 160km ride eventually, then we should be able to check most of the north end mills.
I really didn’t know how my hairy, grumpy, barefoot Morgan would go, but he looked awesome next to those fine boned, beautifully sculpted Arabians.
I took it very easy with Lenny. Even though we had the home ground advantage, I didn’t know what sort of an engine Lenny had. I had never gone more that 20km on him before the ride. I needn’t have worried. I stuck to the game plan and brought Lenny home with more than enough fuel in the tank to keep going. I was elated that we vetted in successfully and I had completed my first 40km ride on my morgan.
The completion of the endurance ride took Lenny and I well over the 100 hour mark for the Morgans for Pleasure Program. We have aircraft here at Challa and they have regular maintenance every 100 hours, but I wasn’t sure what the 100 hourly was for a Morgan. We settled for a trace clip, hoof trim and a few carrots. Lenny seemed happy with that and grateful to lose some of the shagpile he’s been wearing as a coat, especially now the temperature is already nudging 35 degrees.
And still the morgan adventures continue. I’ve been visited by Christine Maroni, who rode Lenny and loved him. I’m planning my cross country trek to visit my next door neighbours at Wondinong Station, which is about 60km north of here. I’m also heading off to Perth for a horse training workshop on the weekend and Kath Hare and I decided it would be fun to go out to dinner with some other morgan owners. I’ve got other plans in the pipeline as well, but I’ll tell you about them in the next Morgan Messenger.
Here at Challa Station we have a new pet, a little goat that was doomed to die alone in the bush. My lovely Morgan gelding, Lenny, played a key role in his rescue.
Earlier that day my daughter, Emily and I were discussing where we were going to go for our ride. We have many riding trail options on our Murchison station; today we could go north, south, east or west, or north-east or….. well, you get the idea.
Emily wanted to go east but I felt compelled to take the track south from the homestead, and forge a trail that we had never tried before. So as usual when we disagree, we went my way. Emily saddled up Nasty Pony and we dragged my other daughter, Kate along for the ride on her chestnut, Jimmy.
If only you could have heard them! As usual I was way out in front on my Morgan who strides out at the walk like no other horse I have ridden. Kate and Emily were chattering away as only sisters can:
“Get your stupid horse out of the way!”
“No, I was here first! You move!”
“Can’t you slow your horse down, Mum?”
No way! I was staying as far out of earshot as I could! After a while the conversation behind me settled to an occasional “How much further, Mum?” as I rode steadily along, appreciating the first wildflowers of the season.
“Hey, Look at this!” yelled my youngest daughter , shattering my daydream. It’s not often that Emily gets excited so when she did I immediately backtracked Lenny to see what all the fuss was about. There, under a straggly turpentine bush, was a very new, baby goat. The goat made no attempt to move, although the ground around him was obviously disturbed from his earlier struggles. I dismounted and when I tried to pick him up I found that he was literally pinned to the ground by a surface root from the tree. The root was stretched across his little hind end and he had no way of freeing himself. It took a bit of strength to snap the root and when I put him down his back legs collapsed under him. So I did what every mother would do with two daughters watching: gave him a drink from my water bottle and decided to carry him the 4km home.
This is where my Morgan, Lenny, came in handy. Although he’s been under saddle for less than a year, he’s a really reliable horse with bags of common sense that his breed is renowned for. He didn’t flinch as the kid struggled and bleated as I tried carrying him in front of the saddle, like I have done on a motorbike with so many lambs. Nor did he bat an eyelid when the cute little thing piddled on me, and continued piddling as I held him at arm’s length. When my arm got too sore to carry him any further I put the little goat in my saddlebag and there he stayed, quite happy, as we rode home.
“Don’t trot, Mum, he’ll get shaken baby syndrome!” came a voice from behind. Thankfully the walkin’ Morgan made short work of the 4km ride home and the goat was duly removed from the saddlebags and presented by the girls to their little brother as his new pet.
Luckily little goats are tough. The hind legs are functional again, and the bladder hasn’t stopped. Look like the little fellow is going to live, thanks to the efforts of two little girls and a good, reliable horse.
I was at the Mount Magnet races the other week. It’s a pretty special event, we only race here twice a year. My daughters and I always get dressed up to the 8’s (the 9’s would be a bit too over the top for Magnet!)
The races are not very fancy, with the corrugated iron bar and red dirt tracks, but boy, are they fun! Particularly because we get the chance to catch up with old friends and wizened racing identities. Anyway, I was standing near the bar, as you do on a hot afternoon, and old Jack Cockell came up to me. I’ve known Jack for years, he’s a trainer who used to be the knacker-man and he has given me a couple of really nice ponies for the kids. Anyway, Jack asked how I was and how my horses were. I told him I’d just bought a morgan. As you know, most of the time people will ask, “What’s a Morgan?” but old Jack just said, “Them morgans, I remember a bloke who ‘ad one and he bred a lot of nice ponies from ‘im. They’re good ‘orses, they are, real good walkers.”
As soon as Jack said it, I knew he was right. Lenny (Tandarra Millennium) is the best walker I’ve ever ridden – and I’ve walked a lot of horses! He strides out like he’s on a mission, and the kids on their ponies are always at least 50 metres behind us, cursing Lenny and saying “Can’t you slow your horse down, Mum?” They have to alternate between walk and trot to keep up. When you’re on a morgan, you know you’re really going places. Now he’s known as Lenny the “Walkin’ Morgan.”
Anyway, our station is 80km long and on Mother’s Day the family packed a lunch and put Lenny and the “Nasty Pony” (Thunder) on the float to do a ride that I have been wanting to do for years – go out to a remote place we call the Indian Hills. I’ve seen the Hills only a couple of times whilst I’ve been mustering sheep using a motorbike, and I’ve never had chance to stop and explore. It’s very beautiful but really rocky there so only the toughest hooves can handle it. No problems for my morgan and the little nasty pony. We rode up there, tied the horses to trees and boiled the billy. My husband drove up there with two of the kids and we all ate lunch together under the shade of some mulgas.
How lucky am I to have a lovely family who will come with me to the far corners of our station, and to have a really good, level-headed, tough riding horse who can take me there!
Lenny has begun to take an interest in diesel mechanics, my husband was fixing the truck the other day and Lenny had his head in the engine helping. He is a big personality, much more inclined to be curious than fearful and he has a lovely habit of following me around. I took the kids to pony club yesterday (a mere 5 hour drive away) and as we left with the kid’s ponies on the float, Lenny was trotting along behind, calling out as if to say he should be coming too.
Finally, my own exciting news is that we have just had it confirmed that the WA Endurance Riders will be holding an endurance clinic and ride at our station on the 21st and 22nd August. I am hoping to have a few good morgans turn up to represent the breed.
Happy riding and remember to make the most of the beautiful horses that have come into your life.
The weather is beginning to cool up here at Challa Station. Unfortunately Lenny has sustained a couple of fairly minor injuries that have put him out of action for a few weeks. He must have known he was being brought back into work.
My husband Ashley has just finished trimming Lenny’s hooves. It was a mammoth task as he likened them to chunks of steel on the end of his legs. Admittedly Lenny has been out of work over summer, but his hooves are incredibly hard. Normally our horses wear their hooves down naturally and only require occasional tidying up. Not Lenny - neither of us have seen another set of hooves like them!
Another reason for me to buy more morgans – saves on shoeing costs.
I have taken on the job as the new SLO for WA. I’m really happy to be able to keep in touch with all the morgan owners in WA but I also want to encourage more morgans into the state. I was also really fortunate to go east in February with my husband and visit some of the morgan breeders in Victoria and Queensland. We had an unforgettable holiday and I came back after having seen some beautiful horses and met some really lovely people. Thankyou to you all for making our holiday so wonderful!
We returned to an extremely dry property and I had all but given up hope of getting any rain when the heavens opened and poured 80 mls onto our parched quarter of a million acres. The feed is just beginning to emerge now and will be a lovely treat for the horses after such a dry spell. We just need some follow up rain and Lenny will be having obesity issues like many of the morgans I have seen on greener pastures.
I know that everybody who attended the morgan show would have had a great time. I can’t wait to see the pics on the website. Congratulations to all of the competitors.
Lenny- the almost pure Morgan- is currently experiencing his first summer here at Challa Station – a little different to the summers in Victoria. On most days the temperature breaks the 40 degree mark and usually hovers around 45. Even at 6am it is often over 30 degrees, the sun is savage and rain is a distant dream. The plus side of this for Lenny is that he is on holiday.
It is interesting to watch this beautiful Morgan making the transition to station life. The biggest difference I see in many horses that move here are with their hooves and Lenny’s are no exception. He wears them down naturally as he walks into the yards with the other horses in the morning for breakfast then as he wanders back out to browse on the sparse bushes. They have hardened in these dry conditions and I am hoping to keep him barefoot. My husband tells me stories of his grandfather and father using horses for mustering. Although some horses had to be shod, many good station horses were ridden all day barefoot as they mustered sheep. Mustering would take 3 months and the horses covered many miles each day. I think that Lenny’s beautiful Morgan hooves will stand up to the rigors of going barefoot over the long distance rides I have planned for the cooler months.
One of the other things I have noticed about Lenny is that he is holding his condition very nicely. I handfeed the horses every morning and Lenny gets about half the amount that my stockhorse filly needs and he is in better condition. Lennys’ devotion to food is undisputed and he has even managed to kick his way to the top of the pecking order, unseating “Nasty Pony” from the top position.
I have just come back from a week in Perth, visiting Morgan studs and meeting some very knowledgeable horse breeders who welcomed me onto their properties and showed me some beautiful horses. Every Morgan I saw was in beautiful condition, indeed some were in need of a holiday at our station in order to lose a few kilos. The ability of these horses to maintain their condition in extremely tough times makes them an attractive proposition for somebody like me who lives in such an arid environment.
So far, Lenny has impressed me in every area - and I have enough horses behind me to have become quite a critical judge. He is level headed and has managed to keep himself out of trouble since arriving on our 250 000 acre property. He was easy to start under saddle and is a bold and willing mount with good strong legs and a sound mind. He’s low maintenance and a pleasure to have around. He is a good ambassador for the Morgan breed here in the arid rangelands of Western Australia.
Lenny the Station Morgan
I live on a sheep station in the Murchison region of WA, about 600km north of Perth. Over the last decade it has become real battler’s country as a result of the drought combining with the low prices. But this property, Challa, has been in my husband’s family since 1888 so we’re not going to quit. Some station wives have left or persuaded their husbands to sell up, but I have decided that as long as I have a few horses around I have every reason to stay here.
Allow me to paint the picture….. 250 000 acres of semi arid red dirt, saltbush and mulga. An average of 200 mm annual rainfall. Temperatures hovering over 40 degrees for weeks at a time in summer. All the sheep have been sold due to a ten year drought and I was on the hunt for a new horse. The pony mare I rode after my good horse died was well over 20 and really needed to be replaced. However, I needed a really special type of horse with the ability to thrive in harsh conditions.
Although I love them, thoroughbreds were out of the question, they can’t hold their condition. Australian Stock Horses are fantastic, but there’s too much thoroughbred being infused into the breed right now. Arabs would be great ….. but I’m not really an Arab person…. Quarter horses, well….. again, beautiful horses, but not for me.
I needed something really tough that was versatile enough to go from gymkhanas to endurance to stock work then take the kids for a safe ride. Something that was easy to get along with and looked beautiful . Something I can pull out of the paddock and really rely on.
In hindsight it was ridiculous that it took me so long to figure out that I needed a Morgan horse.
Tandarra Millennium (Lenny) is an almost pure Morgan gelding who arrived from Victoria in October this year. He was 6 years old, unbroken and had lived with his mum all his life. He has the most tractable temperament and on his first day of training I had the saddle and bridle on him and had to ring his old owner to ask, “Are you SURE he hasn’t been broken in?”
I phoned my friend,after I rode Lenny for the first time saying, “I just can’t explain it…. I’ve never ridden a horse like this before, he feels so beautiful.” “Love, you’ve just ridden your first Morgan,” she said.
It’s very early days…. At the time of writing Lenny has been ridden 10 times. He has already surpassed my expectations. He and I are building a partnership that I hope will take us many kilometers over this harsh country. My initial aim is to do a top end mill run (120 km over 3 days) and visit the “Indian Hills” on our property, a beautiful, inaccessible place. Later I hope to compete in endurance rides on Lenny.
So although it’s unlikely you’ll see Lenny and I competing in the show ring, rest assured that there is a brilliant little gelding out there who is getting plenty of miles in those strong legs and proving, at least to a handful of Murchison landowners, that the Morgan horse is everything a horse should be.