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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Meanwhile... back at the ranch.

Eight kilometres across the sea from our fair city lays Magnetic Island; a glittering jewel in the tropics and it was our destination as we boarded the ferry yesterday morning.

Travelling over on the boat always brings back memories of my twenties (circa 1910) when I spent a year as the Picnic Bay Lifesaver’s Surf Girl. 

If you haven’t read this excruciatingly awkward post about those times you can read it here.

Scotto and I bussed it from Nelly Bay over to Horseshoe Bay (yes, that is the nicely apt name of the place) where we were to spend two hours suffering every tooth in our head rattling like marbles in a box whilst perched precariously on top of an unpredictable horse.

“What the hell is that?” Pinky squealed in horror at the entrance of the ‘ranch’.

An insidious black crow eyed us menacingly at the gate cawing tauntingly,

“You’re farrrrrrrrrrrrrked… farrrrrrrrrrrrrrked.”

“It’s a sign Scotto. We shouldn’t be doing this… the crow knows all.” Superstitious Pinky moaned sinking her fingernails into Scotto’s arm.

“Come on, don’t be silly,” he sighed patiently, dragging me in.

“Have you ridden before?” asked Lucy, the Kirsten Dunst look-alike who was to be our trail ride leader.

“About thirty years ago,” I replied shakily. “I’m a bit rusty.”

Scotto’s assigned horse was a bay named Kitaboy, which seemed a rather stupid name to me.

 The white gelding I was allocated was worryingly named ‘Jumbuck’.

“So does Jumbuck… like, you know… buck?” Pinky squeaked.

“No, not usually,” replied the dimpled Lucy, “but he is a bit bitey.”

“As in?” I thought. “Bites his rider or other horses? There’s an important distinction you know.”

Jumbuck, as it turned out, liked to bite everything. He persisted in turning his head unexpectedly in attempts to give my leg a chomp and he’d trot up behind the other horses, nipping them sharply on the bum and inciting violent kicks from the unwitting recipient. The other horses shied away when the unsociable Jumbuck came near them, so consequently my journey was a mostly lonely, solitary one.

The toothsome equine grabbed at every passing green branch yanking at the foliage and triggering the bough to whip back painfully into my face when he let it go. I swear he had an eating disorder as Jumbuck had a mouthful of leaves in his mouth for the entire ride (unless he was biting something of course).

 Old Spice Man: Where Am I?
                              I'm on a horse.

A short way into the excursion the twenty or so other riders had to wait in the hot sun while Pinky’s saddle was adjusted because apparently it was slipping sideways.

Back in the ranch we’d mounted our horses via a box, but out in the bush I was commissioned to somehow get back up from ground level.

After several unsuccessful, clumsy attempts (while the riding party silently watched) of a sweating, cursing Pinky trying to hoist her out-of-shape body up onto Jumbuck, the horse was eventually disgracefully led to a hole in the ground to compensate for Pinky’s lack of upper body strength.

Half way through the ride we were to strip down to bathing suits, unsaddle the horses and take them for a swim in the ocean.

“I think I’ll pass on that,” I whispered to Lucy. “I’m a bit worried about marine stingers.”

“There aren’t any stingers out there! We were swimming and snorkelling all day yesterday and we didn’t get stung!” boomed the loud voice of the “there’s always one know-it-all in every crowd” woman disrobing beside me.

But Pinky was immovable and stood on the beach watching the others risking their lives, half hoping a ‘certain someone’ might just get a little sting. Just enough to show her.

“Did you have fun?” asked a pumped Scotto after we’d dismounted and were standing, legs shaking like a blancmange, on the ground back at the ranch.

“It could have been worse,” was my lukewarm reply. “It could have been much worse.”

And so it was when I rolled over in bed this morning with aches and pains in places I didn’t even know I had places.
               Pinky and Scotto getting watered and fed at the Horseshoe Bay Hotel.