Mongolia Horse Trek June - August 2010

About Me

I was born 1962, I'm 178cm tall and weigh 77kg.

The family has lived in rural Australia in the Wagga Wagga area for many generations as farmers a
nd shearers. I went to university and studied agriculture, computing and currently transport management. I work in Road Safety and Traffic Planning but have previously worked in Computer Support, as a Programmer/Analyst, Rangeland Soil Conservationist and Agronomist. In 1999 I returned to the family farm and built a house.

I'm an experienced horseman and when I was young I learnt to ride at home on the farm. I went to  pony club from 8 years old (dressage, jumping and sporting events and obtained a high proficiency level).


Horses

I was fairly average at high school initially because much of my time was spent doing farm work, much of it with the horses. Often this involved feeding stock in the long paddock and I broke quite a few young horse. Fortunately for my brothers they had a good range of horses to choose from and rode many of them at state level competitions. My hobby was leatherwork which I picked up after talking to the many drovers that used to move mobs past our farm. I used to buy hides and make saddlery, mainly bridles, girths, belts, a couple of whips (not saddles). Red hide used to make nice soft reins. I used to do a lot of plaiting, you could plait while watching stock feed when droving.

I didn't ride for many years until I bought a farm in the late nineties and got horses for my kids to go to pony club. A pony, stock horse, three thoroughbreds (two of which hadn't been ridden for over ten years since they finished racing as two or three year olds) and an unbroken brumby. I thought the kids would learn to ride quicker on the older horses but realised that the older horses have habits the younger ones don't. I told my kids that they couldn't go to pony club until they could jump over a stick on top of a standing 200l drum. I only had one horse shod in the last ten years because it was considered the thing to do for a 1 week camp. The farrier shod the thoroughbred then picked up one foot of the brumby and put it down saying he doesn't need it. He didn't either, neither did the thoroughbred. I've mostly ridden grass fed horses and only trained a few to a high level (I am sure we had the only racing thoroughbred in the district that could work cattle).

I learnt about stock on the farm with six years working in outback NSW I learnt a bit more about camping. I like to travel light but be prepared for emergencies. My experience is hot and dry but had to swim my horse through flooded channels as a kid chasing the milking cow. I've only been to the snow a couple of times but if we get rain in wetter years we can get frost for months through winter.


Camping

A simple word has such a diverse meaning. I used to read any book I could find on camping as a kid, mostly backpacking and survival stuff. First real camping trek was with my wife on my honeymoon in Tasmania. We walked from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair, about five days and a classic hiking trip in Australia. I reckon she is the first woman to have walked through there without carrying a pack (she did carry the rain coats), so I know how to pack light.

After that I worked in the outback based in Bourke and Condobolin for the Soil Conservation Service. Two of us would often go out and one of the main activities was mapping the land classes (topography, soils vegetation, land use) on the properties. The job required a good botanical expertise. In the eastern areas the properties might have been 10,000 Ha but in the west they were up to 400,000 Ha (one million acres) in that part of the country. They mainly ran sheep (for wool) but also cattle for beef. We had a 4WD with a small fridge in the back. Most used a swag but I used a camp stretcher. It seldom rained so we didn't need a tent. We used to gather wood and make a campfire. There was a large wooden box, the 'tucker box', which had anything you needed. The 4WD had a HF radio and we would radio back to the Regional Office each day and had a winch and shovels if we got stuck. I had to bury the spare tyre once to use as an anchor when I got bogged in a salt lake. The camping I have done since with the family involves throwing food in a cardboard box, fresh meat for up to two days in an esky with ice, camp stretchers and a tent. We had many camping trips when the kids were young but not much since we moved to the farm.

The only horse 'camps' I have been to involved putting horses in yards over night, feeding with grain and chaff. I remember hobbling the horses as a kid when we were droving and they could still gallop away (although slightly slower) with the hobble chains on. I know the importance of looking after your horse and the right equipment.