Well, Spain completely obliterated Australia, although our young Alex de Minaur managed to take the first set off Nadal! That was riveting:
Alex de Minaur is still not fully grown yet. He has the determination of a bulldog and fights to the very last breath. Incredible to watch and a great kid. Actually outhitting Nadal for a set - excellent. Give it another couple of years, and he'll be outhitting Nadal for three sets!
Spain got beaten by Serbia in the final, and right now, the Australian Open has begun - later than usual, with the new team-event ATP Cup being played in Australia, for the first time this year. I am not quite as glued to it as usual - will probably only watch the matches with my favourite players. THINGS EQUINE & AIRBNB
On Sunday night I went riding - and am going again later today. It was a twilight ride; and on the loop back along the Swamp Track, who was coming in our direction? Don Quixote, gone walkabout!
It was so funny to see his comical big chocolate-brown face with the long ears and the white muzzle coming in our direction. I called out to him and he stopped as we stopped, to exchange pleasantries. Mary Lou and Sparkle were a little behind him, nibbling branches off the side of the track as they walked along. It's lovely to see the other animals using the walk tracks. The donkeys do it regularly; the horses use some of them, but not the long ones to the back of the property, unless I am riding; then they sometimes tag along.
It reminds me - I need to buy a new halter and recommence his saddle training, sadly interrupted by my foot fracture nearly 18 months ago and the wild goose chase trying to catch up with property maintenance ever since.
Airbnb has kept me busy this past six weeks too. It's going well and we have more nice reviews: https://www.airbnb.com.au/users/show/304780036
Super dinner last night with a lovely French lady and a nice-as-pie Korean couple who helped me feed the yearling steers last night, and oohed and aahed over all the donkeys etc. I had some seafood soup with pumpkin, mountain corn, tomatoes and celery from the garden; also a nice tomato-basil-mozzarella salad with lots of nice ripe salad tomatoes from the garden, and a lentil-beetroot-feta-walnut salad, with freshly picked beetroot and spring onions in it. Home-made rye mix / sunflower bread to go with it, with local olive oil to drizzle on it. For dessert, coconut rice cream, which I had to make a huge vat of because I forgot it was Monday and milk delivery day, and didn't remember to collect the milk from the gate until 4pm - it had been sitting there all day, and on a warm day too, so I immediately used 3L to make rice cream. The other 3L is holding up at the moment, but sooner or later it's going to turn and then I'm going to make cottage cheese, and go get another bottle of milk that will go straight in the fridge like it should...
Last week, we had a really nice young couple stay with us - he was from France, she from the UK - and I saw from their general fitness and flexibility, combined with their excellent attitude to the animals, that they were suitable horse riding candidates, so I offered. Paul had never formally ridden, just had a tourist group ride in India; Imogen had ridden ponies as a child "but never anything this big!" ...Sunsmart is 15.2hh, so about average size for an Australian horse. But, he's built like a barrel!
I walked with them and the horse for an extended trek across the local countryside, through the neighbour's place as well. Paul was first - I showed him how to get on and off properly (I do the click-your-heels-behind-you vault-off dismount as taught in Europe), and he immediately mounted smoothly and correctly first time.
I showed him how to hold the reins and then talked about sitting upright but relaxed like in Pilates, heels down and under you, and that you go gently with the horse's movement when riding, and he immediately did exactly that and remained exactly like that for his whole ride. I asked him if he'd had an A at sport in school, and his partner laughed and said yes, and that he always picks things like this up immediately. You really couldn't tell, walking along on the horse, that he's never had lessons. He was riding actively and correctly and not interfering with the horse. Also, he was going, "Oh, I like this! And noone ever showed me how to sit properly before and hold the reins correctly." Also, it turns out, my horse is a lot smoother than the average mount for hire. Well, I explained that he's ex-racing, athletic, takes super-long strides and has very good suspension - nice shoulder angles etc and he's relaxed and swings his back instead of being stiff, because he's used to having a rider who doesn't make him uncomfortable.
Paul did the completely correct thing without needing it explained to him when we went downhill and leaned back in proportion to the gradient.
Pilates can teach people a thing or two!
After we'd walked around the neighbour's two farm dams and seen kangaroos in the distance, we headed back to our connecting gate, and then it was Imogen's turn to ride, the long way back, up the hill and along the ridge with the views of the Stirling Ranges (including the mountain on which my husband proposed to me 12 years ago
). She too sat and rode beautifully, so when we got back to the meadow at our north boundary, I asked her if she wanted to trot - having trotted on ponies as a kid - and she replied affirmatively. She was finding out what trotting on a big horse was like - and on a trotting horse at that! So, I ran as fast as I could while Sunsmart casually stretched out his long legs at a floating trot. His medium trot is the standard horse's extended, and as fast as I can personally move without jetpacks to assist me. Imogen remembered how to post, and was super-happy when we pulled up when I could run no further. We then shortened her stirrups a couple of holes (we have the same length legs but I ride long, basically in dressage position, everywhere I go, so we thought we'd give her a bit more perch), and off we went again.
A wonderful time was had by all of us - over an hour of traipsing across the countryside, with a total of five pairs of legs (although only four pairs of legs were in conventional use most of the time, and half of those belonged to the horse!). The smiles all around were resplendent, even the horse was smiling, and lip-flapping too when he saw the carrots on offer afterwards - and the guests told me that this experience had been the highlight of their trip to Australia!
The terrain we rode through was photographed here - although that took in a longer ride than we did with two people on foot: https://www.horseforum.com/member-jo...post1970681183
...and that's where I'm heading again today, when I've got my washing on the line!