|SIMBA AND DAD. Source: Personal Collection.|
Uncle George took horse eventing very seriously, whereas Dad treated it as a holiday from the station. There were plenty of parties with the other riders and Dad was particularly friendly with Jimmy Sharman and his boxing troupe, who also travelled the show circuit.
Dad and George did often compete against each other. They rode in camp drafting, hack, show hunter and show jumping events. Dad won many events and he once won overall champion at one show. However, when they competed against each other and Dad and Simba won, Uncle George wouldn’t talk to my father for a day or so.
Dad’s show-riding days ended when he met my mum at the Brisbane show. She was also a keen horsewoman and a pretty talented rider. They were introduced to each other by Mum’s sister, Betty, who was riding the shows with Dad and George. At the time, Mum really stood out. She’d had a fall off a horse and was in plaster from neck to tailbone, having broken her back.
Even after his eventing days were over, Simba remained Dad’s stock horse and they rode musters together. He and Simba were one when they galloped. Dad used to carry a pistol and he often shot wild, scrub cattle off Simba at a gallop. When other horses lost their nerve with the sound of a shot going past their ears, Simba never once lost his rhythm.
I remember Dad telling me how, on one occasion, when they were on a muster, Simba stepped into a hole at full gallop. He stopped short, fell and rolled right over Dad, and the only reason why Dad wasn’t killed that day was that there was a depression in the ground that Dad’s body just fit into. It wasn’t his time that day, he reckoned.
They had such a special bond that no-one else, apart from Dad, could ride Simba. My half-sister Janice unfortunately found that out when she tried to ride him one day. She ended up thrown from Simba and rushed to hospital with a broken jaw.
Simba was a special horse. He was never found after disappearing in the 1958 flood, and Sparrow Lavery never said what happened to Simba that day. For months after, Dad searched for his body without success.
To Dad, Simba’s loss was the same as losing a best mate.
More stories of stock horses, cavalry horses and royalty to come.