Friday, 1 November 2013

SIMBA AND THE LOVE OF HORSES

SIMBA AND DAD. Source: Personal Collection.


In an earlier blog, I briefly mentioned the love of Dad’s life. No, not my mum (although I like to think she might have been that), but his horse, Simba. I’ve already talked about Simba’s disappearance during the 1958 flood. Before I tell you exactly what happened to him, I’d better tell you more about him.

In the days before motorbikes and helicopters replaced horses, most graziers had a special connection to their horses. They were transport as well as workers. My family had a unique bond to their horses. I’ll reveal why as I tell their story.

When I was younger, I remember seeing my family’s stud books that went all the way back to the 1860’s. I’ll post a picture of them on my blog, if I ever find what I did with them.
 Anyway, Simba was bred on my family’s Mount McConnell station. He was part Arab, part- thoroughbred and descended from the bloodlines of stallions that my great grandfather, John Clark had bought in horse sales in Sydney and Melbourne in the late nineteenth century. John Clark was keen on having the best bloodlines in the north and clearly wasn’t short of a quid, as several stallions he bought had won major races in Sydney and Melbourne.

Dad picked Simba out initially as a stock horse, but at the time Dad was keen on riding in the horse events at the shows with his brother, George. For the uninitiated, a show is an agricultural fair, held in nearly every city and major town in Australia. Dad noticed that Simba was a good jumper and so that is what he was trained primarily for. 
When Dad and George weren’t working hard on the family stations, they would ride the show circuit around Queensland. They travelled from town show to town show, competing and having a good time. 
Back then, horse people didn’t have the luxury of having a four-wheel drive with a horse float, as they do now. Instead, they travelled on a steam train with their horses in the horse carriages, even sleeping in the stall with their horse. In this way, a special bond developed between man and horse. So much so that Dad and Simba would even have a beer together on a hot day. Before you ask—not at the pub or out of the same bottle, of course.

To be continued.