DAY 260: Hooning around an Arabian stud farm

18 May

AS IF to mock my own experience of being wedged into bushes, six-year-old Billie is tearing up the paddock on a miniature quad bike, gunning the throttle and hooning down slopes with a fearless stare in our direction.

She brings the bike to a splattering halt in front of us. “I’ve got four horses,” she announces.

So we head up the hill to see them.

This stud farm outside Launceston breeds Arabian horses for endurance racing, and the majestic beasts are everywhere, rearing up, cycling their front hooves and psyching each other out. They’re bred for Tom Quilty endurance racing: 160km across country in one day. A ‘strapper’ has to hose down the horse at intervals to get its heart rate down to a vet-approved bpm, then it’s off full-pelt again. I’m glad I’m not being dared to get on one.

“You big sooky la la,” Billie admonishes as I hesitate at the electric fence. I hand Old Dog my latte, which he accepts with a grimace, and duck under. Bloody hell, they breed them tough around here.

As we ascend the paddock, horses come up for a mild-mannered look, until we decide to take a closer inspection of the foals, at which point a whole field’s worth of horses start clustering us. I turn around and there’s a nose right in my face.

Back near the homestead, which is awash with dogs, kittens, mice, motorbikes and kids on motorbikes, a new recruit with beautiful pebble markings is being dressed in the stables. It looks a bit mortified as it’s bustled up in a total of five fetching coats – and that’s without even knowing its picture’s going to be splashed all over the internet.

Keeper? Yes: patting, not racing.

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