We had a 6 hour train journey from Sydney to Tamworth in New South Wales and stayed at a Best Western Hotel...a night of luxury before our Jackaroo course.
We were picked up on Monday morning with 17 others to start our week at Leaconfield..and what a week it was. We had the best time ever.
Lucy was the least experienced of all the riders, having never sat on a horse before. She was given 'Monday' a 27 year old horse that looked a bit tired, but he was lovely...a real gentlemen. He liked to itch his head on Lucy's leg and plodded very slowly.
Steve was paired up with 'Spook' for the week, a white horse who was a bit of a mare! Literally!
We did so much in the week. First of all we learned how to clean our horses, saddle them and clean out their shoes. Which we did every day. Tim the owner of the ranch was a real life horse whisperer and used natural horsemanship to train his horses. He gave us amazing demonstrations with a couple of his horses and could get them to move by focusing alone. It was so interesting and we had a go with our own horses too. Lucy is going to train Steve in the same way!! ha ha
We had a go at cracking a whip and lassoing and filing the hoof of the horse for the shoe to fit.
Early on in the week we mustered sheep into a pen and then had a go at catching them and wrestling them to the ground...harder than you might think! We then saw four sheep being sheared and had a go ourselves..the wool is really thick. After this we watched one of the other sheep have its throat cut and it was then gutted and hung up just where we ate our tea that night around the camp fire..mmm nice! The next day we watched the carcus cut into joints of meat...the following day we enjoyed delicious spore ribs and chops...ahhh poor sheep (and Lucy used to be a vegetarian!!!)
The highlight of the week for both of us was mustering cattle and then catching and wrestling a young steer to the ground and holding it down. Great fun. We watched as a calf was branded and it also had the tip of its ear cut off (the mark of the owner). As if that wasn't enough pain for the poor calf to go through it was then castrated without any anesthetic. Later that day the balls were barbecued and we all had a munch...tasted a bit like a sausage!!!!
On the last day there was a competition. In pairs you had to separate one steer from the group and muster it through two tires and into a pen. We had a go and managed to complete the course ...although we did so very slowly! (only 4 of the 10 group managed to complete the task though so we were pretty chuffed with ourselves!)
We were both really chuffed with the progress we made during the week, Lucy going from having never sat on a horse before to actually canter on her own. Steve also feels more confident on a horse.
We had the best week ever, all meals were enjoyed around a camp fire, we slept in a dorm with all the others on the course. There were 19 of us in total, mostly girls..only three guys! A really good bunch of people, from the UK, Germany, Sweden and Holland.
On Friday we all met up for a meal and a drink back in Tamworth. We had such a good week that it was sad to say goodbye to the other Jackaroos, the staff and of course Spook and Monday!
On Saturday morning we picked up a hire car to take us on our last leg of the Oz journey up to Cairns.......