Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Happy Anniversary Charger

This years show marks our 10 year anniversary. 2006 was the year that I bought my piece of Elsey Station in the form of a horse with half an ear. He's been at my side since then. My team mate, my partner, the one thing I can rely on. Through sinkholes and old barbed wire, through thick scrub and through thin he's been there. Slamming hoof prints into my heart. A total ratbag when he wants to be, Prince Charming when it suits.

Many other horses have passed in and out of his life, as they have mine. Chief was a faithful companion for many years. I'd feed them everyday between rounds on Willeroo to put the weight from first round back on them. They got so habitual about it that I only needed to open gates for them, no halters, no stuffing about. If I floated them anywhere they would take it in turns to rock the float. Charger would make it sway, Chief would make it wiggle. Chief left us in 2010 and crossed Rainbow Bridge.

In 2006, after leaving the contract mustering camp we headed to Bonalbo Station in the Douglas Daly. He thought he was top shit with all those mares around and all the geldings so much older than him. It was at Bonalbo that Charger and I found ourselves in a sinkhole.

2007 saw us attempt Timber Creek Campdraft. We did poorly. 2009 was when I had the brilliant idea of having another crack at a campdraft, Nixon's Crossing. Charger expressed his dissatisfaction at this by dumping me in the dirt and dragging me a few metres. We didn't compete.

Early 2011 we slipped in mud. He was fine, I went to hospital with severe concussion.

Early 2012 Ruby was added to the mix and he thought it was great that he had a mare for a paddock mate again. I then eased him into a lie that was retirement later that year. Retirement, at age 21, was just me saying without realising "There's no more mustering for us anymore buddy". When Ruby was unfit to ride he got saddled or jumped on bareback. Then, in early 2015, I got a new saddle, the previous one having been trashed in the stack of early 2012. It was only natural that he had the unwanted honour of being the first to be ridden in it.

The mystery of his missing ear is somewhat solved after distinguishing one story, which is likely to be a lie, from another, that involves the person who told the lie, that is far more likely to be the truth. The hair around his muzzle and his coronets have been growing grey for some time now. He loses weight in the Build Up these days and requires extra special supplementary feeding during that time. But at 25 years old he is still soldiering on and remains stoic. I may have paid too much for him in 2006 but for me he's been worth every fucking penny. Happy Anniversary Old Man!
Katherine Research Station, December 2015

Charger and Ruby, McAdams Road 2012

Providence Station, early Wet 2011
Chief and Charger, Willeroo Station, December 2009

Napier Road 2013

Kidman Springs, Wet Season 2008

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