While in the Kimberley amongst so many cattle stations one of the things I wanted to do most was ride a horse on a station. It was difficult to find a station that offered this due to insurance reasons but we finally found a station just outside of Derby that did. Birdwood Downs Station offers camping and horse riding and is run by a friendly staff. I dropped Sam off in Derby and headed out to the station in the late afternoon for what I thought was going to be a trail ride with lots of other tourists. When I arrived, to my surprise, it was only me and the guide, Greg. We walked out to a paddock and started yelling for the horses, it took them a while to turn up but when they did there were about seven of them running in, eager to be the one selected to go for a ride. Greg handed me a halter to put on my horse, Oro. I had to keep a keen eye on what Greg was doing to make sure I put it on correctly. Next we walked our horses back to the barn to saddle them up, again Greg just handed me a brush and then said, “right, put this pad on, then this blanket and then throw the saddle on”, I think he thought I knew a bit more about horses than I did. Once I got the saddle tight enough we jumped on and headed out. The ride was amazing, we went through a few gates into an open pasture where there were wallabies jumping away and the sun was slowly setting so the entire surroundings had a deep orange hue. I had to remember what to do in the saddle when we began to trot and received some good pointers from Greg which made trotting a lot more comfortable as my bum bounced. We approached another gate and he said, “what we’re going to do is ride up alongside the fence, then press the horse in with your left leg to get him to move sideways, then bend down, open the gate and walk through.” I thought to myself, “yea, right!” but gave it a go anyway. Once I gave Oro the commands and had the gate open he knew what to do and pushed the gate as we walked through. Then the same thing on the other side to close it. I was quite impressed with how well Oro was trained and that we completed the task with no issues. Then back to a trot through the pastures and we came across the small herd of cattle (about 40 head) owned by the station. Greg mentioned they were in the market for a bull to expand their herd. The sun was setting deeper at this point and was a big orange ball in the sky, it was just amazing. Back to the barn, with the station dog following us the entire way, we dismounted and relieved the horses from their sweaty saddles. I was on a real high driving back to Derby on the country roads thinking what a treat it turned out to be having a private horse riding lesson on an Outback station.
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