Spring Valley Heritage Horse Ride 2000

Spring Valley Heritage Horse Ride 2000

Acknowledge: Australian Stock Horse Society 40th Anniversary Compendium & article by Kerry Grey

Featured Image: Spring Valley Heritage Horse Ride Map(s)

(31/03/2020: I’ve just realised that the colour-coding window of the two main rides is ‘inverted’? The North Ride should be GREEN and the South Ride MAGENTA?)

See: https://www.ashs.com.au/the-society/about-us/about-us/

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/australian-stock-horse-society-40th-anniversary-compendium/

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/heritage-horse-ride-olympics-2000/

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/olympic-games-defining-moments/

See also: https://sconevetdynasty.com.au/australia-on-horseback-at-sydney-olympic-games-2000/

Personal Prelude: It’s my purview that this grand epic ranks right up there with some of the greatest Australian totems such as the Durack’s ‘Kings in Grand Castles’ epic and the Nat Buchanan droving fables. Its breathtaking stratospheric vision is legendary in its own right. I enjoy a somewhat smug satisfaction in acknowledging ‘locals’ Neville Holz and Joy Poole plus my very good friend and professional colleague Chris Johnson as veritable pioneering prodigies.

The Spring Valley Heritage Horse Ride was the third largest media event in 2000, behind the Olympic Games and the Torch Relay. The ride will never be forgotten by the people who left Broome on 14th April 2000, and arrived in Sydney on 13th August, just four weeks before the start of the 2000 Olympic Games.

Spending 17 weeks away from everyday life, away from the people who make up your life, learning to get on and live with 20 strangers, to work together to achieve the final goal. To shift home every day, meet a new group of people, new town, new State. A small section of life really, four months, but at times it felt like forever.

The excitement in camp started around Canberra for the Southern Ride, and Scone for the Northern Ride. We knew we were getting close: Sydney, population four million was just six days away. The final parade was pretty special, having all green lights and right of way in the biggest and busiest city in Australia. The Northern Ride entered Sydney over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, closing four lanes of traffic. The ride visited Town Hall and Parliament House, and the most moving time of that day was the speech given by our leader, Neville Holz. Neville is Chairman of Unique Australian Horse Sports and he went every inch of the Southern Ride with us.

Two of our full time riders were 72 years old – Keith Kehl and Ray Ryan. Keith’s horse slipped on concrete at a photo shoot on Geraldton and he ended up with ten stitches in his leg, but he never stopped riding. Ray had lost his right arm at the elbow in a chaff cutter accident when he was 17, but he could still shoe his own horse. Those two old fellows represent the ‘spirit that built a nation’.

We set out on the Spring Valley Heritage Horse Ride to promote the Australian Stock Horse, to raise awareness of Australia’s unique horse sports, polocrosse and campdrafting, and to strengthen the relationship between the two associations. We wanted to remind people of how the Australian Stock Horse was used in opening up our country for farming, transport and communication. We wanted people to remember the 140,000 Australian horses that went to war, where they had a reputation as being the bravest, and that only one came home.

We visited schools with these messages, and handed out 60,000 Spring Valley showbags. We took messages of goodwill for the Olympic Games from these rural children to the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Frank Sartor. We hoped that visitors to Australia for the Olympic Games were aware pf our journey and what we rode for. We know we touched the ‘Australian’ in many people we met on our ride. We carried the Australian Flag every step of the way.

John Barry (Rider) Northern Ride writes:

Thanks Bill yes it was a great ride and a life long experience. As mentioned, our company (Neil Richardson & I Mataranka Grains & Mataranka Feeds )supplied all the tucker for the horses. Cool fuel Copra and preferably mature shedded hay oaten or barley straw or grassy lucerne hay. Reason being had we fed prime lucerne hay at apprx 18% protein and with Cool Fuel Copra at 22% could have become an issue. Organizing the Copra meal  & hay through the remote areas was no mean task. I must add one thing horse shoes were not used, part of the deal and also and minor sponsor  was Old Mac Boots, once the horses got used to them very good full foot protection. They were an early edition and a bit cumbersome to fit, new models now much simpler  and easy to fit.  2010 we held a reunion and are planning to hold another one in 21st June this year here in Scone. I rode one of Margaret Hines horses for the first month until I was able to get my horse White Rhino ( better known as Muscles) back then he was dual registered Stock horse T – Bred not allowed anymore I am told.  Great grand dad was Northern Dancer Sire was The Rolling Minstrel,  on his dam side a mare called Kim’s Habit by another famous stallion called Habitat. White Rhino’s half sister Mandy, who I owned was also on the ride, I lent her to Dr Tim Kempton and we rode together. The ride was very structured and ridged as we had to be at a certain place at a certain time to do presentations. Joy Poole & Neville did an amazing job. Felt very privileged to have been on that ride. Muscles raced at Bundaberg ( sand track)and won a few 1100m was his go. Had to put him down a few years ago as he was old and unable to keep weight on. I and a few mates caught the bug and on private rides,  rode  McKay to Cook Town, Adelaide  to Darwin,  Dalby to Quilpie  I guess just because we could. People asked Neil and I how did we manage to keep the business running, one we had sat phones & two very good office staff back in Dayboro. Looking forward to catching up on the 27th May Qurindi v Scone .jb