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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 4 (July 1, 1935.)

Horses and Riders

Horses and Riders.

That courting-days' 100-miles ride I mentioned in the “N.Z. Railways Magazine” last month, a one-day journey from the King Country frontier to the Tamaki, Auckland, was comfortable going in good weather, for all its roughness, for only the more northern portion of it was a hard metalled road, sixty odd years ago. But probably only the fact that there was a girl at journey's-end would have taken the young farmer at such a pace. It was wise advice the old ostler gave in George Borrow's “Romany Rye,” when he told his roving listener that “no gentleman—supposing he weighs sixteen stone, as I suppose you will by the time you become a gentleman—ought to ride a horse more than sixty-five miles in one day, provided he has any regard for his horse's back, or his own either.” However, I don&t think there were many sixteen-stoners among the young settlers and cavalrymen of Waikato.

Thinking back over some of my own long back-country journeys in the pre-automobile days, many a good horse mate comes to mind. Horses always travelled better in company; but even alone, when rider and horse were old friends the bon accord between them would appreciably lighten the journey. I recollect a day's ride of something over seventy miles, which both my horse and myself finished well, and there were others almost as long; but there was one horseback journey which was more than enough for both of us. That was only fifty-five miles, from Rotorua to Taupo, but the circumstances of a blistering hot midsummer day and a pumice road which was both dusty and eye-dazzling, made us right glad to see the flickering lights of Taupo that evening. Yet there was one thing worse, and that was the pumiceland coach journey. On horseback you could at least get ahead of your dust; aboard the mail-coach you travelled all a summer day in a cloud of it, and swallowed more dust than lunch.