Training my new horse Kubla Khan was an absolute pleasure, and he seemed to enjoy it as much as I did! Right from the start I realised his potential, and he had the biggest heart of any horse I had owned so far; he was ready to try anything, regardless of what I asked of him. He was really very special and I was so looking forward to his first jumping events!
At the end of the show jumping season in 1963, the final show was at Umtali near the Mozambique border and I had decided beforehand that this was to be Hy-Li-Li’s last competition. As a result of the points she had won to that date, she had been upgraded to grade C and I knew that she would not be able to cope with the higher fences and stiffer competition. She of course surprised us all by winning everything in which she had been entered, but I knew in my heart that she was really at her limit. I did not change my mind, so she retired in glory, as did Dusky, after his Horse of the Year show success. It was decided that she would return for a couple of months to Jack Quinton’s (from whom we had originally bought her) where he would cover her with his newly imported stallion.
In 1964, I was again picked to jump for Rhodesia (against Mozambique and South Africa) with my horse Mr Smith; my friend Gail Hall who had a brilliant little horse called Royal Amber, was also picked for the team. Firstly in Salisbury at the Glamis Grounds, followed a few weeks later in Lourenço Marques (LM) [since Mozambique's independence, now called Maputo]. We had been beaten by South Africa in Salisbury, but left for LM with a feeling that we could do better! Mr Smith had thankfully not let the side down and we had jumped two clear rounds - photo below.
Gail and I set off on the two-day drive from Salisbury to LM, (almost 1,300 km or 800 miles). Cars then aren't what they are now! I remember stopping overnight at a little village called Groblersdal in South Africa and it was absolutely freezing! We had both been in bed for a while when I heard Gail quietly ask me if I was still awake. I said yes, I was far too cold to sleep so we both got up and rummaged around for some extra bedding and clothes. By 04h00 we had both reached a state where we could no longer endure the cold; we packed up, climbed in the car and made our way to the Mozambique border. On arrival in LM, the language problem began -they speak Portuguese- while asking directions and this set us both off giggling like two young schoolgirls. We finally found the stables, managed to see that the horses were comfortable and eventually we tracked down our hotel. We discovered that the Rhodesian team was in one hotel and the South African team in another; this did not go down well with Gail, who was quite keen at the time on a member of their team!
The same team to travel to LM.
Gilbert Fischer, Gail Hall, Angela Edwards and myself.
As we had been the first riders to arrive, on our first night Gail and I went off to find a restaurant at the coast where we could get some dinner. We discovered a little Chinese restaurant which looked good, so this is where we made our stop. We were highly impressed with our waiter, who was in fact half Chinese and half Irish, his mother being the Irish blood! We had never seen a duck carved so expertly with chop sticks before and we were soon chatting away to him and telling him about the horses and the show. Afterwards, he invited us both to go downstairs to see his tropical fish collection in the cellar. It was a very impressive sight, the room full of fish tanks stocked with exotic species, and he told us this made his pocket money, as he exported such fish all over the world. The evening stretched out much longer than planned but we finally said we had to go as we had horses to attend to early the next day!
Having seen to the horses and exercised them early the next morning, I returned to the hotel to discover the largest bunch of flowers I have ever seen in my life, waiting for me on the bed! Our Chinese friend from the night before had sent them; we never did get back to the restaurant, but I did at least find the phone number, so I could relay my thanks.
Myself and Mr Smith
We were in LM for almost two weeks, and although I had no major single wins, I managed to cover expenses with my prize money. Rhodesia did win the team event however, beating our main rivals South Africa into second place. We had a great time, with many parties along the way! Suddenly it was time to leave for home! Gail was returning to Salisbury with friends, and I had planned to go on to the Pietermaritzburg show in South Africa, as did a couple of other Rhodesian team members. The local press gave us recognition, as you can see below.
My Life Before Charente to be continued :-)
The section of my life story during our overland trip is published on Kindle if you should be interested:-