A horse-riding adventure through the high country gives riders a taste of one of Australia's most enduring legends.
Story by Pamela Robson
At Snowy River Horseback Adventures, Danielle Ternes and Glen Dixon are building a life for themselves around delivering a taste of the Man from Snowy River to the world. They’re both hugely experienced horse people – Glen has worked as a stockman and managed large grazing properties in the Monaro, while Danielle worked as an outdoor guide with Outward Bound Australia. They’re using their skills to the full, offering two-, three- and five-day horseback ‘adventures’ out of a cattle property not far from Jindabyne in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains.
They have access to some great riding country of big forests, crystal creeks and views of the often snow-tipped high country ranges. It is packed with wildlife, with ’roos to echidnas and the tantalising prospect of glimpses of wild brumbies. The business is very much a family one, with Danielle’s mother Evelyn Chrystal managing the catering, while Danielle and Glen concentrate on the horses and managing the office.
There’s an insatiable appetite, both among Australians and overseas visitors, for a taste of the mountain legends made famous by Banjo Paterson. I join a multicultural group of equine enthusiasts in the middle of their Snowy adventure. Europeans, Brits and Americans don oilskins and straddle stock saddles with country and city Australians for a myth-imbued adventure.
Ingrid from Stockholm saw The Man from Snowy River movie when she was a child and fell in love with the romance of riding in Australia. A keen dressage rider, her experience has been firmly within the arena walls. Now she is astride an Australian Stockhorse called ‘Tuna’ that she would like to take home with her.
The Andrews family from England are more used to riding across the Sussex downs. Mrs Andrews read Elyne Mitchell’s
The Silver Brumby as a child and delves back into it now and then. She also cheerfully admits to living out a fantasy.
Danielle, who is leading today, explains the horses are mostly home-bred in their stud, Snowy Mountains Stockhorses, and they know the genes, traits, temperaments and how each horse has been handled as a youngster. So there are no surprises. The horses are well-trained and responsive and this turns out to be everyone’s main prerequisite – they definitely didn’t want the conventional nose-to-tail horse-trek experience.
Danielle is keen to emphasise that this is no riding school. “People get a much more rewarding experience if they can already ride,” she says. “If they haven’t, they need to be reasonably fit and ready for anything. They also have to be prepared to listen to what we tell them.” Dougal, an Irish insurance broker in the group, fits into this last category. He has hardly been on a horse before but he’s athletic and adventurous and doesn’t seem to mind that his mount, a cheerful big-hoofed stockhorse-Clydesdale cross called ‘Clancy’, makes all the decisions about where they go and at what speed they travel.
This story excerpt is from Issue #53
Outback Magazine: June/July 2007