In February this year four people affected by the Dalburn fires, together with 20 other people affected by the Black Saturday fires, were given the opportunity to attend a 3 day horse ride getaway with Watson’s Mountain Country Trail rides near Mansfield – ‘Man from Snowy River’ country.
The horse ride getaway was organised by Latrobe City Council and made possible with generous support from the Bendigo Bank Bushfire Appeal Program and Latrobe Community Health Service.
The group travelled to Mansfield by bus and after a quick lunch it was off to the stables to meet the horses. The guides explained some handy tips for first time riders, outfitted everyone with safety gear then chose the perfect horse according to their level of experience.
Heavy rainfall the previous week meant the itinerary was adjusted to suit river crossing levels. After an hour or so of riding, even the most nervous beginners were comfortable and as the horses were very well behaved, everyone had a safe and relaxing ride.
Participants tackled steep terrain, river crossings and observed Australian wildlife while enjoying the spectacular views of Victoria’s stunning High Country. Each night the riders enjoyed swimming, fishing and sitting around the camp fire enjoying home cooked meals at beautiful Lake Howqua.
Positive feedback was received from all participants, whether it was renewed confidence in their riding ability, satisfaction at having completed a physical and mental challenge or just enjoying a much needed break from the tasks required as part of their individual recovery from the fires.
All in all, the ride was a great success, in that it achieved its aim of providing a break for people from bushfire-affected communities in both challenging and peaceful surrounds.