Happy (Sarie Marais), once a rogue and originally from Wilpena Pound, had been pulled off the meat truck at several stations to see if anyone could ride her. Next time horses were sent on the meat truck she was loaded again. Casual stockmen had burned her with cigarettes to get her razzed up. I thought this was a mere tale. But no. There were small white marks on her withers which I thought were birdcatcher spots but were they? She would go nuts if she saw or smelled a cigarette (as I found, when I rolled one and lit it while riding her one day, I smoked then). She was at Leigh Creek S.A. when I bought her to breed from. Sent by truck. Trucks did a relay and her reputation was such they backed up to stables to load and unload her as no one wanted to touch her or try and lead her (the name given to her was Hellbitch – HB, which I decided should be changed to something that sounded the same but was more complimentary!) She was sent to me with a giant new hackamore. The sort the pulls a horse over backward (or breaks the lower part of their face off).
I thought if she is a Waler, all these behavioural issues are human caused nonsense, and so it turned out to be. She was a grand mare, one in a trillion. I never used the hackamore. She did, as it transpired, have no mouth and was a chronic bucker and bolter, so a 9th Lancer bit and an old pair of spurs (returned from Beersheba once bought for peanuts at a farm sale) turned out the magic gear. Spurs to stop her running backward a million miles an hour or bucking madly when you mounted. I did put on some interesting displays (without meaning to). I found yelling loudly was the best way to stop her. No yelling, she simply would not ever stop bucking, and she could buck like a champ, and also rear to the point of no return amongst it all.
She never got me off, but once the initial 5 minutes of bedlam finished for the rest of the day she was gold. The best ever after stock. She was so good after cattle she left me literally standing, going out super fast from under me a couple of times, until I realised how quick she was. Could turn on a sixpence and give you change as they say. Incredible. Long distance rides. Never shod – at least five farriers tried but her hooves were too hard to get a nail in.
She was a grand mare.
In the photo below are me (Janet), Happy, and my niece Maggie at Westbury Show in about 2003.
For this show, I took her down the road and mounted. Buck, buck, yell, yell. never touched her mouth. I only put one spur on as the theory is, if one side of the horse moves, the other side follows. The trick is to alternate sides. It’s pure laziness in truth to only strap one spur on. Never used them but she knew when you had them on, also the old LH spurs are tiny rowels anyway. Mine were rusty as and one had a rowel busted.
Once she stopped the initial mounting ruckus, she was a most tractable mare for the rest of the day. One could dismount and remount without a whiff of trouble. I rode her back to the show ground.
She had just won Quietest Child’s Mount, at age 31. With child (a novice) aboard, she opened and shut a gate, walked over a tarp fluttering in a breeze, carried things including a mock lamb (wool stuffed bag), was sat on back to front, slithered off over the tail, had a lively small dog run about her yapping, and had the novice sit under her tummy and crawl out between her back legs. Walked over a steep narrow wooden bridge etc.
At this show she also won a jumps class and something in hunter class etc etc.
Not bad for a dangerous old rogue. We had her EFA measured and she was 14.1 and 3/4 so technically galloway height.
Janet Lane, October 2022