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A-Z of planning Big Horse Trek: I think I’m on ‘Plan G’ now.

If you have followed all of my posts and story so far, you will know that the last few months have been a bit trying in terms of the plans I had for Big Horse Trek.

Firstly, the severe drought in QLD and NSW meant that I had to change my plan of trekking the horses from Cooktown down to Healesville. I decided to start from Healesville and see how far up I would get. The drought affects horse trekking majorly on the trail, as a horse can drink about 60L of water a day, and needs to eat a lot of grass. The drought is a big issue.

I thought I’d be safe enough to get from Healesville to Canberra the way the drought was going. And then maybe follow the Murray, or something, depending on how things were going.

Then at Christmas time, the fires hit. And hit hard. Although from what I can see from the fire maps, a lot of the Victorian section of the BNT may not have been directly burnt – until you get up towards the border of NSW that is… But the BNT is still closed for trekking registrations, and even once the growth starts to return to burnt areas, there will be increased risk of trees falling, and all sorts of other issues. It will be a while for the full BNT to be open/usable for long-distance horse trekking again (if ever?).

With only a few months left, I made a split decision to try for the Tasmanian Trail. I spent two weeks in mad planning mode – even buying a whole new set of expensive warmer sleep systems and meticulously planning the route and where I would do food drops. But then it all just got too expensive when I finally got the full quotes for horse transport, and started to factor in that I would not have enough money to get us back to Victoria at the end of it, and the difficulties in Tassie in finding agistment for horses (and accommodation for me). I figured for a trail that would only take about a month to do, and is predominantly following roads, I may as well not spend a huge amount of money and get stuck in Tassie, and try and map out my own route up in Victoria.

After I pulled the pin on Tasmania, I decided to return the money that had been given by my one and only financial sponsor. There were a few reasons for this that I won’t go in to here, but a part of it was that I did not feel I could provide them with what they were after anymore. This left me in a tough spot financially. There I was, with $200 left in the bank, and finishing up full time work a few days later.

It was very scary. Especially as my budgeting has had to change massively with each plan change, and I now have to factor in things like paying my car insurance & rego next month which I wasn’t going to have to do (originally, my car was going to be sent for scrap after driving it up to QLD). Add in a last minute need to change horse agistment last week, that is now also costing more than it had – money at the moment is not my friend.

Anyway, within a day of pulling out of Tassie, I found a locum physio job, which I started before I even finished with my (now finished) full time job. And I have just lined up another locum to work concurrently with the current one when that pulls back to less hours after next week.

So now instead of travelling up to Queensland or down to Tasmania (which would have literally been now!) and doing all of the major prep that still needs to be done (that I struggle to find the time to do when working so much), I’m working loads, trying to scrounge money, and still trying to plan a totally new horse trek. I would not have foreseen any of this 19 months ago, when my biggest issue seemed to be coming up with a name for the trek (oh to be back in that ignorant bubble of hope and excitement).

Saying goodbye to Banjo was a super hard decision too. His ongoing back issues were just too much to expect him to do any form of trek. He has the best home possible now with my friend who lives in Ballarat, but I miss him dearly, and am so sad I had to say goodbye.

You may be wondering where I am with the whole horse trek logistics now. At this stage, I am looking to leave mid-April for a 1-2 month trek with the two horses I have left (Dusty & Tyson) through parts of Victoria. Because I am now not following a set trail for horses (or anyone), it is quite a mission to try and find a safe place for us to set up camp each night, and ensure that there will be water for the horses. The other major factor for me is safety – I will be following some roads, and drivers are not at all savvy with horses these days, so trying to find as safe a route as possible (avoiding roads where I can) is paramount.

I am struggling to find the time to actually plan the route between working these new jobs, and also helping mum to packing up the house for sale (it’s going on the market in a couple of week’s time), as well as having to move the horses last minute (so I now don’t know where I will be able to do any training with the packsaddle, for which I still can’t even try out properly yet, as the britching and breastplate was too small for chunky Tyson). There have been a lot of packsaddle issues lately too, just to add to everything else!

With so much going on and wrong, my stress levels are through the roof. I have lost a lot of motivation. I’ve lost faith in myself and my ‘ability’ to even do this. I’m not eating as well. I’m not sleeping well. I’ve fallen quite sick but had to push through work still. I feel like I have let a lot of people down (sponsors, the charity, myself, people who have donated already). I had lost 7kg in the space of a few weeks, but now I have put on a few of those kg from the stress of everything that has been happening. I’ve dropped off on some of my own training, and feel massively guilty for this. The horses are not fit either, and I am struggling to find time to build up their fitness. But I keep trying to tell myself that it will not be as big a deal for a smaller trek with them, and the beauty of going on my own, means I can pace it as much as I need to. I will not be rushing, especially if we are all not as fit as I would have liked us to be.

But I am still trying. I almost don’t have a choice. Very shortly there will be no home, no job, so I am essentially being pushed out of the door (maybe not a bad thing).

Summary of my new plans at this stage:

What: Stage 1: Big Horse Trek (horse trek with 2 horses). Stage 2: TBC – I WILL be doing something else now. But after spending the last 19 months planning a horse trek and obtaining some amazing horse-related sponsors, I feel I need to do some form of horse trek, even if it is much smaller/shorter than the original plan. So, to compensate for this, I will be doing something else (sans horses) afterwards (but will need to re-group/ save a bit of $$ afterwards, so more details on once the horse trek is over).

Where: Victoria (more details on exact locations to come soon – I hope!)

When: at this stage to depart mid-April 2020

Why: I am STILL doing all of this to raise money for cancer research. My dad died of Cancer in 1996, and since then I have had so many family members, friends, and acquaintances affected. I want to do something meaningful with my life, and I hope that by raising as much money as I can, I can leave some little impact on the world. I am taking donations for the Love Your Sister charity via this link:

Please help out if you can. I haven’t had any donations in months. I feel like I am failing them.

Thank you once again to my ongoing, amazing sponsors for their support through all of these changes. And everyone stay tuned for more details as they come to hand!

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