Same drill in the morning and we headed out to the West though Ware's Yards and the other groups of horses and riders that were camping.

John Rudd had joined us the night before. John is the owner of Reynella Station, Reynella rides, and cousin of Kevin Rudd the PM. John led the ride that morning and was riding Campfire (my lame horse from the first 2 days) . It was interesting the way the ride had a different flavour for the day and John was a far more vocal "teacher" to the less experienced. Brendan and the rest of the crew, seemed used to this change and immediately stepped back from being in charge. It was very clear that John was the boss.

We climbed up the ridge we'd descended on our way into Ware's Yards the first day on horseback and back down onto Wild Horse plain. We skirted along the plain and watched as a small group of riders crossed through the centre of the plain and across the bog. We followed the plain north for a couple of hours then swung west and climbed over another ridge and down onto another plain, where we split into two groups again. John stayed with the slower group (and myself) while Monique went off with Brendan and the "cantering" group. The plan was to meet up at lunch. Brendan's group crossed over the plain ahead and mostly cantered along formed roads and tracks.

Monique and her group crossed a creek where there was a culvert and as they crossed Monique looked down and spotted a large duck, lying flat out on the grass as if to hide among the tussocks of grass ! Hiding from view….in…err….plain sight. They then cantered for quite a way then turned across the plain, crossing a bog and following an old fence line. Brendan tried to get the horses all in row cantering up towards the lunch stop, with limited affect. It makes you realize how hard it is to get different horses and riders to ride together in any sort of precision formation!

Lunch was under a stand of trees near a creek and our lasting memory of that spot was the "burrs" that would stick to every surface. We learnt that your Drizabone makes a very useful picnic rug and doesn't attract the burrs !

After lunch we headed south and climbed up a steep open ridge towards Tantangara mountain. As we climbed the weather started to change with huge black thunderheads rolling in from the north. By the time we hit the top of the ridge lightening was striking around us and it smelt like rain.

At that point John instructed us all to dismount and get our Drizabones on. As we all leapt off lightening stuck about 500m up the ridge with a deafening thunderclap. The horse all started, but none of them seemed scared enough to try and bolt - mountain horses and used to storms I guess ! So we quickly donned our Drizabones and mounted up. I was thankful for my Akubra (as compared to a helmet) as the rain started. The Akubra very neatly directed the rain onto my Drizabones rather than down the back of my neck. We turned East and continued to climb up onto Mt Tantangara in the rain.

I noticed Brendan reaching down and picking leaves off a plant which he then gave to each of us to try. Native "pepperbush". a very spicy leaf - somewhere between hot chilli and pepper - that only grow above 1400M.

We returned to camp at Ware's Yards a little wet but the weather cleared and after sorting the horses, we sat down to a cold beer.

It was New Year's eve and Iva had pulled out all the stops for dinner. Champagne and tempura prawns, spring rolls and various other appetizers. We sat around chatting then had a delicious dinner and a few more drinks. Monique bailed a little early but I stayed up until midnight. The highlight of the evening was Brendan and Iva doing a demonstration of "how to catch an Alpaca". Apparently a recent guest had tried to tell the team at Reynella that you have to use a special method to catch an Alpaca, and then proceeded to give a demonstration. Iva and Brendan's reproduction of the technique was hilarious. If you can imagine Iva on all fours using his arm as the alpacas neck, pretending to eat grass and then Brendan doing an impression of casper the friendly ghost……Well…you had to be there !

Soon after midnight we noticed a ghostly figure heading up the valley. As it approached it materialized into a person on horseback, only he had strung colored lights all over the horse and rider. As he approached the campfire he introduced himself as "The New Year's horse", then headed off up the valley to visit the other camps.

Various other people materialized throughout the night and dropped in for a beer.

Off to bed about 1am.

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