The last time I sat on a horse was about 19 years ago.
For some reason, I decided a 3 hour trail ride up a mountain would be a good idea.
Surprisingly - it was.
We arrived at Uncle Nev's about 30 minutes before our 1:30 ride was booked. Insurance forms were filled out, frilly paper hair nets were donned (resulting in flashbacks of when I worked in a Coles New World Delicatessen as a teenager) and hard hats were fitted.
Next, we were teamed up with trusty steeds to suit our riding experience. Or lack thereof. 19 years is a long time between rides. But it's like riding a bike, right?
I was given Judy, a dark brown beauty, whose coat was warm and soft and the colour of rich chocolate.
Our Western style saddles were as comfy as an old armchair and the horses seemed happy enough to be lugging us around. It took about 45 minutes to get everyone saddled up.
We headed off down the driveway, where safety cars stopped traffic for us to cross to the paddocks on the other side.
We stopped to let the horses drink from a dam, before beginning our climb into the hills of Mt Disappointment.
Kangaroos were everywhere, looking at us bemusedly as our convoy of about 20 horses plodded past their lunchtime feeding area. A couple of young guns were having a boxing match, oblivious to us spectators. One tiny joey watched us for a few minutes, with a mixture of curiosity and terror on his face, before diving headfirst back into the safety of Mum's pouch.
We saw a few Kookaburras and heaps of Crimson Rosellas along the way, and we could hear the twitters and tweets of many other small birds amongst the trees and shrubs.
Someone spotted a deer!
It took about an hour to get up to Uncle Nev's Homestead, where we stopped for afternoon tea. The horses were rested in a couple of corrals, whilst we were treated to spectacular views of the surrounding hills and plains as far as the eye could see, including the city skyline.
Sweet and savoury biscuits, a gooey delicious caramel slice and a warming cup of cocoa were the perfect sugary hit on a chilly afternoon.
Back on board, Judy and her equine pals were keen to get home for dinner. The descent was a bit more 'Man from Snowy River' than the ride uphill. We stepped over fallen logs, jumped over muddy puddles, and ducked under low branches. Our sure-footed mounts stepped carefully on rocky paths and down steep embankments.
Some horses were happy enough to plod along behind the one in front, others liked to stop for a mouthful of grass every chance they could. I'm looking at you, Judy!
The quiet sounds of the bush were occasionally interrupted by our guides telling our horses to Get Up!!
Get Judy Moving! was something I heard often.
JUDY! Get up!
Poor Bridget was even worse than Judy. I felt better knowing I wasn't the only one whose horse was in charge more than I was.
Some experienced riders branched off into the Fast Group, where they got to go for a run before joining us again to cross the road back to the ranch.
The plod of hooves on ground, the creak of leather and the snorts of our horses was beautiful to listen to. I couldn't take many photos as I
We got back about 5:30, pumped with adrenaline after a canter up the driveway. Actually, I was pumped - Judy was probably thinking about dinner, her pj's and a quiet night on the couch - or whatever the horsey equivalent is.
Thanks Judy and Uncle Nev's - that was a fun afternoon.
And the biggest surprise of all - my butt wasn't that sore the next day, thanks to those big ol' saddles. Much better than riding a bike, that's for sure.
What: Uncle Nev's Trail Rides
Where: 1115 Wallan-Whittlesea Road, Upper Plenty
Why: Trail ride, nature
How much: $80 for a 3 hour ride