Farewell Wetlands

      6/6/2024       Next-->

My youth in Bulawayo was spent on the back of a horse. We virtually lived at Leander Riding School in Matsheumhlope, where our days were glorious days, especially during the school holidays.

Our school principal was the stern but lovable, Lionel Archel, always resplendent in his beige jodhpurs, bow tie, a white shirt and his impeccable bowler hat. He kept a tight control over his stable and his errant riders, but somehow combined professionalism with fun and we would live for our riding lessons and those halcyon days 'mucking around in the stables'.

Although schooling the horses was fabulous, the outrides were our absolute favourite. Our territory was from Colne Road to Arnold Way, a vast, verdant wilderness with very few houses, just miles of soft terrain to wander through, sometimes at a full gallop!!

The landscape was different then, towering blue gums, soft meadows complete with wicked grass tussocks to try and trip your horse. There were wetlands, floodplains, marshes and swamps in the rainy season and lots and lots of dust in the summer!!

One wondered why jodhpurs were always white or beige as one inevitably came home from an outride nut brown and ecstatic.

The Pony Club was on the Esigodini Road, near CBC and the authorities were amazingly involved. Pony Club Shows, dressage and jumping events, polocrosse and engrossing entertainment for the enthusiastic young 'riding crowd' !!

On the Circular Dive was a steeplechase course, and dozens of riders from all over the country would descend on the course, to take part in very tumultuous steeplechases. Once a month the very active Pony Club would arrange a Paper Trail (the fun equivalent of a fox hunt) and every able bodied rider would make sure not to miss this fascinating morning. The adults would start in true style with their red jackets, black velvet hats, and a stirrup cup!! The rest of the motley crew would do their best to stay seated over the makeshift log jumps and somehow make it alive to the end of the course.

A terrifying but exhilarating experience for a young rider and I would get home so exhausted, my Mom would have to pull my riding boots off while I was prone on the carpet, already half asleep from the wonderful frenzied day!

Today that part of Bulawayo has erupted in a massive building boom. a multitude of Mansions side by side with cottages, sprawling across the landscape which was once soft and free, now a dense suburb with builders and bulldozers.

Thank you to Lionel Archel and his patient wife Lily who brought immense happiness to hundreds of young horse lovers, whose lives were changed for ever from that wonderfully fulfilling experience - The Art of Horsemanship.

Lovemore Muzeza worked for the Joubert family in Turk Mine for many years. Lovemore was most loyal, and absolutely invaluable as Dave Joubert's right hand man.

Lovemore is seeking employment and his mobile number is 0786579433.