Thursday, February 16, 2006

Raised on horses

mozambique showjumping team circa 1967Mozambique show-jumping Team circa 1967
(my mother second from right)

For those of you who haven’t followed my meandering stories over the past few months, you may want some context to ’Beetle Brooch’ :

I was raised on horses by a mother who probably loved her horses more than anything else. Our garden in Matola, just outside Lourenco Marques (now Maputo), was large enough for a paddock and four stables, not unusual in colonial times. At various times of the year, when there was a major show-jumping event at the Centro Hipico, she’d spent most of the week there, sometimes sleeping in the stables with Liberette, her favourite horse, rather than returning home in the evening. Much of my weekend at those times would be spent at the showground where I was mostly left to my own devices. I’d spend time in the stables, wander around the grounds and buildings, talk to stable hands and show-jumpers, watch show-jumping, visit the Maputo Zoo next door, play with other kids ‘abandoned’ there by their parents, etc. I had a great time - the sort of time that comes from total freedom of a sort most kids aren’t allowed to enjoy these days.

So-called 'international' show-jumping events were held there several times a year. The three countries represented were Mozambique, South Africa and Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The South Africans always won and the Rhodesians were usually second. My mother was a member of the Mozambique show-jumping team for several years. Spending so much time there, I got to meet some of the most famous South African show jumpers of the time. People like Bob Grayston who taught my mother to ride (his name will be familiar to those who know Johannesburg’s northern suburbs), Gonda Betrix (Butters), Mickey Louw, the Myburgs and Wendy Cochrane who later married Bob Grayston. Many years later I discovered that Wendy is my wife’s second cousin.

I’ve deliberately not made any obvious puns about horses, stable-hands and riding even though it was difficult not to.


Blogger Rob7534 said...

I applaud you for your strong will power!

11:49 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

My will power is non-existent - it's my being mocked for my weak puns that held me back.

1:47 pm  
Blogger xmichra said...

hehee!! Poor Nomad!!

Interesting activity your mother had. Do you still watch races or events now??

2:08 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

I exaggerate a bit when I say she preferred her horses to everyone else but I'm not far off wrong. But, she definitely preferred them to my father!

Since she died in 1971 when I was 11, I've not really had much to do with horses. Every now and again, I've gone riding/jumping and loved it but I have no urge to ride unless I chance upon circumstances where horse-riding is an option.

2:19 pm  
Blogger CTG said...

I'm just plain scared of horses. Ever since an incident when I was about 8, I've just had no desire to ride a horse. And I think they have beady eyes too, hehe. Nice pic, Nomad. Take care. CTG

3:00 pm  
Anonymous patita said...

ah, I'm from a town known for horses--they attract an interesting variety of people. glamorous but earthy, I guess. and I comment you on your willpower to tell the story straight (ooh, I've gone and done it myself now) ;)

5:55 pm  
Blogger andrea said...

I spent my youth reading about your lifestyle. I was obsessed with horses from age 11 to about 15 or 16. Made everyone around me crazy and I had to do a whole lot of babysitting to afford riding lessons.

7:47 pm  
Blogger Caroline said...

I never really got into horses - I discovered boys too soon ;-)

But in the last few years all my new female friends seem to have spent THEIR teen years oogling horses... so I seem to be attracted to people who went through the horse thing without having gone that way myself...

oh dear it is hard to avoid the puns... why oh why do you want to avoid them?

No I'm not nagging you...

9:39 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

ctg: I have lots of scars and long-gone bruises from accidents as a result of horse riding but when you grow up with them you are told to get up and get back on which dispels the fear.

patita: that's probably a good way of describing them. In S Africa and the UK, the tend to be rather well-heeled too. By colonial standards, we certainly were not but my mother's background was.

andrea and caroline: lots of girls seem to go through that phase. I had tons and tons of horsey books to read as a child that were hand-me-downs from my mother's teenage years. My daughter flirted VERY briefly with the idea but ,as usual with her, the interest was VERY fleeting!

all of you: if you really want me to, I'll devote an ENTIRE post to weak puns about me and horses! :-)

veriword: sauswlmg - sausage would like to meet guy? Mmmm....sounds decidedly sexual to me!

10:23 pm  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

Whaaa. What happened to my comment yesterday?

I wrote saying how I sat in a car, waiting for a friend who was buying fruit juice.

I sat in the wrong car. I thought it was my friend's car.

It was an old man's car. He tried to get into the car, I argued with him. He argued with me.

I thought he was mad. He thought I was mad.

He was more right than me.

12:15 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

guyana-gyal: it is SO irritating when that happens! Anyway, glad you re-posted it - that's very funny!

1:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i would like to know who reluctant nomad is since I knew the rider Maria Fernandes on the grey horse (in the black and white photo.

6:26 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

Now that is VERY interesting!

Email me on

7:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to ride with Bob and Wendy at Grayston stables. I left SA just before Bob died, I do not knwo much about what happened after that. Do you know what happened to Simon Cochrane, Wendys son? I would love to find him. He must be related to your wife. Thanks in anticipation, Carol

3:15 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

I can try and find out for you. Please email me on

6:15 pm  
Anonymous buy cialis said...

Interesting story, I always wonder, why sons let their parents to die alone in a institution ? parents fault ? parents thought that if they have children they will not die alone ? this is just wrong.

3:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Bob Grayston was my nan's brother....although I never met him

4:41 pm  
Anonymous Muriel said...

Hi to the last comment. My grandmother's sister was Bob's mother which made him my first cousin once removed. So you and I are related.

9:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi - that's wonderful. My aunt is still alive - bob's niece.

5:53 pm  

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