Raised on horses
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.