African shoestrings – Lesotho Day Eleven
The Pony trek itself was something else.
Now as corny as it sounds, I always get the dude horse.
I once rode a horse that flatly refused to go anywhere, another time, a horse that would only go in one direction, home, which is fine at the end of a ride but is a bit inconvenient at the beginning!
The last four legged animal I had ridden was a mule in the Grand Canyon and she was the only one that slipped and stumbled, generally near the edge of a trail where there was not much else between you and the rocky ground some 600 metres below.
These ponies however are different; they’re Basotho ponies.
The Basotho pony is the result of cross breeding small Javanese and full sized European Horses. Strong, sure-footed and docile it has been a popular mode of transport for many villagers, particularly in the highlands, since the early nineteenth century and now used for tourists in several places in Lesotho.
Strong, sure footed and docile were words that seemed heaven sent if only it were true of Black Label, the pony that was selected for me by Mick.
Sure it was strong but it was also disobedient, frisky and clumsy. My wife, Sue’s pony, Fox was good, as was Olive’s pony. Olive and Petra, two young German girls (well a lot younger than us anyway) were our companions together with two local guides Clement and David (a different one) and a packhorse or is it a packpony?
Anyway Petra’s pony, Black Power was even worse than mine. Slow, stubborn, disobedient and almost paranoid, if a pony can be such a thing, of having her arse smelt at any opportunity by Black Label. I was bringing up the rear behind Petra and Black Label just couldn’t help himself. Even after Clement changed the order so that Petra was two ponies in front, Black label would make a beeline for Black Power’s rear end. The matter was made even worse by Black Power’s stubborn insistence to go at a speed half that of everyone else.