This past two weeks was extremely hot in Mozambique. Daily,we could see how the grass gets drier and drier…. Not a good thing for a cattle farmer to see. Friday night we were blessed with 60mm of train, so we are ecstatic! While we were in South Africa this week, we had further rain so Know Eugene can’t wait to see the farm. I wanted to do a post on traveling via the Pafuri road, but it seems that the Limpopo River won’t allow us to cross so we need to plan another route to reach the farm.

Selma and Wheely in Casa del Toro

During the heatwave (I am sure that it was one) we couldn’t horse-riding, I just felt too bad for the horses and honestly didn’t want to get burned alive! So our interaction with them was a bit different, focused on grooming and just being around them. Selma thought it was all OK to invite them into the house!!

Seeing all these photos and the love between the children and the horses made me so grateful that we could bring them with us to Mozambique. I know this two horses for over 10 years, so I cannot imagine a farm without them.

It was exactly a year ago that we imported them! Crazy! I know. The borders are madness this time of year, but everything just worked out like that and it was now or never.

Importing livestock is supposed to be a hassle free operation, but nothing ever goes as planned, and we had to plan this operation to the T. Horses aren’t cattle, just saying.

I got the relevant import documents from our state vet in Maxixe and worked with a very nice veterinarian in SA, Anja. Required tests for the horses are Dourine and Glanders . Anja draw some blood for the tests and did the required vaccinations ( Equine Influenza and African Horse sickness). The results took about three weeks, but we were warned that it can take up to six weeks. I was crossing thumbs and toes to get everything in time.

Armed with the results, vaccination records and import permits, we started the process of pre-clearing the animals. This is when you do all the paperwork before arriving at the border. This usually takes hours off your import process at the border.

The horses were loaded and as we approached the border, it was a nightmare! The traffic was rerouted to accommodate all the holiday makers, but because Eugene was traveling with livestock, he could skip the traffic ques. The kids and I was detained at the border in the Que for 4 hours. The whole time I was panicking about the horses and where in the process they were.  Eugene was informed that the Agricultural inspector wasn’t at the border and he can’t proceed until the official was present. It felt like a nightmare! The poor horses. There was nothing we could do but wait. Eugene kept me posted and fed and watered the horses, but they took the inconvenience with style and composure. Remember,they are not used to being in confined spaces and this confined space was on a very busy border with curious people all around!

It took Eugene about 6 hours to clear customs.  It seems that all the trouble we went through to do pre-clearance were for nothing!  He drove all through the night, stopping once for an hour’s nap.

We joined them at Lindela, and the last 310km lay ahead of us. I was over joyed and yet going out of my mind with worry! How will they take the last 80km of dirt road after the long road?

Everything went smooth and a very tired Eugene, Wheely (Robyn) and De la Rey arrived at Toro Ranch.

They settled in like superstars!

They settled in like super stars!! The grazing is sweet and the wash we gave them cooled them down. You could see they were so happy to be free again! Amazing how these animals trust us….

I wanted to go for a ride so badly, but I knew it would be better for everyone involved if they take a couple of days to settle in and explore their surroundings.

Time for some sight seeing

I’ve heard people tell stories of horses always trying to go back where they came from, but it never happened to me so I just discarded it as an old wife’s tale, until we got a call at 5am saying our horses were spotted about 15km from the farm in the direction of the tar road. We immediately got up to go and fetch them and the plan was to ride them back. They had their own idea, we found their tracks leaving the main road about 25km from the farm. It rained a little earlier that morning so it was easy to see their tracks. We got out of the vehicle and tracked them through the bush for another 5km, where they turned further away from the main road when they crossed a small road. Eugene went back to fetch the vehicle and I kept on going in the same direction as the horses. In the meanwhile, we phoned our friends at camp and asked them to bring the horsebox,it would be better to load them.

Something must have spooked them, because they turned in their tracks and was heading my way with quite a forward going walk and it looked like they were very happy to see me! I was ecstatic! To bring them all this way to get lost or killed was unthinkable!

I am 100% sure that I was too nervous and Eugene was in a big hurry to get a very important message to our neighbors, so the horses refused to get into the horsebox. Plan B was to ride them back to the farm.Nathan, our friends visiting from SA’s son and I saddled the horses and we quickly discussed where exactly we where and planned our route so that everyone knew where we are. Turns out, we were on a different road. Our friends left with the horsebox. the plan was to go fetch us some water and breakfast. We only saw them again  4 hours later! We all got lost and there is no cell phone reception.  

Finding help

When we finally found Nathan’s parents, everyone was so tired and thirsty, but this wasn’t the end of our adventure. Nathan helped me to load the horses. This time they loaded like a dream and we thought we will just go the way we came…. But we must have missed a split in the road somewhere!

After about an hours driving, we got to an old hand pump. The water was so salty, but we drank it with delight, joking and laughing at ourselves. I couldn’t believe how this could happen! How  could misjudge ourselves with the roads?

Nathan had a crash course in horse riding and by the end of the day he could walk, trot and canter with ease! We saw some beautiful bushveld and best of all we had a day like no other on horseback!