Monday, March 4, 2024

Me, my horse, my dog — on the Ride for Hope

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A woman, a horse and a curious kelpie are on a 900km journey together.

The trio stopped for a steak lunch courtesy of the Tattersalls Hotel in Casino today, Tuesday, January 9.

Rachel Hill said she couldn’t do the ride from Sydney to Brisbane without her horse, Chase or Cricket the dog.

Rachel enjoys the steak. Chase chomps on the grass at the back of the pub while Cricket looks for some action — his bright eyes follow Rachel, waiting for a command.

Rachel is in Casino for a few nights on her journey to raise awareness about mental health. She’s been on the ride for 15 weeks so far.

Her Ride for Hope was sparked by the suicide of her partner – a former jockey.

She knew her partner of five years had some childhood trauma but she didn’t think he was suicidal.

“The ride is helping me cope with losing him,” she said.

“It’s time to think.”

The uncertainty of where she will sleep and eat doesn’t seem to bother Rachel.

“If I could live on the back of a horse I would.”

Rachel hints at some major issues she has to face in her life.

She has previously done a ride to highlight domestic violence – something she has experienced.

For now, though, life is simple with Chase and Cricket as they pass through Casino and then head on to Kyogle.

“It’s an amazing journey but it has its downs,” she said.

In Coffs Harbour her swag and some other goods were stolen. She also had to swap her horse Flash for Chase.

Chase is a trotter and was donated by Harness Racing NSW.

“When I left Grafton, Chase tripped on the tar and took a chunk out of his knee,”

As a trotter he’s used to pulling things but isn’t used to having weight on top of him, she said.

Rachel is looking for another horse for the last leg of the ride.

“I don’t want Chase tripping over again.”

Renee Opryszko from Casino Racing Club welcomed the trio and they camped at the edges of the racecourse for the night.

Today, the Tatts offered her a steak lunch and a night in a comfy bed at the hotel.

Rachel is grateful for the support she’s had on the ride.

When she was riding along the Summerland Way, she became a little heat exhausted and hungry, she said.

Rachel, Chase and Cricket turned into a property to ask if they could camp by the cattle yard at the front gate.

A man came out of the house.

“I was hoping to see you,” he said.

He had seen Rachel’s progress on her Facebook page and let them stay at his property for the night.

The next day, a woman came by when Rachel was riding along Summerland Way close to Casino.

“She gave me a burger and a Coke, “ Rachel said.

Along the way on the Ride for Hope, Rachel has had many conversations with people about mental health and suicide.

The thefts at Coffs Harbor forced Rachel to get a car to keep her gear in. This means she rides, leaves Chase in a paddock and then has to go back to get the car.

It slows the journey but it means her stuff is secure.

She plans to take the Lions Road out of Kyogle on her way to Brisbane.

What she needs now is a swag and a possible horse to ride.

Her fundraising page is raising money for a mental health organisation. She hasn’t decided which charity to donate to yet.

Rachel leans over a ledge at the Tatts to give Chase a carrot. He stamps his foot, either in excitement or impatience when he spots the treat. He gobbles the carrot out of Rachel’s hand.

“I have no plan when this is over,” Rachel said.

Her tummy is full, she has a warm bed for the night – and the decisions of tomorrow seem far away for all of them.

You can follow Rachel’s journey on her Facebook page.

This article appeared on on 9 January 2024.


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