The final hunt of 2018 for the Southern Eyre Hunt Club finally arrived on Saturday.
The sun shone, the wind blew and rain threatened on the horizon, but that was to be expected at the end of a winter sport best known for its rider’s dedication for all types of terrain and weather.
Eleven riders, surrounded by more than just a few family and club members, gathered at Morley Stud, North-east of Arno Bay.
Many had come prepared to camp overnight, enjoying the hospitality of Alex and Coralie Horne and soaking up the last moments of the season.
The riders greeted master, Tarnya Branson, on the field as she addressed them to let them know the outline of the run and encouraged happy hunting, especially to the two girls leaving the club to move interstate and overseas.
She then set the pace with husband Troy Branson, on borrowed mount Bronze Aussie, who was invited to ride alongside her at the front of the field.
Close behind was Deb Henderson on Appy alongside Sasha Povey on Jerry, and you could not wipe the smile from either one of their faces.
Robbie Dunn on Bandit dwarfed Alison Turnbull on her trusty Coffin Bay brumby Walt, but Walt and Alison made up for size in heart, giving every single jump everything they had.
Hayley McAndrew on Makai prepared to enjoy her last hunt on her very special horse before moving interstate.
She jumped in perfect unison with Issy Blackshaw on Herbie and both girls looked the part of a perfect hunting pair nearly the whole day.
Alongside them was Emma Doudle, whose courage has to be commended, as her horse Eve just wanted to go, go, go all day, and while an exhausted Emma carried on with a brave face, it must have been one of her less enjoyable runs of the season.
Props to Emma for her dedication and tenacity to see things through.
Emma Manthorpe on Storm continued to cruise the course for the first half of the run, she makes everything look easy, but it was pure grit that put her back up in the saddle after a couple of ungraceful dismounts in the second half.
Samantha Carmody was riding a borrowed mount Blondie, who did not put a foot (hoof) wrong all day.
Carmody is about to move to New Zealand and wanted to get in one last hunt before she left.
She and Blondie followed the hunt field, but were the speediest followers we have had all season.
Carmody and Blondie rode with full confidence and control as they sprinted across paddocks to keep up with car followers and meet the field whilst avoiding the jumping component of the course.
Stirrup Cup was enjoyed by all, and I was officially banned from doing it next year because everybody’s cups had several refills, and I was accused of trying to intoxicate the master.
The second half of the hunt went smoothly and ended on a high as the master dismissed the field and thanked them all for an incredible year.
Three cheers were shouted for the club as it closed off its season and the real festivities began.
Once horses were cared for and settled for the evening, riders and members gathered in the shearing shed for a BBQ tea and presentations.
The Joe Cooper Memorial Perpetual Trophy for Best Overall Junior Hunter was won by Herbie (Issy Blackshaw) and the Geoff Woodcock Memorial Perpetual Trophy for Best Overall Senior Hunter was won by King Bob (Tarnya Branson),
Perhaps the most deserving moment of the night went to Alison Turnbull who was invited by this year’s master to now wear the club colours on her jacket.
Alison’s dedication, determination and progress with Walt this year has seen her excel out in the field and her confidence soar, no one was more deserving of the honour.