A group of local sports over at Merilla organised a picnic race meeting - all amateur - so I entered my horse Murl in the straight six furlongs.
The venue was a cleared paddock on Chisholm's Merilla station so Hec and I rode over.
There was a happy gathering of local folk making a picnic day of it and quite a field of horses and ponies. It was all for charity with a few modest trophies to be won.
"Where's the course?" I asked the organiser.
"Right here," he replied. "The starter drops the flag in front of that motor car; you go between those two gum trees and the finishing post is up there at that other motor car."
The course looked okay to me so I walked Murl around to keep her warm until ready to saddle up again.
The first event was a short dash for ponies '14 hands and under'. Half a dozen starters scampered up the track with much urging and shouting from the crowd.
Another race followed, then the organiser shouted: "Righto. Saddle up for the main event, 15 hands and over."
There was a draw for starting positions and luckily, I thought, I drew the outside. I knew Murl would not be happy if jammed in a bunch of those hacks.
There were six starters - mostly stockhorses with a couple of likely looking gallopers among them, but I didn't know any of them.
A couple of riders equipped with whip and spur had their steeds psyched up as we ambled down to the start and at the line-up they were doing a bit of a prance but Murl stood with her usual docility - the lop ears forward in anticipation.
"I'll call 'Are yer ready', then 'Go' and drop the flag," said the starter.
Some of the horses were still doing a bit of a shuffle around as we lined up, and the starter called, "Are yer ready.....
The flag dropped and we were off. I figured I would run with the field until we passed the gum trees and then flat tack for the finish.
But coming up to the trees the skullduggery began and the two riders inside me were bearing out to push me off course or head first into one of those big gum trees.
I wanted no interference and the gum tree was coming up fast. I decided the best thing was to veer out and go outside the gum tree, hoping to make up for any lost time.
Then as I flashed toward the tree line - shock, horror - there right in front of us was a heap of old iron junk, half hidden in the grass.
I had taught Murl to jump. I'd figured that with the lop-eared roman-nosed badge of a hunter she might be a leaper, and she had taken to it well.
Now there was only one thing for it. Too late to swing away at racing speed; it was do or die and hurdle that heap of junk.
I knew she had seen it and was ready to take it in her stride so I gave her the rein and a hit, and over she went at full gallop.
She stretched out like the thoroughbred she was and left the rest of the field behind at the flog.
We took the finish flag and cantered back to the organisers, ready for any sort of protest about 'going off course' but there was none so we left it at that. I'd beaten the field so was in no mood to start complaining about their interference.
"Where'd you get that little steeplechaser?" the organiser wanted to know.
"She's no steeplechaser," I said. "She's a galloper, but needs must when the devil drives you off course!"
"Blimey," he said with a smirk. "We just thought you were showing off."
There were some more novelty events for the ponies - a barrel race, a boy and girl relay and a thread-the-needle race. With afternoon tea, hot scones with apricot jam and thick cream, it was a fun day and everyone finished up in good spirits.
"Righto," was the call, "We've got the trophies here for the winners."
We lined up for the prizes and when it came my turn, what did they give me? A pair of silver spurs!
"Never use the damn things," I exploded.
"Well never mind, take em home and hang em over the mantlepiece."
Spurs! Absolutely forbidden in our realm of horsemanship. Dad used to say in his philosophical way: "Spurs tell you more about the bloke who is wearing them than the horse he uses them on. A good horseman never needs to draw blood, even on the laziest of horses."
Did you know the Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up below.