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Hell Ride on Sebastian!

Wundowie — 2000-03-03

For a few days now we have been taking our camels for rides again to see if they remember everything they were taught. Today I would like to ride on Sebastian’s back and tie Kadesch, Istan, Jafar and Hardy to Sebastian’s saddle in order to test the camels’ behaviour in the group. “If I were you I would start with Sebastian and Hardy alone,” Tanja suggests. After some consideration I agree with her, it is better for safety reasons to ride out with only two camels.

I mount the camels as usual and give Sebastian the order “epna” to stand up. He reacts promptly, jumps up and off we go to the near forest. Tanja walks alongside of us to be able to interfere in case of emergency. Already after a few minutes I feel safe and lead Sebastian around some trees and shrubs. Hardy, attached to Sebastian with a rope around his neck, walks behind listlessly. Suddenly Sebastian slows down. “Walk up! Walk up, Sebastian!” I order him with a firm voice. But Sebastian doesn’t react. After several futile attempts to prompt him to pick up pace I ask Tanja to find me a stick so I can slap him on his rear part. She passes me a thin dried-up twig. Again I order my mount to move faster, this time using the stick as a crop. Although the stick breaks immediately, Sebastian accelerates at once to normal marching speed. “Good, Sebastian, very good!” I praise him. But no sooner am I happy than he starts zigzagging between the bushes taking a bite of leaves here and there. He appears totally indifferent to my commands, because he does whatever he pleases. Sebastian seems to have forgotten who’s the boss, and for an expedition through the Australian outback, that’s a true disaster. We’ll have to cover at least four to five kilometres per hour to make headway. Besides, it is totally unacceptable to have our leader act so ill-mannered.

“Find me another stick!” I shout to Tanja while trying to get Sebastian to move on. The gravel road is now slightly declining as Sebastian picks up pace. “Yes, wonderful, good boy!” I rejoice. Apparently my praise has encouraged him, because he’s becoming faster yet. Again I’m happy, but when he falls into a light trot, I tighten the rein just to be sure. But not on his life will Sebastian slow down, on the contrary, he accelerates to a light gallop. “Easier, Sebastian!” I shout. As if I had given him command to go into higher gear, he increases his speed to a mad gallop. And when he tops it off with a series of leaps and bounds, I start getting terrified. With my right hand I hold on to the pommel frantically while my left pulls the rein so tight that he stretches his head up high like a cobra. Suddenly, this is not funny any more, he races across the coarse gravel with uncontrolled speed when the saddle starts slipping. I notice that Hardy has trouble keeping pace, he is being dragged behind like a flag in the wind. It’s only a matter of time until I fall, and even if I survive the fall from this height and at this speed, Hardy’s stamping feet will finish me off. My heart is racing and suddenly I’m struggling for my life.

“Stand! Stand! Stand!” I scream.
My hands and my lung are aching. Then, the busy Great Eastern Highway appears only about 500 metres in front of us, and Sebastian races up to it with unbroken speed. It can take mere seconds until the saddle slips away to the right and I end up under those racing hooves, or under one of the Road Trains when Sebastian crosses the highway. My mind goes racing: “Shall I jump off?” All of a sudden I remember the admonitory words of our riding teacher on the island of Lombok. “If your stallion bolts, you can brake him only by tearing the rein to the right or to the left! Always remember that!”

A short way off the highway I tear Sebastian’s nose leash to the right in a flash which instantaneously makes him continue his gallop in a big arch. With all the strength I have left, I keep his nose leash pulled to one side, and the circle gets narrower until Sebastian finally comes to a halt. He minces about and snorts like a wild stallion, on the brink of starting up again. “Usch! Usch! Sebastian!”, I yell with burning lungs to make him sit down. I hear Tanja screaming from far. She races like a sprinter along the gravel road, and a few moments later she has reached us breathing heavily. At once, she grabs Sebastian’s halter and orders him with a harsh voice to sit. He gives in at last and goes down slowly, but reluctantly. In towering rage I jump off and yell at him, aware that I have escaped by the skin of my teeth. I tremble and shake all over and have problems keeping my knees under control. Tanja and I rush into one another’s arms. After a short breather, I mount Sebastian again. Although I’m aware of the risk, this is the only chance to show him once and for all who is the boss here. I’m jolly glad that he understands, and we reach the farm without any further incidents. It is only now that I feel the pain. The result of this hell rise is a luxated middle finger.

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