Bridleless ride delivers unique South West experience

Robin Lonsdale from Donnybrook and Robbi Bowman from Nannup have successfully completed a 370 kilometre horse trek called 'Bridleless to Bridgetown'.
Robin Lonsdale from Donnybrook and Robbi Bowman from Nannup have successfully completed a 370 kilometre horse trek called 'Bridleless to Bridgetown'.

Robin Lonsdale from Donnybrook and Robbi Bowman from Nannup have successfully completed a 370 kilometre horse trek called 'Bridleless to Bridgetown', riding their horses bridleless for 15 days around the south west of WA.

Lonsdale rode her Friesian horse, Jasper, and Bowman rode Spook, her Arabian.

The women - dubbed 'R&R' for the ride - reached Bridgetown on Saturday afternoon, and rode along the main street to Scotts Tavern, where the horses were welcomed into the beer garden.

There, R&R shared a meal and a celebratory champagne with their supporters.

"We rode without anything on our horses' heads - no bridle, halter or reins," explained Lonsdale.

"Over the past 15 days, the horses have encountered everything from emus, aggressive guard alpacas, and the odd bunyip, to semi-trailers and huge augers.

"When unsure or frightened, the horses look to us for their security, and we've had no problems with lack of control."

The trek began in Donnybrook on September 28, and the women rode via Balingup to Rosa Brook, then south to the western end of the Warren Blackwood Stock Route on the Milyeannup Coast Road.

They followed the Stock Route via Jalbarragup to Nannup, continuing on to Willow Springs and Bridgetown.

"Riding this trek allowed us to appreciate the great many wildflowers along the way. I recommend travelling by horse to truly absorb the wonders of the spring bush," said Bowman, who kept a photographic record of the wildflowers.

They were supported the entire way by Morrie Goodz, Lonsdale's partner, who managed the logistics of moving their camps.

Lonsdale recognised his contribution.

"Without the support Morrie provided, along with his logistical assistants and our camp hosts, completing a trek like this would be impossible," she said.

"Significant recognition is needed for our very patient logistics co-ordinator, Morrie. He was a god-send and put his life on hold to help us realise this dream," Bowman said.

"In light of all the physical, mental and weather challenges, seeing the riders and horses come together to achieve their goals made the trek all the more worthwhile" Goodz added.

With 65 kilometres to go, Spook was retired from carrying a rider for a week, and a remount, Fibber, was offered by Anna Venter.

Venter accompanied Lonsdale from Nannup to Willow Springs, successfully removing Fibber's bit and riding him bitless for the first time.

Bowman rode Fibber on the final day from Willow Springs to Bridgetown, converting him to bridleless along the way.

The three women rode into Bridgetown together on Saturday afternoon, after calling into the Wheatley Camp on Brockman Highway, which is the trail head of the Warren Blackwood Stock Route.

Being the first riders to complete an entire section of the Stock Route, 'R&R' were welcomed to the trail head, after which they rode up the main street of Bridgetown to complete the 370 kilometre, accompanied by Venter on Fibber.

R&R posted their progress on their 'Bridleless to Bridgetown' Facebook page, as time, energy and internet reception permitted.

As part of their journey, the pair raised awareness and funds for Beyond Blue and BARRC, two charities both riders resonate with and support.

Lonsdale, who has had depression for the last 15 years, supports Beyond Blue and the 'Act Belong Commit' message.

"Being as active as we've been over the last 15 days has given me more energy and interest in life. Working towards a goal always helps me feel better," she said.

The challenges of the ride have left both riders invigorated in spirit, with Bowman summing up their experience.

"Everyone needs a dream and every step towards it, no matter how twisty the path, is worthy of celebration!"

This story Bridleless ride delivers unique South West experience first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.