Of cabbages and kings

Whilst many South Africans were watching the Durban July and the Sport of Kings, we were rounding the cabbage fields in Hartebeespoort in an Extreme Trail ride in aid of the Hartebeespoort Animal Society (HAWS).

Fashion was… different from what you would get at the Durban July. Boots, cowboy hats and bright yellow neon vests. I definitely think we had more fun though than the punters watching the races.

Last week over 400 horses and their riders descended on the small town of Fauresmith for the Endurance Nationals where there are wide open spaces stretching from horizon to horizon. You can feel like you can gallop onwards for what seems like forever.

There is something special about moving across the countryside on horseback, going wherever your hooves may take you. A chance to breathe freely. Unfortunately, more and more fences and roads appearing make that freedom difficult to find.

Land ownership is an issue for many South Africans and those who do own land feel an increasing need to protect it from others. Yet, there needs to be those land areas that remain free – owned by no-one and open to all. Land that simply exists – not to be farmed, developed or conserved but allowed to be. Where neighbours can wander through, greeting each other. Where children can explore and animals can graze.

Those spaces used to be considered community property, a shared resource that wasn’t a manicured park or fenced-in conservancy. Why does every piece of land need a stamp of ownership?

We rode this weekend through various pieces of land and the organizers had to get permission from land owners to make this happen. In other areas, farmers have erected huge electric fences, ensuring that no-one can enter their lands for any reason. The wide open spaces we love so much are diminishing and it becomes more difficult to find the room we once had for galloping endlessly. I hope as more pieces of land become allocated and stamped with ownership, at least some areas remain open for anyone to enjoy.