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A Tribute to Vale Gumnut

Released 31/08/2012

Sadly, the RDA RT&LH Centre's first carriage driving pony, Gumnut, died in early August at the age of 32.

Gumnut was a 12 hand registered Australian pony, bred by the Yeo family in Sydney.  Rosemary Laing purchased him in March 1992 as a stallion from Raymond Terrace, where he had been kept in a series of backyards.  He was well loved by the local children and driven around the streets in a little gig by his owner.  However, following a series of breakouts in search of mares, one of which took him across the Pacific Highway, it was decided to sell him and Rosemary was lucky enough to buy him.

Rosemary had wanted a pony and sulky ever since she was a child, and when she heard that some RDA Centres were starting carriage driving, it made her keen to introduce it at Raymond Terrace.  Of course, before Gumnut could be used for RDA he had to be gelded.  As it turns out, he was just as well mannered as a stallion, apart from the screaming out to let all the horses along the way know that he was passing.  Rosemary also had to learn to drive him, and in this she had very good tutors in Karl Hvirf and Owen Maytom, as well as members of the Hunter Horse Driving Society.

Gumnut was accredited in early 1993 and started his RDA career both at Stroud and Raymond Terrace.  Gumnut's official introduction was at Stroud Show that year, performed by the then Governor of NSW, Peter Sinclair, who was the Patron of RDANSW at the time.

GUmnut went on to represent RT&LH at five Sydney Royal Easter Shows, including the last at the old showground and the first at Homebush.  He won best RDA Driving Pony twice, Best RDA Turnout once, as well as many other placings.  When he did the lap of honour wearing his blue sash, he really played to the crowd, arching his neck and showing himself off.  At the old showground, the stable door was too high for him to get his head over, so he put both front feet on the rail of the wall next to the door so he could look out.

He celebrated his 21st birthday the same year as RDA RT&LH Centre, and enjoyed his own special cake at the celebrations.

Rosemary drove Gumnut at many shows and Combined Driving events, and she could not have had a better pony to learn with.  The only thing that fazed him were the pigs!!

Gumnut retired from driving at the age of 22, but went on to teach many small children to ride, including Rosemary's grandchildren.  Her eldest grandaughter used to come up from Sydney every year to ride him at Stroud Show in Tiny Tots class, where they graduated from also ran when she was two to the blue ribbon event at the age of five.  Unfortunately, he suffered from Queensland itch, which eventually led to him being sent over the range each summer, where he was enjoyed by families at Tenterfield and Tamworth over several years.  He was also loaned to families at Stroud where he was a regular at Pony Club and learnt new skills such as drafting and jumping.  He was a perfect small child's pony, but did not tolerate sloppy riding.  If the thought his riders were getting too casual he would give a gentle shy or pigroot to deposit them on the ground and then stand and wait for them to get back on.

Gumnut finished his days in the good care of Wendy Murray (RT&LH Coach) where he was enjoyed by her grandchildren.  He died peacefully in his sleep, as far as we can tell - the end he deserved.  He gave so much pleasure to so many people.

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© 2014 RDA Raymond Terrace & Lower Hunter
PO Box 624 Raymond Terrace, NSW 2324
'Irrawang Park', 3219 Pacific Highway, Raymond Terrace
Phone: (02) 4987 1402
Fax: (02) 4987 1434
Email: raymondterrace@rdansw.org.au
NDIS Service Provider Number: 31971831