Tuesday 23rd of July 2024
Pumbaa Goess-Saurau

Pumbaa, The Gap Yah Eventer Part 8


She’s back! Our intrepid Gap Yah Eventer, Pumbaa Goess-Saurau, files this latest blog with news of her equestrian pursuits from her time in the U.S & Southern Hemisphere!

“The English Winter. An internationally renowned season, or so the English would like to think. We consider our climate, one of ‘rain, rain and more rain’ to be a topic worth in-depth conversation, considerable sorrow and the perfect excuse to complain incessantly.

So this year, my first year of freedom as I embark on the ever-clichéd concept of the Gap Year, I decided to skip the weather and flee the country. A pretty sensible move if you ask me.

From October 1st through till December 21st I was 3000 miles away on the other side of the world, discovering just where the sun has been hiding from us Brits all these years.

My best friend, Marina Jodrell, and I went to 4 countries in the Americas; The USA, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. I can also proudly tell you that we have managed to pony prance in all 4 of these countries.

Our first equestrian experience was in Henrietta, Texas, where we worked alongside some ‘Real Cowboys’ on a cattle ranch.


They were dubbed with this particularly noble title by Marina, who on seeing one of them dressed in double denim, and the other in a red checkered shirt, decided they were in fact 100% authentic cowboy (they were also called Rowdy and Sunny, and let’s be honest, you can’t really get much more cowboy than that).

The horses we used to round up the cattle were of the nameless variety, but that soon changed when obvious names became apparent for them: I had Fast-y and Marina had Slow-y. That being said, on turning for home Slow-y quickly became Not-So-Slow-y. Riding in a Western Saddle was a very novel experience – one that I would be all too happy to repeat at home.


Our second horse related stop was Arizona, where we went hunting with The Grand Canyon Hounds. The meet was on an 80,000 acre piece of property and any form of fencing was scarce.

Totally bizarre. It seemed to us that the horses had been given a Mountain Goat 101 on how to get across the terrain though. If I had, God forbidden, tried to take The Wonder Moose across those rocks I think it’s safe to say he would have killed us both!

In Argentina we were working on the amazing polo farm El Remanso, just outside of Buenos Aires in Lobos.

To call the experience eye-opening would be a colossal understatement; the Argentines have got life right. It would be fair to assume that bringing 32 ponies in every morning and then having 8 of said ponies fully tacked up and warmed up every 7 minutes would be pretty stressful.

For the mere mortal this may be true, but not for the Argentine. No, the word on every Argentine’s lips is ‘tranquilo’ (roughly translated as ‘relax’); they’re so laid-back, they’re practically horizontal. Yet, everything is completed on time, no hassle, no fuss, no problem: they have life well and truly sussed.

That being said, learning the polo ways was a little stressful. Their tack is completely different to ours, as is their bandaging technique and their use of the tail knot.

Seeing as my Spanish doesn’t stretch much further than ‘gracias’ and ‘tequila’, this made for some rather confusing ‘lessons’. 


I put ‘lessons’ in inverted commas because my ‘teachers’ (take note of further use of commas), the Argentine grooms, would just shout rapid fire Spanish at me and then look totally exasperated when I merrily continued doing whatever they had just told me not to do, or vice versa.

My bandaging lesson, for example, was one of the most testing experiences of my life.

With a small audience enjoying the show, I re-bandaged a pony 3 times (each bandage looking exactly the same as the last) being told it was too ‘this’ or too ‘that’.

However, seeing as I couldn’t translate what ‘this’ or ‘that’ was we reached a bit of an impasse. I never knew that bandaging had the potential to move a girl to violence, but it’s safe to say that one of the grooms nearly ended up with a bandage strategically placed somewhere rather unpleasant.


I have now been home for 3 weeks and am fully back into the swing of things. On landing in Heathrow at 6.30 am after a 14 hour flight I arrived home to a brief parental hug and then the instructions for 3 lots to do.

A sense of humour failure was on the cards, however with The Wonder Dun on hand to put an enormous smile on my face, all was soon well again in the world.

The horses are all going extremely well and I am unbelievably excited to get everything under way for the 2016 season.

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While I was a way Mum got a little bored so decided to go pony shopping, meaning I also have a new ride this year.

The 6 year old Woody will be my project to produce and compete. Unfortunately he currently has his wires a little crossed and is yet to fully understand that he is in fact a horse, and not a rather talented bronco bull.

I managed all of 5 days of the New Year before I hit the deck, which must be something of a record I feel.

Before my season starts I am off to Austria for 5 weeks, spending time with my Austrian family.

While I’m fairly certain Mum is determined to send me out there with enough bubble wrap to cover a small house, I have been told that I am to return in 1 piece or risk never reaching my 19th birthday.


While at home, and being reunited with my beloved laptop – no judgment please, I’ve written enough dull essays on that thing to sink a small ship, I’ve grown attached – I managed to discover the long lost video of Waregem.

Competing in Belgium was certainly a novel experience; the building be demolished next to the dressage arenas adding a little more challenge to the FEI’s idea of a dressage test. Since I had my first international top 10 placing here, I think it will always hold special memories for me – special, slightly smelly memories all be it (funnily enough we didn’t take so kindly to the communal showers).

Peace out y’all, have a good January!

Until next time,

Pumbaa x “

Watch Pumbaa’s Waregem video diary


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