Part 9 Mirrabooka horseman of the southern cross.

The men woke the next morning to the raucous sound of the native birds made up of currawongs, lorikeets, kookaburras and white cockatoos. The sound was deafening and beautiful all at once and very foreign to Mairinger. In no time, the camp was packed up and the men mounted and ready to resume their journey.

Mairinger gazed up at the steep, seemingly impassable walls of the escarpment. He looked to Roycroft, “Well Bill, how do we approach this? There seems to be no way up.”

Bill replied, “Wild goats, they go up and down here all the time. We follow their tracks, it might get a bit hairy but if we can manage to stick to them, we should be ok.”

The men found the obvious goat tracks, worn by years of going up and down the escarpment. At the beginning, the tracks were easy to follow, but as they made their way up the cliffs, the paths were less and less discernable. The goats’ hooves didn’t mark the stone and at times the Team had to do the best they could to find a route to the next ledge. It was a hair-raising experience, but tenacity and courage from both the men and horses eventually paid off and they reached the top of the escarpment. They now looked back over the past two day’s terrain that they had traversed; the face of the cliffs and the open fields and rainforest country where they had galloped during the murder run.



As was always Franz’s intention, during the next few days, the men talked, joked and generally relaxed. There had been some tension between him Morgan and Roycroft. Not serious tension, but they were all alpha personalities in their own ways; sometimes three rights make a wrong. He needed to have them with him, to trust in what he was teaching. How do you take a person successful in their small pond and tell them that in order to make it in the big pond, they would need to basically forget everything they had learnt and start again. It would be a slap in the face and would probably be seen as a power grab and it would certainly put them offside and all would be lost. No, Franz would need to be diplomatic, shape and mould the relationships, as he needed; he had to have the trust and respect of every man. Respect cannot be demanded; it must be earned, particularly with men like Morgan and Roycroft.

Franz was comfortable he could fit in, after all, they had all been military men, they all shared a common love of horses, they just needed time to develop a mutual respect. Franz already had respect for the Australian riders in their raw form; he knew how much he could improve them and he just needed them to buy into it.

As they rode through the bush, the personalities came to the fore. Mairinger had picked every man for a reason, they all had their strengths and they were all part of a puzzle Mairinger hoped to put together to create a clear picture. Every piece would need to find its place and in the end fit seamlessly into the equation.

Franz was a quietly confident man and very modest. He had his opinions but was very diplomatic in the way he got them across. His riding was relaxed and fluid and the Australians could not help but admire the quiet effective way he communicated image

with his horse, there was no brute strength, no momentary lapses of balance no superfluous unintentional movements at all, even on very uneven ground, he looked to be sitting into the horse rather than on it. He definitely had the air of a knowledgeable man, but would he have a strong enough personality?

Crago was here for the second time and very competitive when required. He was a good horseman who had a real empathy for horses, as exhibited in the incident at Stockholm. He was easy-going amongst a group, a bit of a joker who loved a bet and got on with most people. He was a fair judge of character and had decided all of the men around him were worthy of respect, but truth be known, he was not as strong a rider as the others. On a horse he had trained he was as good as any, but if he had not built a relationship with the horse from the start, he sometimes struggled to get the horse’s understanding,  our solo his horse had been trained by Bill Roycroft he was obedient to an assertive rider but assertiveness was not Cragos MO with a horse, he was a gentle horseman, almost with a feminine touch, though for all the world a real man.


Lavis was a supremely modest man who listened well, but was not inclined to force his opinion. He took in what he liked and rejected what he didn’t; the quiet air of a horseman was all about him. No big-noting, no-boyish loudness, probably a man similar in quiet character to Franz. He could be moulded, he wanted to be moulded and he recognised Franz’s experience and infinite knowledge of horses and training. He wasn’t a big fan of loud, dominant personalities as they were inclined to take advantage of his good nature. His good nature had helped him form a bond with his horse, Mirabooka that bordered on the mythical, the horse would do anything for him and he for the horse! No one put the time and effort into his mount that Lavis did the horse was more than his ride it was honestly his mate. He was a real good bloke.



Roycroft was a strong horseman. Like most Australian riders, he was always able to make it happen, to get a result when tenacity was required. He was opinionated and a little narrow-minded. He was well read on the skills of riding and had educated himself as well as one can from a book. But now he had one of the best horsemen in the world to instruct him. Roycroft needed to come to terms with this and it would take some time to learn how much he could learn. It is one thing to read but it is another to have a master pass knowledge on and correct every detail, develop every nuance. Book learning can be mechanical, but the knowledge passed from person to person promotes the artistic and emotional elements. Roycroft was not the artistic or emotional type.


Morgan was a machine. He was driven, single-minded and would do whatever it took. He was abrupt and forward with his opinions, and inclined to be a little harsh with those who did not agree with him. He could well take advantage of Lavis’ niceness. He had already started to treat him like a kid at times. Not bullying as such, but direct in the manor of a dominant personality not to be questioned. He was a tough guy in every sense of the word and he would be Mairinger’s hardest nut to crack. His discipline and commitment to training had made him outstanding at everything he had done. Football, rowing, boxing and any other sport he put his hand to. The difference here was the horse, he could ride with the same determination as everything else. This would get him a long way, but Franz knew there was a good percentage for improvement in the technical aspects of his riding. Largely he tried too hard, in his other sporting endeavors it was difficult to see trying too hard as a negative, but over-riding can be a huge negative. This guy would be the hardest to work with, but his positive attributes could well be the thing at the end of the day to get them through a tight spot; he certainly had points of difference.


After five days riding the men arrived in Bowral, where the best training facilities they could afford, had been set up. The bonding ride had been a positive experience. Now Franz would need all of his diplomacy and coaching ability to put the all-important technical and artistic detail into his Team. This would be somewhat of a challenge, but Franz had anticipated this.

Forming, storming, norming and performing are the four fazes which are required parts of the development of any successful team. There are definite periods of each of these aspects and in places, they overlap. The forming had taken part with the selection of the Team and they were well into the storming period, where each man finds his place. It can be a rigorous process, which can be the end of many teams; sometimes this period requires commitment and compromise. Franz ‘s intention was to get as much of the storming over with as soon as he could, for if they were to perform at the end of the day, they needed as much time for the norming phase, which is working together to improve and consolidate.

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