A story of a young boy!

Rottnest Stables

Rab

Pink Lake

I am going to tell you a story of a young boy, who stayed at the Rottnest Stables over the August School holidays. The top image is of the house that used to be the riding school back in the early 70’s.

The boy very much enjoyed his stay at the school and saw that old Jack Masters was struggling to keep up with all the work, so the boy wrote him a letter offering to work for him for nothing.

Jack was so relieved that the young boy was keen to assist him with the work load that he offered to pay for his fair over every weekend on the ferry and he gave him a horse to call his own as well as $20 for the weekend’s work.

The boy worked hard, feeding and grooming the horses, saddling them all up in time for the trail rides and then leading the trail rides out to the West End.

His horse was called Rab, short for Rabbit ears! As his ears stuck out horizontally. No one else could ride Rab as he was a one man horse and became very fidgety when anyone else came near him.

The boy ended up getting a job as an apprentice and could not keep up the weekend work and shortly after that a virus in the water made all the thoroughbreds very crook and most of them died. Jack Masters was not getting any younger and the passing of so many of his beloved horses was too much, so he closed the riding school and too the rest of the horses back to the mainland.

The top image is of the house that used to be the riding stables. The second image is an tribute to old Rab, showing him rearing on top of a hill which si something he used to like to do and the last image is the view from the other side of the hill that used to be Rab’s hill.

There has never been any more horses at Rottnest since old Jack closed the school, which is a such a shame as it was just the best way to see the island.

That young boy of course was me some 40 years ago! Fond memories indeed!

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16 Responses to A story of a young boy!

  1. Ailsa says:

    Great Story …. Ric has some great family history relating to Rottnest

  2. Charlene says:

    Great story, although so sad at the end. That’s the sort of story I wish I had of my childhood. Was horse crazy growing up, although Singapore is not the greatest place on earth to be buts about horses. Do you still ride?

    • I rode a few years ago Charlene in the Snowy Mountains when the skiing was shot for the day because of drizzle so we did a 4 hour trail ride which was very cool! I am keen to do the Snowy River ride with teh actor who did the movie and maybe even the cattle muster up from Adelaide!

      • Charlene says:

        Cattle muster – that’s one of those “have to do before I die” things. Live out my childhood cowboy dreams. I was going to take riding lessons when I came back from the US in September, but didn’t end up doing it to save money for this. I think when I come back to Perth at the end of my year or so off, I will need to prioritize learning to ride. It has been something I’ve wanted to do as a kid, and I often wonder why I never got around to doing it!

        • Hey Treasure…..yep you should pursue the things you are passionate about and keep ticking off that bucket list!

          I am fortunate that I was pretty good at riding when I was a lad and am still happy to climb up on pretty much any horse. I would get saddle sore for sure after not riding for a while, but that tends to go after a couple of days in the saddle…hopefully! 🙂

          If you are ever anywhere near Threadbo I would thoroughly recommend a ride at the Snowy River riding school…especially in winter when it is snowing!

          • Charlene says:

            Working on ticking them off one by one. Horse riding very high on my priority list though. Love riding, what riding I have done over the years. For the last few years, I’ve gone on long trail rides around my birthday, with a mob up at Moore River that have good animals. It’s something I definitely want to do more of. Have yet to go up to El Caballo though!

          • Not sure El Cabalo is still going actually Charlene? I think it closed quite a few years ago?

          • Charlene says:

            Really? Damn, that’s a shame… the only other place in the world to see this… Spanish Riding School in Vienna? (Ooooooh)

          • Charlene says:

            Agreed! Might need to make a stop on the way to Iceland eh? Since it’s a hop away?

  3. Peta North says:

    wow I didnt know about the horses at Rottnest, that would have been so cool. Used to ride when I could and loved it. Nearly signed up at El Caballo Blanco as an apprentice rider, but decided against it at the time.
    Great post.

  4. Not many people do Peta…hence why i thought I would do the post!

    El Caballo was sooo cool! I went to see that show a number of times!

    I feel very fortunate to have grown up at the time I did at a time i call the ‘barn storming era’ when you could do pretty much what ever you wanted without the ‘nanny state’ situation we have now with anything you want to or try to do! Drives me nuts it does as it stifles so so much!

    To have had the opportunity to have my own horse and ride and surf every weekend at Rotto was just the best job ever!

    My horse Rab, was so cool as well. He sued to get so excited when he saw me and I recall one day a US Navy guy insisted he wanted to ride Rab. I let him go and within 5 minutes Rab had him off and came back to me with a big grin on his face! 🙂

  5. Peta North says:

    yes couldn’t agree more and yes horses have such personalities.

  6. Now that would be cool and worth a visit just for that! 🙂

  7. Sophie Brough says:

    You probably won’t believe this but I lived at the Riding School from the early 70’s until 1979. We were the “Wood” Family – my Father was Mike and my Mother Jane. I am not sure who Jack was? Or, was it before we arrived? I visited Rottnest in 1999/2000 with my husband and we went back to house, an ecologist for the Island was living there. My brother went back recently, he doesn’t really have any memories as he was very young when we lived there. He said that sadly the house is not there any more… We can back to the UK in 1979 without my Father who stayed for a few more years and then had to close the stables. Would be very interest to know if you were there at the same time as us.

    • Hi Sophie,

      I think the timing was around was the early 70’s…maybe 1972? Way too long ago to recall exactly I am afraid! I am pretty sure the old guys name was Jack…but hey I could be wrong!

      The house is still there Sophie for sure, I saw it only a week ago! Do you have any old photos from back then? I would love to see them!

      Wonderful to here from you!