Claire woke in the night startled by the storm and lightning strike. She sprung from her swag, dressed and threw a saddle on her horse, fastened the surcingle all in one movement.
Her instincts took over to saddle her horse and help ring the cattle before they stampeded. Excitement of the chase exploded inside her mind and body, not giving time to think what a nine year old child was about to do.
Rain soaked her clothes through to her skin. Her hat stuck to her head fastened only by a thin rawhide strap across her forehead to stop it from blowing off.
Swinging into the saddle she rode like demons possessed her small body, to help her father. The thrill of the chase ran through her veins, each muscle in her nine year old arms and legs strained to their limits, the mental toughness to help her father not being able to sight him caused her to wonder where he was. She needed to find him. She rode her horse at full gallop; lightning striking around them, cattle running in all directions out of control.
Through the faint vision of rain and wind, she saw a silhouette of a horse and rider, riding like the wind to get in front of the leading bunch of cattle to ring them round so they slowed and stopped. The moment she saw the horse and rider she knew it was her father. She felt a deep love. She would do anything to make him proud of her.
With lightning flashing above her head and near to trees, thunder exploded, wind and rain lashed her face, her hair streamed from beneath her hat; she rode on urging her horse into the chase. Without fear she jumped her horse across a log in the pathway and stretched her small body along its neck. She urged him forward to the front of the herd and came abreast with her father, his right arm out-stretched; she heard the familiar sound of a whip crack.
There was calm, the cattle stopped. With the final sound of a whip crack competing against the lightning and thunder, she rode up beside him. Claire thought her father was God, better than God; he could do anything just like God. She held him on top of a pedestal which reached for the sky and loved everything there was to love and would do anything to please him to earn his love and respect.
My name is Pat Ritter. I am an Australian author. This is my latest novel – ‘The Drover’ set in the south-western town of Cunnamulla in Queensland, Australia. It is based on a true life story. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.