Lovick’s – rid­ing into the sun­set af­ter 51 years

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - FRONT PAGE - BY RHYLL McCOR­MACK rm­c­cor­mack@ne­me­dia.com.au

AF­TER more than 50 years of busi­ness, Lovick’s High Coun­try Ad­ven­tures will sad­dle up for the last time in 2018.

Five decades ago, Jack Lovick was sit­ting around the camp­fire, watch­ing the stars slowly rise into a dark night sky.

On top of the moun­tain named af­ter his fore­bears, Jack was re­minded of how lucky he was to call the High Coun­try home; he de­cided to share it with the rest of the coun­try.

Well be­fore The Man from Snowy River made Mans­field fa­mous, Jack pi­o­neered the first trail rid­ing com­pany - and Lovick’s be­came syn­ony­mous for horse rid­ing, good times and moun­tain scenery.

Since 1967, trail rid­ing has grown to be­come one of the big­gest draw­cards to the Mans­field Shire – seven busi­nesses op­er­ate lo­cally, all of­fer­ing a dif­fer­ent take on the tra­di­tional horse ex­pe­ri­ence.

Through­out the years, Lovick’s have taken at least

This isn’t a de­ci­sion that I have made lightly – I’ve grown up with trail rid­ing, it’s what I’ve al­ways done. - KEL­LIE LOVICK

30,000 guests up into the High Coun­try.

They have crossed rivers, climbed moun­tains and dis­cov­ered new places; they are re­spon­si­ble for mem­o­ries that last long af­ter the horses have been let go.

But on April 28, Lovick’s will sad­dle up for the last time – headed to Bon­nie Doon for their fa­mous end of sea­son – and this year, end of op­er­a­tion – ride.

The de­ci­sion to close has not been an easy one.

Kel­lie is the third gen­er­a­tion in her fam­ily to run Lovick’s High Coun­try Ad­ven­tures.

Tak­ing over in 2016 from her fa­ther, Char­lie, she has been forced to de­cide be­tween her fam­ily and her busi­ness.

Last year, Kel­lie - and part­ner Ben McLeod – wanted to add to their grow­ing fam­ily; they will wel­come their daugh­ter later this year.

The baby – as won­der­ful as it will be – rep­re­sented an­other chal­lenge for Kel­lie, who spends more than 40 hours a week on the back of a horse.

How was she to run a busi­ness, a home, a farm and be a mother to three chil­dren?

Al­ready, her yet-to-be­born baby has rid­den over Mount Stir­ling, trav­elled the De­latite River, can­tered past Craig’s Hut and camped out un­der the moun­tain stars.

But, ul­ti­mately, a life lived in the sad­dle is not an easy one to sus­tain for a young mother and child.

“This isn’t a de­ci­sion that I have made lightly – I’ve grown up with trail rid­ing, it’s what I’ve al­ways done,” Kel­lie said.

“This is mas­sive – I took the rides over in 2016, so I feel like I am just at the be­gin­ning.

“To be the one to say put away the sad­dles for the last time is heart­break­ing.”

With two boys in pri­mary school as well, Kel­lie needed to find a bal­ance in her life that wasn’t fo­cused on the back of a horse.

“I love my job, but I can’t have three kids un­der eight and be away ev­ery week­end – I can’t spend weeks out in the bush and ex­pect some­one else to get them off to school, and to be there at night when they get home,” Kel­lie said.

“I still re­mem­ber grow­ing up - with mum and dad out on rides – and us at home with Nana or my older brother Wayne look­ing af­ter us.

“No mat­ter how much I love my job, I love my kids more.”

The last year has been one of the worst ever faced by the Lovick fam­ily.

Sud­denly, and with­out warn­ing, Kel­lie’s mother Glenda passed away.

The heart and soul of the en­tire fam­ily, things have car­ried on – but the hole left by Glenda is one that will never be filled.

“The last 12 months have not been the eas­i­est on us,” Kel­lie said.

“Af­ter los­ing mum so sud­denly, it just hasn’t been the same.

“I have watched my par­ents work so hard for ev­ery­one else in their life­time - I made the de­ci­sion to call it a day.

“I won’t get this chance with my kids again – I don’t want to look back and re­gret not be­ing there for them; I know how much it means to lose some­one when you thought you had more time.”

But for ev­ery end­ing, there is a new be­gin­ning – and Kel­lie now has her sights firmly on the hori­zon.

“I am still fiercely proud of where I have come from, of my ties to the High Coun­try, of be­ing a moun­tain cat­tle­man - my dad and mum ran these rides, and my grand­fa­ther be­fore them – there is a lot of his­tory tied up here, and I will be for­ever grate­ful for the op­por­tu­ni­ties given to me.”

SAD­DLES DOWN: Af­ter 51 years and three gen­er­a­tions, Lovick’s High Coun­try Ad­ven­tures – based out of Mans­field - will ride out for the last time in 2018. Pic­tured are Char­lie and Kel­lie Lovick.

PROUD: Kel­lie Lovick, pic­tured with part­ner Ben McLeod and chil­dren, Jake and Corey.

MOV­ING ON: Char­lie Lovick ran Lovick’s High Coun­try Ad­ven­tures, in­her­it­ing the busi­ness from his fa­ther, Jack, be­fore pass­ing it on to the next gen­er­a­tion.

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