This week the Singleton Argus caught up with local endurance riding stars Gary and Debbie Pevy of Jerrys Plains.
In Australia, every horse has its birthday on the first day of August each year - known as the horses' birthday.
Fittingly, the pair invited us to their home to share some stories from their careers while also exploring the sentimental features of their property.
MEET DEBBIE PEVY - OUR ENDURANCE RIDING HERO
The name Debbie Pevy has been synonymous with positivity and enthusiasm for members of the Singleton iGym in recent years.
However there's much more to the smiling trainer than her passion for fitness.
Last weekend the 57-year-old endurance horse rider took out 84km Kiwarrak Endurance Ride with her loyal companion Galaxy Mi.
She would share the weekend's honours with Anne Hills (lightweight) riding Karabil Serer and Nigel Colefax (heavyweight) on Evening Star in the race's first ever three way tie.
"Although the rides are timed, the emphasis is on finishing in good condition rather than coming in first with the motto being 'to finish is to win', she told the Singleton Argus.
"Endurance is a long-distance competition against the clock, testing the speed and endurance of a horse and challenging the rider over their effective use of pace, through knowledge of their horse's capabilities and ability to cross all kinds of terrain."
Pevy competes as a middleweight where a rider must weigh a minimum of 73kgs with their saddle and a maximum of 91kgs.
She also participated in the 2019 Tom Quilty Cup last month which was held in Queensland.
299 riders commenced the event with only 194 finishing the 160km (100 miles) course including Pevy.
Her time of 11:58:57 saw her finish as the 12th middleweight and 13th overall.
"I had the pleasure of riding an Australian bred Arabian mare, Conderosa Zaheera, owned by Con Bouzianis of Conderosa Endurance Stud," she explained.
"After months of training I was thrilled with her performance, recovery and final placing.
"The bond and trust you develop with the horse after the many hours of training and the long distance competing is such an amazing experience."
The weekend's result would mark her seventh endurance ride for the year.
And there's no signs of stopping for the middleweight rider either who aims to complete her 26th year in the sport with another two endurance rides by November.
"She's like Forrest Gump, she just keeps running," her husband Gary explained.
While Pevy's endurance resume, which now includes participation in two Tom Quilty Cups and three Shazadas, continues to remain unearthed from the Singleton community she continues to gallop under the radar.
"And I owe all these opportunities to my husband Gary," she added.
OVERSEAS DUTIES - PEVY BONDS WITH SHEIKHA MADIYAH
Pevy's fine form in recent years has been on account of her versatility when training and riding for two seasons in Dubai.
Here she represented Australia at one of the Al Maktoum Royal Family stables.
The endurance rider has also proven herself in the United Arab Emirates by participating in the prestigious Sheikh MohammedCup, the Presidents Cup and the Dubai Crown Prince Cup.
Yet she admits her overseas experiences would not have taken place if it weren't for husband who had called Dubai home for seven years.
"Sheikha Madiyah rang Gary and he hadn't spoke to her for years and she said 'I have some bad horses from America and I need a breaker to break them in'," Pevy recalled.
"Gary politely said 'my time in Dubai is finished' and after he told me I said 'I would have love to have gone'."
"So he rang her back and I was so excited to go."
It was here at the Challenge Endurance Stables where Debbie conducted lessons with the riders ahead of breakfast each morning before training with Sheikha Madiyah.
"Deb was helping her train all them, selecting which ones could ride each horse, helping Sheikha Madiyah with her riding and fitness and they formed a bit of a bond," Gary recalled.
"The whole royal experience is like a big playground."
After six weeks of service the couple were ready to return to their beloved property in Jerrys Plains.
"Then Sheikha Madiyah said that she wanted me to stay and I wanted to stay but I was nervous," she continued.
After visiting in both 2015-16 and 2016-17 Debbie has been requested to return to the Middle East on several occasions.
But she's opted to remain at home for the time being.
"After the second time I went over there I thought that family means too much to me to miss out on Christmas and birthdays especially given I was 37 when I had my daughter Tomeika," she concluded.
MEET GARY PEVY - THE MAN FROM PROPOSAL HILL
At times it is hard to get a word out of Gary Pevy.
At other times it isn't.
However the 63-year-old is no slouch himself when it comes to endurance horse riding after he conquered the 2016 Shazada 400km race with a time of 43:42:00 riding Halimas Esdikarn (gelding).
On a world scale he was the man linked with all the international horses in Dubai from 1999-2006 before returning to Australia.
His skills as a world class farrieralso came into play when he was equiloxing Makybe Diva, rebuilding the mare's foot, moments before the three time Melbourne Cup winner was due to race in the U.A.E.
Yet behind the cowboy's silent mystic lies a true romantic as Debbie, who first met her current husband in 2007 (after seven months on the phone), recalls of their engagement.
"There's a track that goes up the mountain and overlooks the whole valley so he had taken a bottle of champagne and some rum up there while I was at work one day in May, 2011," she reflected.
"When I came back he said that we need to take the horses up there and I said 'we can't go up because we're going to a ride this weekend and that hill will be too steep'.
"He asked me to tie the horses but I didn't want to spend too much time up there because I'm scarred of heights."
"Then he asked me to marry him, I was just shocked and went 'what' to which he replied 'is that a yes or a no because I'm only saying it more than once'."
"It was a pleasant surprise because he's not really good with dates but on the 9th of October, 2011 at 12pm we were married on the property."
The western wedding, naturally filled with horses, started at midday and finished at 1am with 65 people in attendance.
"There were close friends, family and a pig on a spit, big horse bath tubs with beer and champagne," Debbie continued while bathed in the glory of the reflection.
While Gary may not appear to be the most talkative rider in the game, he proved to give St Valentine a run for his money as Debbie unofficially renamed the spot proposal hill.
THE STRUGGLE - MINING DUST PREVENTS GRAND OPPORTUNITY
Sadly, the visit was too good to be true.
When flicking between riding adventures, appearances at prestigious events and the odd romantic tale it was time to address the elephant in the room.
The state of the property.
More specifically, the state of its environment on the perimeter of expanding coal mines.
"The dust here is unbelievable and I have a sinus problem but they refuse to do anything about it because I live in this area," Gary told the Singleton Argus.
"We've just had a noise monitoring test done and they're over so many times that it is not funny.
"During the monitoring they just down a heap of machines to keep to their required level so it's hard to play ball with them when they keep shifting the goal posts.
"The acquisition line to buy us out is only 700m away and even though the noise is clearly over the government allows them to round the noise down and not up."
Before continuing it is ironic to point out that Gary works as a digger operator at the adjacent mine.
Yet when asked if he would like to continue to share his opinions on the record his response was fearless.
"I'm not worried, trouble is my middle name," he continued.
"We didn't buy the place just so we could sell it and make money off of the mines but they've put us in such a position now that you can't sell the place to an outside market.
"If you wanted to buy this place you'd want to have at least 50% cash in your pocket and you can't expand because we'll over capitalise.
A few years ago Debbie was offered to take a dozen riders home from Dubai to their Jerrys Plains property to train the visiting riders to endurance levels in Australia.
"It was to teach them to ride, change their diagonals and then send another team each year after that; we did give it thought," Gary revealed.
"The visiting riders sent by the royal family would have been exposed to Australian conditions because in Dubai they're only used to the dessert.
"But to put in a hut with ten beds in it, a toilet and an entertainment system, well, we just couldn't afford to do it when it was over capitalising and we still can't sell the property."
"We've also had horses here that are on extra vitamins and minerals to try and stop their coughing from the dust," he added.
"You couldn't train an athlete on this property so why would you train athletic horses here, it is the same thing.
"They have offered to put in glazed windows to block out the noise but we're never inside and then there's our dam levels which have 17% aluminium."
The couple also highlighted how drinking filters were installed to the property while they were also required to scrape the coal dust off their gutters as well.
"If they were to buy us out we would be happy to move on even though there is a lot of sentiment because the dust is just killing us these days," he continued.
"You ride outside at midnight with the headlight on and it looks like it's snowing because of the dust.
"There are also six tiles that have fallen off the bathroom wall as a result from the blasts at the mines so we'll feel a few blasts rock the house a couple of times a month."
"More like a couple of times a week," Debbie interjected.
"But you can't do anything about the drought either and the mines are the same."
THE LOYALTY - PEVY COUPLE FIGHTS THE FIRE
Overall, the Pevy family hopes to call Jerrys Plains home for the years to come.
They are well connected by royal relations overseas and, each week they remain in the region, they are left biting the dust.
But to Gary and Debbie their estate is home.
And this will be the case for the years to come.
"We like to be a bit out of the way, we don't have to travel to trails because we have our own and we like our country house," Debbie stated.
"The other good thing about here is we're close to the national park and Gary grades 53km of trails in the national park so it's easier for me to ride.
"He takes a six pack of beer and does it every five to six months."
Gary added, "But it also helps to keep the fire trails open."
If the above 1850 words failed to provide a great understanding of the couple's loyalty to their property then it's time to cast our minds back to the 2013 bushfires.
"That summer the brigade came in and we had about 25 horses on the property at the time and they said 'we have to evacuate you because that fire will come down the hill', Gary recalled.
"We said that we couldn't go.
"I said to the fire fighters that it's come up quick but the fire won't burn quick going down the hill.
"I thought that 'if it hits that flat we'll be able to stop it'.
"Deb took all the rugs off the horses and by the time he got home he said 'why didn't you let me know (how close it was)?' because you could then see flames on top of the hill."
This forced Gary to take one nature with his own hands and clear the area.
"He got the tractor out and chainsaw and took down about 40 trees," Debbie said.
"52 actually," he recalled.
Thankfully, the wind changed its direction and stopped the rampaging fire from continuing down the hill.
And, thankfully for Singleton, the duo still call the region home today.
You couldn't have found a more appropriate pair to celebrate the Horses' birthday with for 2019.