With Debbie Burgermeister
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Horse Talk blog.

Life Challenges and Horses To Save The Day: deep into the life of Deborah Burgermeister

Ready to ride out

Growing up

I grew up as the average farm girl on cattle and sheep property of around 2000acres developing mental and physical toughness and learning how to fend for ourselve’s. Helping out with farmwork, mustering, working and training horses and spending most weekends at a horse competition or camping away at polocrosse with my family of mum, dad and 2 brothers.  Pretty protected from the troubles of town life, parties etc as we lived an hour out of town with a 14km dirt driveway from the main road and my first car a 1969 Torana that would shake at 80km. Having a big brother helped also on the school bus which was pretty rough.

Without technology

Fun times were shearing time jumping in wool bales, yabby hunting, spot lighting bunnies, swimming in the river, mud fights in the dam, driving in mud on the way to school, falling in stinging nettles and learning about doc weed, hunting for xmas trees, yowies and ufo’s (they WERE real), making our own rabit stew, chooks running with their heads cutt off, picking blackberries, driving to hospital with broken ribs over multiple ramps and rough roads, working my horse in minus 5 degrees in the dark dodging rabbit holes and more.  Pretty blessed actually. Hint…We never gave up our sport through our high school years. Having the balance of exercise and study was so important. But I did have to give up competitive gymnastics at the age of 12 for the choice of horses. That was a bad financial decision for my adult years lol.

Leaving home and dealing with challenges

Last year of school I struggled through glandular fever and battled with this every year after until I worked out how to better look after my health.  On leaving home at 18 (which was the done thing to “get a job” as soon as you left school) to the big smoke (Sydney) to work on a quarterhorse stud I was totally degraded by a male boss that made me do too much man lifting and extremely long hours with no down time so I went back home to Tamworth to work at Pizza Hut and tried selling the Kirby vacume cleaner very unsuccessfully until I could work out what to do.  I was then given an opportunity to work at a holiday farm on the central coast taking trail rides out and looking after holiday cabins which was AWESOME FUN for a couple of years. All until a school visit at the pool with a teacher in charge with no cpr training….calling out to my workmate and myself to come help from at least 1-2km away where we were in the paddocks. We were presented with a very cold young boy with blue lips that we had to try resuscitate (we had only done our first aid course a few weeks prior) and dealt with the child vomiting and the ambulance taking at least 30min to get there.  The boy died and I wish that I had gone to meet his parents to say how sorry I was, but I just shut it out, didn’t want to talk about it, dumped my boyfriend at the time and probably to this day never really dealt with it because I never got to meet his family.

My 20s

So I went to work in a chicken factory during the day and a service station at night to get away from it all working in the gutting room sorting feet (totally disgusting) and on the band saw for 18mths until I nearly chopped my finger off, hearing a zip, slicing the mesh of my glove and thinking “what am I doing with my life”. Mind you everyone should experience factory life because it certainly toughens you up.  My first day being told “you have to earn your respect here”.   So as fate has it my ute (yes I had a lovely old HZ ute nicely done up) suddenly got stolen when I was at the shopping centre and there was no public transport to the factory so I had to resign.

Culture shock

Nearly jumping ship and running home then I did a travel & tourism course (no idea why) and ended up working for Ansett Airlines in Sydney in holiday reservations (my interview consisted of “if you can work in a factory you can work here”).  Oxford street was a culture shock for this country girl seeing the homeless on the streets, alcoholics, so many night clubs and my introduction to the gay community. I had never been on a plane before and I got to travel to so many destinations with my first holiday choosing to travel overseas by myself on a contiki tour…..that was an eye opener and great learning experience…..wooo hooo I was having a great time!

Back to reality

My Dad got really sick from a cattle disease infection which developed into chronic fatigue and then my perfect parents divorced and decided to tell me I had a long lost full blooded sister.  Mum got pregnant before they were married and Dad was forced off to the army so it was not acceptable those days before marriage and Mum had to move from a little beach town of Coobowie to Melbourne to have her daughter of which she couldn’t even see at birth and rushed off for adoption. How my mother coped with that for over 25 years and couldn’t tell me when I really wanted a sister growing up was amazing and super tough mentally to hold a secret that long and strain on a relationship.  So we went to find her successfully and my sister has 2 lovely children the same age as mine and we keep in touch.

Marriage & children into my 30s and 40s

Living in Sydney I ended up with a city boy who is my wonderful husband Mark today. We took 7yrs to get engaged because Mark had to come to terms that horses and polocrosse were like glue and not ever going to be in our life.  My Dad still plays polocrosse at the age of 70 and I’ve been playing for 30yrs. It’s the best way also to get the kids away from technology roughing it in the horsefloat and camping on the weekends. Getting married in 2003 and working out where we could both be happy we rented a little old house west of Sydney on 5acres with an outside toilet which was an experience and a lot of fun. Bought our first house near Camden, agisting my horse across the road then redundancies with the airlines and other contracts ending we moved to the Gold Coast hinterland where we are today. Decided we wanted children which took a long time then when finally pregnant discovering we were having twins, at 25weeks with a gastric virus and bleeding at 4am on the 10th of December 2009 I decided it wise to read one of those pregnancy books I had not touched.  Bleeding was a bit of a scare so rushed to John Flyn hospital unable to stop the 5min contractions then rushed to Mater Mothers in Brisbane that night thinking I was in for 3 months bed rest.  But behold 4am next morning my waters broke (not idea what that really was) and told we had to give birth by C-section…..my response being “no, I’m not ready”. SO……out come Jackson just 810g & Keira just 560g at 5.30am in the morning, put on oxygen fighting for their life for 100 days in hospital. We couldn’t hold them for 4 weeks, every day I cried,  I was expressing milk for 3 months (and yes literally crying of spilt milk lol), and ready to throw the machine up against the wall after 2 months and by then got to successfully start breast feeding and holding my babies every day.  Coming home after 100 days in hospital I still cried because I was getting about 2hrs sleep every night feeding one while one was crying then feeding the other (I just couldn’t handle the double feeding on my own). I would ring my Dad just crying and my Mum was an amazing help living nearby I could not have coped without her. Our kids are full of health today but had their battles with monthly hospital visits and surgeries up to about the age of 5. Jackson finally with the all clear and last surgery with ENT in 2017. Read the full story on our  About Us page. Running the horse riding school and keeping it alive while not living at home for 3 months.  Having good friends, good staff and family really counts.  The good ole saying “what comes around goes around” is so true.  My motto is about never giving expecting immediate return and just by being the best person you can be to yourself and to others reaps you more rewards than you could ever imagine.  We struck gold with our twins choosing to fight for their life and pull through as healthy happy children. We were also so very lucky and blessed with our friends, staff and family helping us keep the rest of our life going.

End of the day we survive our hardships, I have mentally and physically learnt to look after myself and be kind to myself to handle such a busy life and if I can help others through their battles through my passion with horses that is my mission…


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