Lesley Williams is in the enviable position of having two ''families''.

There is the usual flesh-and-blood variety, but there is also what her daughter Jan Tairua refers to as her cavalcade family.

This week, Williams (77) has been notching up her 25th Otago Goldfields Cavalcade and it has been a particularly special event for the remarkable Gore horsewoman or, as she describes it, ''pretty fantastic''.

Ordinarily, she would hit the trail without her family in attendance, although they were always reassured she was in the care of her ''second family'' who would look after her, Tairua said.


But this year, Tairua announced she was going to ride alongside her mother on trail boss Bill Butler's trail heading to Lake Hawea for the grand finale on Saturday. That was despite a tear in her rotor cuff.

But there was some ''conspiracy'' going on that Williams did not know about - until son Pete walked into her kitchen last Wednesday from Western Australia, where he works as a contract fencer and musterer, and announced he was also taking part.

She was ''shocked, amazed but very, very happy'', she said yesterday, during a brief stop beside the Clutha River at Clyde.

Topping it off, Tairua's daughter-in-law Danika was also on the trail so it was a real family event.

Williams' late husband Maurice was a cavalcade trail boss - and a real identity - and the cavalcade had been a major feature in their lives.

Making no concession to age, Williams chose one of the tougher riding trails to take part in, riding borrowed steed Dakota.

''It's a challenge; you've got to have a challenge,'' she said.

Asked what she loved about the cavalcade, she said it was ''just like a big family'' and she enjoyed meeting the people taking part and the friendships forged.


Butler said Williams was a very special character, '' a bit of a legend, really.''