Homes for Horses

Horses are at the heart of many Australian stories. It was horses, after all, that led much of the exploration of the land by European invaders. A favourite childhood series of mine was that by Elyne Mitchell: The Silver Brumby.

Much like mustangs in the United States, everyone has an opinion about brumbies (Australia’s wild horses), and there are many different opinions to be had. Whether the animals are natural or not; do they belong in the Australia bush, the landscape? Whether something should be done to control their numbers, or get rid of them all together.

Chris Giles is a bit of a horse whisperer, who took part in the 2016 Australian Brumby Challenge. In this challenge, participants are given a certain amount of days (around 100-150) to work with a wild brumby, and then showcase what man and horse are able to achieve together at Equitana, a huge annual equine event in Melbourne. At the end of this process, the horses are then put up for auction to find them a new home. While this event clearly has a lot of entertainment-focus, it also plays an important role in raising awareness on the fate of Australian brumbies, who are not infrequently culled to keep their numbers down, and engage new people in a discussion as what form of environmental management is appropriate for the high plains the brumbies occupy.

brumby

Brumbies are not appreciated by all as a part of the Australian landscape, but if they are to be removed from it, at least let it happen with minimal culling – preferably none at all. (Image from Mick Stanic, Flickr)

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