Here’s a lovely story by Joy Overson about just how smart brumbies can be.
Rose’s life with me began after I saw a documentary on the ABC – these beautiful Brumby’s caught my heart when I watched them on TV and from that moment I could think of nothing else but these beautiful creatures that needed our help.
The first time Brumby Rose ran away I was at home. I’d left the gate open. We never worried much about our other horses—especially when there wasn’t a lot of feed about—we just let them wander around. They never went far. I thought Rose had bonded with my older mare so I didn’t think she would go anywhere. When I went to check on the horses about one and a half hours later there was no Rose. All the other horses were.
So I saddled up my best mare and headed in the direction that she would have gone. I had ridden this trail a few times with Rose following behind and she had always stuck with us. It is quite a steep mountain so up we went. I found a poo on the way which told me we were going in the right direction. The only concern I had was that there was a creek about two kilometres ahead which my horse will not cross; it’s washed out and full of sand. She must know that if she tried to cross it she would sink and she had refused to cross it on another occasion. She is a very good horse and will do anything and go anywhere, but if she says no then I know there is a reason. (After the time she refused I heard of another horse getting stuck in this same creek crossing.) So, I’m thinking, if Shelly won’t cross, then surely Rose won’t either. So I kept telling myself I will find her.
We got to the last bend before going around the corner and I expected to see Rose standing there. She wasn’t. My heart sank. She must have gone through that darn creek. How did she do it? The next thing, my horse pricked her ears and neighed, looking through the bushes. I couldn’t see anything. Then I heard a little neigh back, and saw a white face cantering around the corner.
Oh boy, the relief! Then I wondered how she would get back through the creek. Maybe she had crossed somewhere else. I watched her as she placed her feet very precisely in particular spots, being extremely cautious as she went. She took her time and leapt over the very last part of the creek. These brumbies have it all worked out! Amazing animals. She was pretty happy to see us and I thought that was a good lesson for me. I’ll never do that again. We went home and I told my husband all about the little adventure and how she crossed that creek. I think she was looking for her mum and her herd. The last thing I said to my husband, Wayne, was don’t ever leave a gate open!
After that I was very careful, but Wayne was running late for work one morning. He fed the cows and forgot to close the gate on his way out. Whoops.
Here’s a poem I wrote after her second escape.
So off to the sanctuary I went one day
A lot of horses there were nibbling on hay.
These beautiful brumby’s—what would I do?
I would never decide that’s one thing I knew.
Then my eyes laid upon her, my heart missed a beat
She stood in the background so timid & sweet.
A little filly—her name was Rose
I wondered at that moment if she would ever sniff at my nose.
I brought her home and all was swell,
I put her with an older mare who I knew would teach her well.
The mare would scold her and swish her tail
As Rose tried to drink from her with no avail.
The gate was left open “never mind—no stress”
The horses never went away but was this the test?
Oh yes it was because Rose was missing.
The old mare just stood her head hung low.
I’m sorry she said but she wouldn’t listen
And looked at me as if to say—
I’m so sorry that Rose went away.
The mountains behind us being so high,
The bush so thick I just wanted to cry
Then the lightning came and lit up the sky.
The thunder rolled in and the rain pounded down
Will Rose be frightened by all of these sounds?
The search began and for weeks we looked
She’d disappeared but I was hooked.
One month had passed – I felt no hope
I held back tears–thought I would choke.
I sat on the verandah that very day
When I heard in the distance a little neigh.
I stood straight up looking through the sun
And there she stood just like before at Brumby’s Run.
My mind went crazy and I pinched my skin
No I’m not dreaming, my heads just in a spin.
I rushed straight down to open the gate.
“Please let me in – so sorry I’m late”
With joy and emotions all rushing around
She stood there silent without a sound.
She sniffed the other horses and said hello to me
“I don’t know what the fuss is – this is normal for me”
Our bond has strengthened day by day
I love that horse is all I can say.
She looks at me and gives a neigh
This is now my home she seems to say!
By Joy Overson