This story is one of the runners-up in HorseWyse’s Spring 2016 Brumbies True Story Competition
On the 2nd March 2014, we decided to go up to Ebor, to The Guy Fawkes Heritage Horse Open Day, as I had always wanted to go.
It is a beautiful place and the open day was amazing, hosted by friendly people who are passionate about these horses. The horses were only one week off the park, and they were stunning, full of their wild spirit and grace. They were presented to us in the ring in pairs or singly. The last to be presented to the ring were a three year old mare and her four week old colt. She had obviously been doing it tough in the park, and now was trying to protect and raise her colt as well as survive herself.
The pair were for sale for $200. My heart melted for this girl, and my husband said “You can’t leave them here.” I hadn’t come to buy a horse, but I knew I couldn’t leave them behind. We scraped together $100 to put a deposit on them and went home. My kids decided to name them Annie and Archie. I paid the rest of the money when I got home and we arranged transport to our property “Singing Hills” at Nana Glen. I felt sick and nervous. What had I got myself into? I had never owned a wild horse or a foal. They arrived one week later on a truck and we unloaded them into the cattle yards. I couldn’t get near them, and really didn’t want to yet as I didn’t want them to be stressed. I started feeding them three times a day with small amounts of feed from a bucket (increasing the amount slowly) and some lucerne hay. It didn’t take long to see some great results. Within a week I could see a difference in Annie. She started losing her scruffy coat and was turning a beautiful liver chestnut colour.
Archie was a curious boy, and after spending one week with me, he came up to me in the yards and sniffed my face. I kissed him on the nose and he let me scratch his head. Well that was it for Archie. He thought human hands were the best thing in the world. I spent the next hour scratching him all over; it was such a beautiful moment for me. I have spent the last 35 years around horses, but have never had a moment like that. I was in love with him. He has loved people ever since, to the point where he follows us everywhere. He was easy to halter as he grew, and is a keen and confident learner. Teaching him has been easy so far. Everyone loves Archie. He is 2 ½ years old now and self-loads into a float, has blankets and ropes thrown over and around him, has had saddles on him, and is used to dogs, cattle, tractors, motorbikes, goats, and children.
As for Annie, she took a lot more work. She filled out well, even while she was feeding her colt. After Archie was gelded and weaned, I started building a relationship with her. I started by walking her up the cattle race, where I was able to safely touch and groom her. She was so nervous and scared in the beginning, but in not too much time she relaxed and enjoyed her grooming. I gradually got her to a point where she would stand and let me approach her in the yards, so that I could halter her and groom her. I have loved every moment of watching this beautiful girl’s progress. She never forgets anything I have taught her and is happy in her herd of four horses. I love to see her playing with Archie and the other horses, or even relaxed and sleeping on the ground, knowing she is safe. She loves having her face rubbed and tries so hard with everything new I try to teach her. She is better than ALL my other horses at picking her feet up. Sometimes she picks them up for me when I am brushing her leg.
It has been a big learning curve for both of us. I have loved the experience and am a total brumby convert. They are such intelligent, tough, and giving horses. I am not riding her yet, as she is not ready. Everything I have done with her has been taught with love and patience when SHE is ready, and she is not ready for me to get on her yet.
It is hard to believe this is the same horse I bought back in March 2014. To me she is a very special girl, and I highly recommend Guy Fawkes Heritage Horses and the Guy Fawkes Heritage Horse Committee. Great horses, great people.
By Janelle Atkinson