COLLEEN Clancy’s friends might know her better than she knows herself. The Kingsvale farm worker and local SES controller has spent the last 100 days taming a wild horse for the Australian Brumby Challenge, hoping to save the animal and others from slaughter.
“I know several friends said when I first got him, ‘Oh, you won’t be able to sell him’,” Colleen said. “And I said, ‘Yes, I’ve got to, I can’t take another horse’.” But after three months of training Bush Hero, the one-year-old brumby she took into her charge, Colleen has had a change of heart. Instead of selling him to a safe home, the horse-lover decided to add to her already considerable collection of animals. “It’s only eight [horses],” she said. “Who’s counting?” “I’ve developed a real bond with him, so I want to bring him home with us.”
The Victorian Brumby Association hosts the Challenge, hoping to raise the profile of the 600 wild horses captured in national parks every year, most slaughtered for pet food. “The more people that are aware of what good horses they are and what’s happening to them, the more chances we’ve got of getting them homes,” Colleen said.
The Witness first visited Bush Hero and Colleen in November when the yearling had begun to trust his owner but found snooping reporters a more worrying prospect. The change is obvious. “He’s developed mentally and is a much more domesticated horse,” Colleen said. “He’s much more open and wants to look at everything new now.” And chew on everything new, too. “He’s just at that baby stage,” Colleen said. “He wants to sink his teeth into everything.” Such a “feisty temperament” should serve Bush Hero well at the competition this weekend, when he and 20 other brumbies will be judged on their handling, physique, motor skills and auctioned off to buyers. But Colleen is keeping a cool head.
“Will he win?” she asked. “Maybe not, but I think he’ll do well.” The brumbies will showcase their skills at the Victorian Equestrian Centre in Upper Beaconsfield on February 1 and 2 this weekend. For more information, go to www.australianbrumbychallenge.com.au or www.facebook.com/australianbrumbychallenge.