Challenge bringing brumbies to town

School’s in: Horse trainer Lara Poynton and her brumby VBA Sansa in training for the Australian Brumby Challenge.

School’s in: Horse trainer Lara Poynton and her brumby VBA Sansa in training for the Australian Brumby Challenge.

BRUMBIES were in the news for all the wrong reasons last week as government and conservation bodies discussed their removal from Victorian and NSW alpine regions.

Later this year many of the former wild horses will converge on the Melbourne Showground for the 2016 Australian Brumby Challenge.

Held in conjunction with Equitana Melbourne, the challenge involves the allocation and schooling of brumbies caught in the wild by professional and amateur trainers. The unhandled and untrained horses, humanely caught as part of an ongoing national park management program, will be gentled and, if old enough, saddle trained over a 150-day period in the lead up to the competition.

Mornington professional horse trainer Lara Poynton is well into her brumby training. She trains unhandled horses through to advanced training, and believes the best way to improve a horse is through recognising and rewarding one-per-cent improvements.

Poynton and her brumby VBA Sansa will take part in the four-day Equitana and showcase their philosophies and skills to demonstrate the trainability and versatility of the breed.

The event will showcase endurance, western, show jumping, trick and pleasure riding.

Victorian Brumby Association president Colleen O’Brien says taking the animals from wild to wonderful is a “heartening, exciting and emotional process that leaves spectators wanting more”.

“Trainers regularly keep fans up to date with blogs on the website and on social media, so everyone has a chance to learn about each animal’s personality, quirks and habits through the voice of their trainer” she said.

Trainers can later buy “their” horses, or sell them in a pre-approved auction to vetted buyers.

This year 18 trainers will take part in the ridden section and six in yearling preparation.

The road to professional horse training hasn’t been easy for Poynton, who says she fell off 148 times before realising there was a better way to approach riding a horse.

Now she is looking to promote safe and effective training techniques that not only work for brumbies but for horses around the world.

The finals of the challenge will be held 17-20 November at the Melbourne Showgrounds. Trainer profiles and their journeys with the horses can be followed online at

First published in the Mornington News – 6 September 2016


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