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Way of the Horse © 2010 Walter Berger ADip AppSc (H. Mgt)

The Way of the Horse - The Australian Horsemanship Challenge was introduced to Equitana in 2005 and returned this year in a new format. Three experienced Horsemen from different backgrounds will demonstrate their skills with young unbroken horses for 2 hours over a period of 2 days broken up into 4 sessions. The aim of the Australian Horsemanship Challenge is to obtain a trusting horse with a basic education established, ready to go on with.

Running ringside commentary provided the spectators with ongoing information and education about the different handling methods displayed. This insured that even unexperienced viewers were able to follow what was happening inside the 3 rings set up.

The three horses are randomly chosen and are all stockhorses with similar bloodlines and characteristics.  The 3 year old horses were bred and raised at Moorooluck Stud which is an accredited Australian Stock Horse Society (A.S.H.S) stud. Moorooluck was established in 1985 by John and Barbara Barry, and is located on the Mornington Peninsula at Moorooduc in Victoria. Moorooluck horses are renowned to be calm and intelligent with good temperaments and the right attitude for training.

The three Horsemen all come from different backgrounds.

Dan James

Dan is based in the Kimberley’s at Liveringa Station in West Australia. He started breaking in horses when he was 14 years old in Queensland. He has competed in camp drafting, working horse challenges and has evented at state level. When not working with horses at the station, he works in the stock camp, mustering, driving the road train and bull buggy.

Warwick McLean

Warwick McLean is the senior resident rider at the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre (AEBC) in Clonbinane Victoria. He specialises in foundation training and behaviour modification of problem horses. All his work, both in-hand and under-saddle, produces relaxed and obedient horses. He has spent time breaking in 2 year old thoroughbreds for the Hong Kong Jockey Club. He also spent several months working and training with Kyra Kyrklund, where he also broke-in Kyra’s young two- to 2 old horses. He has also worked at the Søborggård Heste Center in Seeland, Denmark and with Susan Kjægaärd, one of the top 100 show jumpers, in Jutland.

Shane Ransley

Shane has started or restarted many different types of horses from brumbies to horses with serious issues. Shane’s realized that he had a natural talent for seeing patterns of behaviour in horses. He continually produces a calm and confident horse. Shane and his wife Meredith developed Quantum Savvy - a horsemanship programme that is achievable, repeatable, accessible and easy to learn for all horse owners.

The Event

Things start in an interesting fashion. There is a torrential downpour that stirs up the horses even before they are brought into the crowded indoor arena, this is especially the case with Warwicks horse. Each of the Horsemen has a separate roundyard set up, which again probably disadvantages Warwick who normally does not use roundyards in his work. None of these horses have even had a head collar on them in the past, so are a clean slate.

Dan James shows his skill with a rope and by the end of the first day was able to have a brief ride on his horse. Shane has caught his horse and is doing some ground work establishing trust. But Warwick as yet has to catch his colt.

By the start of the second day with only 45 minutes to go, the judges have allowed Warwick’s yard to be modified, enabling him in a fashion more that he is used to. During that time he teaches to colt to lead, move back and there are even the basics of some bareback riding, but the colt is still wary. At the end of the second day both Shane and Dan are riding their horses. Shane is doing some whip work and Dan is riding in a halter doing lots of flexing.

The winner of this year’s event was Dan James

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