Briar Morris describes herself as a fun-loving and horse-mad individual that loves doing wild things, and it doesn’t get any wilder then working as a brumby trainer.
The 22-year-old is currently working with Levi (a wild brumby from southern New South Wales) at a property in Winchelsea ahead of Australia’s biggest equine event in Melbourne – the Australian Brumby Challenge running November 15-18.
The challenge sees professional and non-professional trainers paired with a wild brumby (passively trapped as part of an ongoing management program) from the High Country of Victoria and southern New South Wales where they have 150 days to train them.
“Some people think removing the brumbies form their natural habitat is cruel, but it saves many of the horses lives,” she said.
“If they just stay out in the wild, Parks Victoria and the New South Wales government would’ve shot them with the cull going on, it’s a bittersweet story for them all. This is a humane way of salvaging them, if they didn’t come home they’d be on the trucks to a slaughter house sold for human consumption where they get eaten overseas.”
The competition, partnered with EQUITANA, consists of two parts; the Ridden Challenge where brumbies aged four and older are saddle trained and the Youngster Challenge, where yearling aged brumbies are trained and presented in hand only.
“At the end of the competition the brumbies are auctioned off to their new owners; if you are the trainer and want to keep them you pay the reserve price which is $1,200.
“Lots of people think brumbies are feral horses that can’t do anything or they’re not skilled. People think their just trail riding horses, but they can jump and move well.
“They’re also good looking, so many people come out to my property and are surprised when the see my brumbies (four in total) and what they look like.”
Originating from Queensland, Ms Morris said her love affair with horses began when she got her first pony at three-years-old, and working with abused and handled horses as a teen.
“I began training my first brumby in 2016 (Esther) who still lives with me now. In the beginning, I watched a lot of online tutorials and videos and ventured into liberty training (where there are no ropes, saddles or bridles used),” she said.
“It allows the horses to build trust and lets them decide if they want to interact with me. Eventually, I’d like to get my horses working as a team and travel with a show to promote brumbies and highlight that they’re very trainable when given the chance.
“They have such a great life experience, are willing and quick learners, are really smart on their feet compared to your domestic horses who have grown up in a sheltered life.”