Please don’t kill off our Brumbies

The Man from Snowy River is a well known poem by A.B. (Banjo) Patterson which tells the story of a horseback pursuit to recapture the colt of a prizewinning racehorse that had escaped, and and is living wild with the brumbies (wild horses) of the mountain ranges.

During the chase, the brumbies descend a seemingly impassably steep slope, and most of the riders give up the pursuit, except for the young hero.

He spurs his pony and chases the mob down the slope.

The poem is set in an area around the headwaters of the ‘Snowy River’, in the Australian Alps, where Patterson had spent part of his youth rounding up brumbies, and where he later bought property.

The Australian Alps form the highest part of the Great Dividing Range in Eastern Australia, and straddle the border between New South Wales and Victoria.

Written late in the 19th Century, The Man From Snowy River helped to forge an ‘Australian’ identity as the separate colonies debated the possibility of forming one nation.

Although the majority of the population are now urban dwellers, there is still a strong link, and identification with the ‘bush culture’.

When the colt from old Regret got away, Australians were inspired by the poem and the brumbies that roamed the country.

Brumbies are often looked at in a romantic way, especially with the bush poetry and stories. But some bush folk will also tell you that they ruin the environment.

Libby Lovegrove had a hobby of riding horses, but it’s now turned into a full blown project. She’s working to save wild horses of the Kimberley from destruction.

Destruction, I hear you say…yes destruction, and it’s already going on, and the numbers are at a ridiculous low. Libby’s interest has taken on a new meaning. She became interested in wild horses after a close encounter while camping in the central Kimberley. She awoke from her swag to see two beautiful horses nosing through the long grass close by. Then Libby heard about a big mob of horses in the Lake Gregory are, south of Halls Creek, which were causing problems but had Arab bloodlines and an interesting heritage.

The Lake Gregory horses number up to five thousand and are thought to have bred from a few original Arabs taken to the Balgo mission in the 1950s.

The horses are at risk of being shot by the Department of Agriculture in their culling program. They are MORE than ‘at risk’. There have already had thousands that have been killed. There is no proof of this because when the Brumbies are killed, they are all put in a hole in the ground and buried. These ‘Brumby land-fills’ are scattered all over the place and is very hard to trace exactly where they are.

Libby Lovegrove says their bloodlines makes them a valuable asset which should be protected.

Recently the Sheik of Dubai took 12 horses to be used in the popular desert endurance races. The horses were handpicked by the billionaire’s veterinarian and have settled in well to Dubai. The horses are apprantly ideal because of their natural endurance and stamina.

Libby Lovegrove says the next challenge for her volunteer run group is to regularly muster the Lake Gregory horses and set up a managment program with the nearby Aboriginal community. That was going to be a logistical challenge, requiring motorbikes, trucks, and people-power.

Other wild horses successfully mustered in the region have been snapped up by buyers in other parts of the state and there’s growing interest from elsewhere in the nation. The horses known for their buckskin, paint, or palomino markings were especially sought after. In the far north Kimberley, horses there have also derived from Arabs used at the Kalumburu mission.

Killing these beautiful creatures can’t be the only way.

by David Livingstone

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