There’s a chill in the air but that is not bothering the brumby stalkers.

Photos Grenville Turner

Huddled behind mulga scrub, cameras and binoculars at the ready, they wait patiently for the wild horses to emerge from the bush. A stallion comes into view, raises his head, ears pricked, sensing their presence. He stamps the ground and the mares move behind the bushes. 

This is the first day of the 2018 Wild Brumby Tour and already the group has spied a half dozen brumbies grazing near Palm Valley, west of Hermannsburg, NT. The tour is the brainchild of Tasmanian equine-hoof specialists Jeremy Ford and wife Jen Clingly, who have been guiding enthusiasts for more than a decade.

“What inspired us to do the tours was to see the wild horses in their natural habitat and see the capabilities of the natural hoof,” Jen says. “We teach that horses don’t need metal shoes and that their hooves are capable given the right environment, the right movement and the right nutrition.”

Jacky Ynema is a hoof trimmer from Western Australia on her fourth tour. “It’s been interesting looking at the horses in a different year,” Jacky says. “Hopefully there will be more later on.” As it turns out over the next few days, the brumbies are difficult to find. This is not a deterrent to the chasers. In fact it only feeds their enthusiasm. 

“We have made our lives around horses,” says Rob Howden, who is with his partner, equine nutritionist Carol Layton. “This is my first trip here to study brumbies and it’s really interesting to see the country and the conditions.”

For Christine Chong, it’s also about the photography. “You get these amazingly framed shots of wild horses and they seem to be posing in the classic pose you want from a horse, with their ears pricked and heads up, looking straight at the camera.”

The three-day tour starts and finishes in Alice Springs, with stop-offs at Kings Canyon and Watarrka National Park, as well as a visit to the Aboriginal homeland of Christine Braedon and Peter Abbott.

This story excerpt is from Issue #120

Outback Magazine: August/September 2018