Getting into horses’ heads is part of the job for Digby Foster, who trains wild brumbies in the Northern Tablelands of NSW.

Story & photos by Michelle Stewart

The title brumby whisperer might not sit well with acclaimed horseman Digby Foster, but it accurately describes him and his ability to turn brumbies from Guy Fawkes River National Park, in NSW, into trained saddle-horses. Like many bushies, Digby is a man of few words, but it’s worthwhile to listen when he speaks as he has a wealth of knowledge about natural horsemanship. “It’s all about being able to adjust to fit the situation – finding a better way to open the doors of communication between man and horse,” Digby says.
Apart from the four years spent in Sydney attending Barker College, Digby has always been on the land. He lives on 570-hectare “Ellesmere”, which is part of a property once owned by his grandparents. Ellesmere is nestled in a picturesque, rugged valley east of Ebor on the NSW Northern Tablelands. With his wife Helen and children Jason, Matthew and Emma, Digby runs a biodynamic beef cattle operation. Wild dogs were the main reason the family moved away from sheep some years back, and today they only keep a small mob of sheep – just enough to keep their working dogs active. There’s no place for motorbikes on Ellesmere. Instead, real horse power is utilised. “Motorbikes might get you from A to B quicker than a horse but once you’re at B, a horse gets the job done faster,” Digby says.

This story excerpt is from Issue #47

Outback Magazine: June/July 2006