Hunter Valley Brumby Association
In August 2012 the HVBA team met the most terrified brumby we had ever seen. Coolabah was always one to turn heads, with his exceptional confirmation, big white star onhis forehead and beautiful floaty gait, he caught our eyes right from the start. What we didn't yet know was how old Coolabah was, or how the experiences he had endured out in the park would effect the rest of his life. Coolabah acted in a fairly normal way towards humans when he first came to us, he was scared, but he would turn to look at you, always trying to do the right thing.
It wasn't until it came time to try and put a halter on him that we discovered what had happened to him. So far he had been very gentle, allowed us to pat him on the neck and scratch his rump on his off side, but when we held up the lead rope to show him what it was and let him sniff something we assumed he had never seen before, he lost all control. He would strike out at the rope, and just the sight of it would turn him into a sweating, shivering mess. This Brumby had clearly had past experience with ropes.
As his winter coat started to fall out, an old faded scar was revealed on his neck, and we knew our fears had been correct. Coolabah had been roped in the park and escaped. He had probably run around with that rope dragging behind him for months, getting it caught on things, and pulling tighter and tighter around his neck.
We will never truly know what happened to Coolabah, but this is an excellent example of why you should never, ever chase a wild brumby.
It took Kath eight months to stand on Coolabah's near side (a right handed horseman would rope a horse on that side) and since that break through he has come along in leaps and bounds. Coolabah and Kath have formed an amazing bond while working together and he now trusts her completely. He still has major trust issues with strangers, and can be very cautious around our regular volunteers.
When we found out that Coolabah was not the young colt we had first thought, but an eight year old Stallion, we were all the more shocked.
Coolabah will never be rehomed. After all he has been through, it wouldn't be fair. He is too old, too set in his ways, and loves Kath way too much. He has really settled into his domestic routine and either hangs out with the other older residents at the Sanctuary, or helps show the new babies how great domestic life can be.
Please note: You can find photos of Coolabah's journey on facebook! Yes, he was scared at times, but he was never in any danger and now knows that we would never do anything to hurt him. As you can see he has come along way.
Mack came to the HVBA in 2011, due to his small size it had been assumed by everyone that he was a young colt, but it was soon discovered he was actually a three year old Stallion. Since then, Mack has grown to love his domestic life. He is our most affectionate Brumby, always ready for a cuddle, and is more kind and patient with children than any domestic "bomb proof" pony.
Mack is now an important part of the HVBA team, looking after young Brumbies when they first come to the Sanctuary, and teaching our new volunteers how to handle a Brumby. Mack has recently been saddle trained and has been proving that he really is the most trust worthy kids pony around!
We do our best to find a new home for every Brumby that comes through our door, but sometimes, due to no fault of the Brumby, this is just not possible.
There are times when we find a Brumby that can help us make the transition to domestic life easier for new Brumbies, and these Brumbies become an invaluable part of the HVBA team.
But then there are the other times, when they come to us so damaged from the trauma of capture, or so terrified of people from being chased and/or roped by hooligans out in the park, that we simply cannot release them from our care. When this happens we will happily provide them with a home for the rest of their lives where they can live free from fear and with all the comforts they would be afford if they were able to be rehomed.
Below are the stories of our permanent residents, we hope they can educate people on how an individual's actions towards our wild brumbies can have life long effects.
Titan was captured from Kosciuszko NP in 2014 as a 6 year old herd stallion. Sadly Titan has suffered serious injuries in the wild; the loss of his left eye, broken nose and a damaged cartilage in throat. But we love him just the same!
Titan was a favourite amongst photographers in Kosciuszko NP and we have been very lucky in obtaining pictures of him out in the wild.
This very special boy has settled in to domestic life well and he enjoys the large paddocks and protecting his girls and foals as they are born. And of he loves a good scratch from the volunteers, especially on his blind side as he cannot see the branches and it would be too dangerous to do this himself.
Titan will live out his days here at the HVBA Sanctuary as one of our main "stallions", like Pindari, but of course he is gelded.
If you would like to Sponsor one of Titan's family members, please just go to our Sponsorship page.
Pindari had a very rocky start to life as a domestic. He came to us in 2012, a quite, sweet boy, 3 years of age, Pindari was devestated by the loss of his family and developed capture myopathy, a stress induced illness that often results in death of the animal. We turned Pindari out into a big paddock for a few months and luckily he slowly recovered.
He is now very confident around people, but has been trained slowly so as not to confuse his shy, quite nature with shutting down from stress. Pindari has become a vital member of the HVBA team, and we often comment how we "couldn't have done that without him!". So what is this all important job Pindari is doing? He is protecting the mares that are either going to foal or have come in with tiny babies. He is a natural herd leader and the mares trust him instantly and his confidence around people spreads to both the mares and foals in his care. If we need to bring the mares and foals into the yard for any reason (worming, vet care etc.) Pindari shows them the way with no fuss.
Pindari will adopt any foal, born at the sanctuary or in the wild, and plays the role of co-parent without fault. Whether it be standing lookout while the exhusted mares have a break, handing out discipline when needed or playfully chasing the foals around the paddock, we can see Pindari was born to have his own family and since we have given him one, he is the happiest and healthiest we have ever seen him.
We cannot take this away from him and if we want our Brumby foals to grow up in a proper herd structure, we really need him to be our herd "Stallion" (Note: he is gelded). So for now, Pindari will continue to live at the HVBA Sanctuary with his ever growing and changing family.