I’m dedicating my new novel, Brumby’s Run, to the wonderful Brumby welfare organisations around Australia. These groups rescue Brumbies, train them and rehome them. They campaign to improve the management of Brumbies in the wild. They work hard to raise the profile of Brumbies as part of our heritage, and also as wonderful riding and companion horses.
I’d like to tell the story of one such Brumby, Southern Belle, affectionately known as Bella. Check out the marking on her belly that resembles the Southern Cross. It doesn’t get more Aussie than that for a Brumby! Bella was amongst a group of Brumbies trapped on the 18th of August 2011 in Kosciuszko National Park. They were transported to Gundagai and within 24 hours of capture, were collected by the Hunter Valley Brumby Association. Many Brumbies are not so lucky, and end up at the slaughter-house instead.
Bella found the capture and transport very stressful – at 13 months of age, she had lost everything – her home, her mother and all she knew. Bella’s world had crashed around her. Even after days of handling, Bella still stood in the corner of the yard, head down and trembling from head to toe, completely terrified. It was heart breaking for HVBA President, Kath Massey, to see. People often chase, harass and even shoot Brumbies. There is no way of knowing until horses are handled, which ones have had a very negative experience with people before being trapped.
In time Bella began to develop more confidence in herself and in her surroundings – but only with Kath, who she looked to as the “lead mare” in teaching her about her new domestic world. Bella began to trust Kath – to play and explore and run around with her tail up. It was lovely to see her genuinely happy. Everyone on the HVBA Committee agreed that Bella would be devastated if she was to lose her new home, and she has now been adopted by Kath.
It is hoped that one day Bella will be out in public, showcasing how beautiful Kosciuszko Brumbies are and campaigning to better their future – and with the bond that is now firmly cemented between Southern Belle and her new owner, anything is possible. I’ll keep you updated on their progress!
Coincidentally, my friend Margareta Osborn has just published her debut novel, titled Bella’s Run. A fifth generation farmer, Margareta grew up on her family’s historic dairy farm in East Gippsland. Bella’s Run is set partly in Victoria’s rugged high country and is a great read. The story even mentions the odd Brumby or two!