Australian Brumby Challenge ©




Yes, at the completion of the McDowells Australian Brumby Challenge, all Brumbies who are not being kept by their trainers will be auctioned on the final day of EQUITANA Melbourne 2018. Bidders must be approved and registered in order to be able to bid at this auction.

We want potential bidders to have some time to observe how the Brumbies are being trained prior to registering to bid, so applications for approval to bid will commence on Monday the 1st of August, the application form to become a registered bidder will be available here on this date.

If you have any questions, please feel free to speak to our team by emailing or calling Colleen on 0408 201 107


The Brumbies that are taking place in the ridden component of the Australian Brumby Challenge were all born in the wild in either the Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales or the Alpine National Park in Victoria. The Yearlings were all conceived in the wild and born at our Brumby Junction sanctuary ad raised in balanced family mobs in huge paddocks. The Brumbies in both the Kosciuszko and the Alpine National Parks are being managed by the relevant government and parks authorities as part of an ongoing Park management program. The VBA has been heavily involved in both programs since 2008, sitting on committees that work to develop and improve best practice management in terms of capture methods, how Brumbies are ‘disposed of’ after they’re caught and also the management of the Brumbies that remain wild. Unfortunately, there are just not enough homes for the Brumbies that are caught and many of them are slaughtered for pet food. The Brumbies who come to us are certainly the lucky ones! Our Brumbies do vary a little in size, shape and colour according to where they have been caught – we are very happy to answer any questions you might have about them and you can also read more about the different regions Brumbies on the Information tab of our website ( ). The important thing to note is that our Brumbies are a combination of old style breeds and they grow and mature until they are six or seven. This can be very different to our modern domestic horses.

The capture process used to capture our Brumbies is referred to as ‘Passive trapping’. This is where the rangers who capture the Brumbies set up portable yards, much like a roundyard. The trap yards are left open for the Brumbies to get used to them and then the rangers begin baiting them with mineral licks, salt and occasionally also molasses and lucerne. Once the Brumbies are comfortably going in and out of the yards, an automatic trigger is set up that closes the gate once the family mobs are in. This generally results in all or most of a family group being caught together. The benefits of this are huge and we keep them in their family groups throughout their settling in process at our sanctuary.

After their capture, the Brumbies are trucked out of the National Park to a nearby holding property, from which they are picked up by us. We are lucky enough to be able to take all the Bogong (Alpine National Park, Vic) Brumbies, but in the case of the Kosciuszko National Park, so many are caught that this would be impossible. We do however, whenever possible, take whole family or bachelor groups, rather than ‘cherry picking’ for assorted individuals or a certain colour or type.
The Brumbies for the McDowell's Australian Brumby Challenge were caught at different locations at different times. Almost all of the mares were all in foal at capture and so have been given time to foal down in peace at our sanctuary prior to being prepared for the Challenge. Most of the stallions and yearlings were caught twelve months prior to the Challenge. On their arrival with us, they were settled into ‘family’ groups. They were then turned out into paddocks to graze, get used to life on a farm and recover condition – being caught is a stressful event, no matter how passive!
Part of our preparation for the McDowell's Australian Brumby Challenge was teaching our Brumbies to move sensibly through our yard system, including the race. In addition to assisting with their fence training, this also allows us to undertake basic veterinary and health assessments and complete de-lousing, de-worming and gelding treatments. The Brumbies were also taught to drink from artificial water sources (troughs etc) and acclimated to hay as well as being given free access to mineral licks.

On the 23rd of June 2018, the McDowell's Australian Brumby Challenge Brumbies were picked up by our approved trainers to commence their 150 days of training. All the Brumbies were free loaded through a laneway onto safe transportation and travelled well to their temporary homes.
Please take the time to look through our website ( ). On the Trainers page, you can click on each different trainer, read their own personal biography and that of the Brumby they are training and then follow the journey that they have taken as the Brumby they are training goes from Wild to Wonderful!


You may be wondering why we have an approval process to be allowed to bid on our Brumbies? That is simple - because we always keep the welfare of our Brumbies as our primary concern. Getting to know you, as a potential new home for a Brumby will help us to ensure that we are able to make lasting placements and have happy Brumbies and happy owners, so both the Brumbies and the new owners get to benefit from our many years of pairing up happy Brumbies with new people!


Once we receive your application to bid, we will call you to briefly chat about your application and answer any questions you might have. This is also a great opportunity for us to get to know you a little if we haven’t already met and we may be able to suggest Brumbies that could suit you that you were not aware of yet.
After your application is approved, a Bidding number will be prepared for you, which you can pick up from our VBA stand at EQUITANA from 4pm on Saturday the 17th of November. Bidder numbers will be colour coded to show whether people can bid on Yearlings, Ridden Brumbies or Both. The reason for this is that some families may have the experience to take on yearlings but not ridden Brumbies and vice versa.


The Auction will take place after the prize giving ceremony at about 2pm on Sunday the 18th of November 2018. Only registered, approved bidders with bidder numbers will be eligible to bid. It is a competitive auction and we hope that there will be a great deal of interest in our Brumbies, which will help us to find the very best homes that we can!

We will have Eftpos and credit card facilities present throughout the weekend to make it unnecessary for people to take the risk of carrying cash with them.


All successful bidders will receive a lesson voucher from the trainer who trained the Brumby they have purchased. This lesson cannot take place at Equitana – the Brumbies will be tired and ready for a rest after five days in stables and four days of an event such as EQUITANA. The trainers are happy to work with you however, to ensure that you and your Brumby get off to a smooth start to your new life together!

The VBA is also happy to help and advise you wherever we can – please remember that we are only ever a phone call away! Each Brumby will have their own book to take home – this has all the updates and photos the trainers have put in over the course of the ABC as well as lots of other information that you will need to transfer their registration, microchip etc.


The important thing to remember is that these Brumbies have developed great relationships with their trainers and the trainers have also gone about the very important process of socialising them with other people etc. If you should bid on one of these Brumbies and take them home, the critical thing you need to succeed is a bond with your new Brumby. Please keep in mind that they are not motor bikes and climbing on and going for a ride the very first day home would be extremely unfair on your Brumby and detrimental to your relationship with them.

Brumbies are not a breed of horse that requires daily work to keep them tractable – the key to this is your relationship with them. If you take them home and give them love and patience as they settle in, this will pay off for many years to come. Take your time, go over the steps that the trainers will have shown you and please don’t ever hesitate to call either the trainer or us at the VBA if you have any questions at any point. Follow this formula and you will have a long and wonderful relationship with your wonderful new Brumby!

The best way to get started is to take your Brumby home to a nice safe yard where they can have a few days of ‘downtime’ with not too many expectations. This gives you a chance to go over the basics with them as well – catching and haltering and walking out for a green pick and explore in hand – it will all come together to build your relationship. Once you feel your Brumby is used to you and is caught happily, they are ready to go out in the paddock. You may even choose to give your new Brumby a conscious spell of a week or two at this point whilst they take in their new home. You will never ever look back and think you spent too much time on this crucial, relationship building phase!

Once you feel that you are ready to begin working with your Brumby, go through their ‘going home book’ and start with ground exercises that are familiar to them – the trainers have given good explanations of these through their updates. You needn’t rush to get on them and in fact, you will find that if you deliberately plan to NOT be on them for around four weeks, you will reap many benefits.

Remember, these Brumbies have 150 days of professional training – that is a lot of training, but their life experiences, when it comes to people and different people, are not huge – socialisation is the key to well balanced horses! Of course, they’re not going to go as well for you as they did for their trainer straightaway, but with patience and time, you will form a bond like you have never experienced with another horse and build a lifelong relationship with them!

Brumbies from the last Australian Brumby Challenge went on to become great kids ponies, trail riders, dressage ponies and natural horsemanship horses. The ones who have really excelled are the ones who took that first month or two to build great relationships and trust.

If you have any questions at all about the application or bidding process or the Brumbies, please don’t hesitate to call or email us  at the above details.