Australian Brumby Challenge ©

VBA Moonshine

Colour: Pangare chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail.
Age: Rising 5yo​
Sex: Gelding
Caught: 07/07/2016 from Long Plain, Kosciuszko National Park, NSW
Height: 14.1 (still filling out)

From Damien McNickle, Moonshine's Trainer:
Where to even start with this special little pony? Moonshine steals the heart from everyone he meets. His stunning flaxen mane, chestnut coat and white blaze are very eye catching. He has a soft kind eye that portrays his personality perfectly. What started out as an extremely wary and worried horse has turned into a trustworthy partner and friend for me, who always tries his hardest to please. The progress and changes he has made over the last three months are outstanding and with the right person the progress he could continue to make would be hard to put a limit on.

I have done a lot of miles on Moonshine since he was first sat on. He was started in the round yard but we didn’t have an arena until very recently so for eight or so weeks we rode out. Down the road, past cars, into the woods, through creeks, climbed steep hills, scaled back down them, got excited, calmed back down, rode out with other horses in the lead, behind, in the middle and rode out by ourselves for hours at a time. He learned to go forward in walk, trot and canter on a loose rein and to stop and go back, to move away from other horses, to stand still and be patient. This gave him a great foundation to what riding was all about. He can still spook, and get worried by things he hasn’t seen before, but he won’t over react and will wait for instruction. Some things take longer to work through than others, and rushing him into things won’t help him. Ask for a little bit at a time and reward the try. Reassure him, let him think about it, then, ask for a little more. I haven’t come across a single thing that we couldn’t do using this approach. But he needs to be listened to.

Moonshine certainly loves his breakfast and dinner and a big paddock of lush grass, however on the spring grass he can become bloated very quickly so his weight is definitely something that would need to be kept on top of, even when in a lot of work. The other thing he loves most is attention. He can stand literally all day and be groomed, scratched and loved on. I generally don’t give him treats from my hand for this reason. He is happy to be in your space when invited but if given treats I feel it wouldn’t be long before he could become a little pushy if allowed to. He is very good with other horses. He has been turned out with mares and geldings and generally is pretty submissive, that being said he enjoys playing with other geldings when they’ll take him up on it.

I feel Moonshine could turn his hand to any discipline. He is a sensitive horse to ride, very soft in the hand and quick off your leg. He is really starting to develop through his body, gaining muscle through his back end and along his top line and has really started to carry himself in a natural frame and is becoming quite athletic. With an experienced rider who would continue with his education in a step by step manner I think he would be suited well to Western Dressage. That being said I think he would equally suit an experienced teenager or adult who would do pony club or adult riding club. I have done some little jumps with him and he’s not batted an eyelid at them but I have still to find out what he’s like over something a little higher, which I will do over the coming weeks. I tend to try and vary his training as much as I can. He is very smart and picks things up very quickly. Because of this I don’t like to drill him on things, I’ll do something until he’ll do it right once or twice, then I’ll go work on something else and come back to it a little later. Same goes for schooling, riding out, or working on other little things. If I’ve done some schooling in the morning, I might play with some obstacles, or ride out in the afternoon. Sometimes I’ll just bring him in to be groomed and fussed over. I think I have learned to read him quite well and if he feels a little reluctant about going to the school or heading down the road, we’ll still do it, but I know that next time I need to do something else to keep him willing.

Although Moonshine is very safe to ride, I feel like he needs someone who’s knowledgeable and experienced. Because he is so smart it would be very easy to inadvertently teach him to do the wrong things, so he needs someone who’s consistent and understands how he’s been trained.He’s good to catch, good with his feet, will float well, will stand tied up all day if needed. He’s respectful around food and other horses and has really grown to love people. I haven’t come across anyone he doesn’t want to go and investigate and get a cuddle from. If there was any way I could keep Moonshine for myself I would. He’s everything you could want in a horse and more.

Ridden Brochure.pdf​​


McDowells Herbal Challenge Ridden Brumbies

VBA Ariat

Colour: Dark Brown with a star.
Age: 5 years old

Sex: Gelding
Caught: 18/08/2017 from Long Plain, Kosciuszko National Park, NSW
Height: 13.2hh (still filling out)



From Shaniah Dye, VBA Ariat's Trainer:

Ariat thrives off knowing he is pleasing people, with the right partnership consisting of love and respect he will try anything. He does require time though, pushing him won’t benefit anyone in the long run, he takes time to adjust and needs someone who can go out with an “I have all day attitude”.

I do strongly believe that Ariat would work better with a female rather than a male as he is still fearful of men which will not be a simple short term problem. He would need to be gradually introduced to men by a female who can provide him with the confidence to eventually trust them.

With the right partnership I believe Ariat would excel in nearly any discipline. Since early in his training he has shown an incredible ability to jump and appears to enjoy it, so consider that this is something that could be pursued in his future.My training philosophy is based around horsemanship, working with the horse, using their natural behaviour, instincts and personality in a gentle manner which benefits both the horse and trainer in the long run.