Written by Fran Jurga | 19 November 2008 | The Jurga Report at EquiSearch.com
As the curtain rose today on the Equitana Asia-Pacific exhibition in Melbourne, Victoria, Australian horse lovers must have breathed a sigh of relief. Just a year ago, the blockbuster event had to be canceled as Equine Influenza (EI) swept through the neighboring state of New South Wales and, further north, through Queensland.
As thousands of horses sniffled and coughed, racetracks shut down, rodeos and shows were canceled. All horse transport stopped. You couldn't even trailer your horse to a trainer or ship a mare to be bred. It was the first time the highly-contagious disease had been known in Australia. It gripped the nation's equine economy by the throat and held on for six months. At one point, there were doubts that Australian horses and riders would be allowed to compete at the 2008 Olympics. It was a dark time.
Equitana was one of the many events canceled but it was re-scheudled for this year. This huge festival of horsedom includes exhibitions, a giant trade show, clinics, nightly circus-like performing horse acts, and the creation of a re-united tribe, for a few days anyway, that is relaxing and enjoying the shows.
How would you choose between clinics by Australia's Olympic eventer Clayton Fredericks, the USA's natural horse-couple of Pat and Linda Parelli, or the Danish dressage rider Andreas Helgstrand? Tough one.
I know one clinic I wouldn't want to miss. Greg Powell is the man from snowy river, himself, a brumby (Australian for wild horse) expert who has been active to save the wild horses of the New South Wales mountain ranges. Greg has been working with a program called Youth Off the Streets that involves troubled kids in the training of brumbies. I think I would make time to listen to anyone who says things like:
"As a society we (should be) embarrassed about what we've done to our wild horses," he said yesterday in an interview with The Age newspaper as he prepped his crew of brumbies for his Equitana show. "The street kids get swept under the carpet in the same way." They say that three months out with the brumbies is worth five years of counseling and therapy.
Madeleine Pickens, are you reading this? (See Monday's post on this blog about Texas equine activist Ms. Pickens, who is working to "adopt" the 30,000 or so wild horses currently penned by the US government; she's going to need some helpers when and if her plan succeeds.)
Click here to read the rest of the article in The Age about Greg, or click here to go to his web site.
And call me if you can tell me how he got four wild horses to pose for that picture.