30 November, 2022
Clinics connect horses to riders
A GROUP of horse enthusiasts from across the Tablelands gathered in Malanda recently to complete a three-day workshop with Beaudesert-based instructor Donal Hancock.
Mr Hancock specialises in the Liberty discipline of horsemanship, which he said was about working your horse “loose”, without ropes or reins or the use of aids such as whips, spurs, crops, bits and even saddles.
In Liberty horsemanship, the horse and rider are viewed as equal, celebrating the freedom and beauty of horses and the relationships they can develop with their humans.
Participants brought their young horses along to increase their education levels through learning different groundwork techniques, ultimately making them safer under the saddle.
For some students, it was about extending their own knowledge about horse management, socialising their horses and working out what they and their horses were good at while working as a team.
For others, it was about getting a good connection with their horse on the ground and replicating that bond in the saddle.
Mandy Simpson of Mareeba got the group together on Facebook, after researching several trainers and choosing Mr Hancock for their clinic.
Donal Hancock grew up on his family's 12,141-hectare cattle breeding block at Injune called “Saddlers Springs”, where he says “only Brahmans were tough enough to survive”.
Eventually his parents sold out, but having grown up around them, and feeling their magic, Donal decided to make a career with horses.
At the age of 19, he began a year of work with the Australian Outback Spectacular show on the Gold Coast, before running into the Double Dan Horsemanship crew in 2011.
He went on the road with them, helping them out with their clinics, their entertainment shows and their breaking and training. For the next five years he worked between Double Dan and multiple well-respected horse trainers in the USA and Canada.
Using all the knowledge and experience he had gained from the world's best, Donal decided to start his own business in Beaudesert in 2016.
“It felt different stepping out in the horse world with my own new business, but figured I had a fair knowledge base and a lot of support and I was lucky enough to get a great group of people in my very first clinic which I held in Townsville,” he said.
“I believe there are two ways to train a horse – mentally and physically.
“Physically, a horse will only be as good as your hands and feet, but horses do have a brain and when they are trained mentally, they will develop their full potential.
“My clinics are designed for all levels of experience, for any discipline and any horse and I try and keep groups down to 10-15 to maintain the standard of instruction.
“I have really enjoyed working with this group and aim to provide a few clinics up this way in the coming year,” he added