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18 July, 2022

Club grounds evolve into horse hub

MAREEBA is set to become a central hub for equestrian sports and activities on the Tablelands with the Mareeba District Pony Club throwing open their gates and offering their grounds to other like-minded groups.

By Rhys Thomas

Mareeba District Pony Club president Mark Bowe, secretary Wendy Lehmann and head instructor Lyn Whyte are excited to welcome more horse natured clubs to their grounds.

The club’s expansive grounds on Chewko Road have been solely used for pony club events however with new president Mark Bowe at the helm supported by a seasoned committee, the club has taken a new direction and decided to open their grounds for other groups to use. 

The Pony Club currently hire the grounds to a western club, FNQ Jump Club, North Queensland Working Horse Association and private lessons from Equestrian Australia show jumping instructor, judge and course builder Rebecca Henry. 

“These grounds were essentially just for pony club – there is a nice amount of ground here so we decided to share it with more people,” Mr Bowe said.

“This idea was passed around a couple of years ago and since then we have made the grounds available for hire. 

“By bringing more people in, what we want to do is establish good pathways for the kids which could provide career pathways working on stations in the outback or representing Australia at the Olympics or employment in the equine industry.

“Pony Club is great for bringing the young kids in and gives them a good overall picture of everything horse sports, jumping and eventing has to offer under the guidance of qualified instructors.” 

Groups don’t have to be centred around the sporting side of horses either with the club currently sharing space with the North Queensland Working Horse Association which uses horses to work cattle.

“Eventually we would love to have the facility here to even have some come along and do some equine assisted therapy,” Mr Bowe said. 

Alongside these other groups, the pony club holds their own gymkhanas throughout the year as well as attending other gymkhanas held by neighbouring clubs. 

The club is open to welcome any other equestrian related club or disciplines within reason including dressage, working equitation and more as long as it is safe. 

Clubs like the North Queensland Working Horse Association have been welcomed to the pony club’s grounds with open arms, getting a separate section of the grounds to set up yards and other facilities. 

One of the association’s members was also a part of the Mareeba District Pony Club and put forward the idea to move into the pony club grounds. 

Jackie Nastasi from the working horse association has been riding horses since she was a child but only recently got into the cattle side of horse riding. 

“I did pony club and played polocrosse until I was about 15, I then got out of horses and didn’t ride for about 20 years or more,” she said. 

“Then I bought a horse for my kids about 12-13 years ago for them to learn how to ride and that is how I got started again.

“I have always wanted to do stuff with cattle - the club was just down the road from where I live so I joined so that I could work my horse in their sand arena. I found out that they do cutting and other cattle stuff so that is how I got started.” 

Jackie Nastasi from the North Queensland Working Horse Association is pleased to share the ground with the pony club where she runs cattle related horse events.

The association hosts cutting events where riders pick a cow out of a herd of cattle and work it with their horse to not let it get back into the herd and ranch cutting events where riders pick the cow out of a herd of cattle and instead put it into a small pen in an allocated time. 

Ranch sorting is another type of event the club hosts where two people team up to move numbered cattle from one pen to the other in an allocated time. 

The association also runs horsemanship programs, come and try and beginner days for people looking get experience moving cattle.

If you would like to contact the Mareeba District Pony Club to hire out their grounds for an event or talk further about other opportunities, contact club secretary Wendy on 0419 759 118.

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