To see the Brumbies in the wild is something special, when you spend time getting to know their different personalities, understanding the herd dynamics it is very hard not to get attached to say the very least.
Mrs Yan was the lead mare of my all time favorite mob, The ever famous Selwyn Mob as most of you know, with Paleface, being the dominant stallion. Mrs Yan has allowed me to share with you all, the successful upbringing of four progeny, including the ever famous Poster Boy. She was a wise, laid back, no drama type of mare, that kept an eye on all that was near, she was always the first to lead the mob away to safer areas, or to better feeding grounds, the one that made the decision when to stop and when to start again.
Mrs Yan and Mob Early 2015
Her bond with Paleface was precious and strong, she was as devoted to him as he was to her and she has taught her young well. From what I can tell she was originally from Kiandra as there is a mob that has numerous replicas of her. I have spotted and photographed Paleface, Mrs Yan and Co intermingling with the mobs on an annual basis usually just before the first snow.
Mrs Yan and three generations "Poster Boy" in the background, last years foal then Jinka Nursing.
The loss of Mrs Yan comes with leaving a four month old foal behind, this was a worry in itself, even though she was just of age that can be weaned, the distance the mobs cover along with the loss of protection from her mumma, it was going to be a major hardship to survive. Gotta say..........It is great news that many a month on, Jinka has not only survived but has truly thrived under the protection of the Mob. She has bonded strongly with the two yearlings in the mob (one her full sibling), Jinka has all of her late mummas traits, with also being laid back and wise beyond her years. I honestly have no doubt that with the bonds that are in place and under the guidance of the Selwyn mob, Jinka will continue to thrive and develop into one spectacular Brumby Mare.
Mrs Yan and her winter 2016 Filly Jinka.
Jinka with her adoptive half sibling 7 weeks after Mrs Yans passing.
Knowing that the mob stayed with her to the very bitter end, ensuring she didnt pass alone just shows how deep the bonds between the mobs run. Something that I hold very dear and close to my heart, is my recent experience of spending time with the Mob by Mrs Yan’s bones, it was almost like they were stopping by to spend a moment with her, each and everyone of the Mob definitely had a peaceful gentle purpose about them, all individually one by one approaching and spending a moment before moving on, to not only witness this, but be part of it was truly an honor for such a special mare.
Jinka this week with her adoptive uncle "Dan"
On yet another late afternoon, we were out on the plain, hosting a tour one of my favourite groups of likeminded photographers, at this moment we were taking the time to discuss the two aged stallions that graze before us (Blog - The Old Mens Club). Out of no where like a blast from the past, a shrill territorial whinny trumpeted out clear across the plain, holding a tone that could only belong to a very special stallion! As in unison each and everyone of us, all turned about to check out the direction the whinny came from, in the distance, at least 800 metres away in full gallop, heading straight towards us, is exactly who I thought it would be.......
O My, O My he is back, not only do we get to see him again, I get to share the experience with a some pretty awesome people, people that I know will not only be in awe of what they are about to see, who will honour the experience for what it is, and that is, I suspect, going to be something special!
As I quickly arranged the group for safety, we all settled into enjoying whatever is about to unfold before us.
The closer he got the more in awe we all became, once again this confident, self assured beauty of a stallion, just seemingly wanted to know why this landscape of his had changed and whether we are friend or foe.
The Stallion quite came close, he circled about us in a horse shoe pattern, slowing to trot, working his way back and forth, checking, processing and most certainly assessing.
Then once again he seemed to make that decision that we are were ok and indeed no threat, and just like last time he took that quiet moment to ponder his thoughts....
Then as quickly as it all began he was off - with not quite as much drama as he displayed with our first meeting, but of course continuing on his way in the completely opposite direction.
No mares in sight, no mob near by, he just seemed to rule the plain.
Each and every member of the group was touched by his presence and if upon arrival of the tour, they were not absolutely in awe of the Brumbies and their spirit they hold, the spirit that is truly unique to the wild horse, then they were most certainly leaving with a new found sense of respect, love and loyalty to this amazing animal.
Thank You once again for ensuring us that indeed the legend of The Colt from Old Regret most certainly lives in, even if it is within our hearts. Stay Safe dear boy till we meet yet again xx
I have mentioned in my past Blogs that if you are up front and honest with the brumby, showing good intention and mean no harm they will repay you ten fold. This is a story in wheres't it most definitely runs true.
Let me begin by introducing you to one of my favourite mobs, this mob has most certainly rewarded me more then ten fold! I mean, we all strive to enjoy them don't we? To be with them in their natural state? But what would you do when it happens? Honour it? Treasure it? Take the time to just be? Or get bored and yearn for some excitement and drama to unfold before you? People love a story, they want to hear how exciting the experience was, not that it went so well, that they just ate or worse, that all they did was sleep!!
The Australian Brumby is truly a glorious creature, they are a peace loving animal that just loves to live in harmony, we all see the photos of drama, stallions fighting, mobs galloping, colts playing, even stallions posturing about trying to figure out what and who is this person with a funny object pointing right at them.....
The reality is that the drama is not even five percent of it with the other ninety five percent is just eating, sleeping and simply put, surviving.
Having the ability to do what I do, Spending the time that I do, among these remarkable animals is a true blessing. By honouring this trust, one particular mob that I follow, has really accepted me as part of their landscape. Now I need to clarify that this mob has never been knowingly hunted, never been continually chased and they live on land that borders a private conservation. Due to this, it is just the polar opposite to some (not all) of the mobs in the National Parks. I am not here to debate the right and wrongs, however to be in the presence of a wild animal no matter the species without fear and suspicion is something that I feel, is truly truly special.
So lets meet the mob, This particular mob consists of two mature Stallions, a number of mature mares plus their foals, two juvenile fillies and one juvenile colt, they have lived in the same territory for seven plus years and, they have never been touched, never been fed and hopefully they will never need to be. They are not confined in any way, just luck of the draw that their chosen territory is exactly were it is, they are protected, loved and admired by all that come cross their paths.
Meet the Dominant Head Stallion
Meet Stallion Number 2
The Boys Interacting.
Finally meet the Lead Mare, I spend most of my time by this Mares side and feel connected to her the most, she has been my gateway to the herd, by gaining her trust, everyone else naturally followed. This mare has handed me a true gift, something I will always cherish and hold dear to my heart.
Now I have no fantastic dramatic story to share, not like the mystery of the Black Stallion but in fact, the complete opposite. The Black is the very beginning of a journey, one that will always be cherished, a journey that I have no idea in where it is heading,or what excitement it will bring, as he belongs in a completely different area that holds a completely different set of dynamics.
All I have to share with you is this story of trust.
Dominant Stallion, Daughter and Lead mare.
Father and Daughter.
Daddy You awake?
Dominant Stallion, Filly, Lead Mare, Filly, Juvenile Colt
For me as, a lover of all things Brumby, a horse women and a photographer I will treasure this trust in the hope it will be extended to all those that too, have that wish of "Just Being" among the Brumbies, our Wild Horse of Australia. If you would like to join me at any time, check out my workshops page for dates and more info.
Until we meet again dear friends stay safe, wild and free xx
It was late afternoon when I just popped quickly over to check out the plain, sniffing about for last light photography opportunities, I am not sure what I heard first, his squealing territorial whinny announcing his arrival with that underlying tone, stating he knows full well there is an intruder about, or the thunder of hooves behind me. Either way as I turned about, I caught a glimpse of a truly magnificent creature galloping full pelt, charging towards my car......
To say that I was a bit taken back is an understatement ! I mean what type of Brumby does that? Sure I have had them posture at me, especially whilst they are figuring out whether I'm friend or foe, many have warned me, when they feel, I am stepping inside their comfort zone and rest assured the Brumbies do have a nature blended of suspicion and curiosity, but charging a car at full gallop? That is something new!!
Now this Stallion had no idea that I was hidden in the trees he was totally focused on the car, after he was done checking it out, he headed on over to greet a couple of Bachelor boys. I took the this particular moment to regain my head, but within minutes, he caught wind that something still wasn't quite right - So he came looking.....
Now as a horsewoman as well as a photographer mixed feelings were mingling about, here is a very magnificent wild stallion that is showing behaviour one needs to be very cautious about, then you have the photographer in oneself that strives to get that all glorious photo, driven to document something that you know is truly unique. Now I do need to add here that I was safe at all times, I am a risk taker yes, but not at the safety of myself or anyone else, as you can see I am in a wooded area that was used to my benefit, along with being armed with the knowledge and past experience to understand what is unfolding before me, At no time did he posture in an aggressive manner, and at no time did I feel threatened.
My experience is that the Australian Brumbies are true thinking animals, they are as honest as the day is long and I for one just delight in watching the process, give them time, be honest with your intent and they will reward you ten fold. This Stallion was no different, just with ten times the confidence and arrogance of the average boy.
His only agenda was to figure out what was not quite right within his landscape, and once he gained a sense of where I was, the exploration continued in earnest, he strutted, he pranced, he posed and he assessed:
Time stood still whilst I was just in awe of this Stallion, his confidence, his arrogance, his charisma was something that we, as little girls, just dream about being in the presence of within. Then with as much drama as it all began, he seemed to make a decision that I was a friend and indeed no threat, he took a moment to soak me in, headed off out of the trees, to rest for a minute, in what seemed to be spending time to process what actually just went down.
Then with as much drama as it all began, he was off!!
Of course he had to have the last say, as he galloped into the completely opposite direction that he came, he confidently kept announcing his freedom in the way only a Stallion like him could.
This boy is just surrounded by mystery, where were his mares? A self assured Stallion like this in his prime would surely have a mob of mares that one could only be proud of, right? Where did he come from? And of course where was he heading? Maybe one day, just maybe I will be honoured with finding the answers, until then, Dearest Black, not only have you been honoured with the looks, markings and confidence of The Colt from Old Regret, you, in my mind have been stamped with the exact same spirit! Thank You for the encounter and until we meet again stay safe dear boy xx
The Man From Snowy River by A.B "Banjo" Paterson
There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses - he was worth a thousand pound,
So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,
For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.
And that is just a gentle reminder of the poem that started the legend of the Colt from Old Regret, for those that are unfamiliar with this famous legend of a horse, you can read the full poem here: http://www.poetrylibrary.edu.au/poets/paterson-a-b-banjo/the-man-from-snowy-river-0001004
What happens to the boys when they are just to old to protect their mares? The up and coming bachelors are a cocky bunch and one must always be on their toes, must be fit, must be strong and most importantly must always be ready. Unfortunately we do not stay young and virile all our lives and at some time we are just going to have to let go, that is universal with any specie across the natural world.
So these boys have three choices and that is to lead their last days out in solitude, dreaming about what was.......
Or you can roam the Hills in the hope to find whatever you are looking for:
Or you can buddy up with another aged Stallion and become part of the Old Mens Club :-)
These two boys are best mates, they are aged and by aged I would say 10 +. The old chestnut boy has had some major injuries as shown in the photos below, he most certainly has seen better days. These two boys are never far away from each other, and if by circumstance they have been separated they are back together usually by daybreak or night fall. I have sighted them kilometres apart to come back and find, with relief that they are together again. These two old mates totally look out for one another, the bay/ brown, I have dubbed Snorty as it is his job to alert, the chestnut then heads on over to checks things out. Snorty is foot sore, he just seems to hate the thought of having to move off and Old Mate well....... I am not sure how much eye sight he has left but by the incident that I had with him nearly tripping on over me, it is safe to say, he has some serious cataracts going on at at the very least!
Now these two boys are pretty blessed they have found each other and whilst they are together they are pretty safe. They have no intention of finding a mare, stealing any mares or even attempting a sneaky serve, all they seem to want is to live their life in peace. They have no agenda, work with each others weaknesses and strengths to maintain that peace that they are looking for, are very self assured in who they are and are accepted by all they come across, Stallions and Mares alike.
They have no ego and Stallions passing by seem to sense that, in return that are not picked on, bullied or belittled in any way, just left alone to live their days out in peace.
The Mens Club are a true delight to be around, no matter how short on time I can be, when I am in the mountains, I do a daily check on them. I find if I totally honour and respect their space, they are more then content for me to be near by. I honestly feel that there is something special about these old fellas, their untold stories, their grace and they way they just be. I am currently working on them to allow my groups to receive the same privilege that I seem to have with them, that I am sure, over time, will happen.
Well we are back from another tour and how good it was!! From a meeting with the Colt from old Regret, to viewing the mobs out on the plains, getting up close and personal with the resident crew and Two stallions putting a bit of a show on..... just for us I may ad, we just couldn't have had a better experience for both photography purposes and being able to experience these magnificent creatures within their own habitat.
Day one, consisted of an afternoon session and as we heading out on foot we came across a glorious mob of Mares and foals with their Stallion having a siesta in the afternoon sun, how pleasing it was to view to come across them almost immediately, along with them all being so nice and relaxed.
As the afternoon went on, sightings were abundant, but nothing like experiencing the shrill of a Stallion out yonder and looking up with the realisation that he is galloping straight at us, there is only one Stallion that shows this type of behaviour and I have dubbed him the colt from Old Regret. Now you may remember him by my other Blog entry the Black Stallion with a star and snip, full of charisma and everything that you dream a Brumby should be, well he graced us with his presence once again, I may also add that it wasn't without drama and in the same exact fashion that he graced us the very first time. He Galloped straight for us, postured for a minute, then seemingly decided that we were ok, spun about and galloped off in the complete opposite direction, leaving all that witnessed him in complete awe!! I will do a separate entry for this fella so keep an eye out for it over the next day or two.
Day Two we were up at 6am to catch the first rays of sun coming up over the horizon, Though we were surrounded by Brumbies off into the distance we were not close enough for any good photography. As we started to make our way towards a mob near a tree line one the fellow photographers spotted a Brumby behind us, as we turned to view who it was, we noticed not one but the two resident Stallions coming down the hill to check us out. Not only did they check us out and decide that we were ok, they put on an early morning show for us, these two Stallions run and manage the same mob together and have done so for many years (at least seven that we know of) they often reconnect with each other with a squeal and a strike or two.
We then had the opportunity to get up, close and personal with the resident mob, they had not been around for a number of days so, to grace us with their presence on the final day was a true treat. The guests had the ability to photograph a curious foal and youngster along with some mares. To have the ability not only to experience but to share the Brumbies with you all, within their own environment, feeling comfortable and not at all threatened by us, is honestly a true privilege. For more photos of my the trip, feel free to check out the Alpine Brumby Gallery.
Well what a trip it was! This trip I spent my main time with one particular herd and once the Stallions (Yes I said Stallions) and Lead Mare were happy that I was not a threat in any way, they settled really really well. The herd consisted of a small band of mares,their foals, fillies,a young colt and two mature stallions.
It was interesting to view the dynamic and fluidity of them all working together, even when another mob came close by and all Stallions had a quick chat, no tension at all, just a simple meet and great.
I had a group of three with me and coming North Qld this was a pretty spectacular moment for them, they have been out and spent time on stations but as you could imagine everything about the Alpine Brumby, including the geography is complete opposite.
To put it mildly the trip was a major success, I will be heading back out again next week with a little larger group, however I dont think that will affect our photo opportunities at all.
Yes it is true!!
After many visits, long hours and researching their daily paths the Australian Brumby Photography Tours has come into fruition. The response has been fantastic with Tours Booking up quickly. Gotta Say, I am very much looking forward to going on this journey and sharing the Brumbies with you all. Not just photographing them but explaining their behaviour, sharing my favourites and passing on the incredible gift of being in their presence.
For more info check out the Workshop Page, www.carolhancock.com.au/workshops
After just arriving back after a successful trip with the Alpine Brumbies I have had time to reflect on how blessed I am, not only did I come across many different herds I actually laid eyes on that Black Brumby stallion that us horsey girls dream about after falling in love with the Man from Snowy River. He blasted down the road, I heard his galloping hooves before I laid eyes on him. From what I can tell he spotted my car and was postering to it (I was out of sight in the treed area). This Stallion then went on to assess and discuss with others his next move and once realising that I was in the trees, graced me with his presence for a good ten minutes of strutting his stuff. Now at no time did he make me feel unsafe, or that he was going to charge, he didnt have a herd to protect was seemed to be a bit odd as he most certainly seemed to be in his prime.
Well what a moment it was!! To have a piece of work chosen to celebrate "50 Years of Photography" with The Photography Institute of Sydney located at The Muse in Ultimo was a real honour.
Well it is finally happening, with the closing of the Exhibition I have been unduly prompted to get this website up and running so here it is, a work in progress yes but looking forward to adding, enhancing and sharing a story or two.
I am leaving today on a two week road trip to continue my project on "Working Life" as well as starting a brand new project SO watch this space!!