Article by Rachael Houlihan
This article is from the November 2023 Horse Deals magazine.
Gemma Kennedy and Nicknack competing in the Open 75cm class at the Tamworth World Cup Show 2023. Photo OzShotz Photography.
From the rambling, wild landscapes of the Kosciuszko National Park, to the comfort of a loving horse family, a stunning Brumby named Nicknack has found her niche in the showjumping arena.
The five-year-old was captured in the park by National Parks and Wildlife and then found her way to Tamworth’s Duncan family and has proven to be a reliable, honest mare with great trainability and a love of soaring over fences. Angie Duncan and her family have taken on a number of Brumbies over the years from Victoria and New South Wales. “They are just fantastic. They make excellent kids’ ponies,” Angie tells Horse Deals. “My daughter’s first horse was a Brumby.”
When Nicknack arrived at the Duncans’ property, daughters Zali, 16, and Alena, 13, helped to educate her. The girls are experienced Stock Horse riders at the family’s Pinch River Lodge Stud. “She settled in just fine, she was an easygoing mare, always got along with lots of other horses,” Angie says. “She was handled and educated just like our Stock Horses are. We start with things like putting the saddle on, putting halters on, and then one of my daughters hops on and starts to ride in a controlled environment like a round yard. Then we go on trail rides. We always have plenty of breaks in between so they can get their head around what they have learnt. Nicknack was always lovely to do anything with.”
Gemma Kennedy and Nicknack have a special partnership. Photo OzShotz Photography.
Nicknack wasn’t able to be taken to any competitions during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Duncan family were delighted to sell her to Gemma Kennedy, a family friend and talented showjumper. “We were just about at the point of advertising Nicknack, and Gemma came and saw her,” Angie says. “She loved her and had a ride, and it went from there. We were there from the first show they went to together. It was great to see her the first time she went around the showjumping ring. She actually won one of those classes. She is very well looked after with Gemma; she spoils her a lot. It is lovely to see them go to a great home.”
Angie says Brumbies are a wonderful breed and very adaptable to all disciplines. “Nicknack is such a little trooper. She is great in everything she does,” she says. “Once they are educated, they make fantastic kids and pony club horses. They can do everything, and they usually have fantastic feet and not many health issues. They are a very underrated breed. There are very few I have found that have attitude issues. They all take to captivity very well.”
Gemma Kennedy and Nicknack at the Tamworth World Cup Show 2023. Photo OzShotz Photography.
It’s estimated there are up to 400,000 Brumbies across the country, with about 14,000 in Kosciuszko National Park. Large numbers roam freely across the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia. They have proven to be formidable mounts for riders of all ages and adapt easily to children. The Victorian Brumby Association runs the Australian Brumby Challenge, an initiative that aims to showcase the trainability and talents of wild horses. The horses are captured in the wild by the association and sent to trainers across Australia for 150 days of education and horsemanship. The challenge usually concludes with a competition at Equitana.
Gemma, of Callaghan Park Ponies, based in Quirindi, NSW, takes up Nicknack’s story. “I decided to start producing pony jumpers and breed a few as well,” she tells Horse Deals. “Nicknack is the start of this new venture. She is only five, and she has been to about seven shows since I’ve had her. She has only come home from two shows with no placings. She is a little gun.”
Alena, having fun with Nicknack in the dam.
Gemma says Nicknack is competing over jumps at 80 to 85cms easily. “She is very trainable,” she says. “She has been so rewarding. She has full trust in me. I have heard about Brumbies that once they have their trust in you, they will give you their all, and she definitely does. I could put a kid on her, and they would be safe. She had never been rugged before I got her, and she is fine with it. I have turned her into a bit of a show pony.”
Gemma says she has never had a Brumby before. “I saw Nicknack, and never in a million years did I think I would own a Brumby. I rode her a few times, and I had a ball and was laughing the whole time while aboard her. The hard thing with her is that she has spoilt me. Now I want more Brumbies. Everyone thinks she is a Connemara because she is so well put together and has such scope over a fence.”
Gemma is working to get Nicknack over 90cm jumps and beyond. “I don’t want to push her, but as she gets older, I will be hopeful of going higher,” she says. “The aim is to see how far she will go. She will then join the breeding program. I have been offered money for her, but my best friend said, ‘No, you are having too much fun with her’, so I said no, I wouldn’t sell her. She’s my world.
“Brumbies are very versatile; they just need a bit of time, and they will do anything for you. I hope Nicknack can be a Brumby ambassador. She already has a fan club, and at some shows, people have followed her and know her as the little Brumby.”
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