NRG Breed Highlight – Australian Brumby

While there is often plenty of information for horse breeds on the internet, we thought it would be interesting to share a personal experience and insight into the breed.

The NRG Team’s Jodie Rouget chats with 12-year-old Ryleigh Tanner & her mum, proud owners and best friends of Mr Winx the One-Eyed Australian Brumby.

Mr Winx.

Borne wild.

Survived wild.

Now a little girl’s best friend.

I don’t need two eyes; I see with my heart…

Written by Angel Tanner

Tell us your story of when you first met Mr Winx?

We received a call from a brumby sanctuary asking if we were interested in taking on a one-eyed brumby as a paddock companion as they didn’t feel he was suitable for rehoming. We accepted and he was transported to a friend’s place for us.

The day Ryleigh first met him, she declared his name was Mr Winx – Wink because he couldn’t blink, it was a very cute play on words.

That first day she was touching his nose and neck and he just followed her around the paddock, we knew there was something special about him then and there.

What is his colour, build, height, and weight?

He is a striking bay rabicano who stands spot on 14 hands. He is solid built but not chunky, strong legs and hooves and has a beautiful slope to his shoulder and well-rounded rump. He is well put together.

Tell us about his temperament and character highlights

Mr Winx is a calm thinker, introducing new things during training was like putting a sponge on water, he just soaks everything up and loves to learn.

His first obstacle course took him just 3 minutes. He’d never seen obstacles’ before, but he approached each one with curiosity and figured it out by trial and error with loads of verbal encouragement. The judge on the day said “he did go over time but it was wonderful to be able to see him really thinking, he has such a calm attitude he really tried his heart out at everything”

A definite highlight to having Mr Winx is that we were told early on “you will never do it on that horse” and we do! Mr Winx competes at shows, does stockman’s challenges, obstacle days, jumping, endurance, any task we put him to he completes with calm level headedness. He really is that one in a million horse.

What is his movement/gait like?

He is a smooth ride with big paces, he has a swinging walk that just exudes confidence, his trot is even and he extends beautifully. He can trot all day at an endurance without breaking a sweat. His canter is well balanced now, although we did have some issues on his blind side cantering the first few times, as he would drop in a little, but he has it down pat now that he has more confidence under saddle.

Are there health concerns with Australian Brumbies?

Being an Australian Brumby Mr Winx is ‘as tough as nails’ and hasn’t any health issues; he is after all the result of 180 years of natural selection, survival of the fittest and he is a true attribute to our herd. His instincts are above and beyond that of a domestically bred horse and his intelligence shows how he survived in the wild with only one eye. He amazes me every day with what he can accomplish.

Describe what you think is the perfect human companion suitable for Australian Brumbies

Australian Brumbies make the most honest and safe riding horses (and carriage horses). They really bond with their handlers and form strong relationships. They give all that they have, and I recommend them to everyone! I often say once you go brumby you will never go back to domestics. They can do anything a domestically bred horse can do, from pony club to endurance, stock challenges to team penning, dressage to jumping. If you can name any horse discipline, a brumby can do it, and do it well!

Mr Winx is full of character, he is cheeky, funny, sometimes maybe a little naughty on purpose, but he is always present and engaging. He really does try hard to please and there isn’t a nasty bone in his body. I couldn’t fault him actually; he is a little girl’s absolute best friend. Ryleigh climbs all over him in the paddock and he takes it all in his stride.

What is your highlight so far in your journey together?

His first year in the show scene he was awarded Supreme Champion Brumby of 2019, and he and Ryleigh won the high point award for the Southern Cross Brumby Registry AND junior champion! Proud is an understatement, even with the were hiccups along the way – Mr Winx went to his first show just 6 weeks after going under saddle, so everything was absolutely new to him. In his first up led class, he spooked at the flags and took Ryleigh grass skiing across the field, but she stopped him, turned him around and head straight back into the class, he settled straight away with his tiny human handler and they completed the class to take 2nd place.

What do you and Mr Winx enjoy doing most of all?

Mr Winx has really taken to obstacles, he enjoys the challenge and variety, he also loves pony club, being out and about with the other horses and things being new and exciting.

What do you have planned for the future with Mr Winx?

Ryleigh’s dream is to compete at the Olympics with Mr Winx. Aim for the stars, right? I always say don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do it with a one-eyed brumby! We hear that a lot, and a highlight for us is proving them wrong! This makes Ryleigh work harder and become even more dedicated.  People say Mr Winx has a disability and will only get to a certain level because of his eye, but our mentor, Vanja always says “there’s nothing he can’t do if you approach it right and invest the time”

We have a great crew of people that support Ryleigh and Mr Winx on their journey and his name is becoming well known in the show scene. We have had strangers approach us just to meet Mr Winx because they have heard about him and his ‘little human girl’ from someone else along the grape vine.

He is dual registered with both Australian Brumby Registries and we are in the process of applying for Breed Unknown Quarter Pony registration, based on conformation requirements.

10 thoughts on “NRG Breed Highlight – Australian Brumby

  1. I am so proud to see this post as I personally had the pleasure of showing with Ryleigh and Mr Winx throughout 2019. Coming from a background of 12 years training cow horses, I am definately impressed with Ryleighs potential and in the way that she handles horses. Her bond with Mr Winx, going from only a couple of months handling and in work to then competing like they’d done it for years, really is quite inspiring, as any trainer knows how difficult it is to find an older, untouched horse and make a reliable mount out of them.
    The brumbies in themselves are intelligent, strong and made to last, as I hope the bond does with Ryleigh and Mr Winx.

  2. I got to meet Ryleigh at a brumbie protest in Melbourne some months ago, where we were trying to stop the government shooting other horses just like Mr Winx. (They had two eyes though!) Ryleigh was telling me that she was teaching Mr Winx to jump.

    I said about how the missing eye would affect his ability to perceive distance and height for a jump and that she’d have to find a way to tell him when to take off and how high he needed to jump.

    She smiled at me and said, “that’s OK. I figure that if I” – and she lifted her body in a perfect impression of a rider’s body jumping – “if I just lift my body, he’ll come with me”.

    She must be errr… maybe 8 years old and she gets the holy grail of One-ness between horse and rider THAT well already? What an INCREDIBLE young horsewoman! Mr Winx makes me smile, it’s a two way street with each of them looking after the other. He’s a credit to his breed and a loving testament to what brumbies can do.

    • Jodie Rouget

      Thank you for sharing Jenny, I love Ryleigh’s comment to you. Sounds like she would be an inspiring young lady to meet one day. Jodie

  3. Owning my own brumby ,I have spent many an hour , days and nights in the company of Mr Winx,both with his little human Ryleigh and AJ.
    All of us travelling to various competitions together. Mr Winx has shown his courage and eagerness to give everything he is introduced to a red hot go and has so much determination.
    Having one eye has never held him back and he has certainly adapted himself. Ryleigh is an amazing little rider who has an absolute love for Mr Winx and this is returned by him , trusting his little human and looking after her.
    “ All horses deserve to be loved at least once in their life by a little girl” Mr Winx has eternity !

    • Jodie Rouget

      Hi Vanja, There is just something special about that saying. Here at NRG, we have a Waler that spent his first 5 years wild on a station. They are so different to a domestic horse in so many ways. Very special. Jodie

  4. I love this story… love Ryleigh and her entire family.. Very horse oriented and they have been blessed widh a gift of knowing horses… and working with them. Listening to them with their eyes.. as for Mr Winx… just a beautiful horse one of many brumbies that are the best horses.. and play such an important presence in the mountains and throughout NSW and Victorian high country. The brumbies are an iconic to Australlan history.. They have become NATURALIZED! THEY HAVE EARNED THEIR PLACE IN THE AUSTRALIAN LANDSCAPE.

  5. I am so very glad to see Ryleigh, Mr Winx and Angel receiving the recognition they so deserve!

    Knowing Angel and Ryleigh personally, I know of the dedication, love and commitment shown by them towards the very special Mr Winx, and he returns it in spades with an unquestioning faith that can only come from one who understands he is forever safe, protected and adored.

    Angel is an incredibly intuitive horse handler; one of the truly rare kind who genuinely FEELS the horse in every sense, and Ryleigh is her very attentive and equally intuitive, wiser than her years protégé.

    The result of this dynamic duo is the continually inspiring and ever surprising Mr Winx; once underestimated and considered less than equal to horses with the benefit of both eyes, he now proves at every opportunity that the only limitations in life are those we place on ourselves.

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