Ben and Louise discover that life on a remote cattle station is very different to their Snowy Mountains home. Missing her horse, Honey, Louise struggles to adapt to the outback.
Ben has a graver concern: he is desperate to prove that Brandy, his stallion, is fit after a serious leg injury, otherwise he may be destroyed. From mustering and working cattle, to tracking and taming desert brumbies, both friends are challenged by their experiences.
“Paula Boer has captured the enduring spiritual connection between our iconic Australian brumby and fictional legends that young people yearn for in a modern world. Compulsory reading for those who cherish our high country.”
― Peter Cochran. former MP for Monaro and fifth generation resident horseman of the High Country.
“Brumbies, written by Paula Boer and beautifully illustrated by Rowena Evans is an action-filled, well-crafted, young adult story set in the Australian bush. The main protagonists, Louise and Ben follow a tight adventure that brings the action and feel of horses, and the uniqueness of the countryside vividly to the reader. One cannot help but get swept up in the thrill of riding and interacting with the magnificent brumbies that are the life of the story. I would recommend Brumbies as a great read for both the young reader and the young at heart.”
“Paula’s story of a young girl learning more about horsemanship, as she learns the life of the wild horse, provides a learning curve for all her readers – whatever their degree of ‘horsyness’! The author’s descriptions of the bush and the animals clearly demonstrate her deep love of both.”
― Christine Larsen
Edition #70 – June 29, 2014
BRUMBIES IN THE OUTBACK
By Paula Boer
A dust haze hovered above the metal yards, disturbed by thousands of cloven hooves churning up the dry ground. As Louise opened the door of the horse truck, the heat greeted her like a solid wall. Flies swarmed in her face. Men waved their arms and dogs scurried around the outside of the railings, chivvying the cattle up the ramp onto the decks of the road train with a clatter. Two other trucks with three trailers each parked in line waiting to be loaded.
Louise had to shout above the noise of two thousand cattle lowing and what seemed to be twice as many corellas squawking in a nearby dead tree. The birds looked like white leaves on the silver branches, stark against the dusk sky. “What’s happening?”
“The store cattle are going to market. They should make good prices too. Look at the condition they’re in.” Ben had lived on a farm all his life and happily shared his knowledge with Louise. His family ran livestock at Mirraburra in the high country of southern Australia, but nothing on the scale of Warringul, his Uncle Graeme’s million acre cattle station out west.
Slamming the door of the old truck, Louise nodded in agreement, though the tall Brahman didn’t look fat to her compared to the Herefords of the mountains. “Isn’t it late to be loading them now?”
Ben shook his head. “The stockmen will have spent the day drafting out the ones they want. Travelling by night is cooler for the animals.”
Louise followed Ben round to the tailgate of the horse truck and admired Brandy. The brumby stallion held his head high with ears pricked as he surveyed his new surroundings. His liver chestnut coat gleamed with health. Spying a mob of stock horses in a set of yards on the other side of the cattle, he gave a shrill whinny. The working horses didn’t answer, though some looked across with interest at the new arrival. Nearly all chestnuts and bays, with only one grey, the working horses appeared sleek and fit.
Clipping a rope onto Brandy’s headcollar, Ben calmed him down with a stroke on his neck and a gentle voice. “Come on, let’s find you somewhere safe to go.”
Louise hurried up the ramp to close the gate behind the horse. A two-year-old bull snorted and pawed at the floor, keen to descend from the transport that had carried them all for the last nine hours. Brandy had been able to get off and stretch his legs when John, Ben’s brother, had stopped for a break, but the bull couldn’t be walked around like the stallion.
Snifter, Ben’s three-legged blue heeler, bounded at Louise’s legs. She stooped to scratch him behind the ears. “How did you get out? Did you jump out of the window?”
“Yeh, he always does that. I guess he wants to have a run too.” Ben whistled and pointed for Snifter to sit away from the truck. The dog did as told, pink tongue lolling out to the side of his mouth as if he wore a huge grin. Ben had explained to Louise that the crippled dog wouldn’t go mustering with them, but he hadn’t wanted to leave his mate behind.
Brandy pranced down the ramp, his tail held up and coat glistening with a light sheen of sweat. He looked magnificent until Louise focused on the scar on his hind leg. The five-year-old brumby had become tangled in a fence six months ago; it had been a close call whether or not he would survive. Ben had started to ride him again, but the vet didn’t know if the injured leg would stand up to serious work.
Paula Boer started her lifelong love of horses at age 7. Since then she has competed in many disciplines as well as catching and breaking in brumbies. She has raced the native horses in Mongolia, climbed the heights of Colombia on horseback, and competed in many endurance rides.
Paula wrote the latest, Brumbies in the Outback, while working on a remote cattle station in Far North Queensland.
Paula is a regular contributor to horse magazines, especially HorseWyse, covering topics such as how to take your horse camping, how to get a horse fit and the thrills of mustering in the outback.
Paula lives in Australia’s Snowy Mountains on 500 acres with her husband, horses and a stick-loving dog.