Clinics connect horses to riders

Mr Hancock specializes in the rider’s Liberty discipline, which he said was about working the horse “weakened”, without ropes or reins or the use of aids such as whips, spurs, crops, bits and even saddles.

In Liberty riding, horse and rider are seen as equals, celebrating the freedom and beauty of horses and the relationships they can develop with their humans.

Participants brought their young horses to further their education by learning different working techniques, ultimately making them more confident under saddle.

For some students, it was about expanding their knowledge of horse management, socializing their horses and discovering what they and their horses were good at while working as a team.

Millaa School principal Annie Coase brought 4-year-old Jacob to socialize him at the clinic

Claudia Schmeink and Amy Braes await their turn in the ring

For others, it was about getting a good connection with their horse on the ground and replicating that connection in the saddle.

Mandy Simpson from Mareeba put the group together on Facebook after researching several trainers and chose Mr Hancock for their clinic.

Ange Evans from Mareeba brought her horse Jolie with the aim of getting a connection with her on the ground that could be replicated in the saddle.

Donal Hancock grew up on his family’s 12,141 hectare cattle block at Injune, called “Saddlers Springs”, where he says “only the Brahmins were tough enough to survive”.

Eventually his parents sold up, but after growing up around them and feeling their magic, Donal decided to pursue a career with horses.

After years of working with riders around the world, Donal Hancock now offers riding schools in Queensland and New South Wales.

At the age of 19, he began a year working with the Australian Outback Spectacular show on the Gold Coast before meeting the Double Dan Horsemanship crew in 2011.

He went on the road with them, helping with clinics, entertainment shows, and breaking and training. Over the next five years, he worked between Double Dan and several respected horse trainers in the US and Canada.

Using all the knowledge and experience he had gained from the best in the world, Donal decided to start his own business in Beaudesert in 2016.

“It felt different going out into the horse world with my own new business, but I realized I had the right knowledge base and a lot of support and I was lucky enough to have a great group of people in my first clinic that I held it. Townsville,” he said.

“I think there are two ways to train a horse – mentally and physically.

“Physically, a horse will only be as good as your hands and feet, but horses have brains and when trained mentally they will develop their full potential.

“My clinics are designed for all experience levels, any discipline and any horse and I try to keep groups to 10-15 to maintain the standard of instruction.

“I really enjoyed working with this group and I aim to offer a few clinics like this in the coming year,” he added.

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