Horsing around at Mareeba

Toombys educate FNQ Field Days attendees about horse handling


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Vicki and Geoff Toomby, with horses Poppy and Dash, gave equine and animal welfare demonstrations at the Rotary FNQ Field Days.

Vicki and Geoff Toomby, with horses Poppy and Dash, gave equine and animal welfare demonstrations at the Rotary FNQ Field Days.

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The great horsemanship skills of Alice River's Geoff and Vicki Toomby were on show at the Rotary FNQ Field Days in Mareeba.

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The great horsemanship skills of Alice River's Geoff and Vicki Toomby were on show at the Rotary FNQ Field Days in Mareeba.

With a collective lifetime of experience in the equine field under their belts, the Toombys ran numerous demonstrations for interested attendees over the three days.

Mr Toomby said their passion was to educate and inform the public about the best way to handle and work with horses.

The couple run a small herd of commercial cattle at their property, Wonderland Station, about 30km north west of Townsville and were impacted by February's floods.

"We were like everyone else at Alice River, we mainly lost fences and some cattle, but we were one of the luckier ones. Some of those poor buggers lost everything," Mr Toomby said.

Despite the damage, it has not stopped the dedicated couple from travelling to deliver horsemanship training across North Queensland and into the Northern Territory.

"Between us we have a lot of experience, which is why we go to places like the field days and we've done a lot of shows in places like Darwin, Alice Springs, Mount Isa," Mr Toomby said.

"One reason is for entertainment, the other is to highlight animal welfare."

Mr Toomby said the key to working with horses was to let the animals feel they were the ones making the decisions.

"It's about understanding these animals to create a situation where the animal finds a way out itself, then it becomes the animal's idea. They are smarter than we are.

"Just take the time training them, don't go too quickly and take time to wait for a response, if they are becoming mentally tired, go on and do something else.

"We really enjoyed it, there was a lot of interest there and we hope to build on that in the future."

Other than running their horsemanship clinics, the Toombys also run the Ultimate Rural Training Centre, taking in disaffected youths to teach them skills they need to succeed in rural industries.

As part of this, the couple have been travelling to Doomadgee to run a program with year 9 and 10 students through the school.

"Doomadgee State School has put two hours a week of horsemanship in the curriculum.

"We spent last week with our students, teaching them about animal welfare and as they progress they do units which we will assess them on, leading to employment next year."

Mr Toomby said about 15 students were participating in the course, and some would go on to gain employment next year, after spending time at Wonderland Station in November.

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