Program to train racehorses, children

RACES: Gemma Steele wins Deepwater race 2 on Anchorfel in 2017. Ten racehorses will be retrained in a Deepwater-based program.

RACES: Gemma Steele wins Deepwater race 2 on Anchorfel in 2017. Ten racehorses will be retrained in a Deepwater-based program.

A Deepwater horse trainer is helping to re-train retired racehorses, while helping teach kids horsemanship skills.

Ballyoch Horses co-owner and horse trainer Patrick Herde said the 12-week program is a win-win.

"Over a 12-week period we are re-educating 10 retired racehorses to give them a new purpose in life, while providing skills and training in horsemanship to local kids in the BackTrack program," he said.

"The program is great for the Deepwater community, which benefits from increased demand for services and supplies sourced from the area."

The program is also supported by racing NSW.

He said the program is an example to other large organisations on how to stimulate bush communities. "We've bought all our produce and building/construction materials locally, and we use local vets and farriers. We're aiming to stimulate the local economy. We also hope that there'll be a flow on effect with more people visiting the area to inspect horses and attend our events which will be win for local businesses such as farm stays".

The program is also providing a great opportunity for kids in the Backtrack program to learn horseman ship skills and assist with retraining the off-the-track thorougbreds.

"Working with horses teaches kids important skills, not only in terms of the practical side of things like stockmanship, but also in emotional intelligence and communication. Horses tend to mirror the emotions of the rider so if you're not calm, they're not either.

"The BackTrack kids often come from difficult home lives and face certain pressures so it's good for them to get out in the bush, learning about emotional control, and bonding with animals whilst developing a skillset that can boost employability.

"It's our aim that following our program - given their enhanced horsemanship and practical skills - our kids have the confidence to apply for jobs. I've been extremely impressed with the enthusiasm and manner of our participants who are loving the experience. We have already had a strong response from local employees as well as employees from the thoroughbred industry who are keen to give the kids an opportunity."

Patrick's career in horse training spans almost two decades, having worked with horses throughout his teens and later as a station-hand and breaker on cattle stations in the Kimberley and Northern Territory. Patrick has always had breakers in work and in 2016 Patrick and his wife, Winsome, founded Ballyoch Horses.

There will be an open day on June 1.