IMG_4952Many young girls yearn to have a horse. And on the Darling Downs more than the average number of them have this opportunity.

Three girls (one now a young woman) have shared this dream with their family. Jessica Christensen (18), like her younger sisters Emma (9) and Mia (8), have all grown up with a love of horses. Their parents Carol and Brad run County Downs Arabs near Millmerran, where they continue the “horse sense” started by Carol’s mother. In her first year out of school, Jess is following her dreams by studying for a Diploma in Horse Industry Management and is the publicity officer for the local pony club.

When I visited the stud, set on 160 acres of native pasture, the family were running 38 horses – most of them pure-bred Arabs. Also living in Millmerran, their grandmother, Anne Tennant, enjoys working with the younger girls especially as they start competing in local shows and gymkhanas like that held in Millmerran in late June. Emma took second prize in the Millmerran Challenge. Brad, a nurse at Millmerran hospital, is also an active part of the business, although son Jody (20) has now left home and is working at a grain handling business near Oakey.

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Brad and Carol proudly announce Jessica’s success at the Arabian Challenge in Caboolture in June. She competed with Bracknell Lookatmetoo, a six-year old Arabian pony stallion. This is the first time Jess, just turned 18, has been allowed to compete with a stallion. The pony’s nickname, Juvenile Delinquent, points to the fact that his temperament has not made it easy for Jess to achieve the State Championship ribbon she won in Caboolture.

Last year, at the Top of the Range Arabian competition in Toowoomba, the family placed in 10 events with their horses. Brad won first and second placings, while Jess won a second, third and fifth. The horses involved were Bracknell Lookatmetoo, County Downs Framed Portrait, and Silverfern Fatimas Grace. The family is proud that they breed, prepare and show their own horses. They usually sell their horses as foals, or keep them until they are four or five years old.

Arabs are versatile horses, normally bred for endurance, as they have good stamina and heart rates, and can travel long distances. The family has also sold horses for use by a Clerk of the Course, and to a farmer who musters during the week and whose children compete at pony club on the weekend. In the past few years, Arabs have also started sprint racing on the Gold Coast.

Pure bred Arab horses are no strangers to the Downs. There are at least 20 studs spread across the region, providing plenty of competition in both sales and events for County Downs Arabs. This is only a small part of what the equine industry contributes to the Downs economy, including thoroughbred breeding, racing and spelling.

Words by Wendy Moline | Images supplied by Carol of Country Downs Arabs