Horse whisperer heads off on PTSD tour to help veterans

Local horse trainer Joe Hughes with his Mt Kosciusko brumby Mozzie on Monday.

Local horse whisperer Joe Hughes, who has a completely unique way of training horses, has headed off this week on an eastern Australian tour to help returned veterans who suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Joe runs a brumby training clinic on his property one hour from Cobar and is travelling this week to Brisbane with his wife, one of their horse trainers, and some of their horses.

As part of their 4BP Cooee Call Out Tour, where he will share his training methods, Joe will be conducting clinics in Brisbane and Toowoomba and they will then work their way down the east coast to Melbourne and finally finishing inland at Cootamundra.

Many of Joe’s horses that he has trained have come from the Kosciusko National Park as part of the NSW Government’s plan to cull 90 pre cent of the wild brumbies from the park.

“Every year we take in 75 per cent of all the horses out of Mount Kosciusko, wild horses that are being culled out.

“That’s about 100 to 400 that they capture,” Joe said.

“They are in mass numbers and they are destroying our native flora and fauna, to the fact that quite a bit up there is on the point of extinction. That’s why they are culling them.”

He said he’s wanted to run PTSD clinics for a while for returned service people but couldn’t get enough horses.

“I’m utilising those horses as they come out to match them with people, mostly to run our military PTSD and this year, our first response PTSD clinic.

“We already run civil, depression and anxiety clinics,” Joe said.

Joe’s been taking the horses in for the past three years and he also takes on trainers.

His trainers have come from all around the world including the USA, Denmark, England, France, Germany and South Africa.

Joe has recently completed a record breaking Western Australia tour.

“We set a world record and world standard by training 51 horses in five days, 67 horses in seven days and that’s 100 per cent of the horses, straight out of the paddock,” Joe said.

On his eastern tour Joe has three different horses to help him conduct his clinics.

“There’s a War Horse for returned veterans, for our military PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder] clinics, which we hold once a month.

“We have a Pangare, which is one of the oldest gene pools of horses on earth, she’s a brumby, and we have a Mount Kosciusko brumby,” Joe explained.

“They’re all on display. We do clinics on how to train a horse in an average of three hours. Our technique trains a horse in about an hour and 35 minutes through to about five hours—the average is three hours to train a horse.”

Joe said he wants to highlight the brumbies which are known for their endurance, strength, reliability and all round agility, but also their good natures which have helped veterans suffering with PTSD to bond with them.