Liberty horses, tricks and a good dash of bush humour

Tim O’Brien, pictured with horse Diesel and dog, Ding, will entertain field day visitors with his horsemanship and animal training skills.

Stock and pack horses performing tricks at liberty combined with whip cracking and a good dash of Aussie bush humour is set to entertain visitors each lunch time across the field days.

Cattle producer and natural horsemanship trainer Tim O’Brien will bring his Boggy Creek Show to Henty each day for a 50 minute performance in the sheep dog trials arena.

Appealing to all ages, the highly entertaining performance will include horses working at liberty, whip cracking displays, working dogs and plenty of laughs.

Mr O’Brien has been running his Boggy Creek Show, featuring performing horses, dogs, pigs, bullocks, goats, sheep and mules, at Rosewood, near Tumbarumba, for well over a decade.

He has a knack of turning other people’s reject horses into star performers.

“I rescued my packhorse from the doggers while my main horse, Ramjet, was picked up for $250,’’ he said.

The Boggy Creek stage and arena was built on-farm by Tim and visitors can enjoy a stunning vista of the NSW Snowy Mountains.

He is a third generation cattle breeder and has a rich family heritage of finishing cattle on the mountain snow leases.

Tim’s grandfather ran cattle on a forestry lease in the Bago State Forest from 1932 while his father, Rex O’Brien, grazed cattle on mountain snow leases until 1958.

Rex started his Pound Creek Angus stud in 1965 and Tim went on to form his own stud prefix, OB Angus.

He runs 50 registered females and 60 commercial cows, plus 50 first cross ewes on 202ha of 900mm rainfall country.

The top steers are finished to feedlot entry weights of 400-450kg and the seconds are turned off earlier as weaners through the Wagga saleyards. Surplus heifers, weighing 210kg, are sold onto the live export market to China.

“I aim to breed for a moderate birthweight, quick growth, good eye muscle area and 600 day weight combined with structural soundness and temperament,’’ Mr O’Brien said.

Over the years, he has competed in campdrafting, polocrosse and stockman challenges, placing in the top 10 finalists six times in the Man From Snow River Festival Challenge.

Mr O’Brien is president of the Tumbarumba Rodeo, the nation’s third oldest continuous rodeo and it is due to be inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame at Warwick in October.

He came up with the idea of the Boggy Creek Show while away shearing and looking for a home based business to supplement income.

“There already were bus groups coming to Tumbarumba so I thought I would tap onto that,’’ he said.

“I already had the arena and put out a few hay bales for the first performance.

“I had performed in the first Equitana in Melbourne promoting the Man From Snowy River Bush Festival so had a few trick horses, good working dogs and packhorses.’’

Tim had the bones of the performance but conceded there was anxiety when it came to public speaking.

“I used to freak out so I stuck to talking about what I knew – it has changed a lot since then,’’ he said.

“We started weaving comedy right through the show using the animal’s natural behaviours and slapstick humour.’’

The two-hour performance stars horses, pigs, goats, sheep, dogs and miniature mules, and includes a 15-minute break for billy tea over the campfire.

Tim uses pressure and release methods to train the animals, and never uses food as a reward.

Spring and autumn are the busy seasons with two to three shows a week attended by people of all ages, dovetailing with regular horsemanship clinics.

“I’m working with the Local Land Services to educate school students on the cultural and environmental heritage of travelling stock reserves,’’ Mr O’Brien said.

He speaks on the life of a packhorse drover on the stock routes, including the daily routine and challenges of an era without refrigeration or mobile phones.

Mr O’Brien serves on the advisory committee for the Snowy Valleys Council.

He said tourism was strong in Tumbarumba with three local wineries and recreational vehicle camping.