Nick Stark, from Stareen Performance Horses, demonstrates how to work with a bison

January 30, 2019

Members of the Kumbia Pony Club enjoyed an opportunity at the weekend to experience a bit of the American “wild west” as well as improve their horsemanship skills.

Sixteen of the riders – the youngest aged just seven – had the chance to work with bison at a clinic run by Janine and Nick Stark from Stareen Performance Horses in Kingaroy.

Sandra Brunner, from the Kumbia Pony Club, said bison were perfect for campdraft or team-penning training.

Bison have been in Australia for more than 25 years but have only been used for cutting and campdraft training for the past dozen or so years.

Janine explained the animals have a greater lung capacity than cattle so they have better endurance in the ring.

“They allow you to do more repetitions. They will keep doing circles without going sour,” she said.

The bison are also safer animals than cattle for the young riders to work with because their natural “flight zone” (ie. the minimum distance the animal will try to maintain between itself and any perceived threat) never allows the rider to get into an unsafe position.

“They’ll slow down when you slow down, and they’ll speed up when you do,” Janine said.

“And they won’t suddenly duck back under a horse’s neck.”

There are more than 50 bison – as well as cattle and horses – at Stareen, with about 20 animals used per clinic.

Riders come from NSW and all over Queensland for the clinics, even camping overnight on occasion.

Stareen also breed and sell bison.

“We find they are fantastic to muster,” Janine said.

Some individual members of the Kumbia Pony Club have worked with the bison at Stareen before, but this is the first time they have come over as a club.

The clinic began mid-afternoon on Sunday to avoid the heat of the day.

Then, after a break for the riders to enjoy a sausage sizzle, watermelon and ice creams, it continued into the night under lights.

The Kumbia Pony Club’s bison clinic was supported by the State Government’s “Get Going” sports grants program.

Kumbia Pony Club members line up to inspect the bison
Janine Stark brings a small mob of bison into the ring to meet the students
Nick Stark with  Byron, 16, and Bronnie Brunner, 14, from Kingaroy, wait for another bison to enter the ring
The Kumbia Pony Club members and bison pose for a group photo
The bison are more resilient than cattle in the ring … just add plenty of water


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