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Mane attraction

Monday, 11th February, 2019

Letisha McKenzie with one of 4BP’s horses. PICTURE: Supplied Letisha McKenzie with one of 4BP’s horses. PICTURE: Supplied

By Callum Marshall

A former Hillite who runs horse training clinics at Belarabon Station east of Broken Hill has just started up Indigenous suicide awareness clinics.

Jarrod Joe Hughes of 4BP Horses said the suicide awareness clinics will replicate much of what the current horse training clinics do but focus more on individuals bonding with the horse, with other people who attend, and being part of something that’s more therapeutic and cathartic. 

“The suicide prevention clinics are pretty much the same as the general horse training clinics but the difference is just a little bit of due-diligence about who’s attending,” he said.

“There’s also less of an emphasis on riding the horse and more about bonding with it and establishing a connection with it.

“You take the session at your own pace and all the talk is based around empowering and strengthening the individuals.

“Having a stronger outlook that gives them all a great sense of self-achievement and self-worth.

“That idea of ‘I can do this’ and there’s something worth living for.

“So we’re an equine therapy assisted program. It’s not so much us teaching the people, it’s the people using the horse to find what they need.”

The clinics, which run for five days and can vary between five to ten people, depending on the size of the town and those interested, emerged because Jarrod kept hearing about high suicide numbers across the region, particularly in Indigenous areas.

“So the whole idea is to travel through Indigenous areas and the country (and help out),” he said.

“I’m saying it’s an Indigenous tour because we’re starting off in the Northern Territory and we’re specialising with Indigenous people and working with suicide awareness mental health.

“But it’s for everyone. If you’ve lost a loved one, a pet, are feeling a bit overburdened because of work, having conflict with your child or partner, (these clinics) will help you out.”

He said that he’d also been through depression and tough times and that those past experiences were shared with those who participated.

“I’ve suffered depression, I’ve got PTSD, heightened anxiety, OCD, so the relief that I get through horses is insane,” said Jarrod.

“I knew that it was good and I wanted other people to experience that.

“So I share a lot of my past experiences and how I got out of them and found the light (within these clinics.)

“I also talk about previous student’s experiences and how they may have had a drug addiction but now they’re clean.

“They may not have been able to get out of bed because of depression for two or three days in a row, but they now sit down in the paddock waiting for the sun to rise so they can see their horse.

“There’s no boundaries for me, I talk about everything because you never know what little piece of information is relevant. 

“Then if the students see a similarity with what you’re doing they’ll approach you and say, ‘that is exactly what I’m going through.’

“(So by the time the clinic’s done) and they all go away, they’ll be a group of people who’ve formed a relationship through five days and now have someone that understands them a hundred per cent. 

“More so than maybe a family member or a friend because they’ve all shared in that same experience.”

Having run for only a few weeks, Jarrod said the early response had been very good. 

“It’s been amazing (thus far), there’s been at least eight people a week coming through the door wanting to have that experience,” he said.

“There’s people that haven’t even touched a horse but they’re there to do exactly the same thing every single week. 

“We’ve got enquiries right across Australia all the time. 

“And now that we’re on a tour, there’s people about four or five weeks ahead of us trying to set up community shows for Indigenous people and the general-public all the way through.”

With the clinics getting by off the work, time, effort and money of 4BP and several small sponsors, Jarrod said it was too important to wait around for further assistance while the situation was so serious.

“As much as I’d like to be able to do free clinics everywhere, (I just don’t have the money for it) without a major sponsor,” he said.

“Whatever money we make out of the horses in revenue will keep us rolling to do the free clinics through Alice Springs (coming up in the next fortnight.)

“The Indigenous clinics are free because there are still high-at-risk children committing suicide up there.

“So while we are travelling 2500 kilometres across the country to try and make a difference, governments are like ‘maybe put an application form in three or months and see what happens.’

“But then what? Another three or four months after that and there’s six months gone by. There could be another fifteen or twenty suicides in that time. 

“I can’t sit back and wait, I just got to get in and do something.”


* If you would like to help sponsor 4BP’s Indigenous suicide awareness clinics you can get in contact with Jarrod through the 4BP website and email them, or visit their Facebook page. You can also make a business or individual donation by clicking on the ‘donate’ button on the Brumbies 4 Recovery Facebook page.

* If you’re feeling depressed or suicidal you can contact Lifeline through their 24/7 crisis support service on 13 11 14

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