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Horse clinics for suicide awareness

Wednesday, 10th April, 2019

(From left) Meg Rowe, Jarrod Hughes, Henry Hughes and Grace Hughes with several of the 4BP horses including champion footballer Cyril Rioli’s own brown and white horse (back left.) PICTURE: Callum Marshall (From left) Meg Rowe, Jarrod Hughes, Henry Hughes and Grace Hughes with several of the 4BP horses including champion footballer Cyril Rioli’s own brown and white horse (back left.) PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

4BP Horses are going to start a new round of suicide awareness clinics in Aboriginal communities following a great start to their program in the last several months.

The free clinics, which are similar to the normal horse training sessions 4BP run, focus more on individuals bonding with their horse, the other people that attend, and being part of something more therapeutic than the usual training session.

The clinics began after former Hillite and 4BP’s Jarrod Hughes heard about high rates of suicide in the region, particularly in Indigenous communities, deciding to do something to change it. 

Over the last several months, Jarrod and his family have travelled far and wide to provide the clinics.  

“We’re from Belarabon Station which is 435 kilometres east of Broken Hill,” said Jarrod.

“We travelled through Broken Hill on the 9th of February and we then set up a clinic in Quorn.

“After that we arrived in Alice Springs on the 18th and since then we’ve performed clinics non-stop. 

“We’ve done them for high-at-risk Indigenous children, and we did a two-week training block with young boys and girls going out on the stations. 

“We worked with little, traumatised camp kids who’ve seen violence and we ended up donating a horse to them because they came round and did a number of clinics with us.

“Their teachers were so blown away by the results that they actually started crying. 

“Now their school’s got a full-time equine program where they can just take the kids around and stick them with the horses any time they like. 

“We donated something like fifteen horses to different Indigenous outreach programs that we’d train.

“Now young people can go out riding, go on camps and get away from trouble. 

“All in all, we did about $130,000 worth of clinics for Alice Springs and the surrounding area.”

Big name football star Cyril Rioli also turned up on one occasion, said Jarrod. 

“Cyril Rioli came down and he and a few other blokes talked about a program they’ve got called First Steps,” he said.

“They deal with guys between the age of about 12 and 25 years old who’ve generally gotten into a little bit of trouble. 

“There was a sports psychiatrist in that same First Steps group as well.

“Cyril came down as part of it because he wanted to show everyone that you can be a man and still go to one of these programs. 

“So he was a really tremendous role model and nice bloke.

“He had a ball and the brown and white horse is actually his that he had trained.”

Having paid for most of the clinics themselves and been busy since early February, Jarrod and the family earned a nice 10-day break before starting work again.

This time however, a little bit of Commonwealth funding will help their efforts to run more clinics with interest already coming in from Derby, West Australia, Alice Springs, Darwin and Narrandrah.

“The next ones over the twelve weeks will be Commonwealth funded programs,” he said.

“But people have to come forward for them because they just won’t show up if you don’t want them.

“If you don’t step up, you won’t get one. So they’ve got to contact us and it has to be community driven.”

For those still unsure about it, Jarrod said properly bonding with a horse was incredibly helpful.

“It lowers your blood pressure, you get a flush of endorphins and it lowers your stress. All your worries in the world just drop away,” he said.

“And a horse heart beats slowly so your heart starts to beat slowly, and everything falls into place.

“Hence why it’s great for anti-suicide because you just get flushed and there’s no way you feel bad or sad.

“There’s no drugs, there’s no sharing of feelings or sitting around singing at the campfire holding onto hands, it’s a self-help type thing.

“If you are one of those people who feels like they don’t need help, you can always just tell someone you’re here doing the horse training. 

“It’s not necessarily having to be therapy. We do have 20 per cent of the people actually come to learn to train a horse.”

4BP is looking to do clinics in Broken Hill so if you’re interested contact them through their Facebook page: 4BP Horses.  

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