Australian Army comes to Quesnel to learn horsemanship

Ten members of Australia’s NORFORCE spend three days at Pen-Y-Bryn Farm in Kersley with the Canadian Rangers during military exercise

Several of them had never ridden or been around a horse before. Some had ridden but it was many years ago.

But during their second day at Pen-Y-Bryn Farm, you couldn’t tell.

Members of the Australian Army’s North West Mobile Force (NORFORCE) and the Canadian Army’s 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (4CRPG) were taking their horses through obstacles, riding on trails and loping around the arena.

Ten members of NORFORCE were in Kersley Oct. 11-14 as part of Exercise Northern Lights, which is being held Oct. 5-21. It is hosted by 4CRPG and is a reciprocal training event where the two army units share best practices, training methods, procedures and cultural aspects unique to both units.

Canadian Ranger Paul Nichols and his wife, Terry, hosted the equine mobility training portion of the exercise at their farm, along with instructors Gary Nicholson, Lori McKenzie, Ryan MacNaughton and Jordan Nichols.

Before coming to Kersley, NORFORCE members participated in cold weather training, mobility training and cultural experiences in Churchill, Man. – where they saw polar bears and saw snow for the first time – and from here, they went to Vancouver Island for wilderness survival training and watermanship training.

Maj. Cole Fletcher is the Officer Commanding for NORFORCE Centre Squadron in Alice Springs. Fletcher has been serving with NORFORCE since January and is still serving as a cavalry officer in the Regular Force. He describes Exercise Northern Lights as “absolutely fantastic.”

“It’s been quite a few once-in-a-lifetime experiences so far. We’ve got to see a completely different environment than what we’re used to in Australia, particularly in the north end, and we’ve got to see the different ways people adapt to their environments.”

Fletcher says one of the biggest things he got out of the horsemanship exercise was the importance of controlling your emotions around horses.

“It’s been a long time since I was taught about horses, but it was very different. This is a much better way to do it.”

Each rider was paired with a horse for the duration of the exercise, caring for their horse and learning the fundamentals of grooming, tacking up and building a relationship on the ground before riding.

“It’s been a fantastic, fantastic experience and much more fulfilling than what I was expecting,” said Pte. Diane Chanut, a Patrolman with NORFORCE Centre Squadron.

Pte. Tim Kingston, a Patrolman with NORFORCE’s Darwin Squadron, says his experience at the farm was much better than he expected.

“To be truthful, I was not looking forward to it, only because it’s way out of my comfort zone and I didn’t know what to expect. It’s been an eye-opener for me, how you can bond with an animal, even more so than a dog in the way the animal responds to you.”

This is the fourth time the Nichols have hosted a basic horsemanship exercise for 4CRPG.

Last year, Paul travelled to Australia with the Rangers and trained with NORFORCE.

“The North West Mobile Force has a very similar history and tasking to the Canadian Rangers, and the military personnel that serve in both forces share many similarities,” he said, adding he was “really thankful” to be able to return the favour after being a guest of the Australian Army and also to be able to call on his community to show the Australians so much hospitality.

A highlight of the exercise for Terry was having the opportunity to share equine assisted mindfulness with the Australian troops, helping them become more aware of how their energy, presence and space affects the horses during one-on-one sessions in the round pen.

Just Posted

Column: Big Brothers Big Sisters Quesnel’s in-school programs almost done for the year

Many great opportunities to mentor and volunteer in schools for the next school year

Nine-axle trucks gain access to roads near local mills

A number of concerns to be addressed before they’re allowed nearer the city of Quesnel

Strong response shown to Northern Cariboo fire

Almost 40 firefighters as well as bulldozers and air support combat blaze

Crossfire lose 15-5 to Prince George Devils

Quesnel are 2-3 in their last five games with all three losses coming on the road

Back Country Horsemen train first responders on emergency livestock response

The event aimed to help first responders better understand how to handle livestock in an emergency

B.C. BMX kid wows GoPro with homemade video

Eight-year-old Rex Johnson wins award for inventive video

Vancouver Canucks tab Quinn Hughes with No. 7 overall pick in NHL draft

University of Michigan standout was second defenceman picked in first round

New agreements reached on Tsilhqot’in title lands

The TNG and Province of B.C. announced Friday they have reached five new agreements that will provide clarity and certainty

Gun, drugs and cash seized in arrest of alleged B.C. fentanyl dealer

Vancouver Island man Brent Connors is facing nine charges in relation to investigation

Jogger spent two weeks in U.S. detention centre after accidentally crossing B.C. border

Cedella Roman, 19, crossed the border while out for a run

PHOTOS: Police rescue baby seal found on rocky B.C. shoreline

Marina Mammal Rescue Centre recommends residents observe from a distance

B.C. woman with severely disabled son keeps getting parking tickets

‘There has to be something they could do’

‘Creep off’ reporting system aims to track street harassment in Metro Vancouver

Text-based hotline launches to collect public reports on where and when harassment occurs

10 feet from home: B.C. grassfire offers stark reminder how quickly blazes burn

Kamloops woman among first people in B.C. to be told to evacuate home this wildfire season

Most Read