Longest horse trail trek promotes equine therapy
A love for her adopted country and a passion for the healing power of horses have been the impetus for a life-changing trek for an American woman attempting to ride one of the world’s longest horse trails.
US-born Clemmie Wotherspoon has begun her adventure on Australia’s Bicentennial National Trail, leaving from Melbourne with three rescued wild brumbies, to promote the value of equine therapy, particularly for those with disabilities or mental illness.
Ms Wotherspoon, who has lived and worked in Queensland for the past few years, estimates it will take two years to complete the 5330km to Cooktown in far-north Queensland.
Only a handful of people have completed the trek since it was designed and opened in the early 1970s by a committee headed up by iconic Australian, RM Williams.
Friend and supporter Leith Alexander said Ms Wotherspoon would reach Victoria’s high country in only a matter of weeks, where she would receive food parcels and other goods from family and friends.
Once she leaves Victoria, Ms Wotherspoon will be relying on donated dehydrated food parcels.
“Even though Clemmie grew up in the United States, her father is Australian and throughout her childhood, he instilled in her a love for the Australian outback, albeit from afar,” Ms Alexander said. “She really feels like this is her homeland.”
Inspired by the romance of Robyn Davidson’s 1977 trek with four camels and a dog across 2700km from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean, Ms Wotherspoon knew as a young child she would one day participate in an Australian trek of her own.
These brumbies all come from the high country, so will be JU perfectly suited, and have the endurance to perform during a trek of this nature.
The 28-year-old is passionate about the value of horses in remedial and healing therapies.
“Horses can be very flighty, particularly brumbies, and they can read when a person is anxious or scared,” Ms Alexander said.
“Clemmie has first-hand experience, having been through tough times herself, of the healing power of horses, simply because you need to be calm, stable and grounded when you are dealing with horses, and it’s this skill that you can transfer to your everyday life. This type of therapy can be very important for those with disabilities or a mental illness.”
Under the guidance of a team of vets, Ms Wotherspoon will ride for five days, and rest the horses for two days, rotating the horses between roles and responsibilities.
“These horses are still quite wild, in fact they have only been on a horse float twice in their lives, but one of the other causes that Clemmie is very passionate about is the rescue of wild brumbies,” Ms Alexander said.
“These brumbies all come from the high country, so will be perfectly suited, and have the endurance to perform during a trek of this nature.”
The Bicentennial National Trail runs from Healesville, north-east of Melbourne, along the length of the Great Dividing Range including Mt Kosciusko.
It follows old stock routes and brumby tracks, through NSW, ending in Cooktown in far north Queensland.
It is one of the longest, non-motorised, multi-use trails in the world.
To follow Clemmie’s trek, visit Facebook: https://www.facebook. com/wildtracksaustralia/ Instagram: www.instagram.com/wildtracksaustralia/?hl=en
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails