The true story of a brumby captured in the Australian desert and ending up in the Royal riding stables of Dubai has inspired the latest junior novel by award-winning author Jesse Blackadder.
Paruku The Desert Brumby follows the epic journey of Paruku and 13 of his herdmates, who were born wild at Lake Gregory in the East Kimberley, and are now living in the endurance racing stables of the deputy ruler of Dubai, Sheik Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Jesse became fascinated by the horses after reading a news story about their arrival in Dubai. As part of her research she travelled to Lake Gregory to find Paruku’s relatives in the wild, and then on to Dubai where she met several of the brumbies face to face in the Sheik’s stables.
“I was compelled to tell the story of those majestic horses and their extraordinary journey across the world,” Jesse said. “The Kimberley brumbies are descended from Arabian and Thoroughbred horses released in the area during the 1950s and 60s to improve the quality of the stockhorses. The Arabian bloodline is what made them attractive to the Sheik, as most endurance horses have some Arab blood.”
Thirteen brumbies were captured from the Paruku Indigenous Protected Area in 2008 by Glen Innes veterinary surgeon Alan Post, who worked for the Sheik, with help from a team of men from Mulan indigenous community.
The operation took many weeks and involved darting the horses and keeping them in yards until they were ready to travel. One of the brumbies gave birth to a foal after being caught, and all the horses were given names in the local Walmajarri language.
The fourteen horses were trucked across the country to Glen Innes, where they were broken in before being flown to their new home in Dubai.
The brumbies began their new lives in the Seih Al Salam Stables under Ali’s care. Today, most of them are still training and competing in endurance races.
While the novel fictionalises the story of the brumbies, it contains many real events, such as the description of how the horses were caught. The blend of truth and fiction balances the beauty of the wild horses with the realities of their environmental impact in a highly sensitive area. It is a story for animal lovers of all ages.
Jesse’s previous junior novel, “Stay: The Last Dog in Antarctica”, was also inspired by a true ‘animal’ story. Its heroine, a fibreglass collection dog for Royal Guide Dogs Tasmania, made Australian news in early January when she was among the 52 passengers of the Akademik Shokalskiy who were rescued when the ship became caught in ice near Antarctica.
“Paruku The Desert Brumby” was launched this month by ABC Books.
Jesse has created a novel for readers of 9-13 years (and anyone who loves horses), set in Australia and Dubai, exploring the deep relationships between humans and horses and the real meaning of freedom. Accompanying teaching notes related to the Australian primary school curriculum will be available from HarperCollins before the start of the 2014 school year.
About Paruku The Desert Brumby: Twelve-year-old Rachel is fast outgrowing her first pony. When her father, a horse vet, is offered the job of capturing wild brumbies for the stables of one of Dubai’s Sheiks, she travels with him to the remote desert landscape of the Kimberley. Captivated by the wild power of a young stallion called Paruku, Rachel is torn by the prospect of taking away the brumbies’ freedom. But is there a chance she could keep Paruku for herself?
About the author: Jesse Blackadder is an international award-winning author of historical fiction for adults. Her first novel for children, ‘Stay: The Last Dog in Antarctica’, was published in 2013 by ABC Books.