The curtain came down on the 20th anniversary of EQUITANA Melbourne in the most fitting of ways . . . with the crowning of the IRT All Star The Way Of The Horse champ of champs.

Bruce O’Dell edged out a true all-star field to take the supreme award but it was a hard-fought battle to the end between him, Ken Faulkner, Adam Sutton and Kiwi Tui Teka.

Bruce had first choice of the unhandled youngsters on the opening day of the competition and quickly snapped up the only gelding amongst them, leaving the three others with mares…

“I did wonder after that first day whether I should have chosen him though,” said Bruce of MCM Kubla Khan. “He had zero attention span, but the second day things improved and we made some good progress. These are young horses – they switch on and off.”

He thanked his fellow competitors and his wife Jane. “This is a cracking little horse,” he said of the liver chestnut. “He will have a good future.”

Bruce did nothing special to prepare for TWOTH – aside from working everyday as he does with horse of all shapes and sizes.

“It is such an honour to win this,” he said. “Everyone did a fantastic job out there – they are all very good horsemen.”

The trainers spent just four hours over the four days with their young horses and all of it in front of an audience hanging on to their every word and watching every movement.

Judges horsemanship star presenter Stacy Westfall, eventing Olympian Chris Burton and dressage star Pedro Torres faced a tough task with each of the handlers showing exceptional skill.

All three highlighted how special TWOTH was for showcasing just how special horses are and what can be achieved using the right methods. Through the final, the horsemen introduced their young horses to the fullness of the big arena and took them through various obstacles.

TWOTH organiser Sandi Simons was thankful she wasn’t a judge. “I couldn’t call it, it was just neck and neck all the way,” she said. “They really highlighted why they are professional trainers and how far they got with these horses was just outstanding. It showed how good the Morgan horses are as a breed.”

Bruce O’dell ONLY Feeds the Olympus range of feeds!