Horse holds key to woman’s heart

By Madeleine Byron

It was when she was 14 that Ellen Morcombe’s parents decided she could handle a horse of her own. A strong-willed mare named Jazz, however, soon had them questioning their judgment.

As an active member of the Bunbartha Pony Club, Ellen had grown too big for her cousin's Shetland pony and she begged her parents for a 'real' horse.

So without further ado, the Kaarimba family set off to the Echuca Horse Sales.

Admitting the experience was overwhelming, Ellen said her parents opted for the 'history requirement' section.

“Jazz was in that section and it said she had been ridden by a child at pony club and been in shows, so we thought she would be a pretty good bet,” she said.

The unusual experience continued as Jazz, a quarter horse-thoroughbred cross, entered the auction ring and her owner was asked about her age.

“The owner said she was eight and the ring master looked at her teeth and said she was at least 15,” Ellen said.

“An argument broke out as the bidding continued and as we placed a bid, Jazz swung around and kicked the ring master and everything stopped.

“We were the winning bid and Jazz was ours.”

22-year-old Jazz enjoys the retired life on the farm.

The family received a phone call from the horse’s owner three days after bringing her home.

“They said she was not suitable for a beginner and offered to take her back,” Ellen said.

“I didn’t want to give her back so there began several years of wild riding.”

Ellen said Jazz became known as 'the troublesome horse' after attending her first pony club camp.

“She bucked the whole time, but I was young and considered it a challenge,” she said.

“I really enjoyed riding her and she did buck me off plenty of times, but I’d just get back up there and go again.”

Although the pony club days are behind them, Ellen Morcombe has a lot of love for horse Jazz.

Jazz now lives the retired life with Ellen, her husband, Cody, and five-month-old son Toby.

“She’s pretty happy in retirement, she has the run of the whole farm and when the crop is cut, she is like a wildebeest in the savanna — she just gallops off into the sunset,” Ellen said.

Still keen to throw her weight around, Jazz seems to enjoy the company of the other animals, including the sheep, dog and cats.

“She used to be with the rams at Mum and Dad’s and she would run around them, just asserting her authority, and then she would set herself up right in the middle of the mob,” Ellen said.

Ellen said although the ride had been a bumpy one, she loved that Jazz was now respected by the younger generation at pony club.

“A lot of the people I attended pony club with have moved on, so the younger riders don’t know her story and they call her The School Master — definitely not what they used to say,” Ellen said with a laugh.