INVERELL'S Damian Hall has the opportunity to add his name to a list of notable Australian horse trainers when he competes in this year's Way of the Horse event at Equitana in Melbourne.
Guy McLean, Dan James and Ken Faulkner are past winners of the prestigious competition and have since found international success with their methods of producing soft and calm horses.
Hall was selected as one of three trainers for this year's event in November after previously being the reserve for the 2014 competition.
The application process involved a video application where Hall started two young horses from scratch before travelling to Victoria to audition.
The Way of the Horse competition is conducted over three days with the three contestants having two hours per day to start an unbroken horse.
The trainers will demonstrate their methods to a panel of judges who will assess them and pick a winner.
The time constraints placed on competitors poses a challenge but Hall said he won't stray too far from his already proven methods.
"When the competition starts, I will be just going through my system, just working through the process leading up to it," he said.
"It will be just doing what I do, starting my horse as I would normally do and try not to get the excitement to take hold of me too much. When I start horses I want them to be soft and agile and I don't want confrontation with the horses.
"We want it to be a nice, easy, transparent process where the horses are relaxed at the end of it and away they go. For me it is more about the education process that goes on behind. At the end of the day the horse should be the winner."
He said he is looking forward to the experience and working closely with trainers who feel as passionately about horses as he does.
McLean, Faulkner and James have gone onto international success after winning the event but Hall said he intends to keep his training close to his home base at Inverell.
"Australia is home and we are pretty lucky we have the opportunity to work with some pretty good trainers in Australia and also the visiting trainers that come through as well but I will stay at home," he said.
"I have a young family, I have a four-year-old son so we are pretty happy and settled at Inverell. It is good the Aussie trainers go so far and do so well. Obviously there is recognition for it and it is great to see."
Hall also spends his time educating horse owners by conducting clinics and has worked closely with previous winner and cowboy dressage practitioner Ken Faulkner.
He said you don’t have to be an expert to educate a horse and encourages owners to travel to clinics to get the best out of their horses.
"Just go along and talk to people,” he said
"I haven't found anyone that hasn't been more than forthcoming with advice or what you can and can't try.
"Everyone in this industry is more than free with their information.
"Go along to your clinics and spend time with your clinicians as well and take home and practice what goes on.
"No one expects any student to retain 100 per cent of what they have been shown in a clinic but you can certainly take home a portion of it and later on something will click.
"Then you might be playing with a different horse later on and you will try a different tact which is something you saw that didn't work on the horse you have just used but may work on the horse you are with now.
"It is about developing the tools in your toolbox or your skillset that you can use when you need to.”
Hall will continue to conduct his local clinics after the competition but is spending his time preparing and perfecting his methods in the lead up to it.