Kellie Malliff has been surrounded by horses her entire life. She says her mum has a photo of her on a horse at four weeks old and she competed in her first equestrian competition aged three.
Now Ms Malliff, from Mareeba, works as a track rider for her trainer husband, is still involved in equestrian and showjumping. Her other big passion is saving ex-racehorses.
“My family have had horses forever, my grandfather was a racehorse trainer and as soon as I turned 15 I got my licence to ride and haven’t been out of it since,” she said.
“I’ve also competed in showjumping and dressage. I’ll have a go at anything.
“I also worked with (top showjumping trainer) Donal Barnwell at the Billy Stud in the UK.”
Ms Malliff says people in the industry bring her horses that have come to the end of their racing careers.
She says she has saved more than 50 racehorses from being destroyed and has trained them to become dressage horses, showjumpers and pets.
“From a young age, trainers were giving me their horses for free,” she said.
Ms Malliff says she has conflicting opinions about the number of horses destroyed each year.
“It’s not just the racing industry, it’s any discipline with horses,” she said.
“It’s just that racing has had the spotlight put on it, so it looks worse.
“In any sport you have you good and bad operators, but because racing is televised you can see it as it happens.
“I feel now that more horses end up in a good place rather than ending up in a bad place.
“Unfortunately, we can’t save all of them.”
Ms Malliff said she gets a lot of satisfaction from taking horses that only know how to race and teaching them how to jump or compete in dressage.
“I’ve had a few horses go onto bigger success off the race track than on it,” she said.
“Kid Candy won a major award at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
“I’m currently training three ex-racehorses, including Taking Charge, Graceful Jen and my best is Ramsden Street, who is jumping about 1.10 metres at the moment.
“He made it to the Off The Track finals last year.
“Hopefully, I can send him south this year to try and make the finals again.
“Racehorses are the most versatile breed.
“They get a bad rap for being a little crazy but if you take them away from the race track you end up with a completely different horse.”
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