IMPORTANT NOTICE: Regrettably due to Corona Virus, The Naked Farmer's 2020 ride has been postponed indefinitely.
Put a big red circle around Saturday, August 1 on your calendar.
It marks the start of an exciting month for the Harness Racing Victoria HERO Program.
HERO is proud to be partnering with Ben Brooksby, aka The Naked Farmer, to shine the spotlight on mental health in regional and rural areas.
Ben and his travelling companion Jodie Morton will spend 28 days on horseback, riding from Tamworth to Brisbane to get people talking about the challenges of life in the country and the affect it can have on your emotional wellbeing.
“There has always been an indelible link between the farming community and the trots,” HERO Manager Tanya McDermott suggested.
“It’s a connection built on shared philosophies – personal integrity, hard work and an appreciation for simple pleasures.
“Racing people step up in times of need, just as those on the land stand strong together; no one goes through life’s challenges alone,” she said.
Ben has spent the past two years celebrating the strength and resilience of rural Australians through The Naked Farmer, an extraordinarily successful project.
The innovative social media movement, which features tasteful nude photographs in a farming environment, aims to prompt difficult conversations about mental health.
“It takes guts to get your gear off, as it takes guts to talk about mental health,” he said.
Ben’s major project for 2020 will visit farming areas and communities impacted both by drought, and this year’s heartbreaking bushfires.
The course largely follows the Bicentennial National Trail which incorporates old coach roads, stock routes, brumby tracks, rivers and fire trials.
The BNT runs 5330 kilometres in its entirety, and stretches the length of the Great Dividing Range through National Parks, private property and alongside wilderness areas from Victoria to Queensland.
One of Ben’s two horses for the epic journey is HERO graduate Jialiner, aka Pete, a retired pacer who won 10 races and $60,000 in prizemoney across a 118-start career on the track.
Pete’s preparation for The Naked Farmer project commenced mid-way through 2019 when the horse originally selected to represent HERO – Our Jericho – was replaced due to an unfortunate injury.
The 10-year-old gelding completed a very successful introductory endurance season under the guidance of caretaker trainer/rider Heather Stuchbree to lay the foundations for his 2020 adventure.
Pete and Heather finished runner-up in the inaugural HERO Endurance Series and fourth in the 81Km Lightweight Division of the Victorian Endurance Riders’ Association 2019 State Championships.
They rounded out their year with a personal best achievement, completing a grueling 120-kilometre ride at Dergholm on November 1 in a time of 11 hours, 28 minutes.
HERO is donating Jialiner’s education and training, while all his expenses in the 12 months leading up to the ride are being sponsored by renowned harness racing identity Mick Lombardo.
Now aged in his 80’s and edging towards retirement from the industry, Mick was once the nation’s most dominant Standardbred owner/breeder and did not hesitate when invited to join The Naked Farmer project.
“I’m super excited to have the ride details locked in. It’s an important step towards making this massive project a reality,” Ben said.
“We are just in the process of fine tuning the schedule now, pulling together the all-important social events which will complement the ride itself,” he explained.
“The project will culminate with an event at The Tivoli Theatre in Brisbane on Friday, August 28 and along the way we will have bonfire nights where members of the public can join us around the campfire to tell stories and chat about life.”
“The Naked Farmer is all about people and it’s important that we provide an opportunity for as many of our amazing supporters and followers as possible to feel a part of this journey.”
Ben and Jodie will undertake the ride in custom made half breed saddles donated by Peter Horobin Saddlery.
The saddles, with a retail value of $11,000, are being auctioned at the conclusion of the ride with the proceeds supporting the important ongoing work of The Naked Farmer which is now officially a not for profit charity.
“There are so many reasons why we jumped at the invitation to come on board as a partner for this incredible initiative,” Marlee Horobin said.
“Ben’s work in the mental health field has already made a real difference to the lives of so many people at the grass roots level of the farming community and it’s our privilege as a business and family to be joining him for his major project in 2020.
“The partnership is also in line with our vision to be recognised as an industry leader, setting the benchmark for equine back health through the design and fit of our saddles,” Marlee Horobin explained.
“We are especially proud to provide equine back health solutions for retired Standardbreds, documenting, guiding and supporting their transition from track and harness to riding.
“Back health is essential for optimum performance at every stage of a Standardbred’s life, but never more so than when a horse like the beautiful Pete moves into a new career beyond the racetrack,” she said.
For the latest information regarding Ben and Jodie’s ride, follow The Naked Farmer on social media or visit www.thenakedfarmerco.com.au.
For further information regarding Peter Horobin Saddlery and the newly released StrideFree® Australian Half Breed Saddle, follow Peter Horobin Saddlery on social media or visit www.horobin.com.au.