Cultural conflict around horses in Ngarigu Country, the Snowy-Monaro region

Crawford School of Public Policy

Event details

RE&D Research Seminar

Date & time

Thursday 16 May 2024


Crawford Seminar Room 3 and Online via Zoom


Jakelin Troy and Lara Troy-O'Leary


Simon West
0405 618 973

Horses are contested cultural beings for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the Snowies, Ngarigu Country. We, Lara and Jaky are Ngarigu and we love horses. We come from generations of Ngarigu women who have always loved and ridden horses. In our talk we will explore the cultural significance and conflict surrounding horses in Ngarigu Country. Horses are cultural but they also destroy culture.

In considering the cultural significance of horses we will explore how Aboriginal people made a living out horses. We take great pride in our horsemanship. We have a strong cultural identification with horses. Our skills with horses were valued in non-Aboriginal society and made us valuable, this is how we became integrated into white society in the High Country.

Country itself has intrinsic cultural significance to all Aboriginal people of the High Country. Horses destroy cultural sites, rocks, burials, environmentally sensitive areas that nurture our totemic ancestors, such as Jaky’s Mountain Galaxia. Country and people are intimately connected any destruction of Country is destruction of culture and of us as Ngarigu people.

Non-Indigenous people in the Snowies also value horses because they have always been and continue to be a valuable resource. They attract tourists who want to see the famous brumbies of the Snowy Mountains. Horses have been bred in the mountains by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people for work, pleasure and entertainment, including as rodeo broncs, for at least 150 years. Our people still catch and release horses in the mountains and see it as their right to continue to do so. This practise is very controversial and scientists have demonstrated that feral horses in the Snowy Mountains cause long-term damage to its very fragile and unique world heritage listed alpine biosphere.

Speaker bio:

Jakelin Troy and Lara Troy-O’Leary are Ngarigu women, mother and daughter, from the Snowy Mountains of south eastern Australia. Jaky is Director, Indigenous Research at The University of Sydney and Lara is an undergraduate student at ANU studying Environment and Sustainability, supported by the Tjabal Centre. Both are passionate about their Country and about horses. Both were raised riding horses and with horses as family members. Jaky is a past Snowy Zone endurance riding champion and Lara has also grown up riding and competing on Country.

Updated:  18 May 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team