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Ella Paine is equine by design

When Ella Paine was a kid growing up on a property north-east of Winton, she dreamed of a future of animals.

However, the equine fanatic wasn’t always drawn to horses. Her mother still owns a drawing Ella did when she was young, of herself splashing in a puddle… with duck feet. 

“I was asked to draw a picture of what I wanted to be… it read “when I grow up I want duck feet so I can splash around all day!” Ella says.

She’s spent her life on ‘Daintree’, a family property going back two generations. Her mother, a veterinarian, and father, who works in the agriculture industry, met and married before moving back to the family property to raise Ella and her siblings Darcy, Sam and Lydia. 

“The focus is breeding and growing Droughtmaster cattle, but they have managed to fit in a lot of other commitments both to their family and the community,” Ella explains.

“I am extremely lucky to have two such wonderful people in my life.”

The oldest of the bunch, Ella was a spirited child who was involved with horses from the beginning. 

Her father was a ‘horse tragic’ and Ella recalls lots of childhood memories involving her family’s horses. 

But horses can be as challenging as they are beautiful and it wasn’t always easy.

“While I lived at home and throughout school, I went through phases of loving them and wanting nothing to do with them.

“Since I have left home and been able to develop more as an individual, I have found that they are something I am very passionate about because they are a constant challenge, inspiration and keep me busy both physically and mentally.”

Ella was taught through distance education from preschool til grade seven, when she went to boarding school at The Glennie School in Toowoomba. 

She excelled in subjects like english, history and music, but felt a natural gravitational pull back towards the rural lifestyle she knew and loved. 

That led her to enrol in AHC32816 Certificate III in Rural Operations Horsemanship and Breeding with Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges (QATC), one of a range of programs offered through the Longreach Pastoral College.

“I had been out of school and working for two years before I enrolled at Queensland Agricultural Training Colleges,” she says.

“I chose QATC because I knew the instructor who taught my program had a lifetime of knowledge, experience and connections within the industry that enabled him to deliver an excellent learning experience for all his students.”

Ella says the program and the college did not disappoint this country girl’s expectations. 

“My time as a student at QATC was amazing. I learnt something every day in my program, and it was great to be part of a small group where everyone was able to get one-on-one instruction and the opportunity to practice and improve their skills as much as necessary.”

“The instructors I had contact with at college were genuine and passionate about their area of instruction. Anyone who was willing to listen and ask questions was able to learn from years and years of experience both in theoretical and practical sessions.”

“One thing I do strive for every day is growth, which I believe is an essential part of living a fulfilling and meaningful life regardless of what you are doing or how you are doing it.”

Despite her affinity with her study topics and excellent academic results, Ella knows all too well you can’t control everything when it comes to handling animals. 

She recalls a fond memory while studying at QATC of preparing and presenting a horse for sale at the Toomba Stockhorse Sale in Charters Towers when things went a little awry. 

“The horse tripped in the sale ring and it was an extremely disappointing 'last ride' for me, after weeks of trying to improve both of our abilities,” she says.

“This year, however, I was ecstatic to be sitting in the winner's lineup beside that same horse which successfully competed and placed in the Cloncurry Stockman's Classic Challenge, which is one the most competitive events of its kind. That was a good day.”

Ella says her focus is on living a full life, riding the challenges and cantering through the wins. 

“One thing I do strive for every day is growth, which I believe is an essential part of living a fulfilling and meaningful life regardless of what you are doing or how you are doing it.”

Now graduated, Ella has transitioned from QATC into full-time work with ease. She currently works near Kingaroy for a horseman who professionally trains and shows campdraft and stockman's challenge horses. 

“I absolutely love the job and while it is very demanding at times I am very lucky to be working with like-minded people who I hope to keep learning from in the future,” she says.

Ella says working with horses is not for the faint-hearted – it can be ‘exhausting, frustrating and unpredictable’. 

“But the rewards and enjoyment that make it worthwhile are really only made possible by an absolute refusal to give up until you have made progress,” she says.

“That takes a fair bit of faith, ingenuity, and if all else fails, the willingness to try again tomorrow. Fortunately I can say that even on the tougher days I still wouldn't want to be anywhere else - it's been a great opportunity so far and I have learnt far more than just how to deal with horses.”

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