John Arnold was just five years old when he first leapt into the saddle and onto a horse under guidance of the station ringers.
He would wait at the yards after a day's work for the ringers to come back and before they let their horses go, John would take a ride.
As the ringers passed on their skills and knowledge to the keen young boy, they inadvertently inspired him to a lifetime of dedication to the Australian equine industry.
Before long John got his own pony.
"She was a worn out old mare and had one eye and her name was Joy," he told Queensland Country Life. "My father bought her from a Winton-based drover, Ken Cant."
My first horse was bought for me when I was five and she was a worn out old mare with one eye and her name was Joy- John Arnold
John ended up riding heaps of miles on her, mustering and learning to play polocrosse.
John was born at Cunnamulla in 1957, the middle child to parents John and Jess Arnold. Shortly after, the family relocated to Ambo Station near Longreach, a station that his father managed for many years.
John's early schooling was completed at Our Lady's Catholic School, boarding in Longreach with his brothers and sister at the student hostel, and later at St Brendan's College in Yeppoon.
While at school, John firmly believed that his future was on the land, so upon completion of his schooling he enrolled at the Longreach Pastoral College in 1976 for a two-year course.
He was one of the college's best and brightest students, playing a wide variety of sports including basketball, polocrosse, and football.
"Ironically one of the awards I won was the horsemanship award," he chuckled.
There is one award that John doesn't often tell too many people he was awarded, and that was the sheep and wool award, where the prize was a trip to New Zealand to study the wool industry overseas.
After completing college, he worked around north and western Queensland in mustering camps. It was here where his love for training and working horses began to evolve.
There are many people who say that even in those days as a young stockman, John's skill and talent was notable, with his ability to train and master even the most difficult of horses.
He then went contract mustering for well known drover Jack Jones, who was to became his father-in law, after he married his daughter Jacqui.
He then focused mainly on breaking in horses for a number of large cattle properties.
This was very challenging and a great life learning experience for him, as very few of the horses were handled, which only fueled John's knowledge and skills with horses.
John then managed the property Summer Hill near Longreach for a few years, before another exciting opportunity presented itself.
In 1987, a job became available at the Longreach Pastoral College to work alongside Ken May in the horse section.
This was a dream come true for John as it allowed him the ability to continue with his love of training horses, along with upskilling the next generation of horsemen and women.
While working alongside Ken, they took the Longreach Pastoral College horse section from strength to strength.
"We taught the students from conception to competition of a horse and everything in between, during their two year courses," John said.
In 1991, Ken decided it was time for him to move on to other things, leaving John to take the reins of the horse section.
He relished the opportunity to build upon Ken's foundations and grow the Longreach Pastoral College horse section into the nation-leading horsemanship training center it would become.
Through his blood, sweat and tears, John evolved the training from producing stockmen and women for the rural industry to creating horsemen and women for the up-and-coming performance horse industry.
This included the development of the six month horsemanship course, a condensed version of the previous two year course, while still passing on the required knowledge and skills to students.
The focus of the course was to breed a performance horse, break it under saddle and train it to compete in campdrafts or challenges.
Only the best of these horses would be kept as breeding stock to continue to grow the 'El Pascol' bloodline of the colleges, or they would then be sold at auction at horse sales.
John estimates over 600 horses were sold under the hammer in his 32 years.
"They never sold under the sale average and regularly topped the gelding run at Toomba and Rockhampton sales," he said.
It was quite common for John and Jacqui's three children Jacquettaa, Jontti, and Jessiah to be blended in with the students in the afternoon after school to learn from their father.
It is estimated that while at the Longreach Pastoral College, John taught close to 2500 students.
Those students gained their first start in the equine performance world of campdrafting and then later Stockman's Challenges, at the hands of one man.
It doesn't matter where you go - Nutrien Classic, Equitana, Warwick Gold Cup or the Australia Polocrosse Nationals, there will be former students of John's there.
In fact while on a family holiday in the USA in 2012 , he attended the NCHA Cutting Futurity in Fort Worth, Texas where there were 11 former students who were either competing, working for trainers or selling horses.
But John credits his greatest achievement as having taught four of the top five placegetters in the Stanbroke Under 25 challenge at Cloncurry's Stockman's Challenge in the early 2000s.
John is no stranger to personal success either. He has won more than 50 stockman's challenges and 25 campdrafts.
An important part of John's life at the college was his much loved and highly skilled college stallions Oak's Rush and Genuine Roy.
Both stallions were handpicked by John as weanlings with the goal of becoming future breeding studs for the Longreach Pastoral College.
It was with Oak's Rush that he won the Rocky Rush Stockman's Challenge in 1997 and rode into the reserve championship at the Cloncurry Stockman's Challenge.
Genuine Roy also didn't let the team down and won 12 open challenges and 12 campdrafts.
In 2016, Oak's Rush was laid to rest at the ripe old age of 23 and is buried where John and Jacqui call home.
When the Queensland government closed the doors of the Longreach Pastoral College for the last time in 2019, John's dedicated service came to an end.
This was a very sad time as John was forced to leave his stallion, Genuine Roy behind. The pair had never been separated after Roy arrived at the college at only eight months of age.
In 2022, following the complete dispersal sale of the college's assets, Genuine Roy was purchased for John by his children as a surprise, and he is still going strong today at the age of 25, enjoying life with the Arnolds.
During his time at college John learnt and mastered the art of saddle making, and something that first started as a hobby has now become his new passion since retiring.
Most days John can be found working in his saddle shed, making custom-made saddles for some of Australia's best horsemen and women.
"I really have been swamped with orders, and work on making one a week, as they are good tough station saddles that will last," he said.
Since 2019, John has spent three weeks of each year working for the big pastoral companies training young people from the Cooper Creek to the Barkly Tableland.
"I usually spend three to four days at a property depending on what they want me to teach the ringers," he said.
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