Taking the reins of horses to save lives

PLODDING ALONG: Mick Bradford is ready for another successful Heavy Horse Day.
PLODDING ALONG: Mick Bradford is ready for another successful Heavy Horse Day. Molly Glassey

IN THE 16 years Mick Bradford has run the Yangan Heavy Horse Day he's raised more than $100,000 for LifeFlight, simply by sharing his lifelong passion.

At 82, Mr Bradford remembered the defining moment he decided to donate funds from his yearly event to LifeFlight.

"Well, we were all standing outside, getting ready for the next Heavy Horse Day and saying, 'Who will we give the money to this year?',” he said.

"Back then, LifeFlight was stationed in Coolangatta and they'd fly straight over here to get to Warwick, Stanthorpe, Inglewood and Goondiwindi.

"And they just happened to fly over as we were discussing it so I said, 'They can have it'.

"And we've been with them since.”

Since then, Mr Bradford's Heavy Horse Day has raised well over what he ever expected and preparations are underway for for this Sunday's event.

"One year I know, we got up to $12,000,” Mr Bradford said. "We'd be over $100,000, no doubt about it.”

While throwing a leather collar over star heavy horse Colleen, Mick's mate Allen Mealy quipped in.

"He can't add,” Mr Mealy said.

"It's probably more.”

There's little doubt the LifeFlight team are in awe of Mr Bradford and his hooved friends' efforts, with the yearly event proving to be one of the charity's largest source of donations.

South West Community Engagement Coordinator Nicole Bloom said his two decade dedication was outstanding.

"Mick is a generous and caring gentleman and he is so wonderfully supportive of the important work the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter does in the South West region,” she said.

"Each lifesaving mission comes at an enormous cost of $12,500, but at no cost to the community or patients.

"This equates to at least eight lifesaving missions he's provided to the local community. What a wonderful and generous contribution.”

Mr Bradford said organising the day was no easy feat, with volunteers spending countless weekends in the lead up helping him prepare, including the tough job of "tidying up the lawn”.

"There's a lot of effort that people don't realise,” he said.

"My neighbour will give me a hand tidying up the lawn.

"I've got to get a farrier out to tidy up their feet.

"And we'll have a big working day beforehand, and there will be about 15 people here for that.”

Woodenbong harness maker Dean Jeffery has been helping out with the Heavy Horse Day since day one.

"We've got help from Pringle Cottage, we've got a traditional collar and harness maker, and we all work together,” he said.

And those, like Mr Maley, who call themselves Mick's mate just join along for the ride.

"I just do what I'm told,” he laughed.

To all those who attend, Mr Bradford encouraged to get to know the horses whose rather unusual names have not just been plucked out of thing hair.

"There's Dianna,” he said.

"She was born before Princess Diana died, but we didn't have a name for her.

"There's Coleen, Stormy, Brigadeer.

"The creamy fella is by my old stallion, but he's out of a riding mare that my kids and all the Yangan kids learnt to ride on.”

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