HE HAS a special connection to his horses and knows how to get the best out of them.
Horse clinician Ken Faulkner was born and bred in Stanthorpe and learned much of what he knows about horses from his uncle, who worked as a stockman.
Mr Faulkner was recently named the 2012 Way of the Horse Champion, after winning the Equitana Australia Competition in Melbourne.
The old masters used to say if you pull the head towards the body you've lost the essence of horsemanship.
Mr Faulkner's sister Barbara Chapman said she remembered her brother buying his first horse at about 14 or 15, when their parents helped him buy a chestnut mare.
"Winning the competition in Melbourne was a big deal for Ken," she said.
"They had to select an unridden, unbroken horse and in three days they had to be able to ride it.
"Ken thinks like the horse."
Mr Faulkner, who along with his partner now runs the Australian Natural Horsemanship Study Centre near Toogoolawah, said winning the competition was one of the highlights of his life.
"I had no idea of the magnitude of the competition, with regard to the overseas interest, as well as the size of the audience," he said.
"My horse was a sensitive little guy.
"It would have been easy to scare him but he connected with me and allowed me to show the quality of our program.
"The rewarding thing was being able to rely on our program and trust in the results."
Mr Faulkner had bred his first foal by the time he was 16.
He said basic horsemanship training was important to avoid bad habits forming.
"Most people get on their horse and go straight to a control rein," he said.
"(This) means they'll probably never get the best out of their horse.
"The old masters used to say if you pull the head towards the body you've lost the essence of horsemanship.
"Whereas, if you use the body and push it towards the head, it has a direct effect on what the body does."
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