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Steve Cox Equine Entertainment – An Evening with a true Master!

Written & Photographed by Bernie Saunders

Competitors, family and friends at the recent Interschools Dressage and Combined Training competition (5/6/7 July 2019) held at the beautifully appointed Elmore Events Centre, were delighted and amazed to “step outside the square” of their regular concepts for training horses when they took in the Saturday Night show.

The amazing liberty trainer Steve Cox gave a fantastic demonstration of how all of us could work better with horses. From his Macedon Ranges base, Steve prepares horses for film appearances, product and event advertising and he has been a judge and star at Equitana. 

Steve was assisted first and foremost by members of his accomplished equine team and his business partner Nirrelle Somerville (2017 and 2018 HRCAV High Point dressage winner), Montana Maud, her mum Lisa, and sisters who not only participated at this event but also worked behind the scenes to ensure that Interschools competition provides a great platform for junior riders.

Steve Cox could well be described as the ultimate “quiet achiever” as his humble, kind but very effective methods have established him as a reliable “go-to” for equestrians who hit a brick wall with certain aspects of their horse’s training, understanding and/or confidence. 

The show opened with Montana Maud demonstrating the skills she has learned that have allowed her to progress with her lovely chestnut warmblood, Ballymount Fancy That … impressive!!!!

The audience could have been forgiven if they thought that the sound system had failed, as a replay of harness racings most prestigious event, the Hunter Cup, bellowed through the speakers as Nirrelle walked in with an imposing brown horse wearing a presentation dress rug. Steve introduced him as Arden Rooney, a million dollar harness race winner, now retired and star of the Harness Racing Victoria’s Hero Program.

I made a point of staying back after the completion of my judging duties especially to meet Rooney, as Steve has told me much about the horse’s intelligence and aptitude for liberty work, saying he was in the top 10% of horses he has ever worked with – a big wrap! Tonight was to be Rooney’s public debut, so it was a very special occasion.

I see this aspect of horsemanship as a new area of enjoyment and relationship building with horses, providing a fantastic outlet for non-riding horse lovers who want to give a special favourite horse new challenges, or the wonderful “Standardbred” a life after racing.

Since February this year, Steve has worked his magic with Arden Rooney and it was quite something to see the horse’s calm intelligent expression in everything he did. Steve worked through his routines and Rooney was obviously aware of his star status and demonstrated a wonderfully proud and compliant attitude.

Next in was the gelding Hammer and his attention to Steve and desire to please was fantastic to watch. This "Master" horseman works kindly with quiet aids, and his horses show a desire to please and share their special skills, they love being the centre of attention.

Nirrelle then entered with a strikingly similar horse and we learned that this was Ty, Hammer’s half bro and he showed the same compliant willingness and added his specialty – rearing to the wow factor. Steve said, that he is often asked to provide a rearing horse for promotions and shows. “This is something that is always a crowd pleaser!” he added.

Ty and Hammer then joined forces to show liberty work in pairs. The two brothers worked as one, but always with an eye on their human partner.

A number of equestrian riders have added Steve’s brand of liberty training to their horse’s repertoire and report very encouraging improvements in confidence, understanding and work ethic.

I must apologise for the quality of the pictures, the floodlights in this arena create variable lighting conditions – a photographer’s nightmare - and the moving pics were difficult. Here are a few to highlight Steve’s work.

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Berni Saunders
Freelance Equestrian Journalist, Photographer and Business Consultant.


Having spent a lifetime with horses and following her passion for dressage, Berni has enjoyed a very successful career training horses, teaching riding and working as an equestrian journalist, photographer and specialist business consultant. 

Perhaps her greatest achievement has been as founding partner of the equestrian web site Cyberhorse.


Cyberhorse was under construction in readiness to be launched the day the Internet went live in Australia.  In 20 years the inclusion of informative content and photos that aimed to create an online community for horse lovers, was the reason for the site’s popularity and year on year growth, recording 2 million unique visitors each month and attaining official recognition as a top 300 sport site on the www.


Berni was an Official Photo/Journalist 2 Olympic Games (Athens, Beijing) and 2 World Equestrian Games (Jerez, Aachen) and also covered countless Australian Championship events.  Berni’s stories and insights helped Cyberhorse to develop an enviable on-line presence because of the targeted content creation.


Now, with a strong commitment to the equestrian community, Berni works as a freelance journalist and photographer and helps equine businesses to develop successful marketing and PR strategies.



Or call 0422 381 217

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