The Argus XV

David and Jennifer Bettington: from horses to houses

Farrier David Bettington loved shoeing horses until an accident forced him to reconsider his working life.

The brown mare looks inquisitively over the gate as the feed shed door swings on its hinges. Her nostrils flare and she nickers excitedly to the sound of the chaff being scooped into a bucket. A colt foal emerges out of the early morning mist, floating in pale grey drifts above the grass, and softly butts her flank. A rich dark chocolate colour, just like his mother, he jumps skittishly into the air before the pair move out of the hillside paddock and into a stable for their breakfast.

Mornings like this are typical for David Bettington, a man whose quiet considered manner reflects a lifetime spent with horses. “She’s a very good horse,” he says fondly, pointing at the mare quietly eating her feed. Skye, now 21, was David’s favourite polo pony for many years and the first horse he ever bred. “Our first daughter was born at the same time and I think a lot of people were wondering who David was the most excited about, the baby or the foal,” teases his wife Jennifer as she stands beside him in the stables at the back of their Murrurundi home.

David’s passion for horses and rural life goes back to the earliest days of his childhood. “I grew up in Sydney, but I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and my aunty and uncle Jane and Paul who lived on a property called Kuloo at Cassilis near Mudgee. I was only about seven but I was out on the horse to check the sheep before anyone else in the house was awake,” he says. “Actually, it was my grandmother who said to me, ‘Why don’t you become a farrier?’”

He took his grandmother’s advice and did a course at Hawkesbury Agricultural College before starting an apprenticeship with Quirindi blacksmith Allan Frewin. After a short stint on the coast at Foster, David was soon back at Murrurundi and eventually started shoeing polo ponies at nearby Ellerston.

But, after earning his living as a farrier for nearly three decades, the keen polo player made the decision to change careers when he had an accident in 2011. “At the time I was riding a horse to assess its gait for shoeing while I was working in Queensland. It bucked and I had a bad fall. I knew it wasn’t good because I couldn’t walk, I could only shuffle along,” David recalls in his understated way. 

Unable to continue working, David managed the long drive home and was diagnosed with a split pelvis. Weekly treatments in Sydney proved successful, but the father of three realised a life spent shoeing horses was no longer going to be viable. “I had started my apprenticeship when I was 17 and now my body was beginning to fall apart. My wrist was worn out, my elbows… everything was beginning to hurt. I had four guys working for me at the time but even so, I felt I needed to be able to shoe horses myself to make the business work,” he explains. “And I couldn’t keep doing it forever. I had to think of the future.”

A new career in real estate proved to be a natural move. “I’d always had a passion for property, so I thought I’d give it a go,” he says simply. “And I do enjoy it. I have loved seeing some of the older houses getting done up.”

Today, the deputy captain of the Murrurundi Fire and Rescue NSW finds the biggest challenge in his working life is sitting still behind a desk. “I can’t help it, I just love been out and about — preferably on a horse,” he says with a smile.

 

Bettington Rural is at 79 Mayne Street, Murrurundi NSW; telephone (02) 65466696.

For more information, visit bettingtonrural.com.au

The Bettington’s Address Book

 

  1. Nelliebelle’s Cakes and Bakes. “We are so spoilt with beautiful coffee spots in Murrurundi. Although David simply loves a cup of tea from with his quart pot boiled up on a fire in the hills, he does have a weakness for a slice of Margie’s caramel custard slice from Nelliebelle’s.
    132 Mayne Street, Murrurundi NSW. Telephone 0437 144 555.

 

  1. Kim Barker’s Barber Shop. “When he goes to Scone it’s always a rushed trip to Kim’s shop for a laugh and a haircut.”
    129 Kelly Street, Scone NSW.

 

  1. Peter Britt’s Saddlery. “He can repair anything and makes all David’s bits and pieces. David just draws what he wants and Peter can make it.”
    Rear 128 Kelly Street, Scone NSW. Telephone (02) 6545 2543.
    outlawangels@southernphone.com.au

 

  1. The Bar. A Scone café that likes to celebrate local produce. “The pork dumplings here are amazing.”
    135 Kelly Street, Scone NSW. Telephone (02)
    6545 3111.

 

  1. Hanna Pastoral Co Butcher Shop. “We are also loving the convenience of this butcher shop in Willow Tree — their gourmet sausages are a definite must.”
    32 New England Highway, Willow Tree NSW.
    Opening hours Monday–Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm. Telephone (02) 6747 771 (ext 2). @hanna_pastoral_co

 

  1. “Our favourite outing is a picnic either in the hills or by the river,” says Jennifer. “There are some great waterholes and beautiful spots with amazing views down the valley close by.”

Victoria Carey

A morning spent talking horses was just what our editorial director needed. “I grew up riding with horses so it was great to meet David and his family,” she says.

Nicola Sevitt

“I loved learning about how David cares for his horses and I had a great insight into Murrurundi real estate,” says this Sydney-based photographer.

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