Mick Otton captured the nation's imagination in 1995 as one of the first horse whisperers. It was the year that Nicholas Evans' best-seller, based on American horse trainer Buck Brannaman, was published, and three years later adapted into a film starring Robert Redford. The Sydney Morning Herald spent some weeks watching Mr Otton work his magic in the Hunter Valley for a feature article in 1995 and in 1996 he appeared on A Current Affair. IN OTHER NEWS: His grandfather and father were horsemen and NSW's Bega born-and-bred Mr Otton grew up riding. When he was seven or eight he joined pony club and within 10 years was NSW U18 showjumping champion. Aged 16 he became a jackaroo and was sent to work on sheep and wheat properties. Apart from disliking the heat and dirt, he missed surfing and diving so returned to the shire to Tathra. "Then I discovered rugby league," Mr Otton said. He played for NSW Country and then moved to Brisbane where he played for the Souths for three years. "For nearly eight years I didn't ride a horse. "I came back after playing football and all my showjumping mates were doing campdrafting so I did that and have been doing it ever since," Mr Otton said. He also breeds stock horses at his Mumbulla Stock Horse Stud and has bred several stud champions. A man of few words, Mr Otton said the two big things are getting the horse's confidence and respect. "Once you have those you can teach them anything." When asked if he believed in the concept of horse whispering he replied, "I yell at them quite often. "It is like being the boss of the herd. "It doesn't matter what discipline you want to do - showjumping, dressage, eventing - supple and light horses can do anything," Mr Otton said. Mr Otton will lead one of three teams participating in the three-day horse training challenge at Cobargo Show that starts on Friday, February 10. He is not fazed that the other leaders are almost 30 years younger than him. "I am not going out there to win competitions but to show people how to train horses safely, without hurting the horses. "Horses have been part of human occupation since the year dot so getting the horse to work with you and want to work with you gives huge satisfaction. "I love seeing animals progress."