Horse Vibes November December 2020

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NOV / DEC 2020

IT’S A BUSY LIFE Olivia Hamood explains why there are always pluses and minuses

DELIVERING DREAMS Meet our awardees and finalists

FACING DOWN YOUR FEARS How mindfulness can help you


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On the Cover: Olivia Hamood and Knockout 111 in the first round of the 2019 Total Animal Supplies Boneo Cup (Image by Geoff McLean, Gone Rising Media). Magazine Layout: Ailebo Consulting

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Contents 4 Our Contributors 7 From The Horse’s Mouth 8 Spotlight on Olivia Hamood 18 Brister’s Brief 23 Delivering Dreams 36 Culture Corner: For the love of words 42 Facing down your fears 50 Nutrition: Feeding your older horse 56 Christmas Gift Guide 60 Equipment: The power of go 66 Healing comes naturally 72 Travel: Sunshine Coast dreaming 76 The Horse Listener

ISSUE #5 • NOV/DEC 2020

82 Life After Racing 88 Horse Breed: The elegant Thoroughbred 94 Remi Stud Young Rider 2020 98 Around The Traps 99 Saddle Review: Defiance Dressage 100 Around The Traps 102 On My Tackbox: A saddler’s tale 106 Around The Traps 108 Training Tips: Endurance for the long haul 112 Young Rider: Phoebe Roche 114 Around The Traps 116 Perfect Partners: Hugh Bowman and Winx 118 20 Questions with Alex Townsend H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 5


Marissa Kuhlewein A Queensland-based journalist, Marisa has worked for national and international media organisations. She enjoys all things art, travel and photography, and in her spare time loves to hike. In Culture Corner, Marisa speaks to Anne Crawford on why a passion for words and horses has worked so well for this Australian author and journalist.

Amanda Mac Amanda has had two lifelong love affairs: one with horses, and the other with writing. Now she happily combines both passions as the editor of HorseVibes. In this issue, she chats to champion showjumper Olivia Hamood on why there are always pluses and minuses, and then finds out what it takes to face down your fears.

Ian Lancaster Ian, a master saddler, has been crafting beautiful saddles of all descriptions for the past 40 years. He is the only saddler to have won the Overall Showcase of Excellence at the Melbourne Royal, and in this issue’s On My Tackbox shares some valuable saddle fitting tips, along with some of his pet peeves.

Geoff McLean A horse-lover since age eight, Geoff is a freelance journalist, photographer and consultant with a passion for horse sports. His great joys in life include family, his dogs, cooking, gardening and cycling. In this issue, he reports on the Remi Stud Young Rider Scholarship, awarded to Elise Payne at the recent Saddlefitter Brisbane CDN.

Victoria Ferguson A member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society and the International Institute for Complementary Therapists, Victoria is an author, an EA Level 2 dressage coach, and for 20 years has been an advocate and practitioner of herbal medicine for horses. In this issue she shares ex-racehorse Aussie Bob’s extraordinary healing journey.

N.G. Quinlan N.G. Quinlan, otherwise known as ‘Q’, is a writer, musician and poet. A resident of the Northern Rivers of NSW, he has been contributing to HorseVibes since August 2019. So, with the Spring Racing Carnival in full swing, what better subjects for his Perfect Partners article than the indomitable Winx and jockey Hugh Bowman. 6 | HORSEVIBES NOV/DEC 2020

Charlie Brister Regular columnist Charlie is an allround horseman whose expertise is in re-training problem horses, as well as coaching riders in the art of cross country, show jumping and dressage. In this issue we share the second instalment of Charlie’s three-part series, in which he explores the benefits of lunging for both horse and rider.

Alex Townsend Alex and husband Derek Pascoe are owners of well-known Wallaby Hill Farm. Alex manages the property and is the Event Director for Wallaby Hill International Horse Trials. She is also a 4* Eventer, a Level II Eventing Instructor and a Coach Educator – and yet still found the time to answer our 20 Questions!


Christine Armishaw Christine is a horse trainer, riding coach and passionate eventing and jumping rider. A Kiwi girl based in NSW, she teaches others not just how to ride, but also how to understand their horse. She recently caught up with endurance rider Rebecca Radny to find out how horses are trained to thrive in this epic sport.

Candida Baker Horse rescuer, author, photographer and equine facilitated learning practitioner, Candida returns with her final Horse Listener column, in which she tells the remarkable story of Jo Stacey and her rescue horse Phoenix. It’s a tale of strength, courage, magic, rebirth, and a remarkable connection that may well bring a tear to your eye.

Larissa Bilston Larissa Bilston, BAgrSc (Hons I) is the Nutritionist for Farmalogic, where she developed Equine Vit&Min and the Farmalogic Equine range. Her extensive experience is highly regarded by trainers, riders and owners who understand the importance of good nutrition. In this issue she looks at preparing the optimal diet for your aging horse.

Jo McKinnon A multi-award-winning horse racing and equestrian broadcaster and documentary maker, Jo is a former top-level show rider who’s competed all over Australia. A racing commentator for many years, she chose Rebecca Farrow and OTT Thoroughbred Stage Presence’s show ring success story for this issue’s Life After Racing feature.

Francine Pullman After a lengthy print media career, Francine is now a freelance writer and is enjoying her semiretirement, taking the opportunity to write about her personal passion: the horse.  In this issue, she takes a look at a truly classic breed, and ponders whether there really is nothing alive as beautiful as a Thoroughbred.

Sonia Caeiro Alvarez Sonia is a journalist, editor and writing workshop facilitator based in the Tweed Valley. She’s had a lifelong love affair with horses, although sadly does not own any so lives out her passion vicariously through her friends. In this issue, she indulges in a little Sunshine Coast dreaming at an award-winning riding holiday destination.

Fiona Todd Fiona’s love of animals in general, and horse’s in particular, has been life-long. Driven by a desire to support and inspire equestrians from all disciples, she first launched The Saddle Hub, a hugely popular pre-loved saddle online store, closely followed by HorseVibes, a magazine dedicated to Australian riders and their faithful equine companions.

Obelia McCormack With years of industry experience, our wonderful designer Obelia is an expert in publication production and design, with a knack for combining copy and images into eyecatching layouts. Her client list is impressive and a wide variety of publications have benefited from her considerable talents, including our own very beautiful HorseVibes.

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 7


Delivering Dreams Scholarship The Delivering Dreams Scholarship is a HorseVibes initiative designed to help equestrians from a variety of disciplines achieve their dreams. We are dedicated to connecting with communities around Australia to ensure that our Scholarship recipients receive the help and inspiration they truly need to move to the next level. Applications for the next round of the scholarship are now open and will close on 30th April 2021. To find out more, or to lodge your application visit

David Shoobridge’s Warmblood, Flame. Photo: Jessica Atkins, JA Studios.


From the Horse’s Mouth

to check out Equathon. Owned and operated by Alex and Rebecca Watson (you may remember Alex as an Olympic pentathlete), Equathon is a fabulous riding holiday destination tucked away on Queensland’s glorious Sunshine Coast. And in her Life After Racing column another of our regular contributors,

With Fiona Todd

Jo McKinnon, chats to Rebecca Farrow about her stunning OTT horse Stage Presence, aka Percy, and his

And that’s a wrap!

successful transition to the show ring.


elivering Dreams 2020 has come to a close and we have not just one, but two

November being the month of the Melbourne Cup and all things Spring Carnival, it seems fitting that the

very worthy scholarship recipients. In

amazing Winx and Hugh Bowman are

this issue we introduce you to our

N. G. Quinlan’s Perfect Partners. We

awardees and our nine amazing finalists.

also feature the majestic Thoroughbred

The HorseVibes Delivering Dreams

as this month’s breed article.

Scholarship is designed to help riders

Have you ever considered what goes

who are committed to constantly refining

into making a bespoke saddle? Master

and improving their equestrian skills, who have a heart to give back to their community, and who are prepared to do what it takes to achieve their goals. Read their stories, be inspired, and take the opportunity to put your nomination

saddler Ian Lancaster mounts his Charlie Brister has plenty of great lunging advice in the second of his three part series, as well as putting 20 carefully considered questions

forward in Round 1 of the 2021

to Wallaby Hill’s Alex Townsend.

Delivering Dreams Scholarship.

Editor Amanda Mac talks to Alex and

On the subject of scholarships, Geoff

Leigh Crabb from Burilda Park about

McLean reports on this year’s Remi Scholarship and it’s very worthy recipient. Our collective hats are off to the amazing Cheryl O’Brien for putting

their popular mindfulness training program. And heads up, we have a subscription to their online program to give away to one of our lucky

this together every year and enriching

Equestrian Hub platinum members!

the life of one lucky rider. Cheryl is one

Larissa Bilston gives us the low

of those people whom I greatly admire. Well, this issue is the last for 2020, and how fitting that after what has been a horrible year for our readers, our equestrian business

down on feeding the older horse in our regular nutrition feature, and learn how Victoria Ferguson helped badly injured ex-racehorse Aussie Bob to come back from the brink

friends, and the wider community,

and enjoy a new lease on life.

it’s the biggest and brightest issue

Regular columnist Christine Armishaw

we have ever put together! We turn the spotlight on Olivia Hamood, one of my favourite show jumpers. She’s someone who has worked hard to establish her family’s brand and to

has a few things to say about whips and spurs, and also talks Training

Tackbox to talk about his craft, while Victorian Young Rider Phoebe Roche shares the story behind her success. But there’s so much more to enjoy! Don’t miss the Saddle Review, Culture Corner, and, gracing our pages for the last time, The Horse Listener. We hope that they enjoy their new stable. Plus, if you’re a bit stuck when it comes to choosing the perfect gift for your equestrian buddy, the Equestrian Hub team are more than happy to share what’s on their Christmas wish lists this year. And finally, to all our wonderful readers, advertisers, and contributors, thank you for the part you’ve played in helping make HorseVibes the great publication it is today. I’d like to wish every one of you a fantastic Christmas and New Year (well, it has to be better than 2020, right?). So, as usual, pour your favourite tipple, relax and enjoy, and we’ll see you all on the other side.

Tips with endurance rider Rebecca Radny. Bec is the consummate professional in all things endurance!

produce horses of exceptional talent

Sonia Caerio Alvarez takes off on

who consistently perform at their peak.

another virtual adventure, this time H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 9


It’s a busy life Having horses in your blood doesn’t necessarily make equestrian success a foregone conclusion. Without single-minded focus and sheer hard work there are never any guarantees, writes AMANDA MAC.


’m talking to champion showjumper Olivia Hamood. It’s late afternoon and she’s just finished riding for the day

– not that that means work is over and done with, not by a long chalk. There’s plenty still to do.

NCAS Level 2 Jumping Coach, and Olivia manages a very busy stable as well as competing with her team, something she does extremely well. That Olivia’s earliest memories include horses shouldn’t come as a surprise: “I

We’ve been discussing what it takes to

think I was still crawling when I first sat

be successful in this sport, when Olivia

on a horse,” she says, “and I’ve probably

remarks: “It’s probably not what people

been riding since I was around two-years-

think it is when they see us at shows.

old. I started off on a Shetland pony, as

We’re getting garlands of flowers and

most kids do, and got bucked off nearly

having a great time but that’s just a small

every day.” Safe to say that never give up

part of it. Everything that you do at home,

was a lesson learned early.

all the hard yards, the blood, sweat and tears, the disappointments, that’s what you have to keep on pushing through and not give up, never give up.”

I wonder whether Olivia’s obsession with jumping was through nature, nurture, or a little of both. “It was entirely my decision, but obviously I think that growing up with

The words of someone who knows that

a mother who was heavily involved in the

great achievements in the show ring

show jumping world was an influence.

come with a sizeable price tag, even if

But it’s what I was always passionate

you were born into a family immersed in

about and wanted to pursue, and I’ve

the equestrian world. Olivia’s mother is

never seriously thought about any other

well-known Australian showjumper Paula

discipline. I was probably four years

Hamood, while her father David was for

old when I knew show jumping was it. I

many years involved in the Thoroughbred

used to pretend I was a horse. I would

racing industry.

put a spoon in my mouth - that was the

Together, Paula and David established Glen Haven Park in Kilcoy, 70 minutes north-west of Brisbane, Queensland.

bit - and canter around the coffee table jumping books. It was pretty clear even then!”

There they specialise in producing,

I mention that when I was around the

campaigning and selling top quality

same age, my pretend pony could

horses to an international market. It’s a

execute a mean flying change. We

family owned and operated business.

laugh. “It’s funny,” she muses, “it’s like an

David is the manager of the nearly 486

addiction, once you’re hooked, you’re

hectare property, Paula is a rider and


10 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

And young Olivia’s intensity of focus never faltered. She tells me that in primary school, she had been a promising runner: “I went to the Nationals for cross country running when I was only ten. I was quite good and they wanted me to give up riding and run professionally, but there was no chance of that happening!” It’s natural to assume that it was Paula who taught Olivia to ride, and while that’s largely true, Paula’s father Brian Kennedy (lovingly known as Pop), has had a considerable hand in her progress as a rider. And there’s an interesting backstory. “They’re the two people who have helped me the whole way, but actually Pop never really came from a horsey family”, Olivia explains. “As a young child it was Mum who decided that she wanted a pony, and I guess it was the blind leading the blind to start with. Pop and Mum bought a colt from the doggers and broke it in. They did it all themselves, and learned along the way, and yeah, Pop absolutely loves it. He’s passionate about horses and has been for over 50 years. He’s here every day working with us, and that’s pretty amazing.” Besides two brothers, neither of whom is horse-minded, Olivia also has a younger sister, now 12-years-old, who after a nervous start recently learned to ride. That’s a very different trajectory to Olivia’s: “Right from a young age I’ve always been very gutsy and Mum had to hold me back. When I was just 12, I had a 13.2h pony called Aztec Sun and we were at the Shepparton World Cup Show. There was a junior six bar and I was trying to jump 1.40. My pony ducked out and I whirled around again to have another try with Mum yelling at me from the sidelines to stop! So I’ve always been determined and never really afraid or put off by anything.” Olivia tells me that her introduction to the show ring was in hacking classes, and you get the feeling that it wasn’t her preferred option! “That was simply because 12 is the earliest you can start to jump competitively and I was too young. I guess Mum thought hacking was a good place for me to start.” But when the longed-for transition from

Olivia and Sundance GHP taking out the Winning Appliances Future Stars Final at the 2019 Chatham Park Summer Classic (Image by Stephen Mowbray).

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hacking to jumping eventually came, it arrived in style at the 2004 Brisbane Royal. “It just happened that my 12th birthday was on the day of the Junior Grand Prix. So I went out on Torchbearer, Mum’s World Cup horse, and I won! I’ll probably always be the youngest rider to have won that event,” she laughs. But was it all plain sailing? Surely there were setbacks, although it’s not sounding likely at this point in our conversation. Olivia ponders my question for a moment: “As a kid I never had any broken bones or major problems. I guess one of my biggest lessons was after riding Torchbearer. He was a schoolmaster. All you had to do with him was point and shoot, which had me thinking that it was me who was the hero. But I soon worked out that I wasn’t when I went from Torchbearer to Bucks Bunny, Mum’s other great horse. At home, I would literally fall off at every cross rail and burst into tears.” Olivia can laugh at that now, but at the time it was a huge, and a valuable, reality check. “I learned that it wasn’t just a matter of sitting on top and pointing. So, while that’s not exactly a setback, it was something that gave me quite a kick up the bum!” she smiles. “Bucks was a horse you needed to be really accurate with, you had to put him exactly where he liked to be. He demanded a little more rider attention than I was used to giving while sitting on Torchbearer. So it was a big transition from being a kid on a schoolmaster to learning how to ride to actually make it happen.” I suggest that as with any promising young athlete, the sport/school work balance must have been difficult. “It was,” Olivia assures me, “really difficult actually. When I was in primary school we used to go on the Victorian run for six weeks at a time. Shepparton, Wodonga, Sale, all those World Cup shows. So my teachers would send me away with six weeks-worth of work and I would have to do my school work after I’d ridden. Luckily I managed quite well, but when I got to high school and started studying the more intense subjects like chemistry, it became a real struggle. But Mum and

Olivia with her grandfather Brian Kennedy, and parents Paula and David Hamood after her first World Cup win at the 2016 Gatton World Cup on Nero GHP (Image by Oz Shotz).

I learned that it wasn’t just a matter of sitting on top and pointing ... that gave me quite a kick up the bum! Dad always said that my schooling was important so I did it. Dad was probably the one who helped me if I got stuck, but on the whole I just had to get in the truck, get on with my work and if I had a problem I’d ring the teacher.” Character building to say the least!

and the Hamoods secured the contract to provide 38 horses for the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games. “We had to procure, train and deliver the horses to Singapore, and that’s when I decided to leave school and pursue a career in show jumping,” she explains. “My grandfather, mum and I flew around the countryside trying out about 110 horses I think it was, before buying the 38. Then, with another two riders and a team of grooms, we began training – and that was basically our life for 18 months.” The workload was intense, but for fresh out of school Olivia Hamood, the lessons learned were invaluable. “We had an overall budget for purchasing the horses,

However, Olivia’s world changed radically

but we paid very different amounts for

when she was half-way through Year 11

each one. Yet at the end of the 18 months, H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 13


McDermott and Tom Sedger. But it was thanks to the Singapore Youth Olympics project that Olivia got a significant break in her career. While in Singapore, she met Belgium based showjumper Ludo Philippaerts, a four-time Olympian with some serious international successes to his name.

Riding for Ludo Philippaerts at the Arezzo Tuscan Tour in Italy (Image by Plastic Foto Sport).

Ludo was so impressed with the then 18-year-old that he invited her to visit his stables in Belgium. “And that was such a big opportunity. But at the time Mum felt I was too young to go and held me back for a year. It was in 2012 that I eventually went to Europe and spent three months in Belgium and Italy with Ludo,” Olivia recalls. But even before arriving home in Australia she knew Europe was where she needed to be, so she applied for a 13-month visa and headed back to Europe with two of her own horses, Eternal Flame and Carado GHP. What followed was the stuff of dreams. Ludo and the team took Olivia with them wherever they went, giving her the opportunity to compete at a variety of 5* events: the Mechelen World Cup, shows in Portugal, Italy, France - essentially all over Europe.

we had a broad selection of horses that

And as anyone who has ever worked with

were all at the same level. After the first

a bureaucracy will tell you, paperwork

day of the Youth Olympics there were, I

is king – another eye-opener for Olivia.

think, 12 horses all tied on penalties. So

“Because we were dealing with the

it taught me just how much you can do

government everything had to be very

with different horses to get them onto an

professional,” she recalls. “We had to

even playing field, regardless of what you

produce nutritional reports, farrier reports

might have originally paid for them.”

and vet reports every month. The office

I take the point: it’s talent over price tag. “Oh, absolutely! It’s talent that counts plus a good education,” she says. “Something we became aware of while training so many different horses at once was that

management side of it was just massive, but it’s something that has had a big influence on the way I run my business now, even though it’s on a much smaller scale.”

some had to be lifted up, while others just

Olivia has travelled the world to compete,

needed to be kept going. Still, it was a big

and her globe-trotting started early with

job to get all of them to exactly where we

a trip to Korea in 2009, when she was a

wanted them to be.”

member of a junior team along with Tom

14 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

I remark that at just 19, the experience must have been life-changing. She agrees: “Previously when I’d travelled overseas, I was with my family or a support crew whom I knew, so to go to Europe at that age with two horses of my own was really daunting at first. Now I look back on it as one of the best experiences of my life. It’s probably where things really opened up for my career.” One of the biggest take-homes for Olivia, was the degree of professionalism she saw in Europe: “It’s another world over there as far as the horse dealing goes, the way competitions are run, the everyday work ethic, the whole thing. It’s next level. So that’s something I’m aiming for, to one day go back with my own horses.” But before returning to Australia in 2013, Olivia and her mare Eternal Flame were selected to compete with the Australian Nations Cup Team in Portugal,


an unforgettable experience that firmly cemented her desire to ride for Australia again. And once back on home soil, Olivia and Carado wasted no time in making their presence felt with a stellar few years. “Probably one of the highlights was winning the 2016 Australian Championship Grand Prix and placing third overall in the Australian Senior title that was special," she says, "then he went on to win two Boneo Cups. We did a lot of good things together. But if you want to stay in the sport, the time comes when you have to part ways and he was sold in December 2018.” For Olivia, the parting wasn’t easy: “That horse had been around the world with me and to see him leaving, that’s a feeling I’ll never forget. It was horrible, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I was happy for him but so sad at the same time. But it’s just what you have to do when you’re a professional rider. And to watch him succeed now makes me so proud. He was sold to Annabelle Francis, a top little rider in New Zealand, and within the first four months of her having him she had won the Takapoto Gold Grand Prix, so that was a huge feather in his cap.”

ABOVE: Carado GHP jumping to 6th place in his first World Cup at the 2016 Gatton World Cup Show. Olivia won the class on Nero GHP (Image by Oz Shotz). BELOW: With Knockout III, owned by Linda and Graham Huddy, at the 2018 Boneo Cup Classic (Image by Stephen Mowbray).

In an odd twist of fate, around the time Carado was sold, Paula, who had unfortunately suffered a broken ankle, handed the reins of her top mare Jane Fonda over to Olivia. “She’s probably the best mare I’ve ever had, and 2019 is probably the best year I’ve ever had,” she recalls. And that’s saying a lot when you look at some of Olivia’s previous successes, which include representing Australia three times, being named Equestrian Queensland Sport Star of the Year twice, winning the Gatton World Cup, and in 2016 winning both the Boneo Cup Grand Prix and the Australian Championships Grand Prix. But for Olivia, one of her biggest achievements was placing second in the 2019 Australian Senior Championship with Jane Fonda. “That was a huge deal for me because it attracted some serious H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 15


prize money,” Olivia explains. “Then I came second to Chris Chugg - a bit of an idol of mine - and Levilensky in the Willinga Park Grand Prix, and second to Chris again in the World Cup decider at the end of the year. They were in the region of $25,000 classes so that was a big thing – and Dad was certainly happy on the drive home!” Olivia seems to have a knack for finding top showjumpers, and when she’s on the hunt, she has a very specific check list. “Probably the first thing I look for is a good temperament and a big heart. I think that with those two things in place, other qualities can be worked on. But they’ve also got to be careful,” she adds, “they can have any technique but if they’re not careful they’re not going to be any good to you. So heart, temperament, and carefulness are probably my top priorities.” But while ability is essential for the horse, it’s also prerequisite for the rider, and that includes mindset. Olivia has some strong views on the subject: “Before a big class I like to go somewhere quiet to just be alone. I don’t like to do anything else other than that, and I don’t like talking to anyone because I find that the smallest of things can influence your mindset. And by the time I go into the arena, I’m completely focussed. All I’m thinking about is myself and my horse and the job we have to do. The rest is just a blur.” Currently Olivia has a seven-horse show team in place, which she says is the best she’s ever had. Besides Jane Fonda, the line-up includes Alan 111 Z, Knockout 111, and Lola GHP, three great horses all owned by Linda and Graham Huddy, who are, in Olivia’s opinion “absolutely fantastic owners.” Besides Olivia’s team, there are an additional nine horses in work in the Glen Haven Park stable, with close to 50 horses on the property all told. “We also breed here as well as doing some spelling and pre-training. There’s no time for anything else but horses,” says Olivia, who puts in close to 12 hours a day - nine hours riding and another three managing the stables - six days a week. The champion jumper is also a huge fan

Olivia with Linda and Graham Huddy’s Alan III Z in the Mini Prix at the 2018 Summer Classic (Image by Stephen Mowbray).

Then I came second to Chris Chugg - a bit of an idol of mine - and Levilensky ... of flatwork. “I think nearly 80 per cent of our riding is based on that. Without flatwork you’re fighting an uphill battle when you get to the higher levels,” she explains, “it’s the discipline that allows you to place your horse on an exact

As we bring the conversation to a close, Olivia offers up a few final thoughts. “You know the old saying: you don’t give up, you get up? That sums up the horse world. It’s relentless and it’s hard work but if you want it badly enough, you’ve just got to keep going. That, and the support of your family, is probably the biggest thing in this sport.” Then there’s the ability to deal with pressure, and Olivia has had her fair share of that. “Coming from a horsey family people think you’re lucky, and you are,” she says thoughtfully, “but the issue there is that as Paula Hamood’s daughter, they expect a lot of you, and

take-off spot. The horse needs to be

that’s additional to the pressure you put

so adjustable that you can put them

on yourself! So that’s something that you

wherever you want. We’re talking within

have to learn to overcome. No matter

inches. It can be the difference between

what people think, success is not simply

leaving a 1.60m fence up or not, and that

a result of your circumstances. It’s not

can be the difference between winning

that simple. There are always pluses and

or not.”

minuses.” H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 17


Lunging: It’s a circular question


I’m hoping that you made it at least halfway around the circle after reading Brister’s Brief in

the September/October issue of HorseVibes! But before we dig into the next instalment, let’s take a look at some key points from the last article to save you from having to read it all again: y Lunging is no silver bullet, it will

In Part Two of this three-part series, resident columnist CHARLIE BRISTER goes deeper still on the subject of circles and how to perfect them.

help rid your horse of excess energy, and depending on the way you do it, it can also help to encourage relaxation on a deeper level. y Check that feed and turnout is suitable for your horse’s needs. Calm the energizer bunny behaviour with feed that’s properly balanced and appropriate for their workload. y Pay attention to your horse: which rein do they fall in or rush more on? Remember, developing straightness begins on the ground. y There are lots of choices in regards to what equipment to use. Experiment with what works best for you and your horse. It’s not about the tool but more how you use it. y Aim for a calm but responsive horse. y Focus on tempo and line. y

Avoid using lunging ‘systems’

that pull the horse’s head down and diminish the stop response from the reins. y

For rehab horses, go for

straight lines before lunging. Now your memory has been refreshed, let’s get into Part 2.

Developing a smooth, even circle

Your horse may be more interested in what’s going on outside the lunge yard. If that’s the case they’ll be working with Clearly a bit distracted, this is today’s pupil Cletus Brown, a Team Thoroughbred NSW horse.

their nose out and their shoulder falling in. They need to pay attention to the centre of the circle – you! Gently squeeze the lead asking them to look to the inside. Release when their head turns in even a little bit. This may


reduce the circle size but it’s better to

slower trot. When the trot is in balance

have a smaller circle with their focus on

again, repeat the transition to canter.

you than a large one with no focus.

Don’t do an upward transition if the horse begins to rush in the current

One thing to watch out for is who


is moving whose legs? Is the horse moving your legs, or are

It’s important that the horse

you moving the horse’s legs? If

is waiting for you to give an

the horse falls in and you back

instruction, not just forging

away that’s rewarding the horse

ahead on its own. Sometimes you

for falling in. Instead, stand your

might have to return to walk/halt

ground in the centre. Try pointing

transitions. Each time they halt, walk

your tool at the shoulder so they are

over and give them a scratch on the

more likely to stay out on the circle.

wither to reward the halt. The more you

When you start walking backwards with

can reward them, the more they'll want

the horse following you on a circle, the horse has succeeded in lunging you!

How do the aids work for stop and go?

to listen. ABOVE AND BELOW: Start teaching the yield at the halt.

Also, try doing transitions within the gait – a slightly faster trot to slower trot. They should move to the new speed and stay there without you needing to chase

Horses can learn through Pavlovian,

them. Remember, the focus is on tempo

also known as classical, conditioning.

and line control. To develop a calm

This means that the horse will start

horse we have to be careful not to

to link different cues together. For

confuse the horse.

example, if clicking with the voice always comes before use of the

Good brakes from the bit are fairly

whip, the horse will start to react

essential in my book. A calm horse

to the initial clicking.

that can maintain the tempo and the line you ask them for from soft

Always saying ‘whoa’ before

pressure will start to use their back

putting pressure on the lead to slow

on their own.

them down can teach them to respond quickly to your voice. It’s important to

How much is a good thing?

use the lightest cue first whether that be

The time you lunge a horse is totally

voice or body position, before you use a

dependent on your situation, but horses

physical aid.

are not meant to be going on a small circle for extended periods. Start to think

Work on transitions

that that’s enough after ten to fifteen

Lunging can really help to improve

minutes - definitely not an hour. If you

transitions as the horse has the

find yourself having to lunge your

opportunity to move without a 50-

steed at trot and canter for half an

120kg load bouncing around on

hour just to get someone into the

their back. Watch your horse make

saddle, then maybe professional

a transition on the lunge. Do they

help from your coach would be

raise their head (which hollows


their back)? Do they fall in towards the centre? Analyse the shape of

Six of the best: top tips for happy lunging

the horse and their circle and work on improving both.

1. Check your gear, and make sure

Trot to canter should be a nice, calm,

your horse is familiar with the longer

upward transition. If the horse tosses

rein and any whip or flag you might

their head and speeds up their trot, gently ask for them to come back to a

Your horse’s attention should ideally be on you in the centre of the circle.

choose to use. 2. Work your horse in hand on the H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 21


paying attention by changing the pace at least every couple of circles.

How can lunging improve the rider? Once a horse is calm and responsive on the lunge, it can be used to help the rider’s seat. There are many different exercises you can build up to on the lunge - from trot poles to jumping. Lunging is often used to help a rider with their seat and balance sans stirrups. The use of side reins in this situation can be useful for stabilising the horse until the rider develops an independent seat. The ultimate form of this work is vaulting. Check out the Australian vaulting team on YouTube to see how some of our young equestrians hone their skills riding on the lunge! If you and your horse emerge from the Cletus and Chavish with Charlie (recognisable by his socks) and Farm Manager Les Westwood. The aim of lunging is to produce a relaxed, attentive horse, regardless of the type of whip, halter, or any other gear you might be using.

lunge arena relaxed and happy, then your riding days are likely to be more calm, happy, and more competitive! Don’t miss Part 3 of Lunging: It’s a

straight before you send them out to

correction if the horse is only two to

work on a circle.

three meters away from your hand.

3. Aim for calm transitions in both

5. As soon as they’re comfortable and

directions without drilling the horse.

responding to your aids for walk, stop,

an all-round horseman based in western

Finishing on a good note is always

and trot, enlarge the circle. Working a

Sydney. His expertise is in re-training


horse for long periods on a small circle

problem horses, as well as coaching

4. Start smaller to make communication

is not advised.

riders in the art of cross country, show

simpler. It’s easier to make a necessary

6. Make it interesting and keep them

jumping and dressage.

Trotting over poles spaced at roughly 1.2m tests how well they’re listening and how relaxed they are when another level of complexity is added.

22 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

circular question in our next issue. Charlie Brister of Brister Equestrian is

The Right Rein Don’t miss it!

Proud Supporter of the



The Delivering Dreams Scholarship We received some exceptional applications for this year’s Delivering Dreams Scholarship. Selecting a recipient proved difficult, so much so that our judges have chosen two particularly outstanding applicants: Jamie Hocking and Luke Purtill.


he HorseVibes Delivering Dreams Scholarship is something of which I am

introduce Jamie and Luke to you on the following pages, along with our nine wonderful finalists.

extremely proud. It has been

And I would like to personally

a long-held dream of mine to

thank everyone who has made

help equestrians of all ages and

it so very special, our applicants,

abilities move closer to their

our very generous sponsors, our

own dreams. And that’s exactly

panel of expert judges, my family,

what the scholarship is designed

and my many friends, all of whom

to do: to motivate its recipients

have helped in so many ways.

and assist them in removing any

With much gratitude,

barriers that might be holding them back. This particular scholarship round has been outstanding. We

Delivering Dreams Scholarship Sponsors


Jamie and his mare French Kiss at CHIO Aachen in 2019 (Image courtesy CHIO Aachen). INSET: Jamie and French at their training facility in Jelling, Denmark (Image courtesy Jamie Hocling).



amie Hocking is a 24 year old rising star in the world of equestrian vaulting. He’s been an Australian

High-Performance athlete since he was 12, and is absolutely passionate about his sport. Vaulting greatly improves rider balance and coordination, foundational skills for all disciplines – and it was Jamie’s mother, once a keen eventer herself, who encouraged him to begin vaulting at the age of six because she wanted him to learn to fall safely and stay balanced on his pony, who was prone to pigrooting! But Jamie, who loved the gymnastics and music involved in vaulting, never returned to the more conventional riding disciplines. As you might imagine, it’s very costly to fly an Australian horse to competitions in Europe or the USA, so from the tender age of 12, Jamie left his own horse at home with his vaulting club coach, and competed in Europe and the USA on borrowed horses. During his junior high years he often spent eight to ten weeks training in Vienna and competing in France, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. By the time he reached senior high school, he was training in Jelling, Denmark, his home away from home, in order to compete in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. But Jamie’s life is a balancing act in more ways than one! In order to be able to spend most of the year with his Danish trainer, Lasse Kristensen, and his beautiful 17.2hh Danish mare French Kiss, he raises money by selling wool and

National Workshop in Canberra, as well

finish, maybe a short vacation and

as coaching at the Acacia Gold Vaulting

then it’s back on the barrel to work on

Club in Springton, where Charlie, his exracehorse still helps to train new Aussie vaulters. Additionally, in 2019, Equestrian Australia announced that Jamie had

routines for the next season,” Jamie explains. “Most people think that all our training is done on the horse, but we only work with our horses for around 20

been appointed as Chef d’Equipe for the

per cent of the time.”

FEI Vaulting World Championships for

Also part of the package for vaulters

Juniors, an experience that he says was a privilege. Jamie’s list of achievements is impressive, and includes, among other accolades, holding a 17th place in the World Rankings for Equestrian Vaulting, winning 16th place at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, 4th at the 2017 World Cup in Germany, and 3rd place in the

are gymnastics, stretching, practicing routines on the barrel, and mental training. And the horse? “To keep French fit, healthy and happy she has her own training program. She does dressage, free jumping and trail rides in the forest, plus the odd dressage competition with a friend who is an experienced dressage rider – and that’s not me!” Jamie laughs.

2017 World Cup in France. He’s also the

Being awarded the Delivering Dreams

current Australian NationalChampion.

Scholarship means a lot to Jamie. “I was really honoured to be selected,

sheep from his flock on the family farm

Currently in his sights are the 2020

at Woolsheds in South Australia. To help

World Championships, which have now

make ends meet while he’s in Denmark,

been scheduled for 2021. “Lasse, French

he lives at the barn with French and does

and I are refocussing for that one, and

stable, maintenance and farm work, as

hoping it will come off next year. It only

well as coaching a team of Junior Danish

comes around every four years so it’s a


big deal.”

The mark of a well-rounded

And refocussing includes a significant

stuck in Denmark due to COVID and

sportsperson is their desire to give back,

amount of hard work. “I average up to

sometimes I feel far from my Aussie

which Jamie certainly does. When he’s

18 hours training a week. Vaulter’s don’t

home, but this has really helped me to

home in Australia, he coaches at the

really get a long break after competitions

feel connected again.”

especially as joint winner alongside fellow Aussie equestrian athlete, Luke Purtill. I really appreciate every bit of help I can get. I don’t have a sponsor and sometimes it’s a challenge to support myself so winning something like this is a real leg up. At the moment I’m a bit

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 27



uke Purtill doesn’t pull

inspirational and a good

any punches when it

example. But I think that’s

comes to the way he

funny because I just try my best and give things a go. I

feels about horses: “They’re the

like to show everyone that

best thing that I’ve ever done,” he says.

having a disability doesn’t

And that’s perhaps a bit of a

reaching for your dreams

have to stop you from

family trait. Luke’s grandmother

and doing amazing things.”

loved horses and taught her

Luke, who lives near

daughter, Luke’s mother to ride.

Darwin where no Para or

Then his mother taught him,

Special Olympic events

and at a very early age too: “I

are held, has to travel

can’t remember not being able

south for competitions.

to ride,” Luke says. “Mum first started sitting me on horses before I could walk. I first fell off one when I was 18 months old!” Fortunately that didn’t deter Luke in the slightest, and he’s now making his

“I compete mainstream put many of us to shame. “I am a rider

in dressage. At the moment I am riding

with a disability and I have had lots and

in Prelim and usually score in the low

lots of health problems,” he explains, “but there are lots more things I can

mark in the world of dressage with the

do than things I can’t do. Many people

courage and determination that would

who know me say what I achieve is

28 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

to mid 60s. I also like to do Western Pleasure and trail riding. I’ve joined the Special Olympics in Queensland and have been flying to Brisbane to train and compete. I won two firsts and a second

Luke with his stallion Mt Weld Resilience (Image by Darwin Photography Professionals). INSET: Preparing to participate in the ANZAC Day Light Horse Re-enactment with Willing Noble Eureka (Image by Darwin Photography Professionals).

at my last competition,” he says. For Luke, a good dressage horse has little to do with looks: “Much more important is that they’re kind, sensible

swing, Luke trains anywhere from five

an admirable philosophy when it comes

to ten hours a week. He also works in

to competition success. “I always believe

a furniture factory and enjoys ten pin

in looking after my horse before myself,”

bowling, which helps him with his fitness.

he says, “and Mum has taught me that being a good sport is the most important

and trainable. For dressage they need

Currently he has two horses, a mare and

to have good movement. I’m lucky that

a stallion. “The stallion is going to be

my dressage horse Eureka is beautiful

gelded soon. I have been riding him but I

on a horse. A ribbon is just a bonus.”

as well as sensible, and she moves really

can’t compete on him until he is gelded.


Mum is working on him now so he’ll be

It came as a bit of a surprise when Luke

With a keen interest in Australian history, Luke enjoys participating in Light Horse

ready for me next year, by which time my mare will hopefully have had a foal!”

thing of all. You win every time you get

learned that he had been awarded the Delivering Dreams Scholarship. “I was shocked and didn’t know what to say.

re-enactments. “Our horses are Walers,

Luke’s major goal for the future is to

Mum cried! She said it was because

an Australian breed that was used in

be chosen to represent Australia at the

the Australian Light Horse, including the

2023 World Special Olympics in Berlin.

she was so proud of me and what I

charge at Beersheba on the 31st October

“To do this I need to win gold at state

1917. Many of my ancestors were in WW1

level to be eligible for the state team,” he

and WW2 which is one of the reasons I’m

explains. “I then need to win gold at the

interested in Light Horse re-enactment. It

Australia Special Olympics to be eligible

is important for people to know our

for the Australian Team.”

history and our heritage.” When the competition season is in full

have achieved,” he says. “I am just so excited and want to say a huge thank you to HorseVibes and all the wonderful sponsors for allowing this opportunity. I’d also like to say a massive congratulations to Jamie Hocking for sharing this

But while Luke is determined to achieve

scholarship with me. I can only hope I

his goals, his motivation is balanced by

can be as amazing as him!” H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 29







Antonia with her OTT Charlie (Image by Kia Loveday of Spirit Fire Photography).

Kasey, Starbar Tassas Oakie and Kasey’s grandfather Rick Sciberras (Image by Ken Anderson).





ome people expect good things in life to land in

WESTERN REINING Charlie, the pair have progressed from their first

their lap with little or no

ever 60cm jumping round in

effort on their part – Antonia

2019, to competing in a 1.10m

Bearda is not one of them.

event earlier this year. “We’ve

Originally from New Zealand, her first equine partner was Gem, a 27-year-old paddock pony who was very selective about who rode her. However, she introduced Antonia to Pony Club and the

jumped a 1.30m oxer with ease a few times at home, so I know he has the scope and talent,” Antonia says. On the dressage front, learning together has been “slow but steady” and solid

pair subsequently became

progress is being made.

the six-bar champions,

Not surprisingly, Antonia

clearing 1.30m. Antonia says she’s never had a ‘push button’ horse, but has managed to bring out the best in every one she’s owned. “I’ve turned horses no one else wanted, even horses that people were scared of, into horses who competed at the Horse of the Year in New Zealand, and won Pony Club championships.”

has more than a few goals currently waiting out COVID-19: “I want to compete in the Jump Off Ex-Racehorse Series B Class. I also want us to be achieving higher than 65 per cent in our dressage tests. My long term goals are to compete for Australia or New Zealand in the World Equestrian Games or even the Olympics. And a huge dream of mine is to one day

And nothing’s changed.

compete in the Al Shiraa'aa

Partnered by ex-racehorse

Hickstead Derby in the UK.”

30 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0


ver since she can remember, horses have been an essential part of Kasey Bogie’s life. She comes from a Western riding dynasty, and trains, travels and competes (she first rode in reining competitions at age 10) with three generations of her family. Her grandfather, Rick Sciberras, is her coach and mentor, and Kasey has learned much from him. Passionate about her sport, Kasey is very focussed. “Hard work in conjunction with some incredible horses has enabled me to win four National Champion titles and three National Reserve Champion titles,” she says. “In 2019, I was placed 1st in the Non-Pro Top Ten Standing of Australia,” she says. Another long-held goal achieved through focus and discipline. On the subject of goals, Kasey has been working hard to secure a position on a National Collegiate

Equestrian team in the USA. COVID-19 has added another layer of complexity to the process, but she is keeping her hopes high. “It would be a dream come true to have the opportunity to compete in reining whilst earning a degree in Animal Science,” she says. Many Australian reiners have fine-tuned their skills in the US, and Kasey knows that to achieve the best results, you need to learn from the best. But while the knowledge gained from college coaches and industry professionals would greatly benefit her, she also has a goal of sharing those skills with others. Kasey’s passion for her sport begins and ends with her love of horses, and has done much to shape who she is today. “They teach you invaluable life lessons such as how to take care of others, respect, kindness and patience,” she says.


Michaela rides a dressage test with Flowervale Florenz (Image by Gone Riding Media).

Claudia and Sordena Park Rhythm N Style (Image by Grace Watt, Geosnapshot).






included an invite to the Ingrid

progressing through

Michaela says was “a truly

Pony Club with the usual

once in a lifetime experience.”

fter learning to ride as a child and later

assortment of equine companions, Michaela Bray finally found her place in the world of dressage. “For me, dressage was an easy choice,” she says. “I thrive on the challenge of building and maintaining my horses’ fitness, elasticity, enthusiasm and strength. I cannot imagine a life without dressage, and more importantly, without my horses.” Michaela currently has two horses in work: Flowervale Florenz (Floz) and Ellanbrae Benito Gold (Ben). Partnered by Floz, she earned a place on the Victorian High Performance Dressage Squad,

Klimke Masterclass, which

With two talented horses in her life, Michaela has set some exciting goals. “Ben is just beginning his dressage career, so training goals take priority over competing in specific events. I would love


laudia Brodtke has been obsessed with

horses her entire life. Much to her parents’ dismay, the obsession started early: show jumping over broomsticks, lunging the family dog, and 'Why You Should Buy Me a Pony' PowerPoint presentations were a regular occurrence.

to have him confident with the

When she was 11, Claudia

elementary movements by the

had her first riding lesson,

end of the year – and I’d be

taking any opportunity to work

ecstatic to be able to attend

with horses that presented

the 2021 Dressage with the

itself. Later, she competed

Stars and finish the year with

in hacking and show horse

a start at Medium. With Floz,

events on ponies she’d

I’m now looking at pushing

broken and trained with a

his work to the next level and

friend before turning her focus

consolidating the Medium

to dressage when she was

Tour movements.”

gifted Style, a horse she’d

Whilst talent is essential,

been leasing.

the National Young Rider

Michaela recognises that

At the end of last year she

Squad, and was awarded

dedication, passion and hard

acquired her second horse

Australian CDI-Y Champion

work are equally, if not more

Arnie, a young 17hh Arabian

in 2018. Meanwhile Ben

important. Dressage, she says,

Warmblood who she’s training

scooped 4 Year Old Champion

is a long-term pursuit, and

up for dressage. She was also

at the 2020 Boneo CDI, which

she’s strapped in for the ride!

competing in Prelim tests with

Style towards the end of 2019. Claudia has her sights set on being the best athlete she can be, and to give herself every chance of equestrian success, she’s learning about nutrition, mindset, rider-orientated workouts, sports psychology, and equine alternative therapies. Additionally, she’s begun teaching and is studying for her Equestrian Australia Instructor’s Certificate, an avenue to sharing her passion for all things equestrian with others. Determined to succeed despite more than a few setbacks, Claudia’s main goal is to one day become a professional rider. But in the shorter term: “I want to have Style competing to Medium by the end of 2021, with the aim of competing at State Dressage, and to have my young gelding Arnie confident in his work and progressing up the FEI levels.” H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 31



We know what they are like, so help manage the temptation of high-sugar, starch & green grass this season. Give them the low-sugar, low-starch, high-fibre diet they need to stay fit and healthy this spring. We know what they are like, so help manage the temptation of high-sugar, starch & green grass this season. Barastoc’s complete range of horse feeds will satisfy Give them the low-sugar, low-starch, high-fibre diet they need to stay fit and healthy this spring. We know what they are like, so help manage the temptation of high-sugar, starch & green grass this season. even the most sweet-toothed horse and provide Barastoc’s complete range of horse feeds will satisfy Give themwhat the low-sugar, low-starch, high-fibre they need to stay fit and healthy thisgrass spring. We know are like, so help manage thediet temptation of high-sugar, starch & green this season. them with the they nutrition they need. even the most sweet-toothed horse and provide We know they arerange like, soofhelp manage temptation of high-sugar, starch & green this season. Give themwhat the low-sugar, low-starch, high-fibre diet they need to stay fit and healthy thisgrass spring. Barastoc’s complete horse feedsthe will satisfy • Barastoc Calm Performer • Speedi-Beet them withthe the nutrition they need. Give them low-sugar, low-starch, high-fibre diet they need to stay fit and healthy this spring. even the most sweet-toothed horse and provide complete range of horse feeds will satisfy •Barastoc’s Fibre-Beet • Barastoc Groom •them Barastoc Calm Performer • Speedi-Beet with the nutrition they need. Barastoc’s complete range of horse feeds will satisfy even the most sweet-toothed and provide •HELP Fibre-Beet • Barastoc Groom BREAK THE HABIT! even the sweet-toothed horse and provide them withmost the nutrition they need. • Barastoc Calm Performer • Speedi-Beet them with theTHE nutrition they need. •• Fibre-Beet •• Barastoc Groom HELP BREAK HABIT! Barastoc Calm Performer Speedi-Beet Barastoc Calm Performer Speedi-Beet •HELP Fibre-Beet • Barastoc Groom SOCIAL BREAK THE HABIT! •SCENE Fibre-Beet • Barastoc Groom HELP BREAK THE HABIT! SOCIAL SCENEBREAK THE HABIT! HELP SOCIAL SCENE SOCIAL 207691_Barastoc_Laminitis_QuitSugar_HorseDeals_FPpressAd.indd 1 25/9/20 SCENE SOCIAL SCENE 207691_Barastoc_Laminitis_QuitSugar_HorseDeals_FPpressAd.indd 1 25/9/20 207691_Barastoc_Laminitis_QuitSugar_HorseDeals_FPpressAd.indd 1

11:11 am 11:11 am

25/9/20 11:11 am


Kelsie and Showtown at the 2019 Toowoomba Royal (Image by Oz Shots Photography).

Annabel in action with Dynamoey (Image by Elizabeth Borowik).






lthough Kelsie Cranston is an accountant by day,

but it’s in the last few years

her real passion is for horses.

about her riding ambitions.

Unfortunately, working 8:00 to 5:00 with an additional two hours travel (she lives on a cattle property) doesn’t leave much time for riding. However, she makes it work with the help of arena lights and a very supportive partner. Kelsie owns two Thoroughbreds: 14-yearold Alice who has been successful in classes up to 1.20m; and Rick, an OTT who after a recent start to his jumping career is showing plenty of promise. Working for Vicki Roycroft for nearly a year was a high point for Kelsie. “Her knowledge, horsemanship and dedication will stay with me for a lifetime. I also worked for David

that she has become serious “I’ve very proactive about improving my skills and grasping every opportunity to have lessons with professional riders and


nnabel Cusack has been riding since she

nothing but knock after knock

a keen show jumper, she

and very disappointing. But

made the switch to eventing

I’ve overcome many mental

four years ago and hasn’t

challenges and continued

looked back. Her dedication

to push through and remain

to her discipline is such that,

focussed on my goals.”

coaches,” she explains. Often competing all over

every weekend to compete.

Queensland, her long term goal is to compete in a World Cup qualifier with Rick. For Alice, Kelsie’s plans are to win a State Amateur title: “Alice is my heart horse and I cherish the years I have left with her before she starts stepping down the grades and moving to retirement.” But there’s another dream: “My long term plan is to produce a horse from scratch,

number of levels: “It’s been

was three-years-old. Once

pre-COVID, she was happily

NSW and South East

has been challenging on a

driving six or more hours

With her resilience and commitment tested and proven, she is now more

She bought her current horse,

determined than ever to

Dynamoey, in September

make her dreams come true.

2018. Although he had

In 2021, she’ll be taking up

experience in the show

a place in the Australian

jumping ring, he had never

Catholic University’s Elite

been around a cross country

Athlete Program, and has

course, but like Annabel,

high hopes of being in

he’s taken to eventing like a

a professional eventing

duck to water. Consistently

stable in Sydney while she

competitive in Open 1*

completes her degree.

classes, the pair are now qualified 2*. Annabel says she feels extremely lucky to have a horse qualified at this level, the first she has produced to

Annabel’s next major goal is to compete at the Australian International 3 Day Event. “And Dynamoey is the

Goodwin who instilled in me

and to compete with them up

the confidence to set goals

the levels to World Cup and

and chase them,” she says.

possibly even beyond,” she

Currently sitting for her HSC,

more than ready to take the

Kelsie grew up with horses,


Annabel admits that this year

eventing world by storm.”

that particular FEI standard.

horse with the talent to get me there,” she says, “he’s

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 33







Pearl and Ruby training for the 2019 Cummins Trek (Image by The Dapper Crow Photography).

Poppy and Get Rhythm in a Phase 4 Cattle Test (Image by Renee Muller).






an experienced field was

and reached critical mass

with an Encouragement

when the The Man from

Award. She also won High

Snowy River travelling show

Points (Junior Team) for

came to town. It was then

Southern Eyre Team Penning

that she lobbied her parents

in the same year riding Ruby.

earl Dessart’s love affair with horses started early

in earnest for a pony. One eventually arrived in the shape of an on-loan Shetland.

delighted to be presented

Last year was yet another good one for Pearl. Accompanied by Ruby, she

Several other horses followed

was the only junior rider to

before Ruby came to stay.

participate in the 250km five-

“She was sold as a children's

day Cummins Trek, a fund-

pony,” Pearl explains, “and

raiser for a regional mental

was anything but!” But Pearl

health program. She was

persevered and she and Ruby

also nominated for the Lower

now have “a unique bond.”

Eyre Peninsula Junior Sport’s

Pearl is a member of the Wudinna Team Yarders and Southern Eyre Team Penners,


hen it comes to blitzing Working Equitation

competitions, Poppy Douglas does it well! She was the Australian Junior Champion in 2017, 2018 and 2019, scooped the 2019 Consagrados 1 Horse of the Year, an event ridden one-handed, and is the only junior to have qualified for the NSW State Team. In 2019, she won the Open Company Maneability, an obstacle course ridden with dressage-like precision (and on that occasion presided

her step-dad and her sister all ride. One of the secrets to Poppy’s success is her attention to detail. “None of my wins could have been achieved without a great deal of dedication to dressage training,” she says. For her, that’s key. She trains daily and often spends a solid week working on dressage movements with her horses, followed by roll backs, fast work, cattle work and trail rides for variety.

over by an international

Self-motivated and driven,

judge), and in the same year,

Poppy’s committed to

in acknowledgement of her

was both the dressage winner

competing at the highest

equestrian achievements.

and runner-up at Mudgee

levels, and wants to turn riding

Person of the Year Award

Show on two different horses.

into her career. And she says

and has been competing in

Pearl is currently focussing

local inter-school gymkhanas

on completing a Certificate

Poppy’s riding career began

since 2014. Ruby enjoys

III in Agriculture. “Then I’m

early. Perched on a horse’s

games and the pair frequently

considering a career in either

back before she could walk,

bring home ribbons. In 2018

animal health, or the animal

she comes from a horse-

Pearl competed on a friend’s

behaviour field. But one

loving family: her mother, who

clinicians there so I become a

horse in the Lower Lakes

thing’s for sure, my life will

also competes in Working

better rider. It probably won’t

Stockman’s Challenge in

always involve horses in one

Equitation with both a Master’s

be for some time, so I’ll just

Strathalbyn, SA, and against

way or another,” she says.

and a Consagrados horse,

see how things play out.”

34 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

a move Stateside isn’t out of the question: “I’d like to go to the US basically to train and learn from some of the best






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Black Country Adelinda 17.5" Madison and Little Gem eventing in the rain (Image by Mane Memories Photography).





adison Doyle had an amazing run in

2018 and 2019, achieving a personal best of 125cm, a string of show jumping successes, and qualification for State Level C Grade competitions. One of her long-term dreams is to compete in the Olympics with a Brumby cross to promote the breed and help save their lives. Late last

eventing and show jumping,” she explains. enter the Australian Brumby

become a trainer in the VBA's training program, so she can tame and re-home Brumbies. While life hasn’t always been easy for Madison, she’s anything but a quitter: “When

through the Victorian Brumby

ago, an instructor told me

Association (VBA). “That

she would kill me,” she says,

was certainly a very big and

“and sure enough, the first

special moment in my riding

five or so rides all ended in

career. I also adopted him

tears and sometimes blood.

and he’s now mine,” Madison

However, I persisted with

goals: “I’m aiming to improve my dressage to a Grade


school, and would like to

I first got my mare three years

But there are more immediate


challenge once she leaves

year, she tamed a Brumby


Mal Byrne Atelier Show 16.5"

Madison also hopes to

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her because I knew she had talent. Thankfully, our rides no longer end badly, and the horse that was going to kill

1 level, so I can compete

me now jumps up to 120cm,

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been trick trained, and visits

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Anne and Poppy, a small horse with a lot of attitude. INSET: Great Australian Horse Stories, recounting the tales of horses and their owners. RIGHT: After a long day’s ride through the desert, a comfortable camp is a welcome sight. (All images courtesy Anne Crawford)


For the love of words and horses A love of words and a passion for horses turned out to be a productive mix for Anne Crawford, author of Great Australian Horse Stories, writes MARISA KUHLEWEIN.


nne Crawford can still recall the exact sensation she experienced that spring day while she was minding a house for a friend travelling overseas. As she sat at a desk, warmed by gentle sunlight, she glanced out at the garden. Suddenly, it felt as if something had fluttered down from the sky and she’d caught it in both hands. “I’d like to write books” – it was a striking moment of clarity. Something that had been sleeping curled inside since childhood was nudged and awakened. Later, when Anne told her father about her epiphany, he wasn’t surprised, commenting: “Oh, I always knew you’d write books.” For this successful Australian author, her first love was – and remains – words. “Even from when I was young, I loved writing,” she says. In her early teens Anne, along with a group of friends, created a horse magazine called Stables and Stirrups just for fun. “There were

five of us. We all put in pictures of our horses and we made up stories. We only had one copy of the magazine and it would go from one person to the next. It wasn’t a very sophisticated operation,”

Anne laughs. “One of my friends was recently doing a COVID clean up and she actually came across the magazine!” Anne’s passion for writing led her to work as a feature writer for The Age and The Sunday Age for over 10 years. It was there that she honed her craft and learnt how to construct compelling narratives. However, it wasn’t until she had received her house-sitting revelation that she realised her true calling was to write books. Deciding to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an author, Anne left the world of newspapers in 2009, and hasn’t looked back. One of her first books was Doctor Hugh, a memoir co-written with Dr Hugh Wirth AM, an iconic Australian vet and former RSPCA president. Dr Hugh had his own radio show and was well known for being controversial and at times, feisty. He took on everyone: from people acting cruelly towards animals to animal rights activists, politicians, and even people in his own profession. “I was listening to him on the radio one day when the announcer suggested that he should write a memoir, and he replied, ‘If only I had someone to do it for me,’” Anne recalls. On the spur of the moment, she rang the radio station, and asked to be put in touch with Dr Hugh’s producer. “It was completely spontaneous,” she laughs, “even after I had sent off my email to him, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, what have I done? This man is fierce,’ but actually he was really nice.” Over the course of the following two years, Anne spent many enjoyable

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 39


It's important for you and your mount to be colour co-ordinated, even when riding through the Moroccan desert.

afternoons with Dr Hugh. Woven through his memoir, which is written in his unmistakeable tell-it-as-it-is voice, are his thoughts regarding the proper care of animals, and his views on the best approach to animal rights in contemporary society. With three books to her name, Anne was building a reputation as an author who could craft words into colourful tapestries that brought people’s stories to life. Her powerful writing and vivid imagery captivated readers, taking them along with her for the journey. Following Doctor Hugh, Anne’s publisher approached her and asked her what she’d like to write about next. “Horses 40 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

There was a small scholarship available. My father said that if I won it, I could buy a pony. Well, I did win the scholarship and with it I managed to get a $350 pony.

were the first thing that came to my mind,” Anne says. If writing is Anne’s first passion, then her second is horses. After pestering her parents incessantly for a horse, she bought her first pony Pepe at the age of 12. “There was a small scholarship available. My father said that if I won it, I could buy a pony. Well, I did win the scholarship and with it I managed to get a $350 pony,” Anne recalls. It’s certainly an exhilarating feeling to ride a horse, and to hear their welcoming nicker as they see you approaching is always heart-warming. Time spent with horses can be both relaxing and restorative, and the very

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special bond humans and horses often share was something Anne thought would make for fascinating reading. And with that, the idea for Great Australian Horse Stories was birthed and Anne began her research. Anne’s background in journalism was more than useful as she began to gather stories, seeking out the hidden treasures in people’s lives. She prides herself on being able to interview people and draw out their stories and idiosyncrasies. “A lot of people think ‘Why me?’ They might have the most amazing stories, but most people are quite modest,” she says. Many of the people interviewed for Great Australian Horse Stories are from the Gippsland area in Victoria, where Anne herself lives. “It’s because I knew a lot of people there, and then they knew people, so the book grew from that. For example, the lady who lives across the road from me, her mother, Beth, grew up in the days when you rode a pony to school and parked it in the pony paddock next door. So I talked with her about that.” Further along the road from Anne’s home the Horse Workshop offers Equine Facilitated Learning, which encourages the interaction between horses and humans, an interaction that’s been found to benefit both people with disabilities, and those suffering from maladies such as depression or anger. “I’ve watched a session in progress,” she says, “and it was a really beautiful thing to see. So of course, I wrote about them and what they’re doing.” Infused with heart, wit and drama, Great Australian Horse Stories brings to life stories of horses from all over Australia. “It was just fantastic talking about horses with people for months on end,” Anne says smiling.

TOP: One of the Moroccan Barb stallions Anne met on her desert adventure beneath the High Atlas Mountains ABOVE: Anne’s exciting 2009 adventure in Morocco helped bring horses back into her life again. 42 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

One of Anne’s own experiences with horses, which she holds close to her heart, was thanks to a Zouina Cheval riding trek. The tour included a week’s ride through the stony desert below the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco. At this point in her life, she hadn’t owned


a horse for years, but had never lost her love for them. “It was a chance of a lifetime thing. I specifically travelled to Morocco to do the tour,” she says. Each day, the small group of riders

A favourite place: Digger's Rest Station in the Kimberley, Western Australia.

mounted their Moroccan Barb stallions, ready for a long day’s ride through the stony terrain and sweltering heat. High valleys above them were splashed with patches of river-fed green, and the villages nestled on the mountainsides looked down over almond orchards and palm groves. Occasionally the riders came across a lush oasis framed by date palms offering shade and rest. For Anne, riding through the desert was both a thrilling and an unforgettable experience. Arriving back in Australia after her Moroccan adventure, Anne decided that she’d like to own a horse again. “That trip really got me back into horses – now I’m more horse mad than when I was a young girl,” she laughs. And these days she has three: Poppy, a beautiful chestnut pony who’s been with her for 10 years; Harry, a chestnut Stockhorse colt bought for her by her partner in a “wildly romantic gesture”; and Angel, a liver chestnut on lease from Project Hope Horse Welfare Victoria. “Project Hope do fantastic work identifying horses that have been neglected and abused and finding new homes for them,” Anne explains. “Angel loves doing things with you, but she can be a little naughty sometimes and occasionally she can test you – but she’s a really lovely horse,” she adds, with real fondness creeping into her voice. On being asked for her opinion on what it takes to be a good writer, Anne pauses for a moment and then says: “You have to be good with words and have a real love for them. And you have to re-read and examine every word you write. Obviously it helps be creative, but you also have to be accurate. Perhaps the main thing is to stick with it – and for that you have to be dedicated.” Find out more about Anne and her work at H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 43


Facing down your fears

of the Blue Mountains in Oberon NSW, and together established their dream property, Burilda Park Equine, settling down to a life in which they indulged their mutual passion for breeding and training horses. But in 2019, the unthinkable happened. Out on a ride to celebrate her birthday, Alex was

As anyone who’s had a bad fall will tell you, the damage is as likely to be mental as it is physical. So how are you to get over the fear that you might fall again? AMANDA MAC looks at a unique program designed specifically for nervous riders.


dmitting your fears, whatever

outstretched, both wrists were broken

they are, is never easy,

in the fall. Alex, who at the time had

and overcoming them is

six Standardbreds in work, suddenly

usually even harder. But if it’s true

found herself incapacitated. However,

that anxiety is just a state of mind,

it was just before the accident that

how do you flip that mental switch

she’d met her now husband Leigh

and regain your confidence?

Cragg, who willingly assisted with

If any rider ever had good reason to fear getting on a horse again, Alexandria Cragg, more usually known as Alex, is a perfect example. Half a dozen or so years ago she was riding a meanspirited horse that bolted and pitched her off his back. Landing with arms

the Standardbreds. He also helped Alex overcome her understandable nervousness around horses, using a series of methodical techniques and

thrown and dragged through the bush in a freak accident, breaking her right arm in five places. “It was horrific”, she recalls, “as well as being horribly painful. I was sitting in the bush for around 40 minutes waiting for the SES and ambulance. There were about 20 of us on that ride and I think everyone was traumatised by the accident.” With her arm refusing to heal properly, it took an operation to piece the breaks back together. But unfortunately, damage to Alex’s radial nerve during the surgery left her arm paralysed. “My hand, my fingers, my wrist were all paralysed. I couldn’t lift anything and I couldn’t feel my arm at all. I was told that there was a possibility feeling and movement would never come back, but also a possibility that the nerve might

carefully detailed exercises, firstly while

regenerate. It really was touch and go.”

on the ground and then while mounted.

Alex shares that the months after

In 2015, Leigh and Alex moved west

the operation were very challenging both emotionally and physically. “I couldn’t drive and for seven months Leigh had to brush my hair, dress me, and often shower me. I was in constant pain. Then we got married and I couldn’t even hold my own bouquet. I was quite embarrassed by the whole thing, but it was an amazingly bonding experience for us.” After such a terrible ordeal, it’s hardly surprising that Alex’s anxiety around horses was back with a vengeance. “I didn’t want to brush them. I didn’t want to lead them. I didn’t want to tie them up. I would feed them but that was it – and I certainly didn’t think that I’d ever ride again. But in reality, it wasn’t so much the fear of horses, as

44 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0


MAIN: Happy to be around horses again - Alex and Chuck (Image by Louie Douvis Photography). LEFT: One of Leigh’s specialities is resolving difficulties with problem horses (Image by Kate Gouldson Photography).


honestly about their anxieties and lack of confidence in the saddle. Thankfully, over the next 12 months the nerves in Alex’s arm regenerated, and Leigh’s program proved pivotal in getting her not only back on a horse, but doing so with confidence and joy. What Leigh had discovered was a way to make Alex feel secure again. “I knew that she needed everything to be broken down to the tiniest of details. Then she felt in control. And when she felt in control, she felt secure and wasn’t scared to try anything. So, I made every step easy to understand and gave her the reason behind it to keep her mind busy, limiting the opportunity for it to run free and catastrophise everything!” he explains. Leigh’s methodical and considered approach had brought Alex’s riding back to life - but if it had worked for her, why not for others? Through their Facebook page the couple had become aware of the very real need to make Leigh’s techniques more widely available. As Alex points out: “It’s all very well and good to have a chat to people about Alex and Leigh in emergency after her birthday ride went horribly wrong (Image courtesy Burilda Park Equine).

their fears, but that doesn’t offer the solution that’s going to get them over the line. So we started to organise

the fear of having another accident.” As a way of dealing with the trauma, Alex, an ex-journalist, began writing about her experience on the Burilda Park Equine Facebook page. “Typing was slow and one handed,” she laughs, “but a lot of people, mainly women, felt the same and began to post about similar fears.” If it hadn’t been for the techniques Leigh had used to help her regain her confidence after her first accident,

It’s all very well and good to have a chat to people about their fears, but that doesn’t offer the solution ....

everything Leigh had been teaching me – the ground leadership and the psychology he uses, basically just teaching me how to be safe – into a program we could share with others. We call it Mindful Horsemanship.” The program, which has proved hugely popular, focuses on safety and caters for nervous riders. Alex and Leigh believe that safety essentially comes from a black and white approach. “This

I couldn’t let myself down, so I just

is what to do, and this is what not to do. Leigh often says that you don’t

plus the Burilda horses that were part

kept documenting it all,” she says.

of her daily life, Alex admits that she

Alex was receiving between thirty

need to know what to do next – and

may well have given up. Added to that,

and fifty messages a day (she still

that’s what the program teaches, both

there were numerous people writing

does) and in the process built what

while you’re on the ground with your

to her about their own experiences: “I

she calls her ‘tribe’, people who

horse and in the saddle. The whole

realised I couldn’t let them down and

are prepared to talk openly and

program is broken down to such specific

46 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

need to know everything, you just


A: 36 Priestley St Mittagong NSW 2575 Ph: 4871 1693 Facebook: @ttamechanical E: W:


elements and exercises that no matter

program’s effectiveness, the couple

how nervous you are, you’ll get a lot

organised a state-wide tour, purchased a

out of it. It also takes you through all of the stages you need to train your horse to competition level,” says Alex. Driven by their shared belief in the

gooseneck trailer, loaded up their horses and travelled around New South Wales, delivering their confidence-building holistic approach to horsemanship at booked out clinics. “The response

was very humbling,” Alex recalls. During the clinics Leigh also devoted time to problem solving, one of his specialities, including how to deal with horses that are hard to float, or are belligerent or pushy, or those that have become dangerous because they haven’t had the clear and unambiguous guidance from their rider that they needed. It wasn’t long before the excellence of Leigh and Alex’s program was recognised by mindset coach and counselor Amy Watson. Amy joined them on the tour, expanding the scope of the training by coaching riders in her own sessions during each clinic. But in early 2020, the popular clinics came to a close when Alex fell pregnant (it’s a boy, he’s due in November, and no, his parents won’t divulge his name!). So, using their Facebook page as a platform the couple took their program online in the form of a six week boot camp. With hundreds of riders from all over Australia and New Zealand joining the program, the Facebook offering has

48 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

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been extended until the end of the year when it will be re-launched from the Burilda Park Equine website. The same methodical breakdown of horsemanship that guided Alex back on the path to confidence will then be available through a monthly subscription. To accompany the Mindful Horsemanship program, the couple have designed a colour-coded lead rope with strategically placed markers to aid with the hand placements required during each of the program’s exercises. These are available for purchase through their website. And if you’d like to attend a face-

ABOVE: A Mindful Horsemanship clinic held at Eden Equine in Bilpin NSW (Image by Kate Gouldson Photography). LEFT: Leigh working a client’s horse on a misty Hawkesbury morning (Image courtesy Burilda Park Equine).

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to-face clinic, you’ll be happy to know that Alex and Leigh are hoping to offer them once again in 2021, but this time with the addition of a very small cowboy to the team! To learn more about the Mindful Horsemanship program, contact Alex and Leigh through their Burilda Park

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Equine Facebook page, or visit their website

Six-year-old Gian and Lightning, who was in his late 20s in this photo. He’s now well into his 30s and still Pony Clubbing (Image by Jenna Bilston).


Feeding your older horse

your older horse’s teeth allow good utilisation of grass or hay. Horses with worn or missing teeth may need to be fed chaff (and lots of it!) to ensure their roughage needs are met. If your horse is overweight, has a metabolic condition, or is prone to laminitis then limiting green grass and

In this article, equine nutritionist LARISSA BILSTON takes a look at how to prepare an optimal diet to meet the changing needs of your aging horse.


aving the luxury of keeping

horse, that adds up to 10 kgs of dry

much-loved horses through

matter per day, which could be 11 kgs

their retirement years is an

of hay or up to 50 kgs of fresh grass!

honour many us happily perform for our equine friends. Older schoolmaster horses are highly valued for the lessons they can teach but they do need some additional nutritional support to keep them performing into their golden years.

Check general and dental health

Continue to take care of teeth,

The horse gut evolved to constantly digest a steady stream of fairly low

supplying them with low sugar hay (see sidebar) weighing 1.5 per cent of their bodyweight is often necessary. Slow feeder hay nets can help make their daily ration last so that they always have access to something to eat.

Add calories

Not all horses will get enough energy from hay and grass to maintain weight. Be prepared to increase the size of hard feeds in response to weight loss but always make sure free choice hay

energy, high fibre forage. When pasture

is available for underweight horses.

is in limited supply, underweight or

If you're looking for something to top

ageing horses need an unlimited supply of good quality grass or meadow hay. Lucerne hay should comprise no more than 30 per cent of roughage intake. Ask your vet or equine dentist if

up a diet in order to put weight on, you don't necessarily need a product that says 'weight gain' on the bag you only need to add more calories. This is often easiest achieved by

worming or other veterinary issues regularly, even in horses that are no longer ridden. This allows them to optimally utilize the nutrients they consume. When planning a diet for your older horse it’s important to know if they have any metabolic or health conditions that impact on the types of nutrients that are suitable to feed.

Provide adequate and appropriate roughage

The first step in planning a good diet is to ensure enough pasture is available for grazing and to supplement with hay when pasture is limited. This is the key to maintaining gastric health in horses of any age. Horses need to be able to eat around two per cent of their bodyweight in dry matter per day to keep their gut functioning optimally. For a 500 kgs

ABOVE: Corrine and Reuben, her 29-year-old TB, competing in an online led obstacle race during COVID lockdown (Image by Larissa Bilston). H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 53

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feeding more of what you already feed. However, make sure you feed enough fibre before increasing hard feeds. You can increase the level of energy (calories) in the diet with a cereal grain (such as oats or barley), a legume grain (e.g. lupins), a 'super fibre' (like beet pulp, soy, or lupin hulls) or oil. Or a combination of the above as plain ingredients, or in the form of a premixed pellet or muesli style feed.  Horses with equine metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance who do not maintain weight from forage alone can only consume a low GI feed such as beet pulp, copra, legume hulls, lupins or oil. When choosing your grain or energy source, consider the condition of your older horse’s teeth and their digestive efficiency as well as how much time and energy you are willing to put into preparation. • Whole oats can be fed raw, but other cereal grains such as barley, oats, and sorghum should be fed in a cooked form. You can boil them or buy steam flaked or micronised.

The greying muzzle of a dear old friend (Image by Susanne Jutzeler).

• You may wish to avoid the cooked grains with added molasses - just check the labelling on the bag. • Some super fibres require

metabolism. Research shows that some older horses experience a

a few minutes soaking.

decline in the function and efficiency

• Uncooked lupins are also best

of their digestive tracts but others

soaked to soften the seed coat – soak

seem to process feed as robustly as

whole lupins for 6 hours or overnight. Cracked lupins soften if soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes.

TIP: Older horses produce less saliva.

Dampen hard feeds to aid swallowing and reduce the risk of choke.

diet complete with all the vitamins,

hard feeds, it is better to split these

allow the body to function optimally. This

into two or more meals per day.

can result in improved ‘fuel efficiency’

Check protein levels

unless all minerals are provided in the

Adequate roughage usually provides

care to keep the diet anti-inflammatory

of adult horses but some older horses

pro-inflammatory omega-6 oils.

Feeding your horse a correctly balanced minerals and fatty acids needed will

enough protein to meet the daily needs

fatty acids to balance the added

Balance the vitamins, minerals and fatty acids

ever. If your older horse requires large

When using oils for weight gain, take by providing enough omega-3

legume products in the hard feed.

are less efficient at digesting protein and may need some supplemented.

and immune function. Remember that correct ratios, it is possible for a horse to be deficient in one mineral even if the recommended daily intake is given. Horses produce their own vitamin C supply from glucose in the liver, but as they age the efficiency declines and

If there is no clover in the pasture,

an antioxidant supplement containing

increase dietary protein by feeding

vitamin C is recommended.

the amount of energy provided by the

a biscuit of two of lucerne hay per

Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation

roughage source and the individual's

day, or by adding full fat soy or

is necessary when horses are reliant

The amounts of energy food required depend on horse size, level of activity,

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 55


Nutrition Pyramid for an older horse:


Forage forms the foundation of any healthy horse diet. Whilst adequate forage usually provides enough protein for mature horses, older horses may need an additional protein source such as lucerne hay, soy or lupins. Horses who lose condition on forage alone can obtain extra calories from a hard feed of cereals, legume grains or super fibres. All horses need to have minerals added to balance the rest of their intake. Vitamin E should always be supplemented and older horses also need extra vitamin C. Horses often need extra omega-3 oils added to the diet to balance their intake of omega-6.


on hay for roughage and are fed large rations of omega-6 rich grains and hard feeds. Omega-3 rich supplements such as algal meal, fish oils, linseeds, linseed oil are the best way to improve the omega-3 to -6 ratio across the whole diet. Many older horses benefit from the addition of other supplements for assisting with particular conditions. Examples include oral joint supplements, live yeast probiotics, mycotoxin binders and antioxidants. It’s well worth having a qualified nutritionist check your older horse’s ration to ensure that it provides all the necessary nutrients and is well-balanced. Spending a little time and money on a good diet analysis often saves money being wasted on expensive, inefficient or unnecessary feeds. Larissa Bilston, BAgrSc (Hons 1), Nutritionist, Farmalogic.

Choosing Low Sugar Hay Forage for horses with equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) requires constant, detailed attention to sugar and starch levels. y Ideally, choose hay which has been analysed and has a combined ESC + Starch value of less than 10%.

unknown, soak in warm water for 30 minutes or cold water for 60 minutes to remove soluble sugars.

y Avoid high production grasses such as ryegrass and do not feed cereal (oaten, wheaten) hay or chaff.

y Drain and discard soak water before feeding. Soaking hay can reduce water soluble carbohydrates by 30%.

y If carbohydrate levels of hay are

y Discard soaked hay after 12 hours if

56 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

uneaten. It is the spike in blood glucose and consequently insulin levels that triggers laminitis, so horses with EMS can suffer laminitis without being overweight.

DAVID SHOOBRIDGE Coaching, training, competition, sales and breeding



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All I want for Christmas ... ( ... besides a HorseVibes subscri ption)

FIONA TODD: Publisher

AMANDA MAC: HorseVibes’ Editor

Dear Santa, It’s that time of year again, and I’d like a set of extra-large boots for my 17hh pony Bonnie! I really like these Lemieux Carbon Mesh Wrap Boots. They’re breathable so they’ll keep her tendons cool, plus they are washable, and quick to put on and take off.

Hi Santa, I really don’t want to be pushy, but I want,


need and absolutely must have this stunning photo of two Brumby stallions by Carol Hancock. To make your life easier, I’ve chosen the size and type: a 16" x 24" Nudirect Acrylic Bolted print, which I won’t even have to have framed. $298

And if my pony’s getting new boots, I think I should have a pair too. I’m absolutely loving these Agave Blue Erin Bone vintage look boots. That distressed leather finish, those embroidery accents! And I’ve been super good this year, Santa, so any chance of two pairs?

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And I love this beautiful little pony pendant from Inga Genis’ new handcrafted, horse-inspired jewellery collection. So many beautiful pieces to choose from and all so reasonably priced! And Santa, make sure which gives you the option of having a special keepsake piece crafted using your own horse’s … or reindeer’s … hair. $145

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All I want for Christmas ... ( ... besides a HorseVibes subscri ption)

CHARLIE BRISTER: Columnist & Right Rein Podcast Host

NICKY RICHMAN: Social Media Manager

You can’t have too many pairs of socks. Ideally, they’re knee-high and have pink flamingos emblazoned on them. Perfect for riding, securing the britches and giving that extra protection under my chaps. Also, the brighter they are the better it is for funky sock Friday! BTW, Santa, I particularly like these Limited Edition Empower Knee High Socks.

Dear Santa, please, please, please bring me a 400 litre Greystone Paddock Vacc for Christmas! Keeping on top of manure pick-up will be so much quicker and easier. It’ll give me back my weekends so I can spend more time actually riding!


I would love to unwrap a Kentucky Boot Bag this Christmas. Not only will it keep my tall boots well protected, it looks super-stylish with diamond quilting and artificial leather piping. The bag has faux rabbit skin on the inside so my boots won’t get scratched, plus a name tag on the front which I can personalise.

A dressage whip is another essential that gets daily use. A nicely balanced whip, like this Fleck Perfect Balance Dressage Whip, is ideal for ground work, for teaching a horse to yield, back up, or come forward. It also makes for much easier float loading. One that’s not too bendy suits me so that I can be more accurate with it.

Start at $2,490 inc GST + shipping



H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 59

All I want for Christmas ... ( ... besides a HorseVibes subscri ption)

SHAE HERWIG: Manager, The Saddle Hub

MELISSA GOODSON: Advertising Representative

I would LOVE an Equine Eye Horse Float Camera for Christmas to stop me worrying about my fur babies when travelling long distance. We have a three-horse float with a kitchen in the front, so I can’t see the horses through the window. The Equine Eye camera will solve this problem! And it’s wireless so I can also use it as a reversing camera when hitching up the horse float - super handy.

I would love a pair of black or silver Freejump stirrups. I love my jumping, and when a friend let me try out her Freejumps, they felt like magic. The stability and leg control were amazing and a pair would help me reach my 2021 show jumping goals for sure! Prices start at $375

$250 Santa, I found a set of 12 metal dressage arena markers at Kingston Horse Supplies that would be perfect for training at home. And with all the virtual competitions during COVID it will make filming my tests much easier. They’re made from steel, so they’ll last well, with large easy to see letters. Perfect! $189.95

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And I would be super happy to find a Kerrits Ice Fil® Long Sleeve Solid Shirt in my Christmas stocking. I’d wear it when I was riding, and as a professional photographer, it would also keep me nice and cool while I’m outside shooting events. The Ice Fil® Lite fabric technology can reduce skin temperature by up to five degrees, as well as giving UPF+30 protection. Plus, the shirt looks great! $95

All I want for Christmas ... ( ... besides a HorseVibes subscri ption)

KRISTAL BYRON: Equestrian Hub Membership Manager


All I really want for Christmas is a 2HAL-L600 Prestige Series Eurofloat in dark grey. It’s a twohorse angle float with a kitchen, fully padded rump bars, and fold up beds to sleep on while I’m away camping with my horses. Santa, instead of your sleigh, maybe this year your reindeers could pull my new Eurofloat with everyone’s presents safe inside? Just an idea :)

Santa, did you know that a good quality rug is one of the things that makes horse owners’ lives easier? And the Rambo Wallaby Duo fits the bill perfectly! It’s specially designed to stop rubs and wither pressure, it’s versatile for multiple seasons with a removable neck rug and liner, and its weave pattern makes it really tough, which is a necessity with my serial rug ripper! $249

$19,990 I’m also in desperate need of an Elite Saddle Company Western saddle with full Quarter Horse bars to fit my barrel-shaped Quarter Horse mare. The design I love is the Silver Show Saddle made from ornately tooled Argentinean cow leather with fully engraved silver detailing. Just one will do. Thanks, Santa. $1,150

I find it much easier to splurge on my horses than myself, but as a Christmas gift I couldn’t say no to this J-Margot Competition Jacket! A lovely fit, classy, and the flower pattern on the sleeve and collar adds just enough style without going overboard for my conservative-ish taste. It’s also both breathable and waterproof – a big plus for our sometimes extreme weather conditions. $595

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 61

Western spur with ornamental strap and buckle.


Fine tuning the forward button

rules, they are not to exceed 75cm in length. If your whip is longer than that, you’ll be eliminated. You’re allowed to use a longer whip for dressage and working on the flat, but you are strictly forbidden to carry or use it when riding over poles or any other obstacle, even when you’re in the schooling area. In eventing, the horse should never be hit

Ever been dazzled by the apparently endless variety of whips, crops and spurs? Unsure what to use and when? CHRISTINE ARMISHAW is on a mission to clear up the confusion.

with your whip more than twice for one incident, or three times in a row for show jumping. Crops of up to 75cm are also allowed in the majority of show horse classes. Most EA dressage tests, including para-dressage, allow the use of a whip.


hips, crops and spurs all have something in common, collectively they

are artificial aids designed to improve your horse’s ‘go’ button. The former are

Whips and crops

Structurally, a whip features a length of stick, with a thicker area for gripping at the top, tapering down to a ‘tickler’ or ‘lash’ at the business end. By definition,

carried in-hand, ready to encourage

a crop is technically a short whip,

your horse forward with a touch or a

primarily for use while jumping. It usually

flick. Spurs are worn around the heel

has a leather flap or ‘popper’ at the end

of each foot, allowing pressure to be

and a loop by the handle. However, it’s

applied on both sides of your horse,

never advisable to put your hand right

keeping your hands whip-free and ready

through this loop while on horseback as

to do other things, like steer!

there’s a risk of damaging or breaking

Sounds simple enough, but the challenge is down to the sheer number of choices available. How long should a whip be? When does a whip become a crop? Which spurs are best suited for

your wrist if you fall off. Instead, it’s best to put only your thumb through the loop, if you happen to part ways with your mount. Crops are commonly used in

selecting the right tools to suit you, your

show jumping and the

horse and your chosen discipline can be

cross country phase of

quite the mission.

eventing. As per

enhancers in more detail. By the end of this article you’ll know when the Prince

on a horse, or up to 100cm on a pony. It always pays to check the conditions of the test you are planning to ride first. Across all disciplines, you are never allowed to use a whip on your horse’s head or leave visible marks on your horse’s body - this is deemed excessive use. In the sports of endurance and reining, whips and crops are not allowed at all.


Given that our aim should

enabling the crop to come away freely

what purpose? With an ocean of options,

Let’s explore the world of movement-

Riders can carry a whip of up to 120cm

A riding crop with leather flap or ‘popper’ at the end and a loop by the handle.

Equestrian Australia (EA)

of Wales is required, what makes roller balls popular, and the maximum whip length you can use in the jumping ring without getting eliminated. Dressage whips: usually riders can carry a whip of up to 120cm on a horse, or up to 100cm on a pony – but check the rules first. H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 63

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always be to use the least amount of force required to get the result we want from our horse, some riders hold the view that spurs are too harsh. However, in reality it’s more uncomfortable for the horse or, in many cases, stubborn pony, to be repeatedly kicked before it finally moves off - not to mention incredibly tiring for the legs of the rider! This habit also tends to make the horse lazier and even less responsive as time goes on: it switches off and becomes dull to the leg aid. The difference between using your heel against your horse’s side versus a spur is like the difference between being pushed with a flat palm or a pointed finger. A spur delivers a more direct point of pressure into a smaller area and so will elicit a quicker response. This is a good thing. It means you should only need to squeeze once before the horse moves forward, then you can leave it alone and stop nagging. With the right pair of spurs, you can train your horse to become more responsive to your ‘go’ signal and thus become much lighter in your aids. This is essential if your intention is to move up through the

Styles vary, as do the rules around them.

vertical or horizontal plane. These can


Prince of Wales spurs are very traditional

be a nice choice for a sensitive horse,

Which spurs to select

and commonplace in a variety of

or a horse that has never experienced

disciplines. Their shank is slightly curved

spurs before as they exert a less

need to take into account your own

with a flat end. In contrast, at the end

concentrated pressure. They also

needs as well as those of the horse, and

of the shank of a roller ball spur there’s

reduce the possibility of leaving marks

the discipline you compete in.

a rotating ball that pivots on either the

In making the right spur choice, you

on your horse’s sides. Swan-neck spurs are shaped as the

The ‘popper’ end of a riding crop.

name suggests, which allows them to reach higher than Prince of Wales spurs. These can be useful for reaching a specific spot on your horse’s flank, and can help prevent the need for a longlegged rider to pinch upwards with their heels. Hammerhead spurs are squared off rather than round at the end, which can give a stronger ‘go’ aid to a lazy horse. Rowel spurs feature a rotating flat disk at the end of the shank. The disk may be either smooth-edged or have serrated teeth or ‘tines’ around it. Dummy spurs have little to no shank and H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 65

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too, so long as the rowels are blunt,

rounded ends. These are great when your horse doesn’t really need spurs but they’re required as part of the dress code.

Gently does it

Thinking about your equine partner, aim to use the gentlest aid possible in order to achieve the required response. If you have a horse with sensitive flanks, like a thin-skinned Thoroughbred, you may only need to use a pair of softer roller ball spurs. However, if you are riding a ploddy type that has plenty of padding and not much forward inclination, then something a little more pointy and with extra persuasive power may be the answer. To choose the right pair for yourself, consider your leg position in relation to

To choose the right pair for yourself, consider your leg position in relation to your horse’s barrel. Generally speaking, the closer to your horse your heel falls, the shorter the shank you’re likely to need.

smooth and rotate freely. Interestingly, in endurance riding spurs are prohibited altogether. Whichever style you opt for, be sure to regularly examine the horse-touching ends for any signs of rough edges or sharpness. There is absolutely no excuse for blood, or marks indicating excessive use of the spurs anywhere on the horse. You should keep this in mind if you clip your horse in the winter. Sometimes, a pair of spurs that are fine when used through your horse’s regular coat can become too harsh on the flanks of a clipped horse. It may be best to opt for a gentler pair, or remove your spurs and stay with a whip or crop. While spurs have their place, like all

your horse’s barrel. Generally speaking,

equipment they are ultimately as kind

the closer to your horse your heel falls,

or as harsh as the rider using them. For

the shorter the shank you’re likely to need. A longer leg with more space between horse and heel will require

Gold cup campdraft spurs.

a longer shank (with potentially more

using either a whip or

Rules can change

spurs is to reinforce your leg aid. It’s often better to carry a whip and not

Discipline rules

pays to check for updates before you enter a competition, but here are a few

better choice. Remember, the point of

‘squeeze spot’.

annually. It always

a whip or crop carried in-hand may be a

Final thoughts

curve) in order to reach the right

can change

those still developing lower leg stability,

there is a spur length limit of four centimetres. This is from the actual boot to the end of the spur, so make sure

need it, then to need one and not have it. If you have a good, steady leg you can treat your spurs in the same way. In many cases, employing the use

guidelines to help you along. Spurs must

your spurs are fitted well and sit right

be a matching pair. Shanks should point

against the heel of your boot. Rowel

up your horse’s responsiveness, after

directly back from the centre of the spur

spurs are primarily used in Western

which you may wish to remove them.

when on the boot, with the tip pointing

riding, but certain variations are legal in

The goal, after all, is to ride with the

neither up nor inward. In eventing

jumping, dressage and for show horses

lightest aid possible.

Pro-Polo spurs with straps.

of spurs for a few rides can help sharpen

Prince of Wales spurs.

Stubben dynamic dressage spur. H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 67


the ex-racehorse was suffering from

Healing comes naturally

chronically infected wounds on three legs and had been on antibiotics and bute since April. Of greatest concern was the wound on his near hind leg. The infection had travelled up his leg and blown out above the hock leaving bone and ligament exposed. “To my mind this was clearly a resistant

A practising equine herbalist for 25 years, VICTORIA FERGUSON has been instrumental in the healing of many injured and sick horses – but few needed her help quite as badly as Aussie Bob.

staph infection and I decided to treat it as such,” says Victoria, “so I recommended herbs which have been proven to defeat infections caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus in humans. I’ve used these herbs successfully in horses previously, as well as raw honey, which is also very


useful for this type of infection.”

ictoria Ferguson nearly didn’t

During their conversation, Victoria gave

answer her phone when it

Bryan detailed instructions for the herbal

rang one afternoon in June.

protocol she believed Bob needed

It was, after all, a Sunday, and the call was from an unknown number.

so urgently. “This involved cleansing

Fortunately however, she did pick up.

Calendula flowers before packing them

the wounds with a wash made from

The call was from South Australian

with raw honey. The flowers could be

Bryan Littlely of the Rise Relief Centre

fresh or dried. Bryan enthusiastically

near Victor Harbor, where off-the-track

embraced the routine and spent a lot

racehorses are rehabilitated before

of time raiding gardens in the area to

being rehomed. Given the urgency

gather the flowers!” laughs Victoria.

of the situation, one of Victoria’s

Fortunately, Bryan found his first batch

clients, who also happened to be

of Calendula flowers at a florists, which,

a friend of Bryan’s, suggested that

says Victoria, really blew her away.

he should get in touch with her.

“I’ve never seen fresh Calendula in

Victoria, who holds a Diploma in Herbal

a flower shop. We agreed this was

Medicine, has been an advocate and

serendipitous, a very encouraging sign!”

practitioner of herbal medicine for horses for over 20 years. Based in Tenterfield NSW, she studied with the renowned Australian herbalist Dorothy Hall during the late 1990s, and is the author of two bestselling books - The Practical Horse Herbal and The Complete Horse Herbal. But back to Bryan, who was in a terrible predicament with his Thoroughbred horse Aussie Bob. “Bryan had been advised by his vet to put Aussie Bob down the next day, but Bryan didn’t want to do that. The horse was a tough battler and he hadn’t given up. He was 68 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

I’ve never seen fresh Calendula in a flower shop. We agreed this was serendipitous, a very encouraging sign!

But Aussie Bob also desperately needed a herbal mixture specially formulated for him by Victoria. Luckily, one of Victoria’s Adelaide-based colleagues kindly agreed to dispense the prescription. There was no time to waste and Bryan happily made the long drive to Adelaide and back to pick up the remedy. And that’s when the magic began. Within a few days, Bryan called Victoria

also the Rise Relief Centre’s founding horse and had a special place in the Littlely family’s hearts,” Victoria explains. After sustaining multiple leg injuries,

to let her know that the wound on Aussie Bob’s near hind leg, the one that was the cause for most concern, was looking cleaner and had begun to improve - and that very gradually,


healing was beginning to occur. Additionally, the wounds on the horse’s other two legs were now being successfully treated with Artisan Skin Balm, a healing remedy formulated

ABOVE: Bryan, Crissina and Mahli Littlely with fourth family member, Aussie Bob (image by Hannah McArdle). BELOW: Calendulas - gorgeous flowers with potent healing properties (Image by Bryan Littlely). LEFT: Virginia and Orlando execute a piaffe (Image by Sue Jarman).

by Victoria, which, she says “is the perfect follow on from raw honey.” Bryan, meanwhile, couldn’t be happier with the results. “The diet protocol and herbal remedies Victoria advised us to use were the game changer for Bob. They gave us the ability, as well as the confidence to steadily bring Bob off bute and antibiotics and we could see our super-tough horse was now well armed for his journey back to health.” Victoria, who is recognised as a pioneer in her field, says that all Aussie Bob’s prescriptions were made up from human grade medicinal quality herbal extracts. WARNING: Graphic photo content on the following pages. H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 69


“The liquid was syringed over Bob’s tongue twice daily for three months. The prescription was the same as the first one I had prescribed, which was designed to defeat the bacterial infection through the blood, help his liver detoxify, calm and strengthen his nervous system, and bolster his immune system,” she explains. She also formulated a natural diet for him to provide all the essential nutrients needed to enhance healing, as well as to calm his nervous system and ensure he didn’t have excess energy. Victoria is impressed by the way Bryan dedicated himself to healing Aussie Bob. “It has been extraordinary and it has paid off. It’s also a miracle that having been on bute and antibiotics for so long, the horse doesn’t appear to have gut ulcers. Now that we’re confident there’s no infection present, Bob is on a new prescription to accelerate tissue healing in his legs and, just to be sure, to help his gut.” Bryan has been looking forward to the day when Bob can go back out into the retirement paddock with his old mates and that day is now not too far off. Not a bad result for a horse who was so frighteningly close to being put down! Just recently, Bryan gave Victoria a progress report that couldn’t be more encouraging: “Bobby boy is well. His wounds are still healing up and hair is growing back over them. He's always going to have scars, but this week is the first time since March that I can say with confidence that he's well, not just improving, or fighting, but actually well. It's mind blowing to think just how tough this horse is, but it's easy to see how appreciative he is of our efforts - he shows us every day.” An outstanding result to be sure. But when you consider Victoria’s background, which includes heading At the races: Bryan and Mahli Littlely with Aussie Bob (Image by Crissina Littlely).

up a successful PR company as well as competing in dressage at the highest level, you have to

Aussie Bob’s hock, showing the full extent of infection before the herbal protocol commenced (Image by Bryan Littlely).

The combination of herbal remedies and a specially formulated diet has supported a remarkable healing (Image by Bryan Littlely).

wonder what it was that drew her to herbal healing in the first place. It turns out that she’d been attracted to natural therapies for many years when a series of events showed her very clearly just how powerful herbs were for healing both humans and horses. “It was a light bulb moment,” she says, “when one of my horses was sick with lymphangitis, which is life threatening if not controlled. My vet wasn’t having any success, so I decided to give herbs a try and managed to heal my horse, which is what launched me on my path as an equine herbal healer.” While recognising that drugs, whether prescribed for horse or human, have their place in healing, Victoria has

Prix horse, she was placed on the

Within a few days, Bryan called Victoria to let her know that the wound on Aussie Bob’s near hind leg, the one that was the cause for most concern, was looking cleaner and had begun to improve ...

absolutely no doubt regarding the efficacy of plants. “Herbs promote, accelerate, and strengthen the healing power of the body, and their ability to do so should never, ever be overlooked,” she says. Along with her love of herbs, Victoria’s dedication to dressage is similarly

long list for the 1990 World Equestrian Games. “I picked Gamekeeper out, bought him when he was just five and he became a superb dressage horse. That was a partnership I always look back on with amazement,” she says. As the years rolled round, Victoria found herself looking for a horse that was safe but not boring, and it was Vince Corvi, the famous trainer and a dear friend, who found just the right horse in Orlando, an unraced Thoroughbred. Now nearly 24-years-old, Orlando is still in work at Grand Prix dressage level. “It’s my passion,” says Victoria, “and it keeps us both fit and well. We still attend dressage clinics with Terry Cowan together, and although I don’t

longstanding. Always the entrepreneur, in the late 1980s Victoria set up her own dressage training stables and became a Level 2 EFA dressage instructor. Then with Gamekeeper, her 17.1hh chestnut Thoroughbred Grand

compete anymore, I can’t tell you the joy I get from going through all the movements with Orlando at home.” For more on Victoria, visit www. , email, or call her on 0439 800 343. H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 71

B-COMPLETE BY BANANA FEEDS AUSTRALIA- THE GUT HEALTH REVOLUTION Banana Feeds Australia has developed ‘B-Complete™, Nature’s Elite Equine Supplement’.

area widely accepted as needing a solution in the equine industry, other than expensive medications.

100% Australian owned, 100% Australian made, and a family business, Banana Feeds Australia has made waves within the equine supplement market in a truly short time. A 100% natural supplement focused on Equine Gut Health, and indeed a world first has resonated with the masses.

The insoluble fibre act as prebiotics to favour the nourishment of microflora in the gut (particularly the hindgut) to stabilise the microbiome.

The patent protected product, consists of whole dried green bananas, including the skin, the pulp, the stem and the flower ends, and horse owners across the country are expressing disbelief about the positive results they are seeing. WHY GREEN BANANAS AND WHY B-COMPLETE™? Green bananas have long been the subject of intrigue, from use in the Sydney Olympics, to consumption in space, but with correct dosages of B-Complete™ the true benefits become obvious. EQUINE GUT HEALTH -The health benefits that derive from supplementary feeding of dried green bananas are broad and include: Green bananas have been shown to have antiulcerogenic properties, an

72 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

This stability in the gut promotes immune competence allowing horses to counter bacterial, fungal, viral, or parasitic challenges whilst also improving digestion, feed utilisation and temperament. Other reported benefits include: Antimicrobial, Hypoglycemics, and Anti-lithiatic (prevent kidney stones). GENERAL WELL-BEING Active compounds like dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin all act to calm the animal and promote a sense of well-being, helping to make the animal more relaxed and easier to manage. ANTIOXIDANT CAPACITY Green banana is recognised as antioxidant rich, with a wide spectrum of antioxidant compounds (phenolics, carotenoids, ascorbic acid or Vitamin C, tocopherols or Vitamin E, dopamine, flavonoids, norepinephrine) which are primarily located in the peel. All improve gut health.

“B-Complete is widely used in our stable. It has had a profound impact on the performance of our horses. I consider it a game changer. Our horses are working better, performing better, getting better results - particularly the ones we know are ulcer-prone. Very happy.” - David Tootell “Since I have been using B-Complete, our racehorses have better gut digestion, are healthier & maintain their condition easily. Their coats are amazing. We also found it extremely beneficial for highly-strung horses, making them safer and more manageable.” - Rob Wilkinson

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Sunshine Coast dreaming Borders are opening and destination Queensland is tantalisingly close. SONIA CAEIRO ALVAREZ discovers adventure riding in paradise with triple Olympian Alex Watson.


fter six months of border closures and upheaval, armchair travel is edging closer to

the real deal. As the Sunshine State gradually moves towards opening up to interstate visitors, there’s good reason to make plans to find your true north, at least for a weekend. Nestled within rich tracts of beach, bush and hinterland, Noosa and its surrounds offer almost perfect weather, clear water, and stunning vistas best savoured with rides along beaches and inland trails. Triple Olympian and eight-time national champion pentathlete Alex Watson, knows this better than most, having called this stretch of paradise home for the last 17 years. “It’s perfect on many levels,” Alex says. “There’s a diversity of terrain and trails within a short radius. From the beautiful beaches to the hinterland, there’s a wonderful range of experiences and wildlife biodiversity.” It was these features, coupled with the region’s strong horse-riding culture that convinced Alex and his wife Rebecca that they’d found the perfect location for Equathon, their shared dream for a professional riding operation providing quality horses and experiences for customers in the tourism, recreation and sports sectors. Importantly, it was also the place in 74 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

which Alex was most comfortable to face

pleasant climate means Noosa has a

the next chapters in life after his Olympic

steady visitor capacity throughout the

career, and where he discovered an

year,” Alex says, “and the Sunshine

unexpected nostalgia. “The Sunshine

Coast is well served with a convenient

Coast felt a lot like the Sydney northern

airport of its own, and Brisbane Airport

beaches where I grew up,” he says.

just one and a half hours away. We

Alex and Rebecca are competition equestrians with decades of experience,

also benefit from large drive markets from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.”

and they’re passionate about sharing

Equathon maintains a team of five

their love of horses, and the natural

staff, as well as two satellite coaches

beauty of the diverse region with visitors

specialising in general riding and

from all over the world. “The year-round

Olympic disciplines. A Queensland


MAIN: Josh and a very happy passenger enjoy a perfect day. INSET: Alex and Rebecca Watson. (All images courtesy of Alex and Rebecca Watson)

Tourism Awards winner in the

instruction. A second property,

as consulting work with clients seeking

Adventure Tourism Operator of the

the 640 acre Edenview at Widgee

suitable horses to purchase. “Before

Year category, Equathon is ranked

Mountain, includes horse facilities,

COVID we had decided to scale back

in the top 15 horse riding tours in

luxury safari tent accommodation and

the size of our Seven Day Australian

the world by CNN International.

commercial catering capacity, and

Bush and Beach Tours which were very

runs Droughtmaster beef cattle.

popular with international and domestic

Located on 120 acres in Verrierdale,

clients alike. This was indeed fortunate

just 30 minutes south of Noosa Heads,

Like all Australian tourism businesses,

Equathon is home to 32 horses in

lock down was a tough blow for

open paddocks and offers a wide

Equathon with all offerings but one-on-

selection of experiences. It caters to all

one coaching shut down. With virtually

Since COVID, the couple have made

skill levels with adventure rides along

no revenue, refunds due for cancelled

other adjustments. “We have found

the Noosa Trail Network and Noosa

bookings and outgoing expenses, the

that two to four day tours concentrating

North Shore beaches, accommodation

business took a big financial hit, which

on the riding and experiences out

packages, private and group rides, as

was softened slightly by JobKeeper and

at Edenview have been the most

well as dressage and show jumping

other government incentives, as well

attractive options for domestic guests

as we would not have been able to run them during this time anyway,” Alex says.

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 75


(LtoR) Marie and Kin Kin, Alex on MacTaggart, and Neil riding Moose LEFT: Cody, MacTaggart, Monty, Duke, and Josh carry Equathon clients over the Black Snake Range. and the daily beach rides have become

training. “My coaches would not tolerate

teaching the three essential pillars –

fully booked with domestic clients

anything but a ‘take care of your horse

Horse Riding, Horse Management and

who want nature based activities to

first’ attitude. We like to be an open

escape city living. The desire to seek

Horse Training – to equip customers

book and all our management, training

refuge in nature and a back-to-basics

to be safe and effective around horses

and care of horses can be viewed at

attitude seems to be happening as

any time,” he says. “There is never

and in the saddle. This course is for

people look for stability in a world torn

anything that guests are not welcome

apart by COVID. Seeking enjoyable experiences with horses seem to be part of that trend,” Alex says. An appealing feature of Equathon’s website is viewing the gorgeous images of their delightful crew of highly

to observe, and in this way, they learn good horse management practices.”

riders of all ages and abilities and is ideal for people returning to riding after a break, a loss of confidence, or if they are contemplating buying their own

Teaching good practice is obviously

horse. Ride Easy is conducted over

a priority for Alex. “We also run a

five sessions of two hours each and

successful program called Ride Easy,

can be followed by further lessons or

trained horses, including their names and details. Although Equathon staff are open to hearing which horse a guest likes best, they will generally match horses to riders based upon height, weight and riding experience. Alex lives and breathes horse welfare and his decades of best-practice equine care underpin the entire operation. “Our philosophy has always been based on presenting well trained, happy, healthy horses,” he says. “Many of our guests comment on the quality of our horses and frequently request a particular horse for their next visit. Some have come back more than half a dozen times.” This management philosophy goes back to Alex’s early Olympic riding 76 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

From beach to bush and back again: Toby, Moose, Luke, MacTaggart, and Kin Kin are happy in any location.


Moose explores possible feeding options on Noosa’s North Shore. (Images courtesy of Alex and Rebecca Watson)

instruction depending on need,” he says. Alex knows a thing or two about quality experiences, first as a member of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Organising Committee, and later as a consultant to the new Queensland State Equestrian Centre 2009 Planning and Management Team. He believes that the principles behind the Equathon experience are not dissimilar. They are essentially very simple, and the strategy is the same whether for a few hours on the beach or an extended tour over several days. “What we would like to experience on a horse riding booking if we were guests ourselves, is basically our bar,” he says, “and that includes a relaxed, quality experience that is uniquely Australian and reflects its best aspects.”

lot like your feelings for your favourite

important factor is guest satisfaction.

restaurant or hotel. You have a level of

“Guests come back because the people

expectation about the experience, the

with whom they’ve interacted have

service, and you expect a continuity

made them feel welcome, comfortable

The example he offers of this is the

of the brand from your previous

and appreciated,” Alex explains. “If you

way the Sydney 2000 Olympics were

encounters. You want relaxed, friendly

get those things right your guests will be

staged. “I was honoured to be part of

professionalism and you want to feel

your best ambassadors because they

those Games,” he says, “they were so

that the staff know you, look out for

tell others, and positive word-of-mouth is

well planned and prepared, and yet

you, and are genuinely happy you’re

the most powerful marketing tool of all.”

had this relaxed, friendly, ‘we’ve got

there. It’s about the total package – the

this covered’ presentation. Everyone

quality of the horses, the experience,

involved, including the thousands of

the meals, the accommodation, and the

volunteers, were so sad when the

level of thought and imagination that’s

Games were over. That’s how we like

gone into the planning so it’s not just

our guests to feel about Equathon.”

a ‘same old thing again’ approach.”

He expands on this philosophy: “It’s a

For the Watsons, the single most

One thing’s for sure, as borders open over the coming months, the Sunshine Coast is definitely worth considering if you’re looking for a memorable riding experience. Visit for more information on Equathon’s quality trail ride and package options. H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 77


Big magic – the rebirth of Phoenix CANDIDA BAKER talks to Jo Stacey about her extraordinary journey with her rescue horse Phoenix, and how ‘listening’ was part of their mutual healing.

Meant to be: Jo and rescue horse Phoenix (Image by Chris F. Porter).


Savouring the gift of movement (Image by Cody Peachman).


t’s like a scene from Xena, Warrior Princess. Painter Jo Stacey is riding her rescue horse, Phoenix, along the

beach at Port Stephens near Newcastle. “I was riding her bare-back,” Jo tells me, “and we were in such unity that day that I opened her up and let her gallop. I'd noticed four 4WDs and three dirt bikes up ahead, and when they saw us, it seemed they suddenly decided to have a bit of ‘fun’. They’d formed a wall in front of us - we were only a few hundred metres away from them and they were heading towards us at full speed.” The men had spread out, leaving no room for a galloping horse and rider to fit between them. “I knew stopping wasn’t an option. Horses are claustrophobic and it could have been dangerous,” says Jo. “As I had that thought, I felt her pace falter, and saw

I'd noticed four 4WDs and three dirt bikes up ahead, and when they saw us, it seemed they suddenly decided to have a bit of ‘fun’ ... could see each individual.” Jo ‘spoke’ to Phoenix through her spirit. “I told her who the leader was, released the halter rope, and silently said ‘take him head on’. Phoenix adjusted her course slightly so she was facing him, and went flat out. Her speed was incredible - her normal gallop is easily

that she was looking back and up at me

over 40km/h - but this was something

for leadership! So I did the only thing I

else,” Jo recalls. “In a matter of seconds

truly know how to do, I ‘tapped in’ until I

they peeled off – almost colliding with

each other to make way for this war horse! The moment we passed she slowed to a normal gallop, her ears went forward, and there was nothing within us but pure serenity.” It seems when it comes to magic there are three kinds of people: the nonbelievers; the believers who are not sure how it works but know it’s out there; and those who are so finely attuned to it, that when it presents itself they jump in, boots and all. Such a story is Jo and Phoenix’s. Jo was born in New Zealand, to a shearer father and a roustabout mother. “We moved around a lot,” she tells me, “I went to 15 different schools. My parents did a variety of seasonal work and shepherding. One of the places they managed was a 20,000 acre property owned by a Maori trust. I’d spend 12 hours or more on horseback, sometimes in the sleet and snow.” It was wild but Jo loved it. Then when she was 16 they moved to H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 79

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Jo’s love work includes paintings for the Brumby cause (Photograph reference by and courtesy of Michelle Brown).

was so intense. She knew me and I knew her.” The vet explained that her injury – severe pedal osteitis – made her unrideable. But Jo had a knowing that he was wrong. “Then he told me she had cancer that they hadn’t been able to cure, but I said that was fine, I would look after her,” she says. Four days later Jo bought Phoenix from the RSPCA for $500, but not for the Hare Krishnas' farm! Despite Jo’s faith and optimism, Phoenix could hardly walk, and thanks to abuse she was scared and violent, although not towards Jo, who went on a steep learning curve to care for her. “I learned about laminitis, hooves, horse feed and how to be a barefoot farrier, and I healed her feet as best I could,” she says. “When we started riding, she spent a lot

Sydney, Australia. “It was a complete

of time rearing. I never got the feeling

culture shock,” she says. The sudden

she actually wanted me off her back, so

changes, serious unresolved earlier trauma, and unhealthy relationships caused Jo’s first nervous breakdown at age 18. Ten years later after her second breakdown, she decided to sell up and get out of Sydney, and almost immediately, her life turned around. “I found the perfect cottage in the Hunter Valley at Millfield,” she says. “I bought it, started painting, and later finished my psychotherapy qualification, as well as working as a railway Traffic Officer. I was also helping with animal husbandry at the local Hare Krishna

And there was Phoenix between two trees as if she was in the barriers at a race, suddenly exploding out from the trees and galloping to the other end of the paddock

farm, and they asked me if I could find a

looking, but magic was about to happen.

pausing thoughtfully, he told her one was waiting for her at the Rutherford

“I was on a break at work on the railway


in Clyde,” she says, “and a voice came

Jo made an appointment and went

through the air and said to me: ‘That man over there knows where your horse is.’”

did it only out of excitement.” Jo delved into Phoenix’s past and found that after her racing career she’d become a brood mare, but unable to produce a healthy foal, she was moved on. “We don’t know where she ended up but she was finally surrendered to the RSPCA emaciated,” she says. Once Phoenix could walk, Jo decided they would get fit together. “We’d sprint up hills,” she says. “I’d do it first and then it was her turn, and she started to put weight and muscle on. She’s 22 now and still has abs, with no sign of the

horse for them.” Jo wasn’t quite sure where to start

I would just sit it out, until gradually she

to see the horse. “I walked into her paddock, and her head was hanging on

cancer.” When they started their beach work, the RSPCA came out to watch because they simply didn’t believe the photos Jo had sent them. “I discovered her pedal bone had been completely snapped,” she says. “What we’ve achieved

Some might have hesitated, but Jo, used

the ground,” she says. “I stood about 20

to these kinds of occurrences, went

metres away and waited, and suddenly

and she is both grateful and giving.

over to him, introduced herself and told

her head shot up and she looked me

A few years ago we went up a hill to

him she was looking for a horse. After

straight in the eyes – the connection

watch the sunrise for her birthday. I

through faith and love is remarkable

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 81


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packed breakfast and included all her favourite things. She was so moved by the experience that she walked away, picked a mouthful of grass, and put it in my lap as a thank you.” A favourite memory is of the day Phoenix discovered she could run again. “I’d gone out to the Hare Krishna farm to spend the day with Phoenix,” she says, “and when I arrived a guy who worked there came running up to me, terrified by what Phoenix was doing. And there was Phoenix between two trees as if she was in the barriers at a race, suddenly exploding out from the trees and galloping to the other end of the paddock.” As Jo sat and watched, Phoenix did it over and over again, obviously relishing the sheer joy of movement. “That was about four years ago, and that was the day she got her feet back,” she says. But if Jo gave Phoenix the present of rebirth, the gift has been returned in numerous ways, one being Jo’s commitment to painting. “I wanted to honour her,” she says, “so I picked up my paintbrush and started to paint. Over time my portfolio built to the point where I could also do ‘love’ work. Everything I do, every brush stroke, I do for her.” As Jo and Phoenix developed their relationship, Jo wanted to use her psychotherapy skills to help people heal from trauma. As these journeys unfolded, she realised one day that she herself was healed. “All the horrors and betrayals as a child, and the adult misadventures that resulted - I’d just let it all go,” she says. “I choose life, love, genuine connection, and unity. And Phoenix? Well, we chose each other. I am her guardian and I will stand with her until the very end. It’s my greatest honour.” Recently, Jo found Phoenix a

now Phoenix’s constant companion, and is beginning her new life of love and magic with Jo and Phoenix. You can find Jo, Phoenix, and Jo’s paintings on

companion. She’d been searching for

Candida Baker has a Facebook page,

the ‘right’ one for some time - enter

The Horse Listener and is President of

Molly, a retired Standardbred, who is

the equine charity Equus Alliance.

TOP: Jo and Phoenix share an unbreakable bond (Image by Chris F. Porter). ABOVE: Phoenix in care with the RSPCA.

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 83


Winners of the 2017 Sydney Royal Hack Championship. Rebecca and Stage Presence with hack judge and international dressage rider Kristy Oatley (Image by Julie Wilson).


Staging a comeback

he has since more than made up for at the very top of the highly competitive show scene. “I first saw him at Sydney Royal when he won the novice large hack over 16.2hh,” says Rebecca, “and I thought he had a beautiful way of going. I then watched him in the best novice class and thought ‘I love that horse’. He was soft across the ground,

After a less than auspicious racing career, OTT Thoroughbred Stage Presence and Rebecca Farrow joined forces with spectacular results, writes JO MCKINNON.


had a lot of air under him and was really leggy. He was lean and green but had a nice way of travelling.” Through a mishap with her own horse at the Sydney Royal that same year, Rebecca needed to borrow

ebecca Farrow is one of the queens of the Australian show ring. From a very

young age, the Victorian rider has dominated competitions not only in her home state but throughout Australia. And in recent years she has been next to unbeatable on her big, flashy Thoroughbred gelding Stage Presence. Known as Percy around the stables, Stage Presence is aptly named given his markings and general

National Off the Track Championship. The son of Testa Rossa, a multiple Group One winner and a prolific sire of winners, Stage Presence raced under the name Persistency. However, he was a rank failure on the track. He had only one start, which was at Scone in a maiden where he finished ninth of 14 runners. He was beaten by eight lengths and was retired not long afterwards. But what he lacked on the race track

a horse for her rider class. The opportunity came up to ride Stage Presence and she jumped at it. They clicked straight away and after riding him for just five minutes in the marshalling yard, the pair strode into the main arena and went on to win the class. Rebecca offered to buy him soon after but it took Courtney two months to finally make the decision to sell. But just six months after Rebecca took ownership of Percy, tragedy came

‘wow’ factor. Wherever he goes he turns heads and more often than not, judges at major shows all over the country are taken with his good looks and impressive movement. Now a 12-year-old, he’s one of the most decorated show hacks currently

An impressive pair: Rebecca and Stage Presence at the 2019 Sydney Royal (Image by Julie Wilson).

in competition. “He’s been remarkable, he really has,” says Rebecca. Since purchasing him from Courtney Smith as a novice level Royal Show hack five years ago, Rebecca has won almost everything there is to win with him. In 2017, the pair scooped both the Champion Hack and the Champion Lady Rider at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Notably, it was the first time in 46 years that an owner/ rider combination had managed this truly amazing coup. To further sweeten 2017, they also took out the H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 85

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perilously close when he developed a bad bout of colic. After costly lifesaving

Stage Presence, the 2017 Racing Victoria Off The Track Ridden Thoroughbred Champion (Image by Julie Wilson).

surgery and a year off he pulled through, much to Rebecca’s relief. “It was a long recovery. He lost 100kg in five days, but he had an 80 per cent chance of making a full recovery, so it was money well spent. I would not otherwise have

BELOW: There’s no place like home (Image courtesy Rebecca Farrow).

the great horse I have now,” she says. Rebecca loves working with Thoroughbreds. Over the course of her career in the saddle, she’s had at least a dozen retired racehorses but says Percy epitomises the many great attributes of the breed. “I think when you stand him up and look at him, you realise that it’s very rare to find a 17hh horse so well put together. He has a great length of rein, long legs and is a very sound horse. He’s never had a day’s lameness in his life.”

beautiful to ride and he’s a very rhythmic

cancellation of horse events all over

According to Rebecca, even as a

horse to watch. He’s now quite an

Australia, 2020 has been devoid

youngster Percy showed great promise:

uncomplicated character. He’s very

of any success. They have not

“I’ve seen a picture of him as a yearling

well educated, he loves his work, and

competed at a major event since

and he was a cracker. Bio-mechanically

he doesn’t get frazzled when you put

the nationals last December.

he is so good. He has that rare quality

pressure on him to learn new things.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” Rebecca says.

He’s a horse you want to ride all day.”

“Initially, I used the time off to train,

in a Thoroughbred in that he’s a great mover but not all up in front. He moves more like a Warmblood. He’s got a great swing and softness in his back.” She says his temperament is second to none and describes him as an absolute pleasure to ride. “He’s really

Together they make a stunning combination and in 2018 their crowning achievement was winning the prestigious Garryowen Perpetual Trophy. Due to the COVID-19 related

work around the property, redo my tack room and stay focussed. I’m now using the downtime to rehabilitate from an injury. I’ve kept Percy in light work, just at a maintenance level really.” Rebecca was recently nominated for the Equestrian Victoria Rider of the Year award. The recipient of this accolade will be decided by a panel of judges in the coming weeks. In the meantime, her main aim after returning to competition is to try and fulfil a lifelong ambition to win the Pope Cup at one of the Royal shows. “My dream is to win a Pope Cup with Percy. He’s such a big, scopey, Pope Cup type. That’s one I would like to tick off the list,” she says. We wish Rebecca and Stage Presence the very best of luck with their dreams and a speedy return to the show ring when competitions are finally back in swing. H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 87

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The elegant Thoroughbred

Century England, and the arrival of three foundation stallions from the Middle East: the Byerley Turk, the Darley Arabian and the Godolphin Arabian. Even though the stallions were never raced, they became the founding fathers of today’s Thoroughbred racehorse. The Thoroughbred foundation mares

19th Century English novelist and playwright John Galsworthy once said “... there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a Thoroughbred horse”. Was he right? FRANCINE PULLMAN takes a closer look.


were mostly smaller native breeds, both local and imported. Interestingly, most of today’s Thoroughbreds can be traced genetically to just 30 animals from the 18th and 19th centuries (three mares and 27 stallions), initially raising some concerns regarding a limited genetic pool. Selective breeding over 300 years

ith names like Phar Lap,

has resulted in the Thoroughbred

Winx and Black Caviar

we know today, typically a horse

so familiar to us all, it’s

with fine build, lean body type, great

no surprise that the Thoroughbred

strength, speed, and stamina.

is one of the best-known horse breeds in Australia. Admired for their

Horses arriving in Australia with the

athleticism and high spirits, they’re

First Fleet in 1788 were most likely

certainly a delight to behold.

Thoroughbred crosses. The first pure Thoroughbred to be imported is

Whether off the track or never raced,

thought to have been Northumberland,

they can make the perfect equine

a stallion who arrived from England in

partner in a number of disciplines, but

1802 for the purpose of siring coach

their excitability does mean that they’re

horses. By 1810, Sydney had held its first

not the ideal horse for every rider.

formal race meet, and in 1825 the first

The facts of the matter

mare of proven English Thoroughbred

The Thoroughbred is perhaps best

bloodlines arrived, followed throughout

known for its role in the horse racing

the 1830s by more Thoroughbreds

industry. And let’s not forget that they’re also a royal favourite: Queen

carried him through two Olympic Games,

Elizabeth II has been breeding

two World Championships, and won

racehorses for many years, while

Burghley. Meanwhile Olympic eventer

Godolphin is the global Thoroughbred

Boyd Martin partnered with a 12-year-

breeding operation and horseracing

old OTT Thoroughbred for the 2016

team founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Renowned for their speed, agility and lean good looks, Thoroughbreds are usually bold, intelligent and extremely athletic, making them an attractive option for many equestrians at all levels of competition. Olympic equestrian

Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. With approximately 600 horse breeds globally, the Thoroughbred is one of the most popular. Around 100,000 Thoroughbred foals are born worldwide each year, with Australia producing some 15,000.

imported for the purpose of improving local stock and for racing.

Hey good looking

Thoroughbreds have a fine build with a long, elegant neck, a chiselled head and a straight profile (the dished face of their Arabian ancestors is now rarely in evidence). With their deep chest, high withers, short back, strong hindquarters, lean body and long clean legs, the overall look is athletic, powerful and elegant. Standing anywhere from 15 to 17hh, they

star Andrew Hoy is an enthusiastic

Breed history

exponent of their virtues and with good

The story of the modern Thoroughbred

Their coat is fine and glossy with minimal

reason! Davey, an OTT Thoroughbred,

can be traced back to 17th and 18th

leg feathering, and white markings on

90 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

are mostly bay, black, chestnut, or grey.


MAIN: A stunning twoyear-old Hannover Lodge Thoroughbred colt by Starcraft out of Wangalla (Image by Melissa Goodson). INSET: Bold and curious, this youngster shows promise.


stable are common and include weaving and wind sucking. If you’re contemplating buying a Thoroughbred, a vet check is always a good idea whether the horse has been raced or not.


Thoroughbreds have a fast metabolism so generally require pasture and supplemental feeding to maintain a good body weight. However, the advice of an equine nutritionist is always advisable to ensure that you get the balance right. Too much

Purchasing a Thoroughbred may be more affordable than you think.

concentrated feed or rich spring grass can add a little too much spirit to that feisty temperament! Colic and stomach ulcers are more common than with many other breeds, another reason why extra

the face and lower legs are acceptable.

State of mind Generally considered to be a hot blooded breed, the Thoroughbred is spirited, bold and fast. However this helps to give them the presence often sought by more competitive riders. They are intelligent horses and thus trainable, but they can be quite reactive, which riders may experience as a tendency to shy at their own shadow, or fire up on a windy day. They are an energetic and forward moving ride, potentially making them a challenge for beginners or nervous riders. However, in many cases, these characteristics can and do mellow with age, making an older more experienced Thoroughbred a good schoolmaster for the less experienced equestrian.

Health check If you are considering a Thoroughbred who has raced or been trained for racing, you should be alert to past injuries. Under heavy work they can

They are an energetic and forward moving ride, potentially making them a challenge for beginners or nervous riders.

care should be taken to provide a correctly balanced diet.

So you want a Thoroughbred While taking on a Thoroughbred who’s being retired from the track can seem like the right thing to do, there are a number of factors that should be considered. Due to this breed’s hot temperament and particular needs, your new horse could cost you much more than the purchase price in vet bills, feeding, training, and even lost confidence if things go wrong.

leading to a condition known as roaring.

Some states have an Off the Track

A small hoof to body weight ratio

program designed to help retired

can cause ongoing footsoreness and lameness, plus they often have thin soles and usually require shoeing. Orthopaedic problems including fractures can be common if the horse

racehorses find another role in life. Racing Victoria, for example, has established a network of experienced retrainers who help smooth the transition by working with each horse to assess

has been subject to high stress

which new career might best suit them.

activities, such as racing and jumping,

So, if your heart is set on a

particularly on dry, hard ground.

Thoroughbred, and you love the

As many as five per cent of Thoroughbreds specifically bred for racing suffer performance issues caused by too small a heart. Persistent

be prone to bleeding from the lungs

behavioural issues caused by long

and some develop laryngeal paralysis

periods of boredom in the training

idea of giving an OTT horse a home, investigate the re-training programs and see what they have on offer.

How big is your budget?

Ironically, while many Thoroughbreds in the racing industry are sold for H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 93


ABOVE: Spirited, bold and fast, Thoroughbreds are perhaps best known for their racetrack prowess. breathtaking amounts well into

Find (sire Gonski, grandsire US Danehill)

Thoroughbred Breeders Australia

the millions, the Thoroughbred is

was sold for $32,000 at the 2010 Magic; registered

still considered to be one of the

Millions Yearling Sale. After collecting

charity Recycled Racehorses

cheapest breeds to buy, simply

just $26,000 in race winnings from 35; the

because there are so many of them.

starts, he was retired in 2013 as a failure

And so if you are considering purchasing

and sold for $500 to a Pony Club rider.

a Thoroughbred either straight off the track, or re-trained, or from a breeder,

He went on to enjoy a new lease of life as a much loved and useful all-rounder.

Aquis Farm retirement program;; the Transitioning Thoroughbreds Foundation

you may not need to part with as much

An OTT story with a very happy ending!

money as you might have thought.

Want to know more?

While Thoroughbred yearlings regularly

If you’re on the hunt for a Thoroughbred

Thoroughbred Retirement

sell for many thousands of dollars to

here are some links to follow up:

investors hoping to find the next Black Caviar, within a few short years many of these horses are rejected by the racing industry and sold off for significantly fewer dollars, or even given away. So price isn’t necessarily a barrier, nor is it a good indicator of breeding, trainability or athletic potential when buying a Thoroughbred for purposes other than racing. As an aside, one of the most expensive Thoroughbreds ever sold was American bred Fusaichi Pegasus. As a threeyear-old colt he was sold for more than US$60 million after amassing $2 million in winnings. He retired to stud but was considered a disappointing sire and died fairly young. But don’t let that price tag put you off! Australian Thoroughbred gelding Rare 94 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

Fiona McIntyre and OTT Thoroughbred Precedence excel in the show ring (Image by Angie Rickard Photography).; and International

SNAPSHOTAUSTRALIA “You make the moment, we capture the memory”




The inaugural 2013 Remi Scholarship recipient Isabella WilkinsonMcIntyre and Remi Livingstone S were awarded EQ Runner Up Newcomer HOY 2019, and have been selected on the Talent Recognition Squad for 2020 (Images courtesy of Geoff McLean, Gone Riding Media).

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Remi Stud Young Rider 2020

NSW during a ceremony at the recent Saddlefitter Brisbane CDN. Elise, who is coached by Melanie Schmerglatt, has had a passion for horses since the age of four and is certainly a deserving winner. The journey for Elise and her family has not been easy. Her parents, while not

Remi Stud is Australia’s home of internationally bred Hanoverians. Each year, the stud presents an up-and-coming young rider with a substantial scholarship, writes GEOFF McLEAN.


‘horsey’, understand and encourage their daughter’s passion. Her father a Vietnam war veteran suffers complex mental health issues as a result of his war service, while Allison, Elise’s mum, has often worked two to three jobs in order to support the family and her

irst offered in 2013, the Remi Stud Young Rider Scholarship is an annual award gifted to a

deserving young rider who has the talent and dedication to succeed either in dressage, showing, or eventing, but who needs assistance in order to achieve their dreams. The scholarship, prepared by Cheryl O’Brien from Remi Stud, includes

McNichol (Victoria), who among many other roles has served as the Australian dressage team’s Chef d’Equipe; Ros Lipp (Queensland), an accomplished dressage rider and co-owner of Saddleworld Toowoomba; and Cheryl O’Brien (Queensland) owner of Remi Stud.

daughter’s equestrian activities. Elise, who has demonstrated considerable talent from a young age, also has an after school job to contribute to horse costs. While under the watchful eye of Charlie Brister and riding her much loved grey mare Teenage Witch, she became the

This year’s scholarship was presented

youngest competitor in NSW Pony Club

to 17-year-old Elise Payne of Ourimbah

B Grade eventing, winning the cross

ownership of a purpose bred Hanoverian weanling by Lauries As (imp), one of Australia’s best performing

Mathew Lord and Remi Laurentia S.

Hanoverian stallions. The young horse awarded as part of this year’s scholarship was a nine-month-old weanling filly Remi Laurentia S (aka Tia) by Lauries As out of the mare Remi Veuve Clicquot. The filly was part of a scholarship package valued at over $30,000. The package was supported by an broad range of sponsors including Prydes Easifeed, Equestrian Queensland, Equestrian Australia, Brisbane CDI, HorseForce, Edwards Saddleworld, Lord Dressage (in conjunction with Team Van Den Berge), Dr Show, Belrock Equestrian, Westvets, the Hanoverian Horse Society of Australia, Meaker Farrier Services, Kelato Animal Health, and Manuel Equine Transport. Applications, which were received from all over Australia, were assessed by Deb H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 97

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2018 Equestrian NSW Interschool’s EVA95 Championship. The pair, who represented NSW and were placed fourth at Interschool’s Nationals that year, also enjoyed dressage wins and a team 120cm six bar show jumping win. Sadly, Elise’s time at NEGS was limited to eighteen months due to family financial pressures. Today, Elise is in her final year of school. COVID-19 and continuing family financial pressures meant it was difficult to keep Tulla in the work required to maintain him. Unfortunately he was sold, sadly leaving Elise without a mount. However, Elise has partnered with Melanie Schmerglatt to ride a tricky three-year-old. Melanie says that Elise is demonstrating natural talent, empathy and maturity beyond her years to bring this horse on. It is her drive, determination, maturity and natural talent that makes Elise Payne such a deserving winner of the country medal as well as being awarded

scholarship to NEGS in Armidale,

the Equestrian NSW State Primary Rider

a school renowned for its world


class equestrian centre with its elite

But time doesn’t stand still, and when Elise outgrew her talented pony along came Tulla, a Warmblood gelding. Elise was previously awarded a

coaches, programs and training facilities. It was while at NEGS that Elise trained under former Olympian

Remi Stud Scholarship, and we wish her every success into the future. Thanks again to Cheryl and the team of supporters and sponsors who make this valuable scholarship possible. It truly is an amazing opportunity for a deserving young rider to receive the support they

Imtiaz Anees, developing the skills

need to enter the Australian equestrian

to take Tulla to second place in the


TOP: Remi Stud’s Cheryl O’Brien announces the recipient of the 2020 Remi Stud Scholarship. ABOVE: Remi Laurentia S with the Remi Stud Scholarship Sponsors (Images courtesy of Geoff McLean, Gone Riding Media). H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 99

AROUND THE TRAPS Hannah Hawkey and Palamo Awesome Exposure at the 2019 Caboolture Summer Gala Series in their second ever dressage test. Hannah was the youngest rider to compete (Image by RowanW Photo).

ABOVE: Eden Jerinic and Dawnmaw Smarty in their first cross country at the Herbert River Pony Club (Image by Colleen Jerinic). RIGHT: Von Robertson, OTT Herbie and Pandy share a quiet moment at home (Image by Craig Higgins). 100 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0


Defiance Dressage After travelling the globe Dr Clarissa BrownDouglas now calls Bendigo home. It’s where she’s settled with her husband, two children and a horse called Pi.


r Clarissa Brown-

us both. I’m really quite tall with

Douglas, originally

very long legs,” Clarissa explains.

from Wellington in New

Clarissa had heard about The

Zealand, has ridden all her life.

Saddle Hub through friends

As a child, she was fortunate

and decided to visit their online

to have parents who were

store. “There were a couple of

happy to drive their horse-mad

saddles there that caught my

daughter from their suburban

eye, but then I saw the Defiance,

home to a riding stable where

which was the right size and a

she could indulge her passion.

very good price,” she says. “I

Clarissa later had horses of her

loved the fact that The Saddle

own and was a keen eventer.

Hub gives you a 14-day period to

But then her career as an equine

trial their saddles, which I really

nutritionist with Kentucky Equine

needed. But as it happened, it

Research, a job she loves, intervened, and for several years she lived and worked in the US. The next move was to Melbourne, which became her base while she travelled the world working with horse owners, breeders and trainers providing nutrition advice for their equine athletes.

Clarissa and Pi out for a ride with Raffie, Pi’s bestie, racing along behind. would be more accurate. We have a

Then the opportunity arose to move

Labrador called Raffie, and she and

to Bendigo, Victoria, and Clarissa

Pi are best mates,” laughs Clarissa.

and her husband relocated to the old gold rush town in 2014.

Originally bred to be a small dressage horse, Pi grew too tall

As life settled into a steady rhythm,

to fulfil that role and subsequently

it was time to think about owning

joined Clarissa’s family, of which

another horse, and this eventuated

he is a much-loved member.

when Clarissa purchased a stunning OTT dapple grey who unfortunately, proved not to be The One.

Courtesy of Pi’s mixed heritage, finding a saddle to accommodate his solid body with its sloping back, high withers, and

was first time lucky – the saddle was perfect, I’m loving it.” Given that Pi is only six, there’s every possibility that he might change shape and need a different saddle. If that’s the case, Clarissa will simply go back to The Saddle Hub. But for now, it’s time to enjoy the comfort of her Defence Dressage Saddle as she rides her sweet, sensible Pi. And when her children are older Clarissa may even consider getting into some dressage, but right now: “I’m a very happy hacker,” she says with a smile. The Equestrian Hub has a wide variety of second-hand saddles, so be sure to visit and browse through their fantastic range.

And then along came Pi: “He’s a

prominent shoulders, was always going

beautiful German Riding Pony cross

to be challenging. “I enlisted the help

All saddles come with a two-

Thoroughbred, who at 16hh is a teddy

of a saddle fitter, who assessed Pi and

week trial, finance options, and a

bear, or perhaps a giant Labrador

gave me a list of saddles that might suit

courier right to your door. H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 101

Taylor Smith and Karizmah Tiara look mystical in this stunning fantasy shot (Image by La Bella Vita Photography).

102 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0



FAR LEFT: Julie Nafe and Gun Lobby won the Ladies Side Saddle Over Fences class at the Quentin Fall Classic in Pennsylvania USA (Image by Melinda Harding Photography). LEFT: Eva Lewis and OTT Holland Park Vienna placed 2nd in the 95cm and 4th in the 105cm at the Dardanup Showjumping Day (Image by Chrissy May Photography) ABOVE RIGHT: Chelsea Mead and Tilley Park Top Cat. The pair represent St Paul’s Lutheran Primary School in interschool dressage events (Image by Brendan Mead). RIGHT: Shanniah Bartle riding Magpie at Wallaby Hill (Image by Melissa Goodson, Snapshot Australia). H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 103


inda is a village on the NSW Southern Tablelands. The population numbers a mere few hundred people, one of whom is Ian Lancaster, a master saddlemaker and these days, one of a fairly rare breed. Born in Dapto in the NSW’s Illawarra region, Ian’s family later moved south to Berry, and it was there that he visited a local saddle and shoe maker to have the metal studs in his football boots replaced. He left with not only his boots, but also the offer of an apprenticeship. Fifteen-year-old Ian jumped at the opportunity, which proved to be the start of a life-long career. Ian makes saddles for all disciplines, bringing an admirable degree of artistry to his work. Over his 40-plus year career, he has created saddles and harness for several movies, and is the only saddler to have won the Overall Showcase of Excellence at the Melbourne Royal, which he achieved in 1998 with a stunning two-tone dressage saddle.

Stitching the front of a traditional stock saddle.


A saddler’s tale Have you ever wondered what goes into the creation of a custom-built saddle? Master saddler IAN LANCASTER has been making them for 40 years, and knows a thing or two about his craft. 104 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

When a client contacts Ian wanting to purchase a custom-made saddle, it’s the start of quite a complex process: “I take into consideration the size and shape of the rider and the horse. If the enquiry is from a local, I’ll go and take measurements myself. If people ring from interstate or overseas, I give them a list of measurements that I need for both themselves and their horse, as well as photos of the rider. From this I can gauge their size and shape, and then I work things out from there.” Ian has an adjustable saddle stand that he sets up to match each saddle’s shape and size. “I don’t make the saddle trees myself,” he explains, “but I do have them made to specifically fit each individual saddle. I have hundreds of leather cutting patterns in the workshop, so I pick one that I think will best suit the rider. For example, if the rider is a little wider in the thigh, they may need to have the flap cut wider, if they’re short in the leg the flap should be made shorter, and for someone with a long thin leg, I’ll choose a


A beautifully crafted turnout saddle.

pattern for a longer, narrower flap.” But when you’re custom fitting a rider for a saddle, there’s more to it than just the length of their legs. “The width of their hips and the shape of their rear also have to be taken into consideration. When you shape a saddle seat to suit a rider who’s a little bit heavier behind, padding has to be taken out of the seat to allow them to fit into the saddle with their hips rotated into the correct position. But if their body build is fine and slender, then more is left in the back of the saddle so that they are correctly positioned,” Ian says. And let’s not forget the horse! “When I’m measuring a horse’s back for a saddle, I ensure that the bars running along the side of the tree will fit the horse correctly, and the angle at the front of the gullet must match the angle of the wither so it sits parallel without touching at the top or the bottom. If it does touch, the tree is either to wide or too narrow, and once you add the rider’s weight to it, it’ll wind up causing pressure points in those areas. To some extent you can make minor adjustments with the bottom panel to make it fit, but if the angles aren’t correct, you’ll still have a pressure point in those areas. Finally, the cantle has to be sitting up at the right angle too, to suit the rider as well as their discipline,” he says. Over the years, Ian has developed a couple of pet saddle-making peeves, one of which has to do with riders and

Nearing completion: a traditional stock saddle.

the horses they choose. “There are too many riders who are not suitable for the size horse they’re looking to ride. They’re heavier people who still want to ride a smaller pony, and that’s a real problem when it comes to the saddle. If the saddle is made to suit the rider, it almost certainly won’t fit the size and shape of the horse’s back correctly.”

An elegant Spanish riding saddle with suede inserts.

an effect on their weight bearing ability. For example, your Arabian has two ribs less than a Thoroughbred, Warmblood, or other larger breed, which makes their back shorter in length. So the weight bearing area is less in an Arabian than a larger horse. It’s not just a case of ‘I like that pony, that’s the one I want to ride and I’ll get a saddle made for it’, you have to match the horse with the rider,” he says. Yet another issue arises when a horse has been bred from two essentially incompatible breeds, resulting in anomalies in their conformation that make it very hard, or nearly impossible to correctly fit a saddle.

Made for a five-year-old girl, this pretty 13-inch saddle was a big hit.

Ian often comes across this problem when someone’s been given a horse, or has bought one that they fell in love without considering whether or not they’re a good match. “The build of different breeds and cross breeds has

Ian also points out that most standard saddles are made to suit an average size, and very few people are of an average size. “My main customers are usually people who’ve had trouble getting a saddle that’s a good fit for both them and their horse. Although a top quality saddle is a 40 to 50 year investment, one that will certainly outlive their current horse, I always suggest that they get the saddle made to fit that horse anyway. If they have several horses, the saddle should be made to fit the widest horse, and then saddle cloths and shims can be used to adjust the saddle to fit the narrower horse. But of course you can’t go the H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 105

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other way, you can’t make a saddle to fit a narrow horse and then expect it to fit a wider horse,” he adds. If you can’t afford to buy a custom made saddle right now, Ian has some advice to help you find the best possible saddle in your price range. “I’d suggest you go and sit in the best quality saddle you can find, one that’s the best shape for you and is the most comfortable – and that doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive, because the mark-up on saddles can be more than the saddle’s really worth. And if that saddlery doesn’t have a similar saddle in your price range, shop around. Look at different brands until you find one that’s a close match and is in your price range.” Ian uses only the best quality leathers in his saddles, and he strongly suggests that if you aren’t buying an Australian made saddle, you should choose one that’s been made in either the UK, Europe, or the US. Saddles made in Mexico, India and similar countries may be cheaper but, for

On the stand: a completed side saddle with girth. a number of reasons the quality of the materials is significantly less. And Ian has one final word of advice if you’re in the market for an off-the-peg saddle. “If you can, find a reputable saddle fitter who can measure the saddle and fit it to your horse. Always look for someone with plenty of practical experience. You need a saddle fitter who knows how to put a shim in, how to

change the gullet, how to move the girth points if they’re not set in the correct position, and how to adjust the stuffing in the saddle to get it to fit correctly.” To see more examples of Ian’s extraordinary work, visit Redback Saddles at, or Ian’s personal Facebook page at, or email an enquiry to .

SADDLES WANTED The role of The Saddle Hub is to make the process of selling your saddle as effortless as possible. If you have a saddle that doesn't suit you or your horse, or is no longer needed, get in touch with us about how we can assist you in re-homing it.

Find more info at:

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 107


ABOVE: Sarah Read and Heathmont Stedinger at a different type of event – a photoshoot (Image by Beautiful A Photography). LEFT: Annabel Dignam and French Buttons were given a lesson by Olympian Rebel Morrow at the 2020 Sydney Eventing Hit Out (Image by Melanie Dignam).

108 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0


LEFT: Stacey Heath and Close the Book came 1st in the Senior division at Mackay North Pony Club’s One Day Event (Image by Pink Lady Photography). ABOVE: Rebecca Hopkins and Strawberry Sundae well clear at the 2019 Tamworth World Cup Show (Image by Oz Shotz). BELOW: It’s love! 3-year-old Ethan Fogarty and Snowdon Vale Eclipse at the annual Huntingfield Pony and Riding Club Spring Show (Image by Sarah Fogarty). BELOW LEFT: Georgia Nettlefold aboard Chance competing at the Mt Evelyn Darby (Image by Jasmyn Sanders Photography).

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 109


Endurance for the long haul Endurance riding is the odyssey among equestrian sports. No other discipline requires a horse and rider to traverse such varied terrain and travel such great distances as this one, writes CHRISTINE ARMISHAW.

Strappers hard at work during the 2017 World Youth Endurance Championships (Image courtesy the Radny family).



n the sport of endurance riding, horse soundness, fitness and overall health are of utmost importance.

Added to that, rider gumption is essential. Vet inspections are held at multiple locations throughout a ride and any horse that doesn’t pass the mandatory checks can be vetted straight out of the competition.

Bec’s mum Jane on Kib (left) and Bec aboard Max, enjoying a 40km training ride at Collie (Image by Down Under Images).

Those are stringent requirements, so you may be wondering how horses are trained so they can successfully compete in what are often rugged conditions. In search of answers, I spoke with Rebecca (Bec) Radny, who competes in endurance right up to FEI level alongside not just one, but both of her highly successful parents. The endurance gene runs strong in this family. Bec has been involved in endurance for 18 years, pretty good going considering she’s just 23 years old. In 2014, she placed 7th overall and 2nd in the Junior Under 18 section in the Tom Quilty Gold Cup, arguably Australia’s most prestigious endurance event. She also represented Australia at the 2017 World Endurance Championships for Juniors and Young Riders in Italy, and was a member of the 2012 Australian Endurance team as groom for her mum, Jane Radny, when she competed in the Trans-Tasman Championships held in New Zealand. In the same year, Bec again joined the Australian team as a groom for the World Endurance Championships in the UK, this time for

We’re checking for the speed of recovery. How quickly the heart rate comes back down to that horse’s normal is an indicator of fitness.

her dad, Norbert Radny.

Longevity is key

It’s fair to say that this trio has a pretty

This equestrian family approaches the

good idea of what it takes to get a horse to the top level of endurance. At home in Western Australia, as well as further afield, the family regularly compete against each other, taking turns in sharing the glory of the podium. The Radnys are super strategic - they plan everything out.

training of all their horses with one motto: every horse is to have a decade-

lubricated, it also saves me a lot of time, as I work full-time as a teacher,” shares Bec. Being riderless also allows for horse fitness to be built gradually, without human weight putting extra and unnecessary strain on precious limbs. The ridden components following the walker warm-ups take place out in the national park backing onto their property. Over the course of a week, each horse does a couple of 7km loops, primarily spent in walk and trot with lots of stretching, then one longer 20km workout to further build on fitness. In line with keeping the horses fit, healthy and sound, for every 10kms travelled they get one day off. “This is especially

long career, if not longer. Bec stresses

necessary when training on hard or

the importance of not overtraining.

concussive surfaces,” Bec explains.

Throughout the season, running from March to October, each equine athlete is worked three to four times per week.

An intriguing point from the Radny training schedule that struck me is the daily integration of competition

“We don’t just go out there and flog it,”

These sessions start with an hour on

says Bec. Right down to the day-to-day

the horse walker. “This allows them to

simulate a vet check,” Bec tells me. “We

routine, all the details are refined.

warm their muscles and get their joints

take the heart rate after every ride. We

simulation. “Every time we train, we

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 111


at school, then continues: “We use

Bec and Steel Poppy Regent leading the pack, followed by dad Norbert aboard Sandstorm Spellbound (Image by Vince Evans).

plastic bags and flags to desensitise. You see the personality and get to know your horse. With groundwork, my main horse West Coast Kia has improved in confidence. While not quite able to be off all on her own yet, she is now able to

BELOW: An example of the peloton style formation (Image by Down Under Images).

get out in front during a ride.”

Crunch time

Competitions are attended roughly every four to six weeks. When it comes to the day of the ride, strategy remains the name of the game. “It’s a bit like cycling,” Bec tells me. She is referring to the peloton formation employed in a cycle race. She describes how a horse and rider combination will lead the pack, doing more work than the others as they cut through the most air resistance. Being on a horse and not a bike, the rider in this position is required to pay more attention to what’s

put the [heart rate] monitor on before

will show up any signs of unsoundness.

we strap them. We’re checking for the

If necessary, we film this so we have a

speed of recovery. How quickly the

baseline to check against.”

heart rate comes back down to that horse’s normal is an indicator of fitness.”

A training aspect the family has employed in more recent years is the

coming up ahead. The whole process is quite methodical. “Each horse has different strengths, which wax and wane throughout the event,” Bec says. “We pair horses up, to each bring out the best in the other, and they adjust to each other’s speed. We choose one that’s a

And that’s not all, following strapping,

addition of groundwork and behavioural

these dedicated endurance

connection. “We had a couple of horses

professionals also trot each horse out to

not wanting to get on the truck and

check for evenness. Full of endurance

float. Groundwork has been the answer,”

The staple in the stable at the Radny

wisdom, Bec outlines the details: “We

says Bec, “it helps them ‘make the right

residence is a horse named Reg. He

trot them out 20 to 40 metres and back,

choices’.” She chuckles as she likens

competes in every second event or so

always on bitumen - it’s unforgiving and

the horses to the students she teaches

and makes a fantastic lead horse. “He

112 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

solid leader, who won’t look and shy at the start.”


doesn’t shy, gets out there, does his job and sets the pace,” Bec says fondly. When I question how much difference this could really make to the overall result, she had the perfect example of the implications of a bad match. “A few weeks ago, two horses we paired up for the first time were a terrible combo,” she recalls of a nappy couple that simply didn’t want to move out and get going. “We tried riding them side-by-side, then one in front of the other, which was a little better, but they only really settled properly once they realised they were going back towards home. Endurance rides are set up as a circuit and horses are very location-aware, they can tell when they are heading back to base, even though they have only been in that location for a matter of days.” Endurance rides can be distances of 40kms (considered training rides), 80kms, 120kms and 160kms. Vet checks

Bec and Estragon before the 2017 World Endurance Championships for Juniors and Young Riders (Image courtesy the Radny family).

usually pop up every 40kms, where horses are assessed for soundness and heart rate, both of which must be deemed satisfactory in order to be allowed to continue. “The checkpoints are where you strap your horse and offer them food and water,” Bec says. These stations are where riders must also remember to look after themselves. They are kitted out with bottled water to mitigate headaches and lollies for a sugar hit. “Party mix,” Bec offers when I inquire as to which lollies are available. “I really like milk bottles,” she laughs when I probe further.

Lots of rest makes for happy horses Travel to different locations, staying away from home, and, during the longer rides, not being ‘trickle-fed’ as

The horses adapt to each other’s speeds: West Coast Kia is comfortable cantering, whereas Jest a Golden Gift prefers to trot (Image by Down Under Images). their fitness for six weeks,” explains Bec,

well-earned long spell. Bright-eyed and

“our aim is to always keep them fit and

bushy-tailed, they return fresh and eager

healthy, and that includes mentally.”

for more intrepid action the following

The longest rides of 160kms are only


ridden once every one to two years.

“Endurance is the ultimate test in

they would be normally, all contribute

These are a huge ask of both horse

to massive change for the horse,

and rider, and undertaken only on a

something the Radnys recognise and

‘needs must’ basis, to qualify for a

take into serious account. So, after a

national event or state championship, for

competition, the horses get a full two

example. In addition, these big events

had lessons. But you do need to really

weeks off - practically unheard of in

are always end-of-season rides, after

understand and manage your horse and

other disciplines. “Horses can maintain

which the horses are turned out for a

the terrain you are riding.”

horsemanship,” Bec concludes. “You don’t have to be the best rider - some of the best are self-taught and have never

H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 113


Phoebe with the now semi-retired Amajah (Image by Tarni Woodhead).


The tough keep going


hoebe Roche is a Grade IV FEI Para Rider. Look her up on the FEI website and you’ll

find that since 2015, she’s been a successful competitor in CPEDI3* dressage events with her horses Amajah (now semi-retired), Power of Attorney (Will), and more recently Saddleup Romper Stomper (Smartie), in freestyle individual, and team events. Originally from Brisbane, Phoebe and her mother moved to Tooradin,

For Phoebe Roche, life has had challenges, but her tenacity and courage have earned this young rider a considerable degree of success, writes AMANDA MAC. 114 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

Victoria, where they live in a cottage on Tooradin Estate, the property of renowned equestrian Sally Francis OAM. It was Phoebe’s late father Doug Roche who encouraged her to start riding. As a boy, an operation on his spine


severed the nerves to his legs, and he later learned to ride at the McIntyre Centre, a Riding for the Disabled facility in Brisbane’s south west. When Phoebe was first diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Doug put her name on the Centre’s waiting list, where she began riding as a five-year-old. “It was a father daughter thing,” she says, “Mum was allergic to horses, so it was our time together.” It quickly became apparent that Phoebe was a natural. A member of the McIntyre Pony Club squad, she was classified for Para by the time she was 15. Next was the McIntyre’s dressage squad, which is when Phoebe came to a life-altering decision: “I thought, well, you train for all the movements anyway and they’re the same whether you compete or not, so you might as well go out and put it all together in a test.” Which is what she did, starting first with Interschool and local club day events, before moving on to the world of international competition. Does Phoebe have a competitive streak? She does, but she directs it towards herself, a challenge to be the best she can be. “And it’s training the horse to be the best they can be too,” she adds. “I rode in one competition where the prize was a bucket of carrots and I’d say that was the best prize I’d ever won because it was something for the horse. A ribbon’s a ribbon, and I’m not in it for the ribbon. For me, it’s to do the best by your horse. I’d happily come last in a competition if I knew I’d ridden it correctly.” After leasing a number of horses, Phoebe eventually purchased several of her own. “It’s hard to find a good horse,” she remarks, “It’s got to be one with a brain that wants to learn and will listen to you. It’s a horse that you’re going to spend a lot of time with, so you’ve got to have a connection with them on the ground, they’ve got to have a personality.”

Australia’s 2016 Young Athlete of the Year award, and in January this year she attained a qualifying score for the Tokyo Olympics with Smartie. She is now waiting for the Tokyo 2021 selection policy to be announced. Finally, Phoebe, whose independence, dedication and hard work are the driving force behind her success, would like to acknowledge and thank

TOP: Tokyo Olympic hopefuls Phoebe and Smartie at work (Image courtesy Equestrian Australia). ABOVE LEFT: Phoebe, Smartie and Will share that allimportant connection (Image courtesy Phoebe Roche). ABOVE RIGHT: Aboard Saddleup Romper Stomper (Image by Linda Zupanc).

those who’ve helped and supported her along the way: “There’s my mum Shaneen, my coach Sam Bartlett, Jess Ryan, Stephanie Eriksen, and my sponsors Kentucky Equine Research, South Eastern Equine Hospital,

From the entire team here at

Hastings Produce, Saddle-Up Saddle

HorseVibes, congratulations on all your

Among many other achievements,

World Chirnside Park and Bit Bank

achievements so far, Phoebe, and we

Phoebe was a finalist in Equestrian

Australia. I’d like to thank them all.

wish you every success for the future. H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 115


Sarah Crisp and her 18.3hh Shire, Ingleside Lucky Chance. Lucky loves competing at any show, including the Sydney Royal (Image by Karen Inverarity).


Get featured in Around The Traps! If you have had a great photo taken of you and your equine partner while you've been out and about enjoying yourselves, submit your photo to to be considered for a starring role in our next issue! If your image is selected it will be published in the print and digital magazines and on the HorseVibes website!

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ABOVE LEFT: Jamee Warren and her Welsh Mountain x Cob on the family farm (Image by Maria Warren). ABOVE: Kobie Cook took out Champion Novice Show Pony with Jimba Miss Party Girl at the recent NQEQ Classic Show (Image by Red Hot Photography). LEFT: Makalah Crichton and Little Black competing at the Rosedale Horse Trials (Image courtesy Makalah Crichton). H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 117

Thundering home to victory in the 2018 Cox Plate (Image courtesy Racing Victoria).


he bay filly sure didn’t look like much as she lined up at Warwick Farm Racecourse

on the 4th of June 2014. Even her


Winx and Hugh Bowman

owners had more confidence in one of her stablemates to win or place. But three-year-old Winx won her first race that day over 1,100 metres, an event that marked the beginning of a stunning five year career as a recordbreaking racehorse, one who many have called the greatest of all time. Winx was foaled on the 14th of September 2011 near a village named

There are very few Australians who don’t know the name Winx. N. G. QUINLAN takes a closer look at the story behind the legend.

Jerrys Plains in the New South Wales Hunter Valley. She was a product of the Australian branch of the famous Irish Thoroughbred operation Coolmore Stud, and was sold as a yearling

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for $230,000 in January 2013. It wasn’t long before the filly began to show some serious promise as a racehorse. Her sire, Irish-born stallion Street Cry, had won the Dubai World

Winx and Hugh Bowman, a winning team (Image courtesy Racing Victoria).

Cup in 2002, but her dam, a New Zealand bay named Vegas Showgirl, had a brief and undistinguished career consisting of no wins from four starts. Winx’s name, indirectly inspired by her mother, was a reference to the winks given to showgirls by men in the front rows of burlesque shows in Las Vegas. Teamed with New Zealand-born trainer Chris Waller, the bay filly from Jerrys Plains won both races of her 2013-2014 debut season. In her next season as a three-year-old, she scored her first feature race success when she won the Furious Stakes at Randwick in September 2014. During that season, Winx took four wins and three second places from ten starts. It was then that the racing world began to pay attention.

the Australian Racing Hall of Fame. It was not the first time that Bowman had ridden Winx. He had steered her to her first major win during the Sydney

that Winx posted this rating for three consecutive years, a feat second only to Black Caviar’s. She is also the only

2014, as well as riding her into her

horse ever to score four Cox Plate wins.

second place finish the following month in the Flight Stakes at Royal

Coast Guineas in May 2015, Winx was

Randwick. However Winx and Bowman

trailing the field as they came into

would not meet again until six months

the last stretch, yet somehow she

later, when he rode her to victory at

managed to find her pace and win the

the Queensland Oaks in Brisbane on

It was an effort that her jockey Larry

horses rated at 130. Also noteworthy is

Spring Racing Carnival in September

During the running of the Sunshine

race by one and three-quarter lengths.

of World’s Best Racehorse, with both

the 30th of May 2015. Not long after this win, Bowman was assigned to

Winx capped off a magnificent racing career by winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick in April 2019. It was the third time she had taken the honours in that auspicious race, and the first time since 1923 that any horse had won the race three times in

Cassidy described as “breathtaking”.

the bay as her permanent jockey. He

succession. Winx has been retired since

In her next season, 2015 to 2016, the

partnered with her for the next four

September 2019, but the bay horse

racing seasons until her retirement in

known as the Mighty Mare had already

2019. With Bowman in the saddle, Winx

secured her place in the record books

produced 32 wins and one second

as one of the finest Thoroughbreds

now four-year-old Winx put in another stellar performance. In October 2015, she started as favourite in the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley Racecourse in Melbourne. She won by four and three-quarter lengths and was timed at 2:02.98, a new record for both the race and the course. Her rider that day was Hugh Bowman, the champion Australian jockey who went on to ride Winx to victory in twenty-five Group 1 races. In 2017 Bowman won the World’s

placing from their 33 starts as a team. During Winx’s racing career, she won 37 of her 43 starts. That in itself is a remarkable statistic. Yet what makes Winx stand out from the rest is that she won 33 of those races in succession, the longest winning streak ever for an Australian horse. Winx was named Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year four times, as well as twice

in three centuries of racing, winning over $26 million in prize money. And in a less than happy ending to this otherwise triumphant story, Winx, who was soon to be a mother for the first time, lost her foal in October. The foal, a filly, was sired by I Am Invincible, Australia’s most expensive stallion, and was expected to be worth almost

Best Jockey award, presented by the

being recognised as the World’s Top

$10 million. However, we have no

International Federation of Horseracing

Ranked Turf Horse. In 2018 she tied

doubt that the story of this record-

Authorities, and was later inducted into

with British colt Cracksman for the title

breaking mare is very far from over. H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 119


20 Questions with Alex Townsend

what would you do?

A: Probably do a lot more diving! There was a week after the last event where I contemplated selling it all and buying a boat.

Q: In hindsight, what would you have done differently when setting up Wallaby Hill?

A: A lot! We never set it up to be a big

Alex Townsend, 4* Eventer and Level II Instructor, along with husband Derek Pascoe, a Director of Photography and keen eventer, are the owners of Wallaby Hill Farm, a private training facility for horses.

equestrian centre, not that it’s huge by international standards. We didn’t plan to run big events so as a result it’s been done in a bit of a piecemeal fashion. If I’d known what we were going to do I would have made it a lot more cohesive and user friendly. It’s a combination of eventing at someone’s house and an

Q: At what age did you get

equestrian facility!

bitten by the riding bug?

Q: How many cross country

A: About four I think. It’s a long

jumps are on the farm now?

time ago now!

A: A lot! Six levels of jumps plus

Q: Did your parents want you to go

portables for training, so between

into a more ‘normal’ profession?

200 and 300.

A: My parents aren’t horsey at all

Q: Who designs the jumps? A: Mike Etherington-Smith started

and they paid a lot of money for my education and sent me to university

designing in 2016 when we upgraded to

twice: first a BA then a Masters in

a 4* course. Mike has been phenomenal.

Journalism. So they were definitely

Obviously COVID happened and Derek

keen for me to use that and go into a ‘real’ profession. Before doing the Masters at UTS in Sydney, I was a diving instructor for 18 months in Egypt. The goal then was to become an underwater photographer, but then the horses got a hold of me again.

edit stuff well before Derek could. He was a bit old school. Derek pipes up in the background, “Duck under trees!” A reference to 2015 when Alex sustained multiple fractures, lacerations and broke her neck due to a low hanging tree

Di Grazia wasn’t able to come, so Mike is now designing remotely. It will have a few new things but run along similar lines to last year. Mike is very familiar with the course and writes very comprehensive notes about where he wants the jump and how he wants it to

Q: How did you meet your

branch at a 3-day event.

husband, Derek?

Q: Which riders are the easiest to host,

off for FEI approval.

dressage, jumping or eventing?

Q: What does a typical non-comp

A: Eventers, definitely! Some high level

day look like?

A: We met while diving in the Red Sea. He was living in London and working abroad as a cameraman in various war zones. After re-meeting Derek when I arrived back in London he was keen to return to Sydney, which he did

show jumpers care a lot more about cleaning poo up at their own farms than when they visit other people’s farms.

in November 1999, and I followed in

Q: If you had to switch disciplines,

January 2020 to start my Masters.

what would you choose?

Q: Have you taught Derek anything about being a cameraman, and has Derek taught you anything about riding?

A: In the early days I could digitally 120 | H O R S E V I B E S N O V / D E C 2 0 2 0

A: After just saying how bad show jumpers are at cleaning up I would probably go and do that if I stopped eventing.

Q: If you had to stop riding completely,

sit. Vince Roche then signs everything

A: Get up around 6am, feed the dogs, then go for a run. Feed myself. Then I usually ride a bit in the morning. I don’t ride as much as I used to. Stable rider Michelle Robson rides more of the young ones as she is better at that. Later in the day I do business stuff, bill paying, event planning and thinking up the next lot ideas and plans for the place. Wallaby Hill now gets hired by nonhorsey people so there are bookings to


MAIN: The 2019 Wallaby Hill Equestrian Extravaganza Showjumpers v Eventers event: Winner of the Best Dressed, Kirsty Douglas and Cushavon Crackerjack (Image by Stephen Mowbray). INSET: Alex and Parodie competing in the 2017 CCI4*-L at Wallaby Hill (Image by Stephen Mowbray).

be managed.

you wouldn’t normally during the

Q: How do you manage everything at

COVID dramas?

Wallaby Hill when you’re competing?

A: I'm lucky to have a very good team around me who help make the place run smoothly: Sophie, Michelle, James, Maddy, and Derek, who’s incredibly supportive.

Q: If your competitors did one thing to make your life easier what would that be?

A: On the whole Eventers are very good

A: The biggest difference is I’m doing

more events in England with a lot more riders competing. Horses don’t get off

not competing as much. This has allowed

the truck except to compete. A lot of

me to be around the young horses that I

events will do all phases in one day so

don’t usually interact with as much and I

it’s not as social. As a consequence

enjoy that a lot.

of not being as social, it can be a little

Q: Do you have a favourite horse at the moment?

A: I definitely have a favourite. I try not to, and I pretend I don’t, but Pie, my old 4* mare is my favourite, I adore her. I

nice if they could clean up the rubbish

have a massive soft spot for anything

and the manure! We try and recycle but

related to her. Then it alternates between

people chuck food into bins and leave

Audi and Pimms, who I compete on

the toilets in a mess.

mostly, depending on what I am doing

Q: Excluding horses what other

with them.

A: Maggie who’s a retired sniffer dog;

A: Be a little friendlier. There’re a lot

more feed ups on the weekend due to

and very respectful. It would be really

pets do you have?

from Aussie eventers?

Q: If you could steal anyone’s horse which one would it be?

Sammy the rescue Labrador who fell off

A: I really like my friend Carrie’s horse

a cliff; Fink, which is a really bad name

Tarraleah Kokoda. I love mares and she’s

for her, a red Labrador; and Mouse the

a tough and feisty mare, a cool jumper,

rescue cat.

and good on the flat.

Q: Have you been working on anything

Q: What could English eventers learn

unfriendly with everyone hiding in their trucks. The Australian eventing community is much more friendly, inclusive and supportive.

Q: What could Aussie eventers learn from the English?

A: Because the numbers are greater, the Brits run a bigger enterprise. In the UK it feels like there’s a lot more scope to have a bigger event running business, but Australia could make things a bit more efficient. The longer distances make things harder here, but that often makes it a more social occasion.

Q: Is there a philosophy or motto you live by?

A: I feel very lucky to have what I have and I feel that it’s nice to share that. H O R S E V I B E S . C O M . AU | 121


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