Horse Vibes August 2019

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HorseVibes Editor: Candida Baker

Cover photo: David Shoobridge with Fuerst Fantasy. Photo: Jessica Atkins Studio

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From the Horse’s Mouth With Fiona Todd


t’s August already! To help all you eager horse owners out there prepare for the foaling/breeding season we have a great article on keeping stallions in prime condition – part of our continuing series of articles on horse nutrition, by nutritionist Larissa Bilton. Speaking of stallions – check out our editor Candy’s ‘Our Hero’ profile on dressage rider David Shoobridge. It was David’s competition partnership with the stunning stallion 00 Seven, that shot the pair to prominence, and David has carefully nurtured his breeding program to include some stellar younger stallions and broodmares. David speaks with remarkable openness about the loss of his wife, veterinarian and dressage rider, Amanda Shoobridge (from whom he was separated at the time of her death), and his love of caring for their nineyear-old daughter, Annabel. Dressage trainer, breeder and rider during the week and Pony Club Dad at the weekend! Amongst many other topics, he talks about why it’s important not to have a victim mentality. In another discipline entirely, our

from Liz Terry, Ruth White and Michelle Beatty about the highs and lows of getting a horse (and rider) through the 160-kilometre ride. If you own horses, an unfortunate truth is that accidents happen. Candy came home from Equitana to find her young horse had managed to receive a disastrous injury. Almost nine months later and the injury is almost fully healed. She writes about her journey with Eva in a moving but also informative way. Never give up on the horse is probably the best motto! A horse that never gave up on his human was Traveller, General Robert Lee’s outstanding American Saddlebred, who was immortalized in both prose and poetry for his derring-do. Our new series looks at famous horses in history.

Training Tips is by Mick Taylor, a champion reiner, who talks about the softness and feel necessary to create a top reining horse – with the most wonderful photos to accompany the article. (Fittingly perhaps, our breed is the majestic Quarter Horse, bred for strength, speed and stamina, as Amanda Mac writes.) But in the world of endurance, it’s Arabians who are the Kings and Queens of the sport – unless you’re an amazing Thoroughbred called Baribo, who won the Heavyweight division in the 2019 Quilty Gold Cup. This month we take a look at all aspects of endurance, from the historical, to a personal story


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Talking of horses and humans looking out for each other – do you insure your horse? This month Jane Camens looks at the ins and outs of equine insurance, and also gives us the low-down on a rather cheap form of equine friend – the rocking horse. This month’s tackbox is from Dr. Jane Clothier. Jane has been working as a horse bodyworker for the past 15 years and was recently awarded her PhD for research into the developmental effects of gestational immaturity in horses. She gives us the low-down on exactly what damage a badly-fitting saddle can do. And there’s more of course – much more! Welcome to the largest edition of HorseVibes so far. Pour yourself a glass of your favourite tipple and enjoy!


The Bad Floater is Everybody’s Nightmare Gentle persuasion is the key to coaxing a newbie on to a float, writes CHARLIE BRISTER, who has a few ideas to help along the way.


Also, make sure you have an experienced horse person, or, even if you are experienced, another experienced person, to help during training. Especially with a straight load because someone needs to close the bar after you’ve got the horse on to the float - before they learn to stand perfectly still for you.

No 1 Goal: Safety for you and the horse Equipment is important; make sure


Remember to chill out. The most important thing is to build confidence and relaxation – for both the horse and rider!

Check the float is ready A small hay bag should be firmly attached to the front area of the float to serve as a reward for successful loading. As this is training just load a single horse. In a straight float it is generally better to load a single horse on the driver side of the float.

Don’t forget to make sure the float is attached to the car - with the brake on! (It happens.)

How many times have you heard of a horse refusing to load on the morning of a competition? Or seen a bunch of people flapping around a horse which is refusing to load up so that everyone can go home after an event?

If you don’t own a float, work out how to borrow one for training. A horse that loads well is much more likely to be invited to hitch-hike!

(I know that there are arguments for and against floating boots for travelling – but that is not for this article.).

Make sure the tailgate has both sides on the ground so it doesn’t rock when the horse takes its first steps off the ground.

etting your horse on the float.

Floating should be part of training well before competition day. Floating should be firmly established so that it doesn’t add stress to the horse or rider and cause a public riot.

about their legs during training use some tendon and bell boots.

First things first Follow basic lead rope handling principals. Never wrap the lead around your hand. Make sure you have folded loops across your palm and are not trailing rope or tripping over it.

you’re wearing proper boots, gloves and helmet. An upset horse can knock your head in a small space so take care. Always use a dressage whip so you can stay near the head of the horse and still tap their side. A good rope halter works best because it is more definite with the pressure and immediately goes soft when you release it because they have moved forward. (Thereby using pressure/release as your key to letting the horse know it’s doing the right thing.) I would not suggest having floating boots on when they are first being trained to float. If you are concerned


I generally like a lead rope around two metres long but up to three metres in fine. Before you take the horse anywhere near the float, practice using halter pressure to make the horse come forward and also to back up. If you have an angle float the horse will also need to be able to calmly yield its hind quarters from a gentle tap on the hip. If the horse cannot perform these basic actions on the ground, don’t attempt to teach them on the float.

Introducing the float Bring the horse confidently toward the rear of the float without a real goal to put it on. Be happy if it just stands calmly by the tailgate and looks inside. Allow the horse to sniff the tailgate






A: Getting a young horse calm with the whip and understanding the halter pressure. B: Horse whispering, or human whispering? C: What’s wrong with this picture? Charlie’s advice: “Always try to face the right way!” D: Success! Well, sort of. If the horse is comfy on its first attempt back to front, go with what you’re given - you can finesse it next time. and let it stand for a short while before proceeding. When the horse can stand relaxed at the base of the tailgate you can start the next stage. If they are still fidgeting or tense wait until they are calm.

First Step Up By now the horse is standing at the base of the tailgate. You should be standing on the near side of the horse – next to his neck and slightly in front of the

shoulder. The lead rope is in your left hand and the dressage whip should be in the right hand.

lead rope. Reward your horse by a gentle scratch on the wither area. Smile. The first step is great!

By this stage your own feet are probably just on the tailgate.

If the horse fails to take a step, maintain the same pressure on the lead rope and gently tap the horse on the rib cage where your riding leg (forward aid) would normally be positioned. Maintain pressure on the lead rope and continue tapping behind the girth area until the horse takes its first

Face the horse and apply gentle pressure on the lead rope asking it to move forward. When you get that first hoof onto the tailgate ease off the pressure on the






E: At last. The normal way. F: A good day’s training, with a calm horse and no issues. step onto the tail-gate. Release the rope pressure, stop tapping and give that wither a good scratch.

The horse fails to move or backs up Don’t be too concerned if the horse goes backwards at this point, it happens a lot. Follow the horse while maintaining lead rope pressure and increase the frequency of your tapping until the horse starts to move forward. Breathe. Don’t panic. Don’t lash out with the whip. Just be calmly persistent. Repeat the process until the horse has taken a couple of steps forward onto the tail-gate and has its head inside the float area. Don’t ask for too much! This is training. For a new horse I like to take them off at this point and give them a reassuring scratch and then repeat the process a few times until they are relaxed going up and down the tailgate.

don’t be afraid to back it up and move it forward a few times. Remember that you are training the horse, not just getting the horse locked in a quickly as possible. Gradually ask the horse to move further into the float and allow the horse to take its time. Stopping for a 10 second breather is fine. We want the horse to be relaxed and the time taken will vary from horse to horse. The horse should now be fully on the float and hopefully munching on the hay bag. Without surprising your horse, the assistant now can close the rear bar making sure they do not place themselves directly behind the horse in case it kicks or runs backwards. If your horse runs backwards off the float, relax the horse outside the float and then repeat each process again without rushing to put the horse on fully.

Once the horse is relaxed and will place its head inside the float area we can move to fully loading them.

If this is the first time on the float for the horse this would be plenty to achieve in the first session.

The full Monty

Keep calm and carry on

Ask the horse to enter the float and

Don’t be too discouraged in the first



session if the horse doesn’t load on all the way. Even if only its head is in the float and it has taken a while, finish on this good note and continue in the next session on another day. Once your horse will load on and off, you have closed the bar several times and everyone is relaxed, then it is time to quietly close the tailgate and take it for a drive. Make sure you don’t rush around corners and or jam on the brakes. Horses aren’t Porsches! Once the horse is calm and consistent travelling in your float, try some floats with different loading approaches or even a truck if you can find one to practice. Training a horse to float is exactly the same as any other training. They need to learn the basics and practice. If you don’t have the time to get this sorted as a training exercise, say goodbye to happy travelling. Like every part of horse competition, everything on the day is a result of extensive preparation. Leave as little as possible to chance.

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David with one of his broodmares, Sugarloaf Flame (Fuerst Fugger x Jazz). Photo: Jessica Atkins Studio


Never ask why did it happen to me Dressage rider David Shoobridge talks to CANDIDA BAKER about surviving the most difficult year of his life, his Pony Club dad role, and his new young superstar of the future.


t’s possibly a little unfair to remind David Shoobridge, who is busy telling me that his greatest desire is to breed horses with a good temperament - as well as talent of course - that he once thought that temperament wasn’t even a factor to consider. He laughs. “I suppose you would call it the evolution of oneself,” he says. “Yes, I was that person. I was that person who wanted to breed that horse, with legs that could reach the sky. Now I want to breed a horse that’s so easy it makes it look as if I ride brilliantly.” Not that he needs much help in the riding brilliantly department to be honest. This 6’3” son of Tasmanian farming parents makes dressage riding look oh so elegant and graceful. David, the owner of the international stallion agency, Waterview Park and now his own brand, David Shoobridge Pty Ltd, shot to prominence with the imported KWPN stallion, 00 Seven, winning a number of prestigious Grand Prix Competitions, with the pair establishing themselves as one of Australia’s most successful combinations in the world of FEI dressage. In 2013 he was ranked 85 in the FEI World Ranking top 100, placing him ahead of all other Australian-based combinations.

Agent de Jeu, 00 Seven’s son, is now making headlines himself. As well as competing and running his breeding programme David is in high demand as a trainer and coach, and after five minutes conversation with him it’s not hard to understand why he’s so popular. He’s friendly, easy-going and informative, qualities which make him remarkably easy to interview. At the moment David is setting up his relatively new 40-acre property at Lancefield, near Hanging Rock in Victoria. “It’s a property in development,” he says. “But I’ve put in an amazing arena, with ten post and rail paddocks, with 1.60m high posts, three rails fitted and two stand-offs with Equirope on the inside, truly super fencing. Not much

chance a dressage horse will jump out of those. I grow my own hay, I have 20 acres with horses on it, and 20 acres for hay. It’s a lot of feeding, but I manage the diets well. All the young horses and broodmares live in herds, and I currently have five broodmares and five young/ growing horses, then the stallions and riding horses separately, of course, and I have three stables, which I’m currently extending, for my horses that are in work.” But there’s another thing, on top of his busy life of competing, coaching and running his business – and that’s being a full-time Dad to his daughter Annabel, and it’s what brings us into the background of what David describes as: “The most difficult year of my life.” He’d been separated from his wife, Annabel’s mother, the noted rider and veterinarian, Amanda Shoobridge, for a while when she suddenly died of bacterial meningitis while she was on a visit to London mid last July, and the tragedy was hard to deal with. David had friends staying at his place the night it happened. “Annabel and I travelled to Mount Buller with some wonderful friends for a day trip on Sunday 22nd July. We’d had a great trip, had skied hard, arrived home exhausted, put Annabel to bed before following suit soon after. At about 10pm my phone rang… but I was asleep… so it didn’t register or wake me the first

At about 10pm my phone rang… but I was asleep… so it didn’t register or wake me the first time… but it rang again, and then again. AUGUST 2019 - HORSEVIBES MAGAZINE


OUR HERO time… but it rang again, and then again. I woke and answered it. It was Amanda’s mother telling me the devastating and life changing news. I couldn’t believe it at first, it just wouldn’t sink in. I broke down in total disbelief. Dealing with tragedy is hard enough, but then having to tell your daughter that her mum had died was excruciating. We were dealing with our separation, and on top of that my mum had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and I’d been travelling backwards and forwards to Tasmania as a matter of priority. It was a really tough time, in the space of six months I lost my mother, my ex-wife and mother of my child, I had to start again with my business, and it’s been a huge struggle to remain positive and focussed.” It was his mother’s parting words to him that have helped him stay strong. “She said to me, ‘never say why did this happen to us, or that it’s not fair. I don’t want you to have any self-pity.’ I think her attitude really helped me. A lot of people would ask, ‘why me?’ But these important lessons resonate. Having an inflated sense of entitlement will always hold you back. You have to grab life, don’t be ungrateful, be strong enough to deal with these terrible things when they happen. You have to accept that you might have a crash every now and then, but the sun gets up in the morning, and every day is a new day.” But there’s been a lot of grief to process during the year, particularly nurturing Annabel through the loss of her mother. “I’ve said to Annabel that a lot of people have bad parents for a long time, and she was lucky enough to have a great mum for a short amount of time,” he says. “I tell her what my mum said to me, never ask why did it happen to me… just work hard to reflect on all the wonderful things our life has given us. She’s nine, and she’s into horses and attends Pony Club… so that makes me a Pony Club dad! She has a lesson once a week from her ‘proper’ instructor Claire Thomas, is busy with swimming training, running club, piano lessons, and netball. Of


David with his nine-yearold daughter Annabel. Photo Jessica Atkins Studio.

... a lot of people have bad parents for a long time, and she was lucky enough to have a great mum for a short amount of time. course on top of this, there’s the fairly hectic social life of a nine year old to keep up with too! We are both really, really busy!!” Logistics, David says, are the key to making it all work. “On days when my Dad is with us, he’ll feed up and I’ll clean the stables. I then go inside and get Annabel up and ready for school. I come back and ride until late morning and teach in the afternoon. Luckily I have a wonderful assistant, Emma Beaton,


who started working for me this year. On Monday afternoon I don’t teach so I can do swimming training with Annabel, Tuesday is her lesson at home, Wednesday I’m coaching at Boneo Park, so generally ‘Papa’ (Tony, my father) does the school pick-up. You just have to be efficient,” he says with what I’ve already come to recognize as a fierce determination to make it all work. That fierce determination was already in evidence when he was 14, and

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OUR HERO taking his first competition horse to his first professional lesson away from home. The horse simply refused to get on the float, but never one to be put off, he rode him the 20-kilometres to the session with Sue Chandler, who was then Tasmanian based and a big influence on David’s early education. That first clinic though, had a very strong emphasis on float training – a skill and lesson that still resonates today.

David Shoobridge and Agent de Jeu in piaffe. Photo: Jessica Atkins Studio.

It wasn’t until he was a late teenager that dressage began to be of interest to him, until then it was definitely not on the radar. “I enjoyed hooning around the farm on the family horses,” he says cheerfully. “From that I really got into Hunter Trials, which I loved. I couldn’t fathom how on earth anybody could remember a dressage test, or why they would even want to!” He was fortunate that the ‘farm’ was a 2,225 hectare property in the beautiful Derwent Valley that gave him plenty of chance to exercise his ‘hooning’ skills,

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OUR HERO and his background as an all-rounder is part, perhaps, of his easy look on a horse. He’s one of those riders who seems to be so at one with his horse, that they flow effortlessly into each other. Not that there were any special facilities, or special help in the early days. “My big envy was of anybody who had an arena,” he says. “I just couldn’t believe how lucky people were to have one. I had a riding area that I now envy in hindsight. It was a wonderful flood irrigated grass arena surrounded with old established Poplar trees, a year-round running creek and English oaks. As a teenager I took it all for granted, but now, having spent years developing properties, it’s retrospectively appreciated!!” Part, of course, of his ‘making it’, is the extraordinary breeding programme started by he and Amanda, and their decision to import quality stallions, in order to use mainly live semen (although he does import frozen semen as well). I ask the inevitable question about how to breed a quality horse, and I’m given an intensive course in how to think about breeding. “Let’s start with the obvious,” he says. “In our minds, we all want to manifest this ‘ideal’ foal, this ‘ideal’ riding horse for our discipline. But what are our ingredients? Look closely at your foundation ingredients. You don’t want to knock down a fibro shack, and put a million dollar house on old foundations – it might look great until the cracks start showing. The same applies with breeding performance horses. If you’re going to breed, or you’re buying a horse, look at the mare line, have the manifestation of the horse you want in your mind, focus on the end goal. As cute as foals are, there’s no point breeding foals you can’t ride.”


A: Dressage superstars David and 00 Seven. Photo: Jessica Atkins Studio.


B: The new boy – Lio, a three-yearold Warmblod with a big future.

David believes social media has a lot to answer for in Australia’s current over-breeding craze. “People want that instant dopamine hit of satisfaction. They fall in love with a foal on social media, and the foal sells from the photo. AUGUST 2019 - HORSEVIBES MAGAZINE



C: David with Fuerst Fantasy cantering through the paddock.


D: David with one of the foals from 2018 - ‘Butterfly’, a filly by Belissimo M x His Highness. Photos: Jessica Atkins Studio.

But dressage isn’t about fads, or having the latest and greatest. You might breed a great looking horse, but will it be forgiving if you work it only three days a week, and will it be sound if you work it six days a week? Define the fit and style of horse for the person you are, or the person you are breeding for.” His stallion partnership with 00 Seven began somewhat unconventionally when he and Amanda did exactly what he tells everybody not to do, and bought him in 2012 sight unseen. “I sourced him from his breeder, Isabel Van Gisbergen through Emmy de Jeu, he says, “and until he landed in quarantine I hadn’t set eyes on him. Not something I recommend! But it worked. The rest, as it’s been said, is history” Using fresh, rather than frozen semen, was underscored by David and Amanda’s knowledge that every time semen is handled, some of it dies. “The rule of thumb is that with full quality fresh semen, it can be viable for around 48-hours, so once it’s frozen, we’re



In our minds, we all want to manifest this ‘ideal’ foal, this ‘ideal’ riding horse for our discipline. But what are our ingredients?



Annabel with Harmonie and Charlie. Photo: Jessica Atkins Studio.

putting a pause on it – we’re asking it to hold that thought, so to speak, and we’ll get back to you in a few months, or a few years. Frozen semen sometimes has only a six-hour shelf life once it’s defrosted, if you use fresh semen, you can use it a day before ovulation and you have a much bigger window of opportunity. Of course, it’s more technical than that, but it’s quite simple with a good protocol.” The cost for using fresh semen is higher, but as David points out is often more financially viable in the long run. “It might cost you $2,500 for fresh semen, with a LFG (Live Foal Guarantee), but if it doesn’t take and it takes two to three times it doesn’t cost you any more. Frozen is less, but it can take more goes. The fact is that breeding is gambling, but you can be an educated gambler.” Despite the tragedies of the last year,


David has found an even stronger commitment to his dream. “If you follow your dream you can make it happen,” he says. “I’ve made good decisions and bad decisions, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are not even any bad decisions, there are only decisions that teach us something.” One thing his farming background has given him is a continued love of everyday riding, and he believes it’s vital for keeping horses happy and interested in their work. His horses have a mixed routine. “We school them on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Friday and on Wednesday and a day on the weekend we do a circuit of a road and trail ride that’s about ten-kilometres. We do that in a combination of walking and trotting. A lot of people are surprised that I’ll trot Grand Prix horses up the


road, but it’s good for them to work on different surfaces, get out of the arena and have some great solid exercise. It’s also a chance to wander through our picturesque Macedon Ranges area and reflect on how lucky we are to live in an area like this, with the life we do.” At his Lancefield property David currently has two stallions who are both breeding and competing - Fuerst Fantasy (owned by Bec Sellick from WA) who is by Fuerst Heinrich and out of a Rosenkavalier mare and Legend of Loxley. Says David: “Fuerst Fantasy is the most delightful, obliging, easy going Grand Prix horse you can find! In fact, he is so amenable to any given situation that Kaitlin Martin, a young rider student of mine who was only 13-years-old at the time, took him to Equitana as a demonstration horse for Tanja Mitton’s

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E: David and Agent de Jeu at sunset on the property.


F: The tidiest tackroom in the world? G: Driveway, paddocks and part of the arena - showing the fencing. Photos: Jessica Atkins Studio.

mindset and position masterclass.” Legend of Loxley, who is owned by Heather Adcock from Victoria, who is relatively new to the list. “He’s a magnificent and powerful mover who will challenge the best there are,” says David with confidence. “He’s consolidating his FEI work now and will soon be out competing Prix St Georges. He’s already won many classes and placings at Advanced with David McKinnon.”

Schacco IV (owned by Sue Palermo) who is by Swarovski and from a Rubinstein mare. “Schacco is competing advanced with already some impressive scores,” David says. “The aim is to get the Grand Prix work established and hopefully competing, while at the same time providing Sue with the ultimate school master to help her learn the GP work. Helping people learn, achieving dreams, sharing their honest enthusiasm – that part of my job is just the best.”

Another star is the imported gelding

He is very aware of his new start, but

Fuerst Fantasy is the most delightful, obliging, easy going Grand Prix horse you can find.

at the end of the last year, he was, he says, in “a bit of a hole”. Deciding he needed a fresh focus, his father Tony prompted him to look at buying a new horse, and in a short space of time, in partnership with his father and his accountant, they’ve acquired Lio, a three-year-old 17.2hh Warmblood, with what David describes excitedly as: “All the mechanics, a wonderful style of sport horse. His breeding is also absolutely amazing. He’s by Toto Junior x Negro x Ex Libris. Toto Junior is by the phenomenal Totalis, his mother is by Negro who is the sire of World Record breaking Valegro, and Ex Libris who was the sire of Carl Hester’s Escapado. He’s really, really well bred.” It’s hard not to sense the excitement in his voice. And at a projected fully grown height suitable for someone of David’s height, it’s hard not to see that David will at last have a horse that is not only easy to ride but has legs that can reach the sky.



Jenny Dyson-Holland with Occy.




Horse Insurance: Will I? Won’t I? Researching horse insurance can produce much the same result as researching for any other type of insurance: you quickly find yourself comparing apples with oranges, writes JANE CAMENS.


erhaps one of the better ways to gather information on potential insurers for your beloved equines is to go straight to the horse’s mouth. Speak to people who’ve purchased a policy and lodged a claim with their insurer to find out what their claim was for, and how they would rate their experience. That aside, this is a thorny topic full of potential traps – so please do not read this article expecting a clear guide to choosing an insurer. Policy terms and conditions vary dramatically from insurer to insurer, so perhaps the sagest advice to heed is from FEI rider and coach Libby Welch: “Read the fine print.” And we would add to that, be sure you know the right questions to ask your prospective insurer prior to handing over your hard earned cash.

Peace of mind at a price The more research one does into horse insurers, the more companies emerge promising peace of mind at a price. Some companies offer an online form that you can fill out to estimate what your premiums might be. I filled out such a form for my 13-yearold quarter horse and found, without declaring anything was currently

wrong with him (indeed, there wasn’t a question on the form allowing me to declare whether something was currently wrong with him), that I could get cover for between $1,100 to $2,500 per year.

It’s more than the dollar value If I were to decide purely on financial grounds whether it was value for money to cover him I’d have to conclude that it wasn’t, as his purchase price was just $5,000. But taking out horse insurance is rarely only about recovering your initial outlay. Let’s face it, the cost of buying a horse is peanuts compared to the other expenses involved, plus the value of your emotional relationship. There certainly are people who insure horses primarily to recover the purchase price

and training costs in case of unexpected injuries or death. But you can’t replace a beloved companion with a money-back cheque. If he or she is your one and only soul horse, it’s a knuckle-biting dilemma.

Case study one Jenny Dyson-Holland, owner of the Belle-Ayr Agistment and Training Centre, told HorseVibes about her decision to insure her Welsh Cob pony Occy, who she bought for just $700. “He’s an amazing little horse. He’s only 13.2 hands but jumps a metre - he’s a powerhouse. But he’s the only horse I’ve ever insured and I don’t know why I did it,” Jenny says Putting her decision down to an inner voice or intuition, she now feels immensely lucky that she heeded that voice. Jenny chose a Petplan Equine Insurance policy that covered Occy for $10,000, which cost her $110 each month in premiums. “I didn’t need a vet certificate for that much cover, but for coverage of $20,000 you do need one,” she explains. Her decision to insure saved her lovely pony. Jenny recalls: “I’d had the insurance for a year when I noticed a small lump on his eyelid.” After a biopsy, it was confirmed that the lump was cancerous. Occy needed chemotherapy which, with the exception of a $200 gap payment, was covered by insurance. After six months off, he’s now back in the show ring.

After a biopsy, it was confirmed that the lump was cancerous. Occy needed chemotherapy... AUGUST 2019 - HORSEVIBES MAGAZINE


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Take the test

Libby Welch with her Grand Prix dressage horse, Fibritzio.

Do you know what you should ask providers when researching policies? Courtesy of ESI Insurance, here are some tips.

If you’re mainly a recreational rider: 1) Do I need a vet’s certificate before I can insure? 2) Are there any exclusions in the policy (e.g. your horse’s age)? 3) Does the policy cover firstparty and comprehensive? 4) Is my horse covered at all times, no matter where they are? 5) Am I covered if my horse is being transported?

Jenny is thankful she took out the insurance, but warns that the claims process isn’t easy as veterinary providers don’t bill the insurer direct. “You have to pay the bills and then lodge a claim with all the receipts and paperwork. They don’t just hand over the money,” she says.

Case study two FEI rider and coach Libby Welch, who has 30 years experience in breeding and preparing young horses, has also used Petplan but recently insured with Affinity, another equine insurer receiving good reviews. Affinity also offers rider cover. Libby was lucky with her beautiful Grand Prix horse which she brought to Australia from Germany. He remained sound throughout his career with her, but another young horse she sold to a client wasn’t so lucky. Fortunately, though, Libby had recommended that the client retain insurance for $10,000. “Lo and behold, the horse was playing in the paddock and severed its front tendon,” Libby says. After spending thousands of dollars on

surgery, plus the additional cost of four weeks at a vet hospital, the tough decision was made to euthanise the horse. “For that family, insurance was the best money spent. But generally people don’t understand insurance. You’re not going to save money. You insure a horse to give it every opportunity if it requires expensive medical procedures which are generally unaffordable unless you’re covered. I insure my horses to give them the best chance,” Libby says.

A starting point There are a number of insurers who offer coverage for horses, including ESI, Petplan, Affinity, Gow Gates (the insurer for Equestrian Australia), Fitton HorseInsure, HQ Insurance, and AIS Horse Insurance. Our best advice is to do your research, ask plenty of questions, and read the policy, especially the fine print, very carefully. As one insurer remarked, the decision as to whether or not to insure is entirely personal. But if you do decide that insurance is for you, be sure your choice of insurer is very carefully considered.

6) What if a third party causes injury to my horse? 7) Is my horse covered for accident and injury? 8) Is there an upper limit on vet bills? 9) Does an excess payment apply to claims?

If you teach other riders or train horses: 1) Do I need qualifications in order to take out insurance? 2) Is public liability included and what level is the cover? 3) Does the policy include professional indemnity? 4) Do I have income protection in case of accident or injury? 5) If work-related travel is involved, what am I covered for? 6) Do I need a stand-alone public liability policy to cover horses on my property? 7) Do I need to endorse my coaching insurance to cover agisting, boarding, transporting or riding clients’ horses in events?




Preparing your Stallion for the Breeding Season Careful attention to pre-season nutrition will pay dividends, writes nutritionist LARISSA BILSTON


lthough breeding is obviously a natural function for stallions, fertility levels don’t have to be left to genetics and luck alone. For instance, it’s import to take care of routine dental work, worm counts and worming, as well as other veterinary issues a few months before breeding season. A good tip is to try to avoid annual vaccinations during or in the lead-up to breeding season. Breeding is hard physical work for a stallion, and they need to be as fit as possible. Nutritionists estimate that the calorie and nutritional requirements of a stallion during breeding season are equivalent to a horse in moderate work. Moderate work is defined as a horse performing 3 to 5 hours per week of walking (30%), trotting (55%), cantering (10%) and skill work such as low-grade jumping, dressage or cutting (5%). Providing some fitness work over winter can help prepare your stallion for the rigours of the breeding season, especially if he has a full book of mares to cover. Most stallions will lose weight during breeding season because they spend

less time relaxing and more time being alert and moving which uses more calories than they may actually be consuming.

Feeding stallions who lose weight during breeding season If you know your stallion loses weight during breeding season, it is a good idea to allow him to gain a little additional weight over winter so that he has a slightly heavier body condition score (but is not overweight) before breeding begins. It can be valuable to establish a routine so that stallions are not distracted during feed time. Limit movement of horses around the property at feed time and avoid serving mares or having mares arrive or leave at this time of day. If the stallion is also in work or training during breeding season, lighten the work-load especially if he is losing body condition. As you will so often read, the basis of any good equine diet is roughage, whether the horse is stabled or at pasture. Ensure your stallion has free-choice access to adequate grass or grass hay, especially if he is kept in a yard or stable



NUTRITION Supplementing feed is an important consideration as the breeding season approaches.

Supplementing with lucerne hay is also a good way to add essential lysine to the diet, but limit lucerne to 30 percent of the total forage intake to avoid excessive dietary protein and calcium. When choosing your grain or energy source, consider how much time and energy you’re willing to put into preparation. Whole oats can be fed raw, but other cereal grains such as barley, sorghum, corn and wheat should always be fed in a cooked form. You can boil


during breeding season. Providing a fresh source of grass or grass hay with a high content of leaf and minimal stalks or seed stems helps to meet the stallion’s protein and energy (calorie) requirements.

Limit movement of horses around the property at feed time and avoid serving mares or having mares arrive or leave at this time of day.

them or buy steam-flaked, pelleted or micronised. You may wish to avoid the cooked grains with added molasses - just check the labelling on the bag. Some super fibres require soaking (but it doesn’t take long) and whole lupins are also best soaked to soften the seed coat.


Stallions prone to gastric ulcers should avoid cereal grains (e.g. corn, oats, wheat, rice, barley) and by-products (millrun, bran, pollard) in their diets. Choose calorie sources high in digestible fibre (‘super fibres’) such as beet pulp, legume hulls or copra, or legume grains

NUTRITION (e.g. lupins, chickpeas). If you’re using a premixed feed, choose one formulated for working horses or stallions rather than a brood mare feed as the mineral and protein levels will be better suited to your stallion’s requirements. Another handy hint is that vegetable oils are a good way to increase the energy density of the diet and help maintain weight, especially when giving large hard feeds. (Read more about how to choose the right oil to feed your stallion in the section on oils below.)

Grazing time may need limiting for stallions prone to excessive weight gain.

If your horse needs more than two or three kilograms of hard feed (or more than one or two kilograms for a pony) to maintain weight, it’s much better to split the amounts into multiple smaller feeds given over the day, to keep their diet as close to their natural grazing habits as possible. Adding an extra feed per day can be a useful tip to help your stallion maintain weight over the breeding season.

Feeding stallions who have to watch their weight The hardest part about helping horses lose weight is to ensure they are able to eat all the time, but at the same time not consume too many calories. The best way to be certain of how much energy (calories) your stallion is consuming is to control all intake by using a yard and feeding low-calorie hay. The only way to be sure of the calorie content in hay is to send a sample to a laboratory for testing. If this is not possible, try to select grass hay which was cut from more mature, stalkier plants as the energy content is likely to be lower (native, teff or rhodes grass hay are good examples). Soak hay for a half an hour in hot water or an hour in cold water then drain before feeding it in a slow feeder haynet to remove some calories but be careful of mould growth during hot weather if it’s not eaten within a few hours. If you are also providing grazing time,

a couple of hours in the early morning when the plant’s energy stores are at their lowest is good practice when limiting pasture to a pony or overweight horse. A grazing muzzle could also be used to increase his ‘safe’ grazing time each day.

Choosing vitamin and mineral supplements for stallions Even if your stallion is grazing the best grass in the world, grown on the best soils in the land, he will need supplementary vitamin E and some minerals (usually magnesium, copper, zinc, iodine and selenium and in many cases, calcium or phosphorous as well) to top up the diet to optimal levels and balance mineral ratios.

I can’t stress enough that mineral balance is critical. It is surprisingly common for horses to be lacking in essential minerals due to imbalance with other competing minerals, even when the diet provides more than the recommended daily intake (RDI) of each mineral. Poor mineral balance will negatively impact on feed use efficiency and can reduce fertility. Supplementing stallions with selenium and primary antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase sourced from melon extract has been shown to improve the quality of fresh, cooled and frozen semen. But be careful not to double dose on selenium through different feed sources as this is one



Make the Most of Advances in Scientific Nutrition

Breeding this season? In this article equine nutritionist Larissa Bilston shares tips on how you can use the latest science-based feeding strategies to increase your mare's chance of going into foal quickly and optimise the stallion's fertility.

Marine-sourced Omega-3s aid fertility and foal development

Marine-sourced forms of omega-3 (EPA and DHA) provide proven to benefits to breeding and growing horses. Supplementation should begin 60 days prior to breeding and continue in the mare through until weaning. Broodmares fed DHA experience reduced inflammation post-breeding, increased conception rates and reduced number of cycles taken to achieve a confirmed pregnancy. DHA supplemented stallions benefit from improved semen quality, sperm count and conception rates. Research demonstrates that DHA is effectively transferred to the developing foal in utero and via milk when their mothers are supplemented throughout pregnancy and lactation. Foals from supplemented mares have shown improved cognition, development and trainability later in life. Farmalogic Omega Balancer combines plant and marine-sourced omega-3 fatty acids in a highly stable, powdered form that stores safely in a feed shed environment. Equine Vit&Min Omega-3 PLUS is an all-in-one vitamin, mineral and EPA/DHA omega-3 balancing solution for optimal health and performance of breeding and growing horses.

The role of antioxidants in reproduction

Supplementing stallion diets with organic selenium and SOD primary antioxidants is scientifically proven to improve stallion fertility through better semen quality and tolerance to chilling/freezing. Antioxidant supplemented stallions also produced more straws of semen per breeding season. Farmalogic Melox contains scientifically balanced levels of natural-sourced vitamin E, vitamin C, pure organic selenium and plant-derived superoxide dismutase (SOD) for boosting the reproductive and immune systems of breeding stallions and mares.

Looking a ter gut health in breeding horses In breeding horses, the stress of serving, scans, transport, giving birth and weaning can cause populations of beneficial gut microbes to become rapidly depleted which may lead to suppressed appetite, hind gut acidosis and colic. Research demonstrates that live yeast probiotics and prebiotics such as the MOS component of yeast cell walls improve gut health by favouring beneficial microflora and inhibiting bacterial pathogens, improving feed use efficiency, improving colostrum and milk quality and reducing the risk of hind gut acidosis. Farmalogic Rejuvenate contains prebiotics and live yeast probiotics for horses to maintain gut health and aid in enhancing performance during and after periods of stress. Available as a paste or powder.

Fine-tuning mineral and electrolyte balance

Correct basic nutrition underpins any successful breeding program and your horse's ability to reproduce efficiently relies on access to the right nutrients at the right time. It is well worth the investment in having a professional nutritionist assess your horse's mineral balance in the lead-up to breeding season to ensure your horse has optimal nutrition and avoid deficiency-related infertility. Your nutritionist will also be able to advise how to feed your broodmare throughout the different phases of gestation and lactation.

As a part of our strong commitment to customer service, and to help save you money, we offer all Farmalogic customers a free diet analysis to finetune your horse’s diet and calculate the level of supplementation your horse requires. Equine Vit&Min’s leading nutritional supplements are scientifically formulated to top up and balance your horse’s diet with the vitamins and minerals often missing in horse’s feeds. With six blends and a pelleted version to choose from, there's an EVM to suit most horses!

Contact us: Tel: 0418 733298


An example of a stallion in peak breeding season condition

... stallions being fed vegetable oils such as rice bran or sunflower oil will need significantly more omega-3 supplementation than horses relying on grains for energy.

mineral where toxicity can occur even

that marine-sourced forms of omega-3

with fairly low levels.

(EPA and DHA) are even more potent

Boosting fertility with Omega-3 fatty acids Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid that can be used to effectively assist in the general and respiratory health of breeding stallions. But some forms of omega-3 are more effective as a supplement than others. Scientific research has demonstrated

than plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (ALA). DHA levels are especially high in sperm cells. Research shows that daily supplementation with 10 to 20 grams of marine-sourced DHA per 100kg bodyweight improves the quality of cool-stored stallion semen

and provides better tolerance of sperm to freezing. Stallions with marginal fertility may benefit most from DHA supplementation.

Vegetable oils such as rice bran, canola and sunflower and oils contain some ALA, but most contain much higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids. Therefore, stallions being fed vegetable oils such as rice bran or sunflower oil will need significantly more omega-3 supplementation than horses relying on grains for energy. Horses on high grain diets, and those reliant on hay and chaff for roughage will need more omega-3 supplementation than horses grazing green grass.

Good nutrition is the basis for stallion health fertility Take advantage of scientific knowledge and have a nutritionist review your stallion’s diet prior to breeding season for optimal fertility. I would also recommend that mare owners ensure optimal nutrition since this may minimize the number of mares returning for re-breeding after the first cycle. Larissa Bilston (B.Agrsc – Hons 1) is an animal nutritionist.




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Main and inset: Ruth White (No 61) on Ausden Illusion. Photo credit Denise Keelan.


Behind every buckle lies a story The Tom Quilty Gold Cup is the ultimate test for horse and rider, a 160-kilometre ride to be completed in 24 hours. Sometimes just getting to the start line of Australia’s most famous endurance event is an adventure in itself, writes CANDIDA BAKER.


uth White remembers being very firm with herself during her first 160-kilometre endurance ride on Alamo Minnelli seven years ago: “‘Suck it up Princess, suck it up Princess.’ That’s what I told myself,” says Ruth. “I had cellulitis in one of my legs so badly that my leg blew up to twice its normal size, so I just took pain killers and told my strappers that I had a headache, but the whole of the last leg I couldn’t put my leg on the saddle at all it was so painful. I owed it to the mare to finish. She was an amazing endurance mare, and we ended up coming second overall in the light-weight division.”

old Arabian gelding, Ausden Illusion – otherwise known as Louie - who was selected for the Queensland Endurance Team, and had already won her first buckle seven years before for finishing the Kilkivan Quilty on Louie, not riding her horse didn’t seem like an option. Well, not until her doctor threatened to lock her up if she tried to leave hospital. “I’d been training for several years,” Liz tells me, “ever since the last Quilty really,

and we were ready, right down to the minute details, for this ride. It was to be Louie’s swan song, before he stepped down to lighter duties in his older age. Then just the week before, I got what seemed to be a sore on my thigh, which turned into an ulcer, and in just a few days Golden Staph got hold of it, and then I was riddled with cellulitis. My only option was hospital, attached to an IV drip and top-shelf antibiotics.” Even so, with her support crew of ten visiting her in hospital for planning meetings, Liz was determined she was going to the Quilty. “I remember my Infection Control Consultant Doctor telling me there was going to be a weekend doctor on, and me thinking that was good because he’d be a soft touch,” she laughs. No such luck. Informed she’d be putting her life at risk if she rode, and that she should, by rights be staying in hospital for another week, Liz finally came to grips with the fact that her Quilty dream had melted away, but managed to persuade the hospital to let her out for the weekend. “I told them I’d found another rider, that I had a registered nurse on my crew, a

Ruth’s first Quilty was in Kilkivan in 2013 on Minnelli, but little could she imagine then the circumstances of her third Quilty. Ruth, who is a well known equestrian coach and dressage rider in South East Queensland, as well as an excellent endurance rider, has competed in numerous disciplines, and it’s her coaching, and dressage riding that has kept her fit enough so that when a crisis evolved for a competitor in this year’s Quilty, she was able to step up to do the ride. For Liz Terry, the owner of an18-yearAUGUST 2019 - HORSEVIBES MAGAZINE




A: Local Queensland rider Kaylea Maher, the overall winner of the 2019 Tom Quilty Gold Cup coming home. Photo credit Denise Keelan. B: Ausden Illusion (Louie), Ruth White (rider), strapper team members Emily, Craig & Tracey McAlister, with Liz Terry (owner and trainer).

In the meantime, all Liz could think of was getting to Stirling Crossing, to the amazing new purpose-built endurance facility, and meeting up with Ruth, and her support crew, including Michelle Beatty, an old friend, who has crewed for Liz at a number of State rides, and on various marathons.

I think it was when my partner told me I couldn’t do it, that I decided I was going to do it ...



doctor at the event who had headed up the WEG equestrian team, that I’d be sleeping in a caravan, and that I’d get chauffeured, so I was taken off the IV drips and they let me go, as long as I promised to report in on the Monday.”


With decades of experience behind her, one of the things Michelle loves about endurance, is, as she says: “The science behind getting a horse through fit to the end of the ride. I love the fact that the rider can be half-dead, but if the horse is just a tiny bit ‘off’, it will be vetted out. It’s a discipline that’s not about the rider, it’s all about the horse. If the vet has any doubt about a horse, it will go to a panel and the panel will decide if the horse is fit to continue.” To be a strapper for an endurance horse and rider team you have to be prepared for the long haul – catnaps while your team are competing on a leg, then a massive hurry-up when you think they might be close to arriving. “We work out distances and terrain and ride strategy with our rider,” Michelle explains, “and once we know what time roughly to expect them we sit in the strapping area and wait…and wait…and wait! Ruth is very good at calculating times, but she was riding to the tough conditions so that slowed her down and we had to adjust our times.” The horse care is paramount, and every detail covered. “We have to have it down to a fine art,” says Michelle. “For instance, Louie must drink, so it’s like the Boxing Day sales at David Jones! We have several different kinds of water on offer, one tepid, one cold, one with a little molasses, one with a lot, so he can make a choice about which one he wants. As strappers we need to cool him off,


C: 2019 Tom Quilty Stirling Crossing QLD.


and make sure his heart-rate is below the set threshold before he’s presented for vetting, where they’ll check for lameness, hydration, gut sounds, girth galls and heart-rate – amongst a whole heap of things.” Another aspect of endurance Michelle enjoys is the fact that it’s not limited to people with a lot of money. ““It doesn’t matter what youdrive, or what you wear, as long as your tack complies with safety standards, and you look after your horse-mainly Arabians of course. Anybodycan do it and it’s very down to earth,” shesays. What Liz Terry knew was that Ruth would take great care of her horse. “Ruth is a rider of international quality, and has been my friend and my coach for ten years now, and this Quilty experience has really cemented that,” she says. “She’s a lighter, more balanced rider than me and I knew that would really help him. She’s used to riding difficult horses, and she rides on a daily basis so she was riding fit, but not endurance fit, so it was a hard ask for her. They went out

D: Overall winner Kaylea Maher. Photo credit Denise Keelan.


at midnight and didn’t complete until 10.00pm the following night, but Louie was in great condition and brought her home in his usual chirpy fashion.”

out there. “I’ve always thought it was

An eye-opener for Liz was the pride she felt in just knowing her horse was

the great horse you’ve developed to a

about competing myself,” she says, “but now I can see the pleasure in being the breeder, or owner and trainer and giving great rider to ride.”




The strapping area ready for Ruth White and Louie.

When Liz asked Ruth to ride there was also the small obstacle that Ruth hadn’t done an endurance ride for a couple of years, and the rules used to be that even if you’d ridden 160-kilometres if you hadn’t done one for a while you’d have to ride a novice 80-kilometres to re-qualify. “Fortunately they’d changed the rules and I could do it,” she says matter-of-factly, as if heading off into


One of the reasons Ruth was happy to take the ride on was that as their coach, she was well aware of Liz’s preparations for the ride. “I knew she had everything in place,” she says. “We’d been working hard on getting more oxygen into his body, so we could get more longevity in his stride and keep him sound. It was a surprise though. I was teaching at a clinic the week before and I asked someone where Liz was. She told me Liz was in hospital, and I said, ‘She can’t possibly be in hospital, we’ve got the Quilty next week’. When I heard it was cellulitis, the same thing I suffer from, I was determined to help her if I could.”

We have several different kinds of water on offer, one tepid, one cold, one with a little molasses, one with a lot...

the bush on a 160-kilometre endurance ride over 24 hours after several years of not doing it is an everyday occurrence for a 58-year-old. “I think it was when my partner told me I couldn’t do it, that I decided I was going to do it,” she says, laughing. “Nobody tells a woman what to do.” (Not this one, anyway.)


Ruth was determined she would only ride if Liz could be there. “I needed to know everything,” she says. “You have to know your horse deeply and intuitively, I don’t know Louie on track, or what signs would tell me he was fatiguing, so Liz wrote everything down for me, and I spoke to his vet on my drive up to Stirling Crossing so I had every bit of information I needed to get the horse through in great condition.” It all went like clockwork – Ruth took a little longer than they’d anticipated, and so the strapping crew was on edge a few times, but as she says, “I was going to enjoy it if I was doing it. Riding through such beautiful scenery on a horse, is a world unto itself, it’s a truly wonderful experience, and I loved it.” As for Liz, she never needed rehospitalisation. “I rang my doctorand told him that there’s nothing like determination, sunshine, horses, adrenalin and great teamwork for good healing.”


A family affair Arabians, Arabians, Arabians…that’s all you ever hear. Well, not always. The winner of the heavyweight division of the 2019 Tom Quilty Gold Cup was a rescue thoroughbred, writes ANG LEA from The Horse Fix.


ll he needed was a bit more distance - like maybe another 150-kilometres more!! I am absolutely fixated with this great Aussie horse story. For me the star of the show was a very slow, off the track Thoroughbred! So many OTT horses go onto careers as eventers and show horses, but it’s rare to hear of them shining brightly as endurance steeds - let alone reach the pinnacle of the sport. But in a sport dominated by Arabian bloodlines a 16.1hh, 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding ‘Baribo’ is officially a legend! Owned and ridden by Jolene Cole of Panuara in NSW, Baribo is by King of Prussia, out of Torriva and although he won all of $500 as a racehorse, (with two lasts and one second last), he’s completed over a thousand kilometres as an endurance competitor. He was slightly improving as a galloper when he got to within seven lengths of the winner at his last start, but prior to that he was almost unbelievably 19 and 17 lengths behind the winner. With Jolene’s family history there are no surprises that she has an eye for a horse - even for as an unlikely breed as a TB endurance candidate. She is

Above: Winner of the Heavyweight Division, Jolene Cole on her Thoroughbred Baribo. Inset: 13-year-old Emma Cole, from Panuara, NSW, Jolene Cole’s daughter and winner of the Junior Division on Windradyne Flame. Photos: Denise Keelan. the daughter of Peter Cole who rode over 11,000-kilometres in endurance competitions and won the Tom Quilty Gold Cup in 1983 on the superstar Arabian stallion, Chip Chase Sadaqa. So when Jolene spotted Baribo in the ‘dogger’ pens at a sale, she saw something in him that so many in the equestrian community might have missed. The brilliant Baribo finished the 2019 Tom Quilty at the front of his weight division (based on rider and tack heavyweight is all up riding weight over 91kg) in 11 hours, 50 minutes and 51 seconds, which was more than an hour faster than Jolene’s next weight division competitor. Averaging 13.50 km/hr for the 160km, Jolene and Baribo finished 49 minutes behind

Jolene’s 13-year-old daughter Emma, who won the Junior Division of the event. This moment is testament to what a wonderful family sport endurance is. In fact the mare Emma was riding, ‘Windradyne Flame’, is the granddaughter of Chip Chase Sadaqa. Says Jolene of her special horse: “Baribo has always shown an ability to recover and go all day. He is a very special’s an honour to own and ride him. He will enjoy a long happy life with me.” With both Jolene and Emma’s horses winning the prestigious ‘Best Conditioned’ category for their divisions at this year’s Australian Championship, it shows what a wonderful generational sport this is, and also that Arabians don’t quite have the sport sown up!




How endurance started in Australia We’re a tough mob. Australia has won more Medals in Endurance at the World Equestrian Games than in any other sport, writes TRACEY HIGGINS, who traces back the history of the Tom Quilty.

The Williams read about the Tevis Cup, a 100-mile endurance test held in the USA, and decided that a similar endurance test would be an ideal sport for Australian horsemen – women.

But they needed a patron for the 100-

mile ride, so R.M. looked to his friend Tom Quilty, a station owner and cattle baron from the Kimberlys. In R.M.’s words: “Time had come when the southern people wanted a patron for the latest fad - proving you could ride 100 miles in a day, Tom had been doing that for most of his life like sending a telegram or riding for help, it was a natural part of his life and it pleased him that a new generation wanted to try. Yes! He would give a thousand pounds to make a Gold Cup and that’s how it started.”


ho doesn’t know the name of the legendary R.M. Williams - stockman, bush outfitter, founder of the Australian Roughrider Association, founding member of the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and founder of Hoofs and Horns magazine? What is less well known, outside of endurance circles, is that it was Williams, and his wife Erica’s keen interest in long distance riding that brought the sport to Australia.

The Cup was christened in a Halls Creek Pub (the original is now held in the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, at Longreach in Queensland); and a meeting at Sydney

Yes! He (Tom) would give a thousand pounds to make a Gold Cup and that’s how it started.



Showground was organised for those interested in getting the ride underway. Rules and Regulations were set down, a Committee was organized and the Initial Veterinary Criteria was advised by Professor David Hutchins; and so it was that endurance riding as an organised sport was launched in 1966 with the running of the first Tom Quilty 100 mile ride. 26 horses and their riders set out at ‘midnight’ in the rugged, step terrain of Colo Valley north west of Sydney, and endurance history was made when the winner Gabriel Strecher with his purebred Arabian Stallion Shawali remarkably rode the 100 mile bareback and crossed the finish line in the time of


Ron Males, winner of six Quilty buckles, riding his purebred Arabian stallion, Shareym.

11:24:00. For that first ride the base camp consisted of little more than a campfire with a few tarpaulin tents, in stark contrast to today with the camp resembling a small township with purpose-built trucks, gourmet food and merchandise. Endurance rides today attract hundreds of competitors both nationally and internationally, and although there have been many changes, the pioneering spirit and dedication remains the same, as does the long hours of training under all the weather conditions on all types of terrain.

Those that have completed the Quilty speak of the exhilaration at the start of the ride and the elation of crossing the finishing line - healthy, sound and fit, and of the life long friendships that are forged during this extraordinary event. There are four endurance divisions Open, Heavyweight, Lightweight and Junior. The endurance riding motto is ‘To complete is to win’ and all successful competitors in the Quilty receive a buckle. The year after the first ride, the Australian Endurance Riders Association (AERA) was established in 1967 setting out the rules and regulations including strict veterinary criteria,

keeping record of the ride distance and including completion times, as it grew in popularity so too did the number of women competing in the sport, and in 1975 R.M. Williams wife, Erica Williams, became the first woman to win the Tom Quilty Gold Cup riding her gelding, Noddy. An accomplished horsewoman, Erica had spent long hours in the saddle mustering cattle at Rockybar Station in Queensland. Erica retired from the sport to concentrate on showing and breeding Arabian horses but after a decade she was back in the saddle in a competition career that ultimately went from 1966-2002. She was secretary for AERA for many years, and was also the




QLD. State Championships Top 5 Middleweights left to right: Brook Sample /Sharahd Cavalier also Best Conditioned. June Peterson / Wertaloona Lionel, Barb Timms /Kildara Sharina, Scott Hill / Queshana and Mark Haigh / Rahfire. 1992.

author of the books Quilty Stories and The First Quilty.

Crabbet stallion Shafreyn, as was the winner Shalawi, both from Rakib mares.

She would be proud, no doubt, of this year’s winner, mother of two, Kaylea Maher, who beat 289 other riders to take out the 2019 Gold Cup.

Shareym went on to gain five more Tom Quilty buckles and a memorial award in his name is won by the first middleweight or heavyweight winner with the most buckles to their credit. Ron’s miles under saddle stands at an amazing 9162 klm, spanning five decades from 1966-2018, and he is the holder of an incredible 21 Tom Quilty buckles. In 1992 a major highlight for the Males in was watching the First Australian bred Arabian ‘’Roynaz’’( Ralvon bloodlines) awarded Best Desert Horse in both the Abu Dhabi and Qatar Desert rides.

Of course, there were others beside the Willliams who were responsible for building up the sport in Australia. Ron and Val Males from the Ralvon Stud, for example, well known already for Ralvon Pilgrim, the International Supreme Champion Arabian Horse at Ascot, England in 1977. Ron and Val’s contribution to the sport of endurance was invaluable in the early years as co-organisers. They also believed the test would be ideal to prove the capability of the horses in their breeding programme and both of them entered, Ron gaining 5th place on his bay purebred Arabian, Shareym, interestingly also sired by the imported


And then there was ‘The Kokutunga Kid’ Alwyn Torenbeek was a naturally gifted horseman hailing from Kokutunga in Central Queensland. His early years were spent mustering and droving, before he


joined the Rodeo Circuit becoming the Australian Bronco Riding Champion by the age of 21. Alwyn initially passed on the first ride in 1966 thinking it was a little ‘tame’ to ride a hundred miles, but R.M. wasn’t one to give up, telling him: “I have a horse for you to ride at the Quilty…I’m lead training him cause none of us can get him rode…you’re the only man in Australia who can ride him when he is bucking and go on to ride 100 miles.’’ 1 The rogue horse, Steelo, was Alwyn’s mount for the 1967 Tom Quilty and the pair gained 5th place. Alwyn was hooked, riding in endurance competition from 1967-2015, with 122 rides under his belt and winning multiple buckles. The man who didn’t want to ride in the first Tom Quilty is listed in The Extract from ‘’Life in the Saddle’’ Alwyn Torenbeek with David Gilchrist. 1

HISTORY Stockman’s Hall of Fame, The Rodeo Hall of Fame and The Equestrian Hall of Fame and is a much-respected legend in the horse world.

The Bronze Aussie

By the 1980s, endurance riding had grown considerably, and in a natural progression the State Divisions were formed under the umbrella of AERA. In 1986 a referendum decided to rotate the Tom Quity Cup ride from State to State.

There were many standout competitions during the next few decades, with a few as follows:

Erica Williams Riding Shiekie in the 1969 Tom Quilty. Photo Credit Diana Gillies. Image supplied.

‘Get on your horse Max!’ A most exciting finish was the Tom Quilty at Colo between Max Lockhart riding Robbie, and Gordon Hobday riding Oonoonba Leo as told by Colleen Clancy: “Max was well in the lead, going into the second leg, but Gordon made up 25 minutes time on him. Max was coming into the finish line, with Robbie jogging alongside him. Spectators lined both sides of the track, and one of them said to Max: ‘You’d better get on your horse Max!’ Max turned to look down the

June Peterson’s introduction in 1974 to endurance riding was a natural progression from her love of trail riding. By 1978 June had won the Cup and also gained the Best Conditioned Award riding her stock horse type mare Tequila. June represented Australia at the World Equestrian Games in Stockholm in 1990 on her Australian Stockhorse/Arabian cross, Weertaloona Lionel, winning the Bronze Medal in the 160-kilometre Ride. Their partnership gained five Tom Quilty Buckles and Best Conditioned in the 1992 Tom Quilty. In the same year June and her homebred pure Arabian mare Abbeline Lady Rebecca were National Pointscore Horse of the Year as well as having the fastest time at the Shahzada 400 klm Marathon. In 1993 June entered the prestigious Tevis Cup 160 klm in the U.S.A. adding to her merit list. June covered a staggering 15,957 kilometres in Australian Competition from 19742002.

Erica Williams became the first woman to win the Tom Quilty Gold Cup riding her gelding, Noddy.

track to see Gordon cantering up at a rate of knots. Max vaulted onto Robbie, leaned forward and beat Gordon by four seconds’.’ A remarkable team would have had to have been Jenny Oliver and Glenallan Solomon, aka Salty, triple Tom Quilty Winner 1985-1987 inclusive and also 1st in the 250klm Stockman’s Hall of Fame ride in 1985.

Like father like son Seasoned Ron Haigh has been a multiple buckle holder since the 1980s. He was the equal first Heavyweight Winner on board purebred gelding Kynnum Park Sadia competing with Middleweight rider Terry Woods on purebred Peppersfield Nambucco at Deloraine in Tasmania under freezing conditions. Terry finished the ride with broken ribs after a fall, when Ron helped his mate back on to continue for the win. The last 500 metres was deep bog, and both riders crossed the line together.



OUR COMMITMENT Stirling’s Crossing Endurance Club is committed to hosting unrestricted rides that: • support full member participation; • support horse welfare by encouraging appropriate biosecurity and hygiene measures from all visitors to the complex; • support finding a solution to the current concerns that effect our sport; • support the recruitment and education of vets coming into the sport.

We want to work with all partners in the sport of endurance to provide events that can be inclusive, safe and that bring a spirit of a cohesive community back to our sport.

UPCOMING EVENTS 2019: 5-7 October Equestrian Australia Championships 1*, 2* & 3* + AERA (tbc) 2020: Date TBC QERA State Championship Contact: Matthew Sample 0418 151 839

HISTORY Ron and K.P.Sadia represented Australia at the World Equestrian Games in France 2000, riding a flawless individual 160 klm, which helped the team achieve Gold. Ron’s son, Mark, and his horse Rahfire, rose up through the ranks in the nineties with Mark gaining his 1st junior at age 14. In 1996 Mark was the first middleweight to take the Cup in an incredible time of 8 hours and 14 minutes - the fastest recorded time, a record which stood until 2003.

R.M. Williams, founder of the Tom Quilty Gold Cup 160-kilometre endurance ride.

Meg Wade – four time Quilty winner One of Australia’s most decorated riders would be Meg Wade, Castlebar Endurance, four-time Quilty winner, Australian Rider of the year 10 times and triple Bronze at World Championships and leading international rider until an untimely accident in 2009. Meg covered a phenomenal distance of 31657 klm in Australia alone, after a lengthy recovery Meg is still actively involved with the endurance world.

The Sample Dynasty

Bob and Sharahd Caprice won the Tom Quilty in 1993, as well as being multiple buckle holders. Bob’s son, Brook, notched his first Tom Quilty win at age 12 when he won the junior division, four years later he was also the youngest competitor in the competition to win the Open Division at age 16 (since restricted to riders 18 and over) and has been a winner of the Quilty Gold Cup a record seven times.

The name Sample is one of the best known in the industry. Bob Sample’s introduction to endurance riding was with his first Quilty in 1971 on his homebred Arabian Sharahd Shazan (also his son’s Mathew’s first mount as a junior rider in 1977). Over the years Sharahd’s name became synonymous with top endurance horses and Bob’s love for endurance riding has continued down the generations with children Brett, Amanda, Mathew, Brook and Lara, his grandchildren Saasha, Matty and Zac along with extended family members all involved with the world of endurance.

In 2009 Mathew and Brook won the

In 1996 Mark (Haigh) was the first middleweight to take the Cup in an incredible time of 8 hours and 14 minutes ...

Quilty together, crossing the line hand in hand. Brook has represented Australia four times, twice at the World Equestrian Games and twice at the World Championships. Brook’s sons, Matty and Zac, have also picked up the reins and will no doubt continue the family tradition. 2019 was also a milestone for the Sample Family with the Tom Quilty showcasing at Stirling Crossing in the picturesque Mary Valley, near Imbil in Queensland at the first privately owned purpose-built state-of-the-art endurance complex in Australia - the brainchild of owner Mathew Sample. The 2019 Tom Quilty attracted record entries of over 300 horses and riders both nationally and international. The youngest rider was 12 and the oldest competitor was 77. R.M. would have been proud.



was in a hurry, put both buckets down on the narrow ledge, only a couple of metres apart, and left.


When fate steps in

A few hours later driving back from the Gold Coast airport with my husband, I had the oddest feeling that we should visit the horses, but it was dark, I was tired, I knew they’d been fed, it didn’t make any sense, and pretty soon we were home, and I forgot about it.

A journey with a young horse took a radical turn after a severe injury, writes CANDIDA BAKER.

It was last November, and I was flying back from Equitana – and I was in a happy place. Six months before I’d bought a sweet three-year-old OTT Thoroughbred mare, Eva – who had been too slow for racing. She had a quiet personality, and I rode her very happily the first time I tried her. In fact, her test ride had been pretty full on – in a howling gale, in a round-yard with pool noodles hanging from the top rail, two screaming toddlers, a couple of dogs, and a small herd of horses who were nervy because of the wind. Eva took no notice of any of it, and I genuinely felt that given time she and I would suit each other very well. She arrived at my agistment property, and she settled in well. Eva was – is – I should say, in case you think the worst, a lively chestnut mare, but with a very soft doughy side, and as we got to know each other, I was sure we were in for the long haul. On the flight home, I was happily imagining our future together, the learning we would do and the rides we would take. When she’d arrived with me, I had three young horses I was fostering for the charity I



t’s strange isn’t it, the way that life can change in a second?

You need to come straight away. I’ve already called the vet for you.

was working with at the time, but by Equitana Eva was with just one other horse, my adopted rescue mare, Tyra. But even with only two of them, it was vital to feed them a long way apart from each other, otherwise Eva was likely to push Tyra off, or worse kick out at her.

Unfortunately, as I flew back late into the evening, a drama was unfolding way down below me that I was powerless to stop. The horses are lucky enough to live in a ten-acre paddock, which has just one small danger area, a narrow edge near one of the gates. Misunderstanding why it was important to feed them far apart, my feeder, who


The next morning my friend Ishka, who owned the property, rang me. “I’ve sent you through a photo,” she said. “You need to come straight away. I’ve already called the vet for you.” My phone beeped, and I looked at the incoming photo with horror. Eva’s nearback leg was ripped to shreds. There was bone clearly showing, flesh missing for at least six inches, it was horrible. She’d obviously been caught up in wire, but I couldn’t imagine how at that point. I got there as fast as I could, arriving just at the same time as the vet, and Ishka, already had Eva on a lead-rope in the garden. When I saw the wound I was pretty sure that my vet, Richard, was going to recommend that we put her to sleep, but at the time he was reassuring (more reassuring he confessed later, than he actually felt). Eva had severed two tendons, her superficial digital flexor tendon, and her common digital extensor tendon, and although she still had a large flap of skin attached to the leg at the site of the injury, it was marginal that it would reattach even with stitching (it didn’t), so she had basically de-gloved her leg, from above the knee to a few inches above the fetlock as well as exposing about a square inch of bone. Richard was honest about the prognosis, telling me that the only chance for the tendons to reattach would be to take her for surgery on the Gold Coast. It

Warning: Graphic photographic content on the following four pages.

Candy with Eva, enjoying these post-treatment days.


would cost, he said, at least $10,000 with no guarantee that it would work. Without it, however, there was very little, probably zero, chance she would ever be a riding horse again, and she would have some signs of the damage from the injury forever. He said in his honest opinion there was a 70% chance she would pull through, and I would need to understand that – particularly with so much bone showing - there was a chance that an infection could set in. I looked at my girl, and my heart wept. I couldn’t believe that this was the same horse that only ten days before had sized up the metre-high fence around the yard she was eating in, taken a step back and casually leapt it as if it was 50cms, landing in the garden, and eating as if it was everyday a horse hopped out of a corral. Well, there would be no jumping in her future, that was for sure. But in the immediate ‘then’, having made the decision that expensive surgery wasn’t an option, was the next best thing – intensive nursing. We had to


‘ DAY 2


DAY 1 his honest opinion there was a 70% chance she would pull through...

give her antibiotic injections twice a day for ten days, to prevent any infection to the exposed bone. I was very lucky to have a friend, Siobhan, who had been a huge help with the horses over the previous year, and had also been a vet nurse. She stepped in to help me with the injections so I didn’t have to do them


all myself, and another friend, Dawnie, a riding instructor also arrived like an angel from heaven to help. Looking back on those early days, it felt almost as if I had a new baby – which wasn’t helped by the fact that at exactly the same time as Eva’s injury my daughter had bought a French Bulldog puppy who was having trouble sleeping through the night. So at home I had puppy toilet-training and broken nights, and twice a day I was driving a one-hour round trip to be there with Eva for her injections and bandaging. The clear order from Richard Gregory, my vet, was manuka honey dressings, as well as the injections, as well as bute to keep her comfortable. We talked about whether to keep her contained, and his advice was that it was much better for her not to be locked up in a small space, she would only fret, he said, and also it would be better for her healing if she could keep moving. After the initial shock was over I wanted to think about how else I could


support her. At Equitana I’d bought an EQU Stream Z band for its magnetic resonance healing qualities. I’d actually thought I could use it for my occasional bursts of RSI, but I rang and asked if I could order an extra one, and to get advice as to whether they would be helpful. It was a bit of nothing ventured, nothing gained, but within a few days Eva had two EUQ Stream Z bands on, one on a front leg and one on a back leg. What everybody involved in her healing journey noticed was how quickly the swelling she had went down after the bands had been put on, and given the severity of the injury that in itself was a huge relief. I also used garlic granules in her food to help her fight infection, and once the antibiotics were over, I gave her a course of probiotics. Another extremely useful product was something she was already on for her hooves, which are a bit flat and thinnedsoled, which was Andrew Watt’s Hoof Gold. A conversation with Andrew

‘ DAY 16

DAY 26


... she didn’t once lose her position as boss of the herd, or change her lively personality.

confirmed to keep her on it, no matter

what, because the extra minerals in Hoof Gold could do nothing but good.

And so began a nine-month journey. The risk of infection in the bone was real, and so even after the antibiotic injections were over, we had to keep

up anti-biotic powder twice a day until there was new flesh over the bone. At first it seemed as if it would never happen, but six weeks after her injury, there was no bone to be seen. At last. Every small milestone seemed like a triumph. I was also extremely lucky that my husband put his metaphoric shoulder to the wheel, and came to help me every time I had to re-do the bandages, because even with feed in front of her, Eva was not keen on the dressing removal, cleaning, hosing, and re-application of honey bandages and dressing. After a month, a new horse, Aztec, arrived. I was a bit nervous at the idea of introducing her into the equation, but it was yet again to be another lesson from the horses themselves. It was as if Tyra and Eva, who were already showing signs of boredom at this new restricted life, were waiting for Azzie to show-up. I spent a few hours getting them acquainted over the fence, and once I was sure they seemed content, I put Aztec in with the other two. Lo and




behold, they not only said a gentle hello to each other, they then took her on a guided tour of their ten-acre paddock. I watched from the top of the hill as they went carefully down the hill, around the bamboo stands, along the edge of the creek, through the stands of trees and around the dam. I’d never witnessed quite such a gentle introduction before, and it continued in this vein with Aztec being one of the few horses I’ve met who managed to make friends instantly with two horses. Suddenly my two friends were the Three Amigos, and much less bored, which can’t have been a bad thing for Eva’s healing. In fact after we treated Eva, which we always did while she was eating to help take her mind off it, Azzie and Tyra would often stand either side of her as if they were comforting her for what was going on. As the jelly-like substance of new growth increased, and new skin began to gradually form from the top and bottom of the wound, we were able to drop back to manuka honey dressings every


‘ DAY 56

DAY 72

DAY 44

She was lifting the injured leg high up, almost kicking her stomach … I felt sick.

second day – and that was a huge relief to both Eva and me!

Then, as the healing started to speed up things went a bit too quickly, and proud flesh began to sprout, the cauliflower like growths protruding from her leg, so Richard came and conducted a Texas


Chainsaw massacre of the proud flesh – which didn’t seem to bother Eva one bit, and provided a kookaburra with some particularly grotesque mouthfuls of food. He showed me how to mix a little copper sulphate – bluestone - into a base of sorbolene and the next phase of the healing was to use that when necessary with a dressing to take the proud flesh down. It worked brilliantly, and Eva’s leg began to take on a more normal shape. After about three months, Richard came to do a check on her and was astounded at her recovery. For a horse who’d severed two tendons, he said, she was little short of miraculous. He spoke too soon. Only a few days later, I arrived to find that Eva was moon-walking – in the way of a horse who has float boots on. She was lifting the injured leg high up, almost kicking her stomach, and then flailing her hoof around before bringing it down on to the ground. I felt sick. What on earth, I wondered, had happened?


I called on every vet I knew, and even some I didn’t, and sent them video and photos of this sudden, strange new twist. The advice that came back wasn’t heartening. The general consensus was that over a period of time the moonwalking might lessen but it would always be there to a greater or lesser extent, and one vet suggested that it might never improve. Yet again, I was devastated. If it didn’t improve substantially, it seemed to me very likely I might have to consider putting her to sleep. She was obviously distressed by this strange new turn of events – her hoof dangling in mid-air, searching for solid ground beneath her. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. I turned to a local acupuncturist, Ben Walder, for help, and to my surprise just one visit from him and the extreme raising of the leg was immediately much less. The moon-walking stayed for several months, and Eva being Eva, the minute her back-leg seemed to improve to the

‘ DAY 121

DAY 197

DAY 100

I’ve learned not to discount Eva’s ability to heal ... we’ll take the journey together and see. point where she could use that hoof

again as a balancing point, she would canter around my flat ‘work’ paddock,

leading the others into a fine old play, with me swearing at her for being quite so stupid. A day of Eva running

around would mean a few days of Eva

being sore but she didn’t once lose her position as boss of the herd, or change her feisty personality. Then after a few months, the moonwalking lessened, and gradually disappeared. It was a day of elation for me. If it hadn’t been for the remaining inch of new growth required to fully heal the wound, you might not know anything had ever happened to her, if you didn’t spot the slight floppiness above the back near hoof, around the fetlock. Through the whole process, and once I knew she was going to survive, I had to do deal with a lot of grief. We’d only just started her riding journey but she was kind and sweet to ride, and when I’d moved Tyra and Eva to another property just for a couple of nights she’d almost galloped onto the float, in her eagerness to get out and about. She enjoyed going for walks up the lane and around the surrounding country roads, and for explorations up to the local showgrounds, and now we could do none of that. In fact, for months, after I’d



THE HORSE LISTENER Eva with Tyra and Aztec.

finished her treatment, she’d hobble up to the gate and look back at me as if to ask if we were going out. Eva was already doing therapy work with me before the accident, and she is very good at it but for me it was still a heartbreak, it wasn’t the destiny I’d planned for her, and yet, when something of this nature happens we have to adjust to our circumstances. By now my $1500 Off The Track Thoroughbred had also cost me close to $4000 in vet bills and supplies, but I didn’t regret a single cent of it. One day Richard arrived to give Sapphire, a new arrival, a Hendra vaccination and the horses, excited to be up in the home paddock for the first time in a few weeks, set off at brisk gallop around the edge, doing laps – Eva leading the pack, only pausing to chuck in the occasional spectacular buck or rear. “If I hadn’t seen this with my own eyes I wouldn’t have believed it was possible,” Richard told me.


He also confessed to me that at the start he wasn’t sure she’d pull through, and that even once she had, he knew of horses that had got so fed up with being treated they had become dangerously aggressive to the point that there was no choice but to put them to sleep, and that he’d been worried that might happen with Eva.

good, she feels good, when it’s sore, she

I told him that it had been touch and go the last few weeks of the dressings, but fortunately her obvious distaste at being treated had happened at almost exactly the time when I could finally leave the wound to heal naturally. But even now, eight months later, it’s still an up and down process. There’s a bit less than half an inch left of pink scar which is taking its precious time to heal, and Eva, convinced when she’s feeling well that her leg is completely better, likes nothing more than a gallop up and down the 10acre paddock, which results inevitably in swelling and a sore leg for a few days.

not to discount Eva’s ability to heal, or to

But I don’t blame her. She’s a horse, she lives in the moment. When she feels

intended, then at least with our


hobbles a bit and rests it. The verdict is out on whether she’ll ever be able to be ridden. I’ve been told again, everything from ‘never’, to no reason why not, to – which seems to me to make sense – she might be a walk/trot horse but nothing more. But I’ve learned make decisions about what she wants to do, so we’ll take the journey together and see. If it ends up that she’s simply a friend and companion to me and to Tyra, whom she loves dearly, then so be it. The other day, she got her first walk (being led) up the lane since the accident. She was very bright and sparky, and so happy to be out. She didn’t moon-walk, she walked confidently, and I think both of us breathed a little sigh of relief that life could continue, if not quite as we’d best hooves forward.



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Go Rocking Rocky There’s an art to making a great rocking horse, and a story behind each one, JANE CAMENS discovers.

That’s what happened when Deb and David Sainsbury’s farrier came to their property in Benaraby, near Gladstone in Queensland. The Sainsburys had recently finished making a rocking horse for their grandson, an undertaking that involved spending time outside Sydney doing a course with master craftsman and renowned rocking horse carver, Chris Woolcock. Their farrier, who had come to trim their mini pony, spotted the rocking horse and immediately

asked if he could order one – and that was the start of Round Yard Rocking Horses. Rocking horses bring adults back to memories of childhood and build memories in children that can last a lifetime. Deb and David reckon that they are among perhaps 50 rocking horse makers in Australia. Like all good makers, their beautiful horses stand out because of the unique touches they give them. They’ve had customers come with photographs of a real horse and ask for a rocking horse that looks ‘like that’. The Sainsburys can fit either an English style or Western style saddle and they even have one special appaloosa palomino fitted out with a bling western saddle,


ou can understand why a farrier might fall in love with a rocking horse. At last, they might think, a horse guaranteed not to give them any trouble.

Like all good rocking horse makers, their beautiful horses stand out because of the unique touches they give them.




I like the sound of their one-off Standard rocking horse, which holds up to 95 kilos. Says Deb: “Even adults like to ride him!” Each horse takes between four and six weeks to make, Deb says, explaining that David still works in construction in the mining industry and she has her hands full much of the time looking after their grandson, Kash.

“Kash is going to be our apprentice,” she

says. “He loves being in the shed when we’re making the horses.” Every year the Sainsburys take their horses to the Paradise Lagoons Campdraft near Rockhampton. They donate one of the horses to the raffle at the Ladies Lunch, which has helped spread the word about Round Yard Rocking Horses.

with silver engraved accents.

“We sell them right throughout Queensland and New South Wales and

He was made with love in the hope that children who ride him will create their own wonderful childhood memories to pass on.



have even had enquiries from New Zealand,” Deb says. The rocking horses themselves cost between $1,300 to $1,990 - depending on the size, whether the wood is stained or fully painted, and how much bling is included on the saddle. According to Deb, every rocking horse has a story. Take Stormy for instance, a Round Yard Rocking Horse you can meet at the South Rockhampton Library. He was made out of a 130-year-old Bunya Pine, brought down in the city’s botanic gardens in 2015 by Cyclone Marcia. Rocky is on permanent display and is a tribute to the heritage tree. “It was a pleasure making this rocking horse and to gift it back to the Council and, as a friend has put it, ‘we put history back into the lives of the public again,’” Deb told the local newspaper. “He was made with love in the hope that children who ride him will create their own wonderful childhood memories to pass on.”


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The Italian Rocking Horse Museum The rocking horse museum, Museo del Cavallo Giocattolo, near Lake Como, opened in 2000, a gorgeous, eccentric folly, not only the first rocking horse museum in the world but possibly the only one. With over 500 toy horses on display – some dating back to the early 18th century - what a fantasy adventure it is for children. There are no signs that requested us not to touch the horses. So my husband and I patted hundreds of them. We marvelled at the displays, which included music box horses, walkers, and stunning carousel horses. Ian posed with Roberto - ‘the world’s largest rocking horse’ - who greets visitors outside. The museum was originally a stable that once housed a famed champion trotter called Tornese. The founder of the museum developed the area as part of a commercial zone for his children’s store, Chicco, but wanted to keep the stables to house a collection of remarkable steeds that would delight children and adults alike. The museum declares proudly that adults walk in and, transformed by memories, walk out as children. Certainly for us, it was a joyous trip down Memory Lane.

Examples of just a few of the 500 rocking horses of all sizes, shapes and ages at the Museo de Cavallo Giocattolo, near Lake Como, Italy.




Traveller is my only companion, I may also say my pleasure. He and I, whenever practical, wander out in the mountains and enjoy sweet confidences.


A Horse Fit for a General General Robert E. Lee had several horses, but his favourite was an American Saddlebred, the brave and fearless Traveller writes N. G. QUINLAN.


t was late summer in 1861 when General Robert Edward Lee first saw the grey gelding. Standing almost sixteen hands high, the horse was then named Jeff Davis in honour of the Mississippi senator who would eventually become president of the Confederate states. General Lee was impressed from the first moment he saw the horse, playfully calling him ‘my colt’ and stating that he would use him before the war was over. At that time the horse’s owner was Joseph M. Broun, a captain in the Confederate Army. Knowing that Lee was partial to the gelding, Broun offered him to the General as a gift. Lee declined, saying, “If you will willingly sell me the horse, I will gladly use it for a week or so to learn its qualities.”

apparently his trot was somewhat high and uncomfortable. As Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, General Lee rode Traveller in every campaign from Second Manassas in August 1862 through to the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9th, 1865. Traveller and the General shared a special bond. On one occasion Traveller broke loose from his ties and was trotting up the road, pursued by a number of men trying to stop him. Unperturbed, Lee whistled low and the horse immediately halted. The General whistled a second time and Traveller returned to his master without complaint.

In October 1865, Lee became president of Washington College (now called Washington and Lee University) and served in that capacity for the rest of his life. He continued to ride Traveller after the war, often taking him for long trips into the countryside. Lee said of his equine friend: “Traveller is my only companion, I may also say my pleasure. He and I, whenever practical, wander out in the mountains and enjoy sweet confidences.” Robert E. Lee passed away on October 12th, 1870 after suffering a stroke two weeks earlier. Among those at his funeral was the proud grey gelding Traveller, stepping directly behind the hearse with his saddle and bridle draped in black crepe. Less than a year after the General’s death, Traveller trod on a rusty nail and contracted tetanus, then known as ‘lockjaw’. In those days there was no cure for the infection, so Traveller was euthanised to spare him an ignoble and painful death. After being exhibited for some years, his bones were interred at the university’s chapel, close to the Lee family crypt where the General’s body lies. According to campus tradition, the doors of Traveller’s old stable are left open so that the soul of the Confederate grey may be free to come and go at will. Many fine horses became well known

The two men eventually reached an agreement whereby Broun would sell the horse for $175, the same amount he had paid. Lee added $25 to the price to allow for the devaluation of Southern currency. General Lee owned several horses throughout the American Civil War, but the grey gelding he named Traveller was undoubtedly his favourite mount. Born in 1857, the horse was an American Saddlebred and was said to possess the best qualities of that breed, having good spirit and a bold carriage, although AUGUST 2019 - HORSEVIBES MAGAZINE


HORSE HISTORY during the Civil War – General Ulysses S. Grant had Cincinnati, General Sherman had Lexington and General ‘Stonewall’ Jackson rode Little Sorrell – yet the faithful grey named Traveller remains perhaps the most celebrated of them all. Richard Adams (of Watership Down fame) tells the story of the Civil War through the eyes of the Confederate grey in his 1988 bestseller Traveller. The General’s horse even has his own Facebook page, called Traveller…The most famous horse in US history and companion of General Robert E. Lee. In 1928, American poet Stephen Vincent Benét immortalised Traveller in his Pulitzer Prize-winning poem John Brown’s Body: ‘And now at last, comes Traveller and his master. Look at them well. Such horses are the jewels of the horseman’s hands and thighs; They go by the word and hardly need the rein. They bred such horses in Virginia then…’

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Main and inset: Jacob Wells. Pictures: Cherokee Photography


When natural ability meets hard work The level of success enjoyed by this month’s Young Rider is enviable. And he’s on his way to even bigger and better things, writes Amanda Mac.


his month’s Young Rider is 21-year-old Jacob Wells, from Modella in Victoria. Jacob comes from a family who have all, at one time or another, ridden. His parents actually met while they were on horseback. However, for Jacob, something very special was ignited when he began riding at the age of six. So much so, that he has twice been named Victorian Junior Show Jumping Champion, was a member of the Victorian Young Rider Squad for eight years, represented Australia on a winning team in New Zealand, and has won the South Australian Junior Championship twice. And his success story doesn’t end there. Jacob was recently invited by Edwina Tops-Alexander, the show jumping star who has represented Australia on numerous occasions, including three Olympics and the World Equestrian Games, to join her at her home in the Netherlands for mentoring and training.

with his natural ability. While in Australia, he regularly trains Cobra De Capello, his own Warmblood, as well as his clients’ horses - and he’s a dedicated fan of flatwork. “I really enjoy training my horses on the flat, it’s very rewarding to feel how much they improve as they learn and get stronger. I find that when you have a well- educated horse you have more control of what they’re doing with their body, allowing you to give the horse a softer ride while maintaining the balance needed to produce a better jump,” explains Jacob. With his original six-week stay with Edwina now extended to three months,

Jacob is understandably excited about the future and has some commendable goals in mind. “I want to keep advancing my knowledge of training so that I can bring out the best in all of the horses I ride. Long term, I would like to jump in some of the big Grand Prix competitions in Europe, and one day ride at the Olympic Games,” he says. Behind every great rider there is inevitably a great support team, one that Jacob is quick to acknowledge: “My parents have always been very supportive. They travel with me to most of the shows, and are always interested in how the horses are going. Also my coach Michelle Strapp has been a wonderful mentor for me. We’ve been together since I was 12-yearsold, and she’s helped me learn how to train horses, as well as advising me on how to run a business within the sport. Michelle’s husband Peter has also had a big impact on my career. He’s owned a few of my horses, including Cobra, my current horse. My sponsors at Trailrace Saddlery have also been a great support, keeping me equipped with the best quality gear.” All in all, things are looking very bright for Jacob, and HorseVibes wishes him every success during his European adventure.

“Edwina had discussed with my coach about me coming to ride. I was very excited when I found out I would be given the opportunity to stay with Edwina. She is an extremely talented rider,” he says. Jacob’s success does not come without a considerable degree of effort mixed in AUGUST 2019 - HORSEVIBES MAGAZINE



The Incredible Quarter Horse The Quarter Horse can reach amazing speeds over short distances, but as AMANDA MAC discovered, speed is only one of this breed’s extraordinary attributes.


ne look at the Quarter Horse’s compact confirmation and powerful build, and it’s not difficult to see why the breed is renowned for its speed and agility. A muscular body and well-rounded hindquarters account for its aptitude for rapid acceleration, and a flexible neck facilitates remarkable manoeuvrability and balance. Add to this equation a broad chest and wide throat that allow easy passage for the volume of air required for speed and stamina, and the Quarter Horse is a truly unique package.

A multicultural history The history of the Quarter Horse is fascinating. Early in the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the Americas. They brought with them horses of Iberian, Berber and Arabian stock. These breeds were characterised by their compact, solid build, their speed and their considerable stamina. Fast-forward to the 17th century and the arrival of the English pioneers, who also brought their horses. This time it was long-legged, deep chested Thoroughbreds, which had been bred for racing over long distances. One of the most famous of these imports was Janus, grandson of the Godolphin Arabian, a founding sire of the Thoroughbred breed.


However, while the Thoroughbred was well suited to conditions back in England, things were a little different in the colonies. When it came to their horses, the pioneers quickly developed a wish list that included an ability to work with cattle, to provide day-to-day transport, and to successfully participate in the short distance sprint races that were becoming increasingly popular as a sport. Add to that a requirement for stamina, intelligence and agility, and it became apparent that if the characteristics of the Thoroughbred were to be combined with those of the horses of Spanish origin, it might produce the desired mix.

Enter the Quarter Horse The result of the Thoroughbred/ Spanish combination was a sturdy, smaller horse possessed of an amazing burst of speed that exceeded the capability of the Thoroughbred over short stretches. And this was important because the popular sprint races were



A Quarter Horse foal already showing signs of the strength of the breed.



A: The easy-going Quarter Horse is a great choice for even younger family members. B: Vaquero, one of the first Quarter Horse stallions to arrive in Australia (Courtesy of the Australian Quarter Horse Association). C: An example of a Palomino Quarter Horse.

held on straight roads or flat open land and were generally around a quarter mile (approximately 0.4kms) in length. This fast, agile new breed excelled over that distance, and not surprisingly eventually became known as the Quarter Horse. But the Quarter Horse was not only a race winner. In the 19th century, pioneers crossed Quarter Horses with mustangs, the wild horses of the Great Plains. They discovered that the new crossbreed had an enhanced natural instinct for working with cattle, and as such quickly become the horse of choice among cattlemen and ranchers.

Arrival in Australia Reputed to be America’s oldest breed, Australia currently has the second largest population of Quarter Horses in the world – and it all began in the


early 1950s when Robert J. Kleberg Jr., president of Texas-based King Ranch Inc., decided to expand the company’s Santa Gertrudis cattle breeding operations into Australia. Where there were cattle Quarter Horses were bound to follow, and in 1954, Vaquero and three other stallions arrived Down Under. Vaquero, worthy of special mention because he has the honour of being allocated Q1 in the Australian Quarter Horse Stud Book (Vol.1, 1968, Purebred Registry) was only a colt when he was sent to Risdon, the King Ranch stud in Warwick, Queensland. His progeny (a total of 208 have been recorded) included many high ranking performance horses, and numerous other Australian Quarter Horses can claim him as part of their pedigree.


Breed Characteristics Essentially, there are two types of Quarter Horse: the stock and the hunter/ racing type. The stock horse tends to be shorter, more compact, and wellmuscled, while the hunter/racer is taller, smoothly muscled and is more reminiscent of a Thoroughbred. Renowned for their easy-going and willing temperament, the Quarter Horse is suited to a range of disciples. Western cutting, reining, campdrafting and working cow horse events, which continue to grow in popularity, showcase the breed’s immense agility and speed. Their lightning fast stops and turns, while remaining calm and responsive to the rider, are nothing short of spectacular. But their intelligence and versatility also make them ideal for the more traditional



likelihood of this problem.


English disciplines such as dressage, three day eventing, show jumping, pony clubbing, polo and polocrosse – and for pleasure riding, the Quarter Horse makes an ideal companion. Due to their straight legged

confirmation, Quarter Horses have a tendency to suffer from navicular disease, an inflammation or degeneration of the navicular bone and its surrounding tissues that usually occurs only in the front hooves. Proper care of the hoof will help to reduce the

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP) may also afflict some Quarter Horses. This genetic defect is characterised by sporadic attacks of muscle tremors and weakness in the larger muscles, plus possible paralysis in the muscles of the upper airway. The defect originated from one particular stallion, some of the descendants of which are here in Australia. Fortunately however, a clinical test that determines which horses carry the gene is readily available. So if you’re about to purchase a Quarter Horse, you’d be wise to test before you seal the deal.

Further information If you’re interested in learning more about the Quarter Horse, the Australian Quarter Horse Association’s website is a great place to start.




Beyond White Marks: The Effects of Bad Saddle Fit With 15 years experience as a horse bodyworker, DR JANE CLOTHIER explains why correct saddle fit is vital to your horse’s comfort and well-being.


t often surprises me how many people miss what are to me obvious signs of poor saddle fit. I do understand that horses’ owners engage saddle fitters and expect the expert to decipher the signs for them, but at the same time, I sometimes wonder just what it would take to make some owners contact the saddle fitter at all. The most obvious signs are fairly wellknown, but nevertheless get ignored. Large white marks where a tree has reduced circulation and damaged tissue don’t generally appear overnight. Hollowing behind the withers is also known to many people, although I’d say that to some owners of lightweight horses, this feature is often considered normal. I’ll agree that with a narrow chested, high withered horse, the distinction between normal and atrophied musculature at the base of the withers is less obvious, but as a general rule of thumb, if this area is concave, it’s underdeveloped.

for some time. That’s not good enough, really. It is often said that a horse’s greatest problem is that it cannot yelp like a dog, as we’d then know about painful issues at a very early stage. Instead, horses depend on us to figure it out somehow. All too often, that doesn’t happen early enough for a variety of reasons. Before continuing, I’ll point out that I have been there and for this reason, I’ll never judge anyone who is doing

This very solid Warmblood X has braced up against pressure caused by a narrow European saddle tipping back.

The thing is, by the time these signs are present, things have been going wrong



their best to learn. All I’ll say is that in this information age, if you’re posting a picture of your horse on social media, you’re also in a position to start learning. Let’s start right here. For me, when I first meet a horse the initial indication that something may be wrong comes from its overall posture. Let’s get to grips with obvious signs of saddle misfit by looking at the horse from a distance.

The Hollow Horse The easiest postural change to spot in a horse with saddle related pain is a flattened or hollow back, accompanied by a high head carriage with an ‘upside down’ neck (I’m putting things in lay terms here). Many saddle fit issues can lead to this. The points of a narrow tree may be hurting the horse, even it doesn’t have obvious muscle atrophy. If there is muscle atrophy, the horse may have tension through the muscles both over and under the shoulder blade, and very often the neck muscles in front of the wither. It’s not only the front of the saddle, as the area beneath the cantle can be painful too. A saddle that is too wide may tip back, leading to painful pressure on the back muscles above the last ribs. If it’s too long, the pressure area may be even further back. When there’s pain


This long saddle has positioned the rider further back, adding pressure to the lumbar region.

at the back, the horse may have what looks like one or two raised vertebrae there, where the muscle has dropped away and tension has affected the deeper, smaller muscles around the joints. This horse may have the pelvis rotated forwards, which leads to the appearance of sharply angled croup. When you see this, rest assured that it’s a horse with sacroiliac problems on the way. The back muscles are unable to work properly and this leads to stresses in the major joints between pelvis and spine. This horse may also have overdeveloped abdominal muscles that are compensating for the weakened, restricted back muscles. When it moves with its head high and flattened back, this horse is sending its centre of gravity further back. It moves with shortened strides in front while the hind feet seem to trail, as it’s unable to bring them under itself. It may even drag

the hind feet, wearing the toes. Riders will complain that the horse is unwilling to go forward and they may try to make the horse look correct by bringing its nose down, into a ‘false outline’.

The Braced Horse This posture is slightly harder to spot if you haven’t yet got your eye in. The main sign is that the lumbar spine is raised, even to the point of being roached. The pelvis in this case is tilted back, so that the horse often stands with the hind feet more under itself. The abdominal muscles may not be overdeveloped, but they are certainly stressed, as they are engaged in lifting the back a lot of the time. I’ve often seen this posture in physically stronger horses, such as Quarter Horses and more heavily built Australian Stock Horses. Often, they have been ridden in a western or swinging fender (‘hybrid’)

saddle. The saddle may be too tight at the front of the tree, yet with their strong musculature, the horse tips it up and back. Sometimes it is too wide, so that it rocks back with a rider in place. The solid tree, which may run straight across the back with minimal padding, then presses down on the lumbar area. This is especially the case if the horse is curvy along its topline or is croup high – either can cause the saddle to ‘bridge’ (when the saddle has less or no contact with the horse’s back mid-way along its length). Warmbloods that have been bred very uphill are also prone to adopt this posture, as hollowing is harder. These horses are frequently attempting to stabilize or reposition the load on their backs, in order to avoid constant pressure in an area that is becoming painful. They’re more likely to be working on the forehand, with a shortened stride behind.




Australian Stock Horse showing classic signs of saddle-related postural change.

Posture and Pain I tend to think that unlike the hollow horse, the braced horse is a stronger animal that is trying to tough it out when ridden in a saddle that does not fit. If the hollow horse has dipped down and succumbed to the unavoidable pain, the braced horse is a more stoic individual and may even have a higher pain threshold. There is nothing relaxed-looking about these horses when they are standing still. In movement, their body becomes the sum of two halves, the front and the back, which do not appear to be working together. Consequently, there is nothing fluid or flowing in the movement, but there is certainly additional stress placed on the muscles,


ligaments, tendons and joints of the limbs. If the back is fixed in this way, all the legs take more concussion and the negative forces that come with it. Someone, I forget who, once said, “the thing is that horses don’t know that saddles aren’t meant to hurt”. Being horses that don’t yelp like dogs, they will attempt to compensate for saddlerelated pain through their movement, until a point when that doesn’t work anymore. That is when the more serious injuries or behavioural issues start to come in. When and to what extent these things happen depends largely on the individual horse and problem. These observations come from my bodywork experience, and I’m the first to admit that there plenty of variations


due to the effects of training, riding, unrelated injury or hoofcare. However, I’ve usually found that even when other issues are present, the saddle is involved. Of one thing I’m sure: we owe it to our horses to be more aware, to understand what is and isn’t normal, and to start checking a saddle when we notice the first signs of postural change. Dr Jane Clothier is based in Armidale, NSW. As well as hands-on bodywork services, she offers short courses for horse owners and writes a widely read blog, The Horse’s Back.

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our duties, and we help committees to run a successful competition.”

An Eventful Life

The most consistent issue facing stewards is people not understanding the rules. “People just don’t read the rules carefully,” she says. “Most of the time things go wrong because riders don’t know the rules.” When Christine first began stewarding it wasn’t, she says: “A big professional official appointment - it’s only been in the last 10 years that it’s grown to become an important part of FEI and Equestrian Australia events.”

For Christine Wallis, being an eventing steward has meant travelling all over the world, writes JO MCKINNON


hristine Wallis has spent countless hours over many years volunteering her time to ensure that equestrian events around the nation, and beyond, run smoothly.


“My husband says I’m never home, he has to introduce the dog to me when I get home,” she laughs.

It was a lifetime involvement with horses as a keen rider and having a daughter who now competes that led Christine towards becoming one of Australia’s most respected and experienced Eventing stewards. “I was interested in getting involved in some sort of official capacity after the kids grew up and the Pony Club years were over,” she says. In 2004, Christine, who hails from Leongatha in the South Gippsland region of Victoria, attended an official’s course in Adelaide, and was inspired to pursue a career as steward. For those that may not know what the role of a steward is, stewards ensure that rules (under the FEI and EA) are adhered


Since then the journey has taken the 69-year-old all over the world to officiate at events including the 2012 London Olympics and last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA.

to by all riders who are competing at events. “As an FEI steward we go to events and oversee a fair play for all riders,”

says Christine. “We make sure they are abiding by rules and regulations. Also the welfare of the horse is a big part of

She says one of the most enjoyable aspects of stewarding is working with other people to get the job done. “The teamwork is very satisfying – in eventing we have a really strong team. We respect each other and we have to communicate a lot.”

Her dedication has been awarded. In 2010 Christine was named Equestrian Australia’s Official of the Year and she has also been a recipient of the prestigious Julius Patching Award, which recognises the outstanding contribution that officials make to the fabric of the Olympic sporting community in Victoria.

In 2008 Christine went on a self-funded trip to some of the globe’s biggest eventing competitions including Kentucky, Badminton and Samur in order to gather insights into what other nations were doing. Soon after her return, she plunged straight in and took over the role as Steward General from Di Schrapel.

Christine also gets enormous satisfaction out of working at the junior

People just don’t read the rules carefully. Most of the time things go wrong because riders don’t know the rules.




levels of equestrian sport. “I do a lot with interschool competitions and I enjoy the experience at grassroots educating people about fair play,” she says.


Christine plans to wind down her involvement in the not too distant future and is focused on helping new people come through the ranks. “I’ve been involved in this a long time. It has its ups and downs and it’s not always smooth sailing. Plus, once you reach the age of 70 you have to go through a process with the FEI where you show competency. I think we need to see young people come through,” she says. “We have EA steward courses around Australia with other discipline steward generals and we want to try to get a succession plan in place.” She says the challenge of achieving that goal is that many young people these days are time poor. “It’s hard to encourage younger people into it who still ride, have jobs and family and it’s hard for them to find the time to keep up with the rules,” she says.

For now, she will continue on with her own busy schedule and will be attending various national and international courses. Over the next few weeks she will travel to Tasmania and Northern Victoria and this month she heads to the UK where she will brush up on the latest rules and regulations and bring that invaluable knowledge back home.

A: Christine Wallis with Lindy Young. B: Chris Wallis, (fourth from left) one of the stewarding team at Melbourne International Horse Trials 2019. A: The Julius Patching award presented to Christine by Colin Patching in April 2019.



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which is probably why he now has an issue with sore spots on his back,” she explains.

Amerigo Siena Dressage Saddle LEAH HART had her heart set on an Amerigo Siena dressage saddle, so when she found one for sale on Equestrian Hub she didn’t hesitate.


’ve been a big fan of the Amerigo brand for some years. I’d researched their saddles and heard a lot of very good things about them. They’re widely used overseas, especially in Europe,” says Leah.

Her choice of saddle was particularly important as she’s currently re-schooling Riley, her 16hh 12-year-old sprint bred Quarter Horse, for dressage. “I really wanted a top quality saddle that was good for horses with sensitive backs. Riley was a very successful barrel racer,

While realising that she needed to take particular care of Riley, Leah was keen to continue re-schooling him. He had originally been trained by a dressage rider and obviously enjoyed the work. As a first-time customer at the Equestrian Hub, Leah was amazed by the exceptional customer service and the speed with which her saddle arrived. “The saddle is in near new condition and was very reasonably priced. It fits Riley perfectly and he’s obviously comfortable in it. As for me, I feel like I’m sitting in a cloud,” says Leah. The Equestrian Hub has a wide variety of second hand saddles, so be sure to visit and browse through their fantastic range. You never know what you’ll find. All saddles come with a two-week trial, finance options, and a courier right to your door.


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A: Melinda Rechichi & Kenlock Sylvestro winning the Amateur Class at the Caboolture World Cup (Image Oz Shotz). B: Annabel Cusack & Dynamoey at the Albury Wodonga Horse Trials (Image by Karla Cusack). C: Goldheist led by Lily-Rose Powell at the 2019 Bellingen Show. They won 1st in ANSA Mare, Champion Led ANSA, & 1st Led Warmblood Mare (Image by Leather & Lens Photography). D: Lily-Rose Powell & Goldheist at the State Dressage Qualifiers. They placed 1st in the 3a, 3b, & Champion Overall Elementary (Image by Leather & Lens Photography). AUGUST 2019 - HORSEVIBES MAGAZINE



E: Deborah Baloglow & Double Morn Roc competing in an ABHA Day at Camden Barrel Race Club (Image by Brittany Bates Photography).


F: Kate Easlea & Leica at the 2019 InterSchools Horse Extravaganza (Image by Oz Shotz). G: Charlotte Sheldon & Townshend LS competing in the Melbourne International 3DE CCI Junior 2* (Image by Equii Charli).







H: Bree Egan & Jessabar Super Kitty competing at a Camden Barrel Race Club event (Image by Brittany Bates Photography). I: Annabel Cusack & Dynamoey at the Sydney International 3DE (Image by Rodney’s Photography). J: Sydnie Williams & Quintina at the Prydes Easifeed IQ State Championships (Image by Oz Shotz).





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K: 12-year-old La’Moza Velisha & Kolora Stud Cash at the 2019 Ballarat International (Image by Derek O’Leary ). L: Jess Somerfield & Lakeview Albion placing 3rd at the 2019 Melbourne International 3DE CCI3* (Image by Gone Riding Media). M: Two-year-old Tahlia White Keevers & Shambala Park Melody compete at the Willawarrin Gymkhana, their very first Pony Club event (Image by Sarah White Ralph). N: Maddison Sydenham & Glen Lee Rivoli Mardi Gras riding to 3rd place in the Working Hunter 15-15.2hh at the PCA NSW State Championships (Image by Julie Wilson Equestrian Photography). AUGUST 2019 - HORSEVIBES MAGAZINE






O: Chris Chug & KG Queenie win the Mini Prix Final at the Pryde’s EasiFeed Gatton World Cup Show.


P: Jessica Hill & ESB Irish Illusion competing at the Canoe Tree Horse Trials in March this year (Image by Caption This Equine Images). Q: Eight-year-old Sophie Ralph & Tremayn Royal Exhibit at the 2019 Inter-Schools Horse Extravaganza in Tamworth (Image by Oz Shotz).



A friend and mentor TRAINING TIPS

Reining: It’s fast, it’s furious and it’s a whole lot of fun! MICK TAYLOR, top reining rider and owner of Spin Valley Ranch talks to Amanda Mac about the joys of reining.


ou would think that one of the most successful reining riders Australia has ever produced would have been in the saddle from just about the moment he could walk. But that’s not the case with reining champion Mick Taylor.

“It was a gradual process but I guess it eventually rubbed off on me,” says Mick.

“I very nearly went to the US as an 18-year-old to learn more about the sport, but I decided that I wasn’t mature enough,” Mick explains. “This turned out to be a wise decision, because I started a successful stainless steel business instead, and that provided the finances necessary for me to indulge my love of reining.”

What is reining? The sport of reining originated from


“Martin and his family had returned to Australia from overseas. But I knew he was only going to be back home for a year, so I arranged for lessons and spent about half a day with him each week,” Mick says. These lessons coincided with the timing of his purchase of Quarter Horse Doc’s Defender, sired by the legendary Doc’s Spinifex, and known around the paddocks as Ben. The pair quickly showed great promise as a winning combination. When Martin returned to Europe in 2002, Mick was keen to continue being trained by him and overcame the problem of distance by regularly sending Martin videos of himself and Ben at work. Martin was then able to give the invaluable feedback that Mick needed to progress in the sport.

Mick, who hails from Wonthaggi, a small seaside town south east of Melbourne, grew up in a horse loving family. His dad, his older brother and younger sister were all keen riders, but Mick was 15 years old before the bug bit him.

Around that time, a family friend introduced Mick to Western style riding and that’s when he became passionate about reining.

Although Mick didn’t ever go to the US to train, another exciting opportunity appeared on the horizon. In 2001 he was fortunate enough to be mentored on home soil by none other than Martin Larcombe, internationally recognised in the sport of reining and a past President of Reining Australia.

contests held between vaqueros, the Spanish equivalent of a cowboy. Taking great pride in their horse-handling ability, the contests were a showcase for the vaqueros’ considerable riding skills. Nowadays, reining is often described as the Western form of dressage. To be successful, horse and rider must be in tune with one another. Reins are held in one hand only, and aids should be virtually invisible as the rider takes the horse through a precise series of spins, stops and circles all performed at a canter or a gallop. As Mick explains: “the judges are looking for a horse that looks soft and travels kindly.”


There can be no doubt that this ‘remote’ training paid off: “In 2003, Ben and I took out the Open Futurity, the first non-professional to win that event,” Mick recalls. And that was the start of many great wins on many great horses.

Reining’s popularity in Australia This year marks the 30th anniversary of reining in Australia, and its popularity is increasing every year. Although Mick’s success in the sport has been considerable, his approach remains well-grounded: “Australian competition winnings for a top reiner can now be as much as half a million dollars, but you shouldn’t compete with prize money as your sole objective. To me, reining is a real privilege and you should compete

Main: Mick Taylor and Quarter Horse I’ll Drink to That (photo courtesy of M J Images) Inset: Mick Taylor (photo courtesy of M J Images)




Heza Flashy Einstein in action at the 2019 NSW Open Derby. for the joy of it, as well as the opportunity to see other riders and their horses at work.” And there’s another feature of the reining community that holds great appeal for Mick: “Reining is a sport that can be enjoyed by the whole family, a common interest that helps to hold

families together. It’s not at all unusual to see parents and kids showing the same horse. The sport is exciting and a lot of fun. There’re competitions to suit all levels of ability, and plenty of buckles to be won.”

Giving back to the sport In 2017, Mick decided to turn

professional in order to increase his opportunity to give back to the sport he loves. “As a non-professional, I could train and sell horses. As a professional I can train horse and rider together as a team. Back in 2003, I purchased the land that is now Spin Valley Ranch. My aim is to offer





A: Mick and My Dad’s A Wimp compete at the 2017 NSW Open Derby. B: Skeets Remedy in training. C: Mick and My Dad’s a Wimp win the Open at the 2017 NSW Open Derby.

training so that both horse and rider improve their skills. A solid foundation is critical if you’re going to enjoy your horse and the sport of reining,” he says.

and hat, a shirt and a pair of jeans are

Top tips from a top trainer

events include competitions designed for

the only pre-requisites, and it’s also a good idea to find a trainer who can give you some clues on the basics. Nearly all

While Quarter Horses and Paint Horses are synonymous with reining, breed really isn’t a consideration when you’re starting out in the sport.

newbies, and these will give you a feel for

“As for equipment, a Western saddle

reining water?


the sport,” Mick explains. And what if you’re hooked after that preliminary dipping of your toes in the


“Well, that’s the time to consider buying a ‘schoolmaster’ horse. You should look for a horse that’s been there and done that, and can take you to the next level as your skills improve,” Mick says. “And by that stage, you should also consider finding a trainer to work with. When you’re at events, have a look around to see who’s training the horses and riders that are going well. That will give you an idea of the trainer that might




suit you. Arrange a meeting with them and if you click, that’s the one. “I would also strongly suggest that you visit the Reining Australia website. There’s a wealth of information on the site, including a list of trainers and their contact details,” he adds. To find out more about Mick and his work, visit the Spin Valley Ranch Facebook page. AUGUST 2019 - HORSEVIBES MAGAZINE



Aries August is all about play for the Ram. Are you getting enough of it? No matter how focused you are on goals, relationships and intentions, the feeling of playfulness is what will light you up. Well-being comes from the pleasure of the creative process. Meanwhile, us equines can get a little toey. Sounds, in particular, can set us off, so if we come unglued when the bin falls over, stay calm and carry on.

Taurus Now is your time to be queen or king of the castle. Forget democracy as you step up and call the shots. There are decisions to make around the home/ family/parents and base of operations and your choices need to be completely your own. Forget what others expect you to say and speak your mind. Us fourlegged bulls are prone to hallucinations


ven though last month’s eclipses are behind us, messages can still land this month. Eyes wide open for insights and epiphanies on the first and third week of August. With Mercury direct, the floodgates open. To utilize this energy, clear your mind of worry, the to-do lists and unsupportive self-talk as often as you can. Use the wisdom of the Lion - courage, strength and frequent naps.

so expect us to turn inside out to confirm or deny monsters behind every bush.

Gemini The activation this month is in your communications sector, an area of life close to your heart. Expect to be doing more writing, speaking, teaching, talking, sharing, flirting and connecting. It could be a month of negotiations as well, or new contracts to sign, deals to make. Whatever, you’ve got a big fat smile on your face. Us Gemini equines are moody, so be ready for anything from explosion to no-response. This too will pass…






Capricorn Leo lights up your house of shared

August stars light up your money sector

This month activates your zone of

so pay attention to taxes, invoices (and

friends, group goals and like-minded

invoicing), bills and loan repayments.

others. For better or worse, you’ll have

Interestingly, it’s also a time for more

a ringside seat to all your contacts.

work and fresh income streams. To

Think of it as a ‘joining’ time where

improve your finances, consider your

you gravitate to those people and

relationship to money. Enemies or

things that give you the greatest sense

straight away, knowing exactly what

friends? You want to get along, at least.

of belonging. The trick now is to cut

you want to experience. Us four-legged

deadwood and nurture everything else.

Sea-goats are much less inclined to

Us equines are forever pulled in such a

share our resources. You’ll want to

direction, so please, support us as much

provide ample water stations and feed

as you can.


Just note that us equines couldn’t care less about intangibles. We’re more into high-quality feed and fresh water. Please.

Leo August is all about creative selfexpression. You need to put yourself out there in the world and receive the feedback and appreciation you so deserve. Not feeling it? Try tending to the heart of your life – relationships, career, home and self. You want deep, authentic and engaging connections. Go get them! Us four-legged lions are seriously concerned with personal safety. The more you can soothe our

resources, opening the door to new ways of relating, creating and being. This shines the light on diverse things such as intimacy, sex and co-creations, joint loans and finances. Set intentions


Scorpio The time of Leo lights up your career sector in ways you haven’t felt all year. Take the opportunity to reassess your professional ambitions and think through any plans you’ve put into place. There is a desire to expand in this area of life and the confidence of Leo clears out negative gremlin self-talk. For us equines, be ready for high heads and

Relationship and personal one-to-one unions bask in the light of August for us Water-bearers. It’s not about creating space or intellectualising so forget about the mind, for once, and engage the heart. Take yourself to a place where you feel safe and at home enough to let the guard down and ask for what you truly want. While you’re at it, take us

blasting whinnies. Tip: keep your eyes on

equines there too. Nothing like a long

the path and keep cool.

trail ride to allay everyone’s nerves.

fears, the better.

Virgo If busy-bee Virgo had a slacker month,



This month is a true blessing for the

This month heats up your house of

Centaur, firing up your favourite house

magic, the place where desires are

of travel and expansion. This is where

made manifest. Your thoughts are

you try? This is your time of quietude,

you take your mind, body or spirit to

key so check how you THINK about

dreams and immersion in the mellow

places it’s never been via education,

everything including your body, your

fields of the imagination. You will be

journeys and meditation. Freedom is the

work, your home, your likes and dislikes.

more sensitive, more compassionate

goal, with joy at the heart of it. Tally ho!

Are you supporting your well-being,

and more willing to serve, so carve out

For us equines, we are super sensitive

or are you disparaging of it? Turn the

the ‘me time’ now. Us equines will have

and revved to the max. The slightest

tables with a rampage of appreciation,

no trouble taking a break to rest and

pressure from your legs and we are over

starting with us equines. Just being part

restore. Watch and learn.

the moon. Hang on!

of the herd will lighten your load.

this would be it, though it’s hard to rein in your work ethic, even a little. Can




Published by: Equestrian Hub PO Box 13, Tintenbar NSW 2478, 0414 760067

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