ISSUE 57
AUGUST 2020
ANOTHER MILESTONE
FOR SIMONE PEARCE
CAROLYN LIEUTENANT
COURAGEOUS KIWI
HEATH RYAN &
THE FUTURE OF EA

PLUS: A showjumping mule, Lisa Martin’s recovery, 10 tips for riding the Novice test, horses on the silver screen, Will Enzinger and the next generation, Dr Kerry Mack, Brett Parbery and more!

AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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ISSUE 57

CONTENTS

AUGUST 2020
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A few Words

FROM THE
CHAIRMAN

Opinion

EA ADMINISTRATION & HOPEFULLY A FUTURE

RYAN'S RAVE BY HEATH RYAN

Dressage

ANOTHER MILESTONE FOR SIMONE PEARCE

BY ADELE SEVERS

Dressage

LISA MARTIN’S LONG & WINDING ROAD

BY ADELE SEVERS

Special feature

COURAGEOUS KIWI BLAZES HER OWN TRAIL

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

EQ Families

MUTANT EQUINE NEUROSIS GENE OR LUCK OF THE DRAW?

BY MIM COLEMAN

Dressage

10 TIPS FOR RIDING THE NOVICE TEST

BY EQ LIFE / ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Special feature

HORSING AROUND ON THE BIG SCREEN

BY SUZY JARRATT

Special feature

BEACON OF HOPE FOR BRIGHTLIGHT BOY

BY EQ LIFE

Eventing

WILL ENZINGER FORGES THE NEXT GEN

BY EQ LIFE

Showjumping

WHO SAYS MULES
CAN’T JUMP?

BY EQ LIFE

Training

SUBMISSION OR STRESS? SOMETHING TO CHEW ON

BY DR KERRY MACK

Training

OPTIMISING YOUR LEARNING AS A RIDER

BY BRETT PARBERY

Health

WINTER’S SCOURGE, THE FOOT ABSCESS

BY DR MAXINE BRAIN

My Favourite Dish

BAKED GARLIC PARMESAN CHICKEN

WITH WILL ENZINGER
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Will Enzinger is the Eventing Pathways Manager on the High Performance Team. © Jenelle Christopher
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For the average rider in Australia, the High Performance Program might seem a world away; something that applies to our top riders standing on a podium at the Olympic Games. However, a new focus on developing a consistent pathway to the elite level aims to ensure the road to gold medal glory is clearly mapped.

“I love it so much
that it really doesn’t
feel like work.”

“Being able to support the riders and actually have resources to do it… it’s like the best gig in the world, to be honest!” says Victorian event rider and coach, Will Enzinger. Will has been involved in the high performance side of eventing for some time and was appointed to the High Performance Panel in 2018. A year ago, he became the Eventing Pathways Manager.

Will doesn’t just have an interest in facilitating pathways to the elite level — he’s walked that road himself. First sitting in the saddle at seven, it wasn’t until the age of 16 that he joined Pony Club and began to get serious. A transition to EA level events followed, before a stint at Lochinvar with Heath and Rozzie Ryan gave him the tools he needed to step out at FEI level. Since then, he’s ridden up to five-star on multiple horses. However, coaching has increasingly become a big part of his life, and he and his wife Emily Anker run an eventing business where they teach, train and compete. With his elite riding experience, strong coaching background, and “people person” reputation, stepping into a role with the High Performance Program was a natural progression.

“Gina Haddad, who was in the role previously, was phenomenal and had just set up everything… all the processes and the structures were there,” says Will. “I was so, so spoilt to step in after her. Initially I just had to implement, and it means I’ve had time to be a little more proactive with new initiatives, which is good.”

As Will explains, Eventing Pathways Manager is not a role that is undertaken in set hours; it’s a part of his life that is now on the mind most days. Not that he’s complaining. “I’m so passionate about it and I love it so much that it really doesn’t feel like work, to be honest!”

Part of Will’s role is to look after the NEXT (Developing and Emerging) squad riders. This squad is part of the High Performance Squad list, following GOLD (Podium and Podium Ready) and GREEN (Podium Potential). The NEXT squad is comprised of those who have been identified as being part of the AIS athlete category Developing and Emerging, and includes Annabel Armstrong, Olivia Barton, Emma Bishop, Lauren Browne, Catherine Burrell (UK based), Andrew Cooper, Isabel English (UK based), Jade Findlay, Thea Horsley, Ema Klugman (US based), Shenae Lowings, Emma Mason, Jessica Rae, Katie Taliana, Gemma Tinney and Madeline Wilson. It’s certainly a very strong and exciting list of riders, and Will agrees.

For the NEXT squad, the goal is the FEI World Championships for eventing, which are due to be held in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, in September 2022, and the next cycle for the Olympics, which includes Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.

Although Covid-19 has disrupted plans for Tokyo Olympic preparation, it’s still somewhat ‘business as usual’ for the NEXT squad with long-term goals. That’s not to say these riders haven’t been affected by the pandemic. Talking to them early on, Will found the common theme was that squad members were struggling to continue working towards their immediate goals with competitions cancelled and movement restricted; like many during Covid, they felt a little lost.

“They were managing all the difficulties of being locked down to different degrees. Some people were losing income; some were only mildly affected. But from a competition perspective, a lot of them, although they knew they should keep training, were a little bit uncertain as to what to do or what that would look like.”

Just like many other industries and workplaces during the pandemic, the High Performance Team turned to technology, and under the guidance of High Performance Director Chris Webb, they were able get everyone engaged and on the same page. Microsoft Teams, like so many Covid-struck workplaces, has proven to be a great way to facilitate virtual meetings. After some initial catch-ups with squad riders across all disciplines, the eventers have since run their own meetings with input from elite riders such as Chris Burton, with a view to involving more from the GOLD Squad.

“They really like that

they’re part of a team.”

“Burto has been so engaging and so thoughtful — the first virtual meeting we did, he just did so much recon and had a real structure to the whole thing. It was really engaging and it was amazing to watch, to be honest. And he was even calling people out if they hadn’t said anything, so everyone got involved!”

Will explains that a big part of the Pathways Program is ensuring developing and emerging riders are comfortable with, and understand, key formalities like the team selection process for Championships.

“Performance Support Manager Alison Alcock works closely with me, and we’d spoken about selection, and she came up with the idea to do a mock selection process. High Performance Sport Consultant Erin O’Neill drew up some mock stats and results that we sent out a week before for riders to study. We then met with the NEXT squad and discussed what the selectors would do if they were picking a team for Tokyo, taking into account the Tokyo format and so forth. We even got someone to call me, to tell me I wasn’t selected for the Games, and I had to give them a bit of grief to highlight the difficulties!” laughs Will.

The idea was to underline the fact that everyone is on the same team. The riders, the high performance staff and selectors are all working together towards the same goal. It is this sense of developing a team culture with open and honest communication that Will places emphasis on.

“It’s so important to be open with everybody and have that trust in the group, and that the whole culture of the group means they are really willing to participate and be hungry for success. But also, communication is key; the more I know about them, when the selectors come to me I’ve got the intel and I can support them. I tell them all the time, ‘I’m the person that’s got your back!’”

Will explains that while Covid has been tough, it has actually in many ways brought the NEXT squad closer together. “We even started a few WhatsApp groups for our guys, one we’ve called it Burto’s Jumping Exercises. So now, he gives the group exercises in the form of videos and says ‘Righto, this is one I want you to do’. They’ll go away, ride it, send it back, everyone watches it, and Chris comments on it.”

The squad has also done a similar thing with Bettina Hoy, where riders video their dressage tests at home — warts and all — and send it through for feedback. Will explains that exercises and feedback from Chris, Bettina and others isn’t about telling the riders how to do things: “We’re not mandating that this has to happen, or that they have to follow this philosophy.”

Will likens it a bit to going from high school, to university and then into the workforce. “What we’re trying to do is expose them to as many ways of doing things from different lenses, so that they have a broader knowledge to then define and refine where they want to go. By the time they are transitioning up to the GREEN (Podium Potential) squad, they should have locked in who they are, what they’re about and what they want.”

To be able to keep the squad in communication and be able to offer them something during the pandemic has been a relief for Will. “We’ve essentially done all of this with all programs on hold due to Covid, so it’s been about what we can do that doesn’t actually cost us money.” As it turns out, some of these initiatives will continue long after the pandemic is over.

“Moving forward, we’re going to keep this going 100% because one thing the riders have all said is that they really like they’re part of a team. For us in equestrian sports, this is probably one of the hardest things because we are individual athletes. Additionally, we’re not institutionalised like other sports, where at 10 years old athletes are at the AIS being moulded and guided through all facets. In equestrian sports we have 40-year-olds coming onto the squad for the first time in their lives.”

One NEXT squad rider who has been grateful for the support has been US-based Aussie eventer Ema Klugman. “Being part of the NEXT squad during Covid has been a wonderful experience. It’s allowed me to virtually meet all the other people on the squad and take advantage of opportunities like talking to Burto and Bettina,” she says.

“Chris has been super; he’s been very honest with us and answers any questions we have. One of the big things he’s said is, ‘I’m going to describe my system to you, but everyone has to develop their own system and they have to trust it.’ It’s pretty amazing advice. I have actually changed the way I do my gallops, based on the way Burto does them; I actually feel like my horses have been sounder and fitter, which has been pretty cool.”

Working with Bettina has also been a valuable exercise for Ema. “We sent her a video of a dressage test, and had a phone call with her to talk through it. For me, it was actually less about the execution of the test and more about the horse’s way of going and how to train that horse differently. It was wonderful… I couldn’t believe I was chatting on the phone with Bettina Hoy! She spent over an hour talking to me and giving me advice… I’ve since sent her a couple of updated videos of the horse and we’re still in contact.

“I have changed the way I ride a little bit on the flat based on my conversations with Bettina. I’m one of the only people on the squad that has been able to compete recently, and my average dressage penalty scores have been lower this year than they’ve ever been, which is pretty cool! It shows that the training we had during the Covid shutdown has paid off and it shows that the work the High Performance staff are putting in is actually showing up in tangible results.”

However, feeling as though she’s part of a broader team effort has been one of the most rewarding parts for Ema. “The team element has been emphasises. We (NEXT squad) are kind of the younger people coming up; we’re in the background right now… but we’re just as much a part of the effort as the ones out there competing on the world stage for Australia already. Hopefully we’ll be on the stage in the future… it’s been very encouraging and has given me motivation in my training and at competitions. It’s been a really nice first experience, as it’s my first time on any Australian squad. I’ve really appreciated the amount of effort everyone has put in!”

THE NEXT STEP

The Pathways Program, which was due to be rolled out but is currently on hold due to Covid, is the exciting next step that Will believes will have a broader reach beyond the squads. “It’s about starting to have a clear philosophy and method from the top guys, the GOLD squad riders, right down the pathway so that all the terminology becomes second nature. They’re going to be hearing it at a state level; it’s going to be consistent throughout. So I think that’s going to make it a bit easier and remove some of the mystery,” says Will.

The program will include everything from practical and technical knowledge around the disciplines for identified eventing coaches, through to veterinary information, business skills and even athlete mindset.

“The program will enable all states to have access to content in all the above areas, creating a National Program where the messaging, philosophy and methodology will be consistent across the country. This will be a sustainable program in which we can utilise this information ongoing and continue to add to the content over time. Therefore, the consistency throughout the whole program will directly support and educate athletes through the entire pathway.” EQ

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