Carolyn Law had gained a wealth of experience since moving from New Zealand to Australia. Carolyn and John moved in together at Carlingford, north-west of Sydney, where she commuted from to her work with the Hungarian master horseman Karl Jurenak at his property and training establishment at Tibor Equestrian Centre, an hour west of Sydney. She was a working pupil there where she rode many great horses for their owners.
As we covered in Part 3, winning the Garryowen at Melbourne Royal in 1972 was a serious highlight and accolade for Carolyn. She had won many classes at Royal shows with hacks and in lady rider classes on the flat and over jumps, but the Garryowen Perpetual Trophy was then the most prestigious of all. Carolyn was also extremely competitive in the showjumping arena and had competed in front of the Queen in an invitation class at Sydney Royal.
I have to say that Carolyn is one of the most humble and respectful people you will ever meet. Well-heeled and travelled and well-read, she is quick-witted and smart and does not suffer fools! Carolyn’s equestrian prowess is proven and she never demands attention. She is simply upstanding and stands up for herself! As soon as you meet Carolyn you sense her bearing; it is just something that is immediately innate and apparent.
John and Carolyn looked around the Dural area for a property where Carolyn could start her own business, coaching, training and riding dressage horses. They finally found a wonderful five acres, which had only a Cape Cod house on it. It was a very long and narrow five acres on undulating country at Galston, NSW.
They named the property Wasseiges after John’s family’s old stately property in Belgium that was demolished in World War II. Together they undertook the task of establishing the infrastructure to make the property workable. John had worked for a wool business, but when the downturn in wool occurred, he turned to being the secretary for a friend’s successful packaging company.
Carolyn had many students and thought it was time to buy a horse of her own. The resulting horse was Crinan, a spirited chestnut thoroughbred sold to her by Carol and Warren Pratley. Carolyn showed horses very successfully for the Pratleys, who had bought Tibor from Karl Jurenak. There were horses such as Trinity, who won the 10-stone (63.5kg) hack class at Sydney Royal two years in a row, and the grey Royalty.
Crinan was by the sire Nullarbor, and was a good moving chestnut that had raced until the age of eight. On buying him, Carolyn decided to ride him home, as the Pratleys’ property was not far from Wasseiges. It was a ride that Carolyn has never forgotten as she wondered whether she would actually survive on the feisty ex-racehorse!
Needless to say, Carolyn trained and competed Crinan with success to FEI small tour, ultimately winning the first Haig Cup International Dressage Competition in 1982. The Haig Cup was introduced to foster dressage development in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and involved international judges travelling to each country to judge horses at Prix St Georges level and decide on the winner. Crinan was the first horse to go in the series and led all the way to win!
By this time, Carolyn and John had seriously developed Wasseiges; there were three stables and a tack room, and a great river sand dressage arena set up on the other side of a creek that ran through the property. Glennis Scott was training there on Hinkler and Caroline Hooper on Merefield Zia amongst many others. With often several lessons a day as well as owners’ horses and Crinan, Carolyn was not short of work or enthusiasm.
At various times, there were horses in training for competition, including three stallions — Chico D’Oro for Bev Chugg; Mustafa, a well-known imported Arabian stallion; and Sandchez, an imported Andalusian owned by Jan Carver, a great dressage supporter who worked tirelessly at fund-raising for the NSW dressage community.