Carolyn Lieutenant stood down as coach of the para equestrian team after Sydney 2000 and passed the reins to her good friend, Gill Rickard. She made sure the transition was smooth and remained very much involved with the para riders, their horses and training and was always around to help Gill develop the squad in readiness for the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games.
But with more time on her hands, she turned her attention to her pride and joy, Victory Salute, a gelding known as “Sam” that she had bred herself from her mare that she was not totally happy with, Esprit. “When I think about it, he was a fluke foal as I had the mare that I didn’t want to continue riding and looked for the best-looking stallion that was close by and that was Salute,” Carolyn recalls. “The result was Sam, and what a story!”
Sam was being ridden in 2003 being by Rodney Martin. They were enjoying great success at Elementary to Advanced, and Carolyn was very impressed with Sam’s basic training under Rodney. With Sam developing into a very competitive dressage horse, the ride was handed over to Matthew Dowsley to take to the higher levels. Matthew was more experienced at the FEI work and competition at that level, while Rodney was still there to give a hand from the ground. Carolyn took great delight in being able to watch and help, as Matthew and Rodney were then based at Maroota, not far from her Galston home north-west of Sydney. Matthew debuted with Sam in Melbourne at Dressage with the Stars, missing a position in the final round only by a point.
Carolyn was still involved in the lead up to the 2004 Athens Paralympics, as she was a selector, and much time was put in to finding the right horses for the riders to send a strong team to the Games. The team proved very competitive and most outstanding was Jan Pike in the Grade 1 class aboard the imported bay gelding Dr Doolittle. They won a silver and a bronze medal, a tremendous achievement for not only Jan but for the whole para movement within Australia.
Back home, Carolyn was forging ahead on several fronts. She was busy judging in both New Zealand and Australia, and spending time in Western Australia teaching as well as judging. She was in great demand presenting judging seminars, as her knowledge wasn’t just judge-based, it came from her experiences as a coach and FEI rider, and it gave her a fantastic understanding of how to come up with a well-rounded mark for every movement.
There was also no shortage of students knocking on her door and Carolyn continued to coach many through to Grand Prix. At this time she decided it was opportune to cut her ties with New Zealand as far as property was concerned, and she sold the family farm. Carolyn was very happy to stay in Galston in her fabulous house with its rose gardens and horse facilities. Her brother, David, moved from New Zealand to join her at Galston.
Always up for an overseas jaunt, Carolyn was coaching a para rider in Rob Oakley and the topic of seeing some overseas riders was raised. So, in the blink of an eye, as always with Carolyn, it was with Rob that they travelled to Hartpury in England to watch the British Para Dressage Championships and the able-bodied British Dressage Championships. Rob was so inspired he went on and pursued a dream to compete at the London Olympics — another rider inspired by Carolyn’s positivity to follow his heart. The thing is that Carolyn, I’m sure, doesn’t believe in good luck so much as believing that you make your own luck!
It was in 2005 when Ulla Salzgeber was in Australia giving clinics for the squad riders that Sam and Matthew caught her eye. The training was looking good and now that the piaffe and the passage had come together, Sam was looking like a real Grand Prix hope. The most amazing thing with Sam was that even though he wasn’t an extravagant, super mover, his delightful attitude and willingness to give it a go saw him flourish into a seriously good horse.