ISSUE 63
FEBRUARY 2021
BONEO
BIG TOUR

DRESSAGE STARS THRILL
VALE DI SCHAEFFER
EVENTING LEGEND
EMILY STIRLING
SETS THE EXAMPLE

PLUS: ASSERT YOUR SENIORITY WITH KERRY MACK, RACHAEL CLARKE’S TARCOOLA EQUESTRIAN CENTRE, THE MAKING OF ‘PHAR LAP’, MEGAN BRYANT’S LESSON WITH LYNDAL, CAROLYN LIEUTENANT’S VICTORY SALUTE, OUR BLACK SUMMER HEROES, AUSTRIA’S GOLDEN HORSES, IRELAND’S CONNEMARAS, FEEDING OMEGA-3s & A VET’S TAKE ON EUTHANASIA

AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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ISSUE 63

CONTENTS

FEBRUARY 2021
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A few Words

FROM THE CHAIRMAN

ROBERT MCKAY

Opinion

VALE DI SCHAEFFER WARRIOR OF AUSTRALIAN EVENTING

RYAN’S RAVE BY HEATH RYAN

Dressage

BONEO BIG TOUR LEAVES PLENTY TO BE EXCITED ABOUT

BY ADELE SEVERS

Showjumping

YOUNG EMILY SETS A STIRLING EXAMPLE

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Training

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR SENIORITY

BY DR KERRY MACK

Lifestyle

MEET PHAR LAP’S DOUBLE — TOWERING INFERNO

BY SUZY JARRATT

Dressage

MEGAN BRYANT ZOOMS IN TO VIRTUAL VICTORY

BY EDWINA BADGERY

Health

NEW EO-3 PASSES THE TASTE TEST

BY KENTUCKY EQUINE RESEARCH STAFF

EQ Journeys

A GODSEND FOR THE CONNEMARA

BY EQ LIFE

Health

EUTHANASIA, THE TOUGHEST DECISION

BY DR MAXINE BRAIN

Special feature

COURAGEOUS KIWI BLAZES HER OWN TRAIL (Part 7)

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Breeding

FROM AUSTRIA WITH LOVE, THE GOLDEN HORSE

BY ELLIE JOLLEY

Special feature

THE ORPHAN HORSES OF PAYNES CROSSING

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Property

RACHAEL CLARKE’S MAGIC TOUCH AT TARCOOLA

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

My Favourite Dish

VEGETARIAN LASAGNE

WITH RACHAEL CLARKE
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Megan Bryant and Furst Dance MBE.
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Living on a 2,500-acre farm, Megan Bryant is no stranger to isolation and didn’t miss a beat during pandemic restrictions by competing in our Virtual Dressage Competitions, winning a cherished lesson with Lyndal Oatley.

“These competitions
were a great way to help
me stay motivated.”

First sitting on a horse before she could walk, Megan Bryant was always going to lead a life that involved horses. A pony of her own at age five, dressage competitions by age 10 and her first FEI test at 15 paved the way for her to represent Australia at an international event just three years later.

Fast forward to the present, and like many of us, Megan made the best of an interesting 2020. Last year saw minimal competitions, a change in her team of horses… and the opportunity to experience the wonders of technology. A mainstay on the entry lists for Equestrian Life’s Virtual Dressage Competitions, Megan enjoyed working these events into her training schedule and was fortunate enough to win a lesson with Australian Olympian Lyndal Oatley.

Here, we catch up with Megan to find out more about her early days in the saddle, her career highlights, the interesting year that was, and what it was like to learn from Lyndal — who was over 16,000km away in Germany!

Are you able tell me a little bit more about your relationship with riding? When did your love for horse riding begin?

My mum had a horse when I was born, and I always wanted to sit up on her big thoroughbred. Once I was about five years old I got my first pony and I loved riding around the farm with my parents, but was more than happy just at a walk until I was about eight years old when I started Pony Club.

At 10, I started competing in dressage and rode my first FEI test at 15, and while I have competed in most disciplines, dressage has always been my main focus. I love the challenge of dressage, training the horses up the levels, and seeing the development in the horses over many years of training. But most of all I love building a partnership with my horse and having that feeling that they have full trust in me and will do anything I ask. I have had many horses that no one believed in; ones my coaches told me to sell. But with patience and perseverance I took them from nothing to FEI horses.

What are some highlights from your career as a dressage rider?

My number one highlight would be representing Australia at the 2010 FEI Young Rider World Cup Final in Germany with my horse Donnabella; it was such an amazing experience to travel overseas. Winning the Aachen Challenge (an event for young riders held at Dressage & Jumping with the Stars) in both 2011 and 2013, where the winner is decided after riding an FEI test on each of the top three horses with only 10 minutes warm-up, was also a highlight. Winning the Under-25 Grand Prix Freestyle at the Sydney CDI in 2014 with my schoolmaster Northern Xanthus III and then going on to train my first horse from Preliminary all the way to Grand Prix, with Mr Jackson, were also memories that I cherish.

My next goal in the dressage arena is to train a horse we bred to Grand Prix, and Furst Dance MBE is getting very close.

Some other highlights outside of dressage would be completing Adelaide International Horse Trials in the three-star and winning Champion Rider 21 and Under-30 at the 2018 Show Horse Council Grand National.

Competitions within Australia and around the world were (and in some cases still are) cancelled and postponed due to Covid-19. How have coped during this period? Has it been challenging to keep your team of horses on track?

Living my whole life in Cowra, Central West NSW, on a 2500-acre property, I am used to being isolated and not getting regular coaching. Working from home is my normal, my horses are just over the back fence and it’s a one-minute walk to the stables to start my day, so I am very lucky.

We could never understand what a real lockdown was like, as we have so much space on our farm and so much to do we would never be bored. When NSW residents were only allowed to leave home for essentials, which obviously didn’t include travelling for riding lessons, I was still able to travel, for work, to my students’ homes and teach them whilst abiding by COVID rules.

“Filming from C gives you
a whole new perspective, the exact
perspective of the judge.”

We all got excited in NSW for sport to recommence in July, but shortly after new restrictions were put in place for sporting events and you couldn’t travel inter-region. There was lots of confusion as to what defined a region, but eventually regions were announced which put me in the corner of a couple of regions that I would normally compete in.

My home club, Young Dressage Association, of which I am president and event organiser, is just over 30 minutes’ away, but this was classed as a different region for many weeks. So this meant there were only three dressage clubs in my region, two of which I wouldn’t normally compete at, as they are many hours’ drive away. It was hard getting ready for a comp but then having it cancelled at the last minute, but this is going to happen more often, I imagine.

Sadly, when the competitions did start up, the weather tried to put a dampener on our spirits. With many comps cancelled due to rain and earlier in the year because of bushfires, I think I only got to five official comps all year. So I have used the time as a training opportunity to get my horses up a level, though I have made some changes to my team of horses with the sale of a few special horses, so I am starting this year with a few new young horses.

You’ve competed in quite a few of Equestrian Life’s Virtual Dressage Competitions. What were some of the aspects that you enjoyed about the experience?

Yes, I think I have competed in all of the Equestrian Life Virtual Dressage Competitions on various horses. These competitions were a great way to help me stay motivated and on track, as it highlighted areas in my training which I needed to focus on. It was also a great opportunity to put yourself under that competition pressure as well as keeping your test riding skills in practice. Filming from C gives you a whole new perspective, the exact perspective of the judge, which is something we pretty well never get.

Hearing Roger’s (Roger Fitzhardinge) insightful comments whilst watching it back really gives you a better understanding of what the judges are looking for. You were also able to get so much more educational comments from Roger than on a normal test sheet, which often just tells you where you went wrong. Whereas in this scenario, Roger had time to explain what was lacking from each movement and where you could gain more marks next time. Even though real competitions have started up again, I have continued to enter the virtual competition as I have got so much out of it; it’s like a mini lesson. The feedback was definitely the reason I was entering each month, and the amazing prizes I won were a bonus — thanks to the sponsors who supported these virtual events!

You won a virtual lesson with Lyndal Oatley. Are you able to tell us a little more about the experience?

Of course, my favourite prize was winning a lesson with Lyndal Oatley (who is based in Germany). I had never done a virtual lesson before so I spent a lot of time ensuring the technology would all work, and it was very stressful when two phones were dropped and broken in the lead up to the lesson. But we got it all sorted and the lesson via Zoom went really well; I was actually surprised at how much detail Lyndal could see. For the lesson I rode Furst Dance MBE, my 10-year-old black gelding by Fürst Love, an embryo transfer foal from Donnabella.

“I will be watching the
recording of the lesson
back many times!”

Lyndal asked me what I wanted to work on, and I explained how my horse is very consistent and accurate at Advanced and Prix St Georges level, but to improve my scores I need to get him more collected and more expressive in his paces. So, we began with some transitions to get him more on the hind leg and responsive to the aids, which really helped with the expression in his trot. We then moved onto keeping that expression during the lateral work as well as improving his suppleness. In the canter we worked on getting him sitting on the hind end and more active with some transitions within the pace, before doing some canter half-passes, ensuring the energy was maintained within the half-pass.

Lyndal watched me do a line of changes and decided they looked quite established so we would move on to some canter pirouettes after a good break, as it was quite a hot afternoon. We started with some working pirouettes before asking him to sit more, before turning on to quarter pirouettes and making sure he didn’t lose the energy in the canter as I collected him.

We finished with some lovely half-pirouettes before wrapping up the lesson. I really enjoyed the lesson with Lyndal, and I am so grateful for her giving up her time to teach me. Lyndal picked up lots of small things with my riding that I am sure to put into practice and I will be watching the recording of the lesson back many times!

Equestrian Life would like to thank Lyndal for offering her invaluable lessons as prizes — it was a real thrill for all involved!

With the return of competitions in Australia, do you have any events lined up in the near future?

I had a few official events towards the end of 2020, including Willinga Park and the Canberra Classic. I had some great results there, which finished off the year and now I’m looking at the new year ahead. Willinga Park’s Dressage by the Sea in February will likely be my first big event of 2021, and then all focus will be on the Young Dressage Association Championships in April. I will also have lots of small competitions to do with my exciting new young horses; I’m so looking forward to a better year in 2021!

Equestrian Life’s Virtual Dressage Competitions continue in February (entries close 7 February) and March, with these events proudly sponsored by our wonderful friends at Barastoc. $100 RB Sellars gift vouchers will be awarded to the champions of each of the five classes, and Boutique Equines will be awarding an SD Design Package to the best presented combination, for both February and March, and a voucher to their fabulous online store, for the overall series winner. So don’t forget to dress to impress!  EQ

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