“A really good childhood friend of mine called and said to me, ‘This is what you’re going to do. You’re going to write down five things that you’re going to achieve in the next three months. Get in and tie up all the loose ends, and get in and make decisions that set you up for when you’re back riding again’.
“That was one of the best phone calls I’ve had,” Brett reminisces. “That advice, coaching and friendship set me up to make sure that time on the lounge was well spent!”
The year 2019 had been a big one. As the head dressage rider for Willinga Park, Brett had a large team of quality horses in work and a busy training and competition schedule. However, a freak accident involving a fall from a young horse not only resulted in a broken femur and hip; it also served as the catalyst for unforeseen change.
“My friend’s advice helped me make some big decisions. The first and most important decision was to leave Willinga Park and come back home. I made the difficult decision to let Willinga Park know that I wasn’t going to be renewing my contract,” Brett explains. And so, he began planning for what his career would look like post-recovery in 2020 and beyond, not realising a curveball would soon be thrown his way.
“The moment I had recovered enough from my injuries to be up and moving, we had to start fighting bushfires in our area for a good six weeks – it really was a six-week distraction. It put a lot of the plans that I had on hold, but that’s okay, that’s part of life.”
Once the fire threat eased, Brett was finally able to truly focus on three main things; firstly, the Parbery Program, an online dressage training system Brett launched in 2019, “That’s something I really believe in and I’m really passionate about,” Brett explains. “It’s yielding results – I’m seeing really great improvements in the students that participate in it, and I wanted to invest more time in it – which is exactly what I’ve done.”
The next focus point for Brett involved reinstating his registration as a property valuer. Prior to becoming a dressage rider and coach, Brett had trained and practised as a valuer, however, he had let that lapse for 10 years due to immersing himself in his successful career in the equine industry.
“I wanted to reinstate that, so I set about doing all of the modules and all of the prior learning, all the updating that had to be done, which was quite tedious actually, but good! I just wanted to get that back into play so I had that career option,” says Brett, adding: “The one thing I didn’t want to do when I started up my own stable again was to go back to having a big stable, running around crazily, with a large team of horses and staff. I just wanted to keep my stable small and boutique. For the amount of riding that I want to do, I want to have the best quality horses I can, and I want to invest more time in them.”
Building a small team of high-quality horses that could be comfortably managed by Brett, his wife Mel, and a maximum of two staff members, was Brett’s third focus point as he looked forward to riding again. “I wanted to focus on getting off the lounge from my injury, and in doing so, they were the three things that I wanted to focus on. When I look back at what we’ve achieved in the last 12 months, it’s really building in a good way. I’m extremely busy, and everything that we’ve got going on is really exciting.