ISSUE 64
MARCH 2021

WORLD CLASS

DRESSAGE BY THE SEA
EVENTING SUMMER CLASSIC
BRINGS OUT THE BEST
HEATH RYAN’S HEADS UP
FOR BRISBANE 2032

PLUS: TRISTAN TUCKER’S RUNAWAY SUCCESS, FROM HRH TO TOTAL DIVA FOR MAREE TOMKINSON, CAROLYN LIEUTENANT SMELLS THE ROSES, KAREN MILLER FULFILS FANTASY, BRETT PARBERY’S TRUE CALLING, PERCY THE OTT STAR, KERRY MACK & POLYVAGAL THEORY, MAXINE BRAIN & TOXIC METALS, & A HEART-THROB SAVES HIDALGO

AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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ISSUE 64

CONTENTS

MARCH 2021
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A few Words

FROM THE CHAIRMAN

ROBERT MCKAY

Ryan's Rave

START PLANNNG FOR BRISBANE 2032

BY HEATH RYAN

Dressage

WORLD-CLASS DRESSAGE AT WILLINGA PARK

BY ELLIE JOLLEY & ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Eventing

SURPRISES AND SUCCESS AT SIEC

BY ELLIE JOLLEY

Special feature

COURAGEOUS KIWI BLAZES HER OWN TRAIL (Part 8)

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Lifestyle

VIGGO MORTENSEN SAVES THE DAY!

BY SUZY JARRATT

Dressage

BRETT PARBERY FINDS HIS TRUE CALLING

BY ADELE SEVERS & AMANDA YOUNG

Property

FANTASY WRITER FULFILS HER OWN FANTASY

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Training

TRISTAN TUCKER’S QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Training

UNDERSTANDING YOUR HORSE’S INNER THOUGHTS

BY KERRY MACK

Dressage

FROM HER HIGHNESS TO TOTAL DIVA

BY EQ LIFE

Health

HEAVY METAL TOXICITIES

BY DR MAXINE BRAIN

Off the Track

PERCY MAKES HIS PRESENCE FELT

BY AMANDA YOUNG

My Favourite Dish

ORANGE POPPY SEED SYRUP CAKE

WITH KAREN MILLER
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Karen Miller has certainly had an interesting life and it’s about to get a whole lot more interesting! Having written 24 books and conquered ill health, she is now pursuing her original passion… horses!

“Could she resume her
love affair with horses?”

Karen was born in Canada. When her parents met, her Australian father was a refrigeration mechanic and her English mother a draftswoman. Soon after their marriage and Karen’s birth, the family moved to England and then, a few years later, to Australia, where they settled first in Five Dock and later moved to Haberfield, both inner city Sydney suburbs. When Karen was six, they moved to Hornsby Heights and then on to Glenorie when she was 16.

During that time her mother kept the home fires burning and her father started a commercial refrigeration business that was to become the biggest in the southern hemisphere. Karen attended Asquith Girls High and, after the move to Glenorie, finished her schooling at Galston High.

From when she was a little girl, she adored ponies and was teased that the first word she ever spoke was in fact… “pony”! Her grandfather lived in Tamworth where her father was raised. When he was a little boy Karen relates how the family went to church one Sunday in the horse and cart and, on their return home, found that the entire property had been razed by bushfire; all they had left were the clothes they were wearing and the horse and cart.

When Karen and her parents moved back to Sydney, her grandfather still lived in Tamworth. As Karen grew older – and after attending weekly riding lessons at Tall Timbers Riding School in West Pennant Hills – she would go up there and spend holidays at a family friend’s property, where she learned to muster cattle and sheep on horseback. When she was 16, the last horse that her grandfather bred became her first. A bay quarter horse/stock horse galloway, his name was Boy and he lived with Karen from the age of five until he passed away at 30. He was a brilliant first horse, and they did everything together; pony club, dressage, showing and eventing. Other horses joined him as Karen continued her equestrian pursuits.

After leaving school Karen went on to university and completed a Bachelor of Communication at what was then Sydney’s Institute of Technology. Following graduation, and after six months working at Centrelink, she moved to the UK. Following 18 months of various office jobs in London she decided to see if the reality of working with horses lived up to the dream.

She started as a working pupil at Pendley Pony Stud, in Buckingham, which was the home of Dorian and Jennifer Williams. He was a well-known equestrian broadcaster and huntsman, and the founder of the Olympia Horse Show. She was a top show horse breeder and producer. The year’s experience Karen gained there working towards her British Pony Society’s Stud Assistant certificate was invaluable. Not only was she working with top show pony stallions, mares and foals, but with hunters through the winter. Once her traineeship was completed, she worked at a National Hunt racing yard in Reading, and then managed a hotel stable in Somerset.

But eventually homesickness won, so she returned to Glenorie and her own riding adventures, including showing and breeding Arabians. In the years that followed she worked as a training officer with the NRMA, was the public relations officer with Kuringai Council, a production assistant for McGraw Hill educational publishers, taught English/Communications at Mount Druitt TAFE, was a supervisor/training officer for Telstra MobileNet and completed a master’s degree in Children’s Literature from Macquarie University. Eventually, she opened Phantasia, a science fiction, fantasy and mystery bookshop in Penrith.

“Asterix II has already achieved
State Champion and Reserve National
Champion at Novice level.”

Unfortunately, about halfway through Phantasia’s run, her health began to deteriorate until she was no longer able to work. Suffering from chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, she was forced to close the shop, give away all her horses, and move from acreage into Kellyville suburbia. With the world of horses closed to her forever (or so she thought), she spent the next 16 years pursuing her other great passion: writing. Her first fantasy novel, The Innocent Mage, was published locally by HarperCollins Australia, and then internationally by Orbit UK. Other best-selling fantasy novels followed, as well as books set in the Stargate and Star Wars universes. Karen is also well known for her hit fantasy duology Kingmaker and Kingbreaker, and the fantasy trilogy Godspeaker, among many others. Writing as K.E. Mills she is the author of the Rogue Agent series.

“Ballodair Park is
beautifully laid out.”

“There is a 60m x 20m synthetic
surfaced arena alongside a
larger indoor school.”

As well as the chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, Karen also had to contend with multiple herniated spinal discs and one ruptured disc. But eventually, after a lot of physical therapy, she made a full recovery from the spinal issues and then, to her complete surprise, the chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia went into remission. And that’s when she thought … could she resume her love affair with horses? A riding lesson in Oakville gave her the answer. Yes! So, she moved back to Glenorie, bought herself an ex-racehorse and started again.

Meanwhile, Karen’s father and his partners had sold their commercial refrigeration company, which meant that he could pursue his own consuming passion; wine. He bought two vineyards in the Barossa Valley, a place he loved more than anywhere in the world, and with his manager nurtured them to a standard of excellence that meant his grapes were chosen by Penfolds for their premier Grange Hermitage wine. He also began a charitable foundation that has worked with Westmead Children’s Hospital’s Gene Therapy Unit.

And then in 2015, everything changed, literally overnight. While he was in the Barossa, Karen’s father suffered a massive stroke and died. When the dust finally settled, and her father’s estate and business interests were finalised, Karen found herself in the extremely fortunate position of being able to continue with the charitable foundation her father established. While assisting in a range of areas, the Owen Miller Memorial Foundation is most proudly associated with Assistance Dogs Australia, a non-profit organisation that breeds, trains and supplies assistance dogs to members of the community with needs that can’t be met by Guide Dogs Australia. Recipients are returned military veterans with PTSD, people impacted by severe injuries or illness, and children suffering from autism and other issues – these wonderful dogs become a part of their lives and change so much for the better. Being able to help like this is one of the greatest gifts Karen received from her late father.

The other great gift was the ability to purchase a bit more land for herself and her horses. As luck would have it, a beautiful property in the Hawkesbury came on the market. Formerly known as Merrynvale, and used for breeding, breaking and training racehorses, the original 1000 acres had been subdivided into three smaller parcels. Karen was able to secure two of them, totalling 70 acres, and so her next big adventure began; creating Ballodair Park, an equestrian center where not only could she ride and train her own horses but where amateur and professional riders alike could come and train.

“On the other side of the
property is a wonderful
700 metre race track.”

With valuable assistance from Robert Harrison Schmerglatt, Karen was able to purchase three beautiful dressage horses from Germany. Asterix II (Asterix x Warkant) has already achieved State Champion and Reserve National Champion at Novice level, while D’Or Danseur (Don Frederico x San Remo), after spending some time in Odie’s shadow, will relaunch his competition career towards the end of 2021. The third horse, Demelza (Diamond Hit x Weltmeyer), will be Karen’s ride, now that the mare has recovered from an unfortunate accident sustained shortly after her arrival. At 15.3 she is a much better fit than the super tall German geldings!

As well as the imported German horses, Ballodair Park is home to competitive off-the-track horses, other Warmbloods, including a lovely mare by Negro, a cheeky Clydesdale/Warmbood cross, Arabians, wonderfully bred unbroken young stock, some broodmares of interesting breeding, a national champion eventer – and the retirees who live in the lap of luxury.

Managing all of this, and riding up to 15 horses a day, is Lyndal Yelavich. Lyndal doesn’t come from an equestrian background but rode in Queanbeyan as a child (obsessed was not a strong enough word!) and then worked with showjumpers. She moved to the Hawkesbury and simply loved eventing. To pay for her obsession she started to work in the racing industry, and for over seven years rode trackwork for Godolphin as well as some of the top Hawkesbury trainers. Through her contacts she leased a property for use as a quarantine station, had it AQIS approved and subsequently worked with the quarantining of valuable racehorses out of Australia – a huge responsibility and a daunting logistical challenge which she met with determination and flair.

“One of Ballodair Park’s
highlights is the amazing
cross-country course.”

Lyndal has enjoyed great success as an eventing rider, and has a couple of promising young eventers to work with but is now also focusing on pure dressage, with the brilliant assistance of Brett Parbery and Lucas Hurps.  She lives a few minutes away from Ballodair Park, with her son and daughter, while Ballodair’s yard manager lives in a cottage on the property. Karen lives on site, in a freshly renovated two-storey house complete with four different libraries and a swimming pool.  It has super character and is sophisticated yet simple – kind of like Karen Miller!

Ballodair Park is beautifully laid out and the facilities need to be seen to be believed, with lush turnout paddocks and a range of training areas. Near Karen’s house is the accommodation for her competition team horses. Once construction is finalised, there will be two blocks of wonderful stables, two sets of walk-in, walk-out boxes and yards, as well as day yards; a total of 35 spaces. Then there is a 60m x 20m synthetic surfaced arena alongside a larger indoor school that is still being built. In addition, the horse walker from the original property remains. Everything here adjoins with seamless ease and privacy. The feeling is composed, relaxed and friendly, where all the facilities marry each other to make up the one!

Helping to keep everything in order and the horses looking their best is a small crew of stable staff, led by stable manager Damian Goff, who are a vital part of Ballodair Park and its competition team.

On the other side of the property is a wonderful 700 metre race track with a running rail. The track is brilliant, with a coarse sand surface that is regularly irrigated. On the inside of this will be built a covered arena, an open 60m x 20m dressage arena, an 80m x 80m show jumping arena, and a grassed riding area. It’s a beautiful space, designed for hire by outside clients who want to do some cross-fit work. Until the formal facilities are built, the show jumps are set up on the excellent grass surface, and there is also a functional space for dressage training.  The main indoor arena, which will have full mirrors and a sound system, will also be available for hire.

One of Ballodair Park’s highlights is the amazing cross-country course, beautifully designed and built by Brett Ryan and Nick Taliana. It caters for confidence building with fences ranging from 45cm up to some 1* fences.

“Karen’s plan is to hold regular clinics in dressage, eventing, show jumping and showing with a variety of guest trainers.”

There are at least 20 individual fences as well as several portable fences. There are ditches, water splash and water complexes, arrow heads, apexes and combinations, as well as myriad log-type obstacles. There are fixed trotting logs and canter lanes with poles set at correct striding that are sturdy and inviting. Probably the most exciting jump is the Owl Hole – courtesy of two very convenient young gum trees that happened to be in exactly the right place!

The most fantastic feature of this manicured and well-prepared cross-country track is that there are rubber sports mats at the landing and takeoff of the fences, so the surfaces always stay intact, firm and kind. It is really a brilliantly thought out and designed area. There are still more fences to be built, including apexes and arrow heads that will have adjustable heights. When it’s completed, riders and horses of all ages and experience will have somewhere to ride and train and enjoy themselves.

When the never-ending procession of tradies finish building Ballodair Park, Karen’s plan is to hold regular clinics in dressage, eventing, show jumping and showing with a variety of guest trainers from around Australia, and eventually abroad. She also wants to hold showing, dressage, jumping and young horse protocol days, where riders can introduce their horses to the hurly burly of warm-up arenas and competition without the stress of actually competing. It won’t be an agistment centre, but a facility for horse wellbeing and inspirational training.

Karen Miller is a woman with foresight and an adventurous nature, strong-willed and determined to succeed. Her love of horses and of producing competition horses of her own excites her, as does the future of Ballodair Park. What a visualisation and what an author, who has taken a dream from her imagination and is bringing it to life. EQ

You can find out more about Ballodair Park via their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BallodairPark

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