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
click here to start reading

ISSUE 64

CONTENTS

MARCH 2021
click on left side to read the previous article
click on right side to read the next article
scroll down or click icon to read article

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
content placeholder
Previous
Next

“Get a good thoroughbred, and you’ve got a very special horse!” That’s the firm view of revered show rider Rebecca Farrow, whose accolades include two Garryowen wins and countless Champion Hack and Rider titles.

“Percy is such an enjoyable
horse to train.”

Rebecca Farrow certainly knows what it is like to own a special thoroughbred. Having competed in the show ring since her childhood – first on a pony, then on a Galloway, and with thoroughbreds ever since – she is currently enjoying expanding her horizons with her Garryowen winner, Stage Presence, and turning heads in the process. “Percy”, as he is affectionately known, may have been unsuccessful on the track, however, this supremely elegant 17hh Testa Rossa gelding is a shining example of the versatility and adaptability of thoroughbreds in their lives after racing. An outstanding athlete with an exemplary attitude towards learning, Percy is continuing to dominate in the show ring while also stepping out with success in the dressage arena.

“We did our first dressage tests not long after winning the Garryowen in 2018. I only dabbled in a few, while behind the scenes I was always training with a dressage focus,” Rebecca explains. “I was thrilled to then win the Off the Track Novice Championship class at the Dressage Festival in December 2020, and this year’s launch of Racing Victoria’s official series for Off the Track Horses at Boneo Park has definitely encouraged me to do more dressage with him. I am really looking forward to seeing what we can achieve this year.

“Percy is such an enjoyable horse to train, and when you have a horse like that who is dying to learn, dressage is appealing as there’s so much we can teach him. He’s a very unique horse; he has an incredibly trainable brain. He’s very smart, he learns very easily and he doesn’t get frazzled. But he’s also not flat, dull or boring; so whilst he’s got all that trainability, he also has a bit of pizazz,” Rebecca enthuses, adding: “All my lessons that I get from Judi Kopanica, and in recent times Ant Bartlett, they’re all dressage focused. It’s important to me that a horse off the track learns to go correctly from very early on. It’s about getting the basics right and then growing their education from there. I’ve been showing all my life and I’ve always loved it, but I’ve now got a horse that can do both.”

It’s not surprising that Rebecca is finding her foray into the dressage world beneficial; not only is it providing her and Percy with new inspiration and skills, it’s also helping their preparation for the show ring; after all, dressage is the art of riding and training a horse in a manner that develops obedience, flexibility, and balance – important elements of any performance horse’s training!

“I feel that the more dressage he does, the better show horse he will be,” Rebecca explains. “Training with a dressage focus is really helping me to ride the nose out, get him better connected and over the back, really riding the hind leg up. There’s no doubt dressage highlights your need to be accurate. Doing everything on the marker and really focusing on correct transitions, you strive for that in the show ring, but it is so much more important in the dressage arena. When showing, we might be given a workout and asked to pick up the trot in the middle or canter at a particular spot, however, there’s a little bit of interpretation involved in precisely where you pick up the canter. So if your horse doesn’t feel quite right you can reconnect and take that extra four strides. You can’t do that in dressage, it has to be right on the marker. In my training that has become paramount. I’ve got a dressage arena at home with all the letters set up, so I can really work on my accuracy.”

“He’s very smart, he learns
very easily and he doesn’t get frazzled.

“I feel that the more dressage
he does, the better show
horse he will be.”

“I love riding in a big
atmosphere with a crowd.”

Fresh from a very successful weekend at Barastoc Horse of the Year show, at which Rebecca and Percy won both their classes – the Rider 26 Years and Over class and the Racing Victoria Off the Track Ridden Hack class – Rebecca is quick to acknowledge the role her dressage training played in their success, explaining: “I really rode my workout on the weekend very much like a dressage test in terms of focusing on straightness, good corners, and setting up transitions.”

There were 50 entrants in the Off the Track Ridden Hack class at Barastoc Horse of the Year 2021, the highest number of entries in any class in the entire show! The growing support for Off the Track classes indicates an increasing number of people are choosing a thoroughbred as their horse of choice for performance disciplines, and it’s something Rebecca’s very happy to see.

“Racing Victoria’s support of Off the Track classes in dressage, showing and other disciplines is definitely encouraging some diversity back into the way we approach our horses’ careers,” says Rebecca, who grew up competing in not just showing but also eventing, through the Pony Club ranks. Those were days when most children and adults had a go at everything, all on the one horse – and that horse was often a thoroughbred. It seems the wheel could be coming full circle.

“I think education is the best form of sedation for thoroughbreds because it keeps their heads cool, it gives them something to focus on,” Rebecca explains. “Thoroughbreds are great horses, and I personally believe that when people go wrong, it’s usually because they haven’t taken their time and they’re not patient enough. I’m a very patient person with my horses – more so than I am with people – and when I try to explain this to my non-horsey friends, I say it’s like taking a child and putting it in preschool. You can’t just think ‘oh he’ll go one day a week and he will learn everything’. It’s about doing small bits, regularly, being really consistent, establishing boundaries and rewarding good behaviour. I think there are so many thoroughbreds with huge potential, but sometimes they’re not given the opportunity because people want to fast-track them.

“I also keep my property very calm. There’s no yelling and no one is rushing around being frantic, and I think that is very important for off-the-track horses. I think a lot of thoroughbreds come out of these busy training stables where there are 40 to 50 horses and things are happening from quarter to 4 in the morning, and that can affect their behaviour. When they come to my place it’s all very calm and there’s a routine. There’s always a very calm horse to keep them company; my old horse, he’s 26 now, he’s always in the stable next to Percy. A lot of these horses have never had that one-on-one attention, and it takes time. People can think ‘Oh but I’ve had him three months and he still hasn’t settled’, but it can sometimes take up to 18 months before you start to really know the horse.”

As for selecting an off-the-track thoroughbred, Rebecca says the first thing that catches her eye is how a horse looks. “They have to have a good head and a beautiful eye, an interested eye. That, to me, is more important than a pretty little pony head. I look very closely at how the horse is put together; I think that goes across any discipline. I look at a horse like Percy who’s an athlete, and I actually think he could do any discipline because he’s really, really well put together and he’s incredibly athletic. I like long, correct legs, a good shoulder, a good length of rein and I don’t like a horse that’s long in the back. Overall, I like a horse that cuts an elegant picture.”

Assessing how a future performance horse moves is very important; when doing so, Rebecca pays particular attention to the walk and the canter. “It’s easy to get excited about a great trot, but I feel that if you’re looking at a thoroughbred, you really should be paying more attention to its walk and its canter because they haven’t done a lot of trot, and it’s something they’ve never really been taught to do. Often their trot is like a jog that leads into a canter, which then leads into a gallop. You can really improve the trot with time and training, but the canter is particularly important in the show ring, because we get called in off the canter!”

After a stellar start to this year’s show season, Rebecca is now looking forward to the Nationals with Percy later this year, and continuing to compete in the Off the Track classes at Boneo Park’s monthly dressage competitions. Having placed in both Novice OTT divisions at the Summer Dressage Championships in January, Rebecca was unable to make it to the February event, however, she plans to be back in the arena with Percy at Boneo’s March competition.

“I love competing at Boneo Park, the facilities really are beautiful, and I find it just such a competitor friendly environment, it’s actually a really relaxing day out for me. Having been a show rider my whole life, who is trying to train a horse correctly behind the scenes, I find it really rewarding to go to Boneo for the dressage because it is about you, your effort, your work, and being rewarded for that. For me, even the drive to the event is done with a very different mindset. It’s not about who’s judging and who’s going to be there, and will they like my horse. It’s about me going through my head, how my last test went, where I need to improve and what I need to do today,” Rebecca enthuses.

“With dressage, judging may still be a little bit subjective at times, but the fact that you’ve got a criteria and a score to take home and build on, that makes it very transparent and gives you something to work towards, which is not always the case in the show ring, where you can be very happy with your workout and not place and not understand why,” Rebecca explains. “But I will always love showing, I love riding in a big atmosphere with a crowd, and the attention to detail. I love the presentation; I’ve always been that kind of person, which is probably why I love the Garryowen and find it really quite enjoyable. A lot of people are so stressed out by the Garryowen, but I really appreciate the detail and work involved. I love presenting horses beautifully, being beautifully dressed, and having that count, then putting the polish on it with the work you produce in the ring. I think some people believe that showing is all about looking the part, but you have to back it up with great work and it’s really rewarding when you’ve got the whole package.”

Rebecca Farrow and Stage Presence have shown, many times over, that they are indeed the complete package in the show ring. As their dressage career progresses, there is no doubt that this talented duo will continue to demonstrate what can be achieved when an athletic thoroughbred is paired with a dedicated rider. EQ

×

Enter your name and email to view the content.



* By providing your email via this form, you agree to receiving emails from Equestrian Life. You can unsubscribe at any time.