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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With Brisbane chosen as the International Olympic Committee’s preferred candidate to host the 2032 Olympic Games, now is the time to map out your plan of action.

This is so exciting – and for the Australian equestrian world this means that out there right now are eight-year-old kids who conceivably could be part of an Olympic team in their home country. That is one of the biggest honours that anybody could achieve and be part of in their entire life!

So how do you organise a journey that gives you a realistic chance of representing Australia at the Olympics?

Believe it or not, nearly nobody takes up the challenge and prepares to ride for Australia at an Olympic level. It is just one of those things that everyone sort of says, “oh well, we will see” and “gosh that would be fantastic”. Nobody tries! Why? Mainly because it sounds too fantastic to be realistic, and actually, the thought of promoting yourself as a future Olympian is embarrassing! Well, if embarrassing is the main problem, I say bring on the embarrassing!

You do need to control your destiny. There are no secrets and achieving the honour of riding for your country basically revolves around hard work and planning. Lots of people get halfway there and work hard, but nobody plans. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” – these are the words of Benjamin Franklin.

So, this month for my column, I am going to put forward a basic seven-year-plan that is realistic and will give you a shot at the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028 and certainly leave you as an established Olympic contender for the Brisbane Olympics in 2032. My column for this month is aimed at Eventing. Next month being April, I intend to produce a similar plan with the focus on Dressage.

“You do need to control
your destiny.”

“If you fail to plan,
you are planning to fail.”

LOS ANGELES OLYMPICS 2028

A rider cannot compete at 4* level, which is currently the Olympic level, until they are 18 years of age. Realistically, to be selected for Australia you will need to have won or done very well in at least two major three-day events at 4* level or above (i.e., a CCI4*L or a CCI5*L) before the Australian selectors are likely to start taking you seriously. So, I am suggesting that, realistically, right this moment, you cannot be younger than 13 years of age to launch an attack on the Australian Olympic team for Los Angeles 2028 (ideally, you will need to be closer to 15 so you’re able to start competing 4* by 2024 and have more events under your belt heading towards an Olympics – more on that later). Conversely, you need to be at least eight years of age right now to be seriously considering a gold medal attack on the Brisbane 2032 Olympics.

VITAL STATISTICS

The average individual gold medallist age in eventing at the Olympics is 32. So those of you who are around the 25-year-old mark are perfectly poised to go into training for an individual gold medal in Los Angeles. That means that those of you who are 21 or around that mark are perfectly poised to go into training for the Brisbane Olympics with a view to winning an individual gold medal.

Those numbers are just straight statistics. Nothing to do with my opinion. Just the truth – which you are going to have to get used to if you are going to make a plan to ride for Australia.

Another interesting statistic is that individual gold medallists are nearly always at their first Olympics. Once you have been to an Olympics in eventing the likelihood of you winning an individual gold medal on your second or third Olympics is nearly zero. Both Sir Mark Todd from New Zealand and Michael Jung from Germany each won an individual gold medal on their second Olympics. Both of these boys, however, also won an individual gold medal at their first Olympics. They are the exception. “Mark Well” that almost all Olympic individual gold medals in eventing are won by first-timers! In actual fact, the French team who won the team gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics were all at their first Olympics. Thinking that you have to be a seasoned international competitor to challenge for a gold medal is a fallacy!

The average age of a gold medal horse is just under 14 years of age; I believe an Olympic eventer generally needs to be between 10 and 18 years of age. So a horse getting ready for the Los Angeles Olympics will be around seven years of age at the moment. There is no problem if the horse is currently three years of age and no problem if the horse is as old as 11 years of age. If you go outside those parameters, you are not planning to go to the Los Angeles Olympics 2028. So, people who are planning to go to the Brisbane Olympics cannot have a horse older than seven for this program. A seven-year-old horse will be 18 years of age at the Brisbane Olympics. Most likely, the Brisbane gold medallist horse for 2032 is not yet broken in. These numbers are solid statistics. Not an opinion. You have to abide by these numbers if you think you are up to making a plan to go to the Olympics.

“Most likely, the Brisbane gold medallist horse for 2032 is not yet broken in.”

THE POTENTIAL OLYMPIC HORSE

  1. The horse needs to have three good basic paces. The walk needs to have at least 15cm of easy overtrack and the walk needs to be a walk march rhythm without an inclination to be lateral. The trot needs to have a good diagonal rhythm with reasonable hock bend that the dressage judges view very positively. Having a big moment of suspension is overrated. It is always nice if the horse has some natural lengthening in the trot, however, again training is likely to produce this aspect. The canter should show natural balance and, if the horse has some knee action, this does go over very well in the dressage arena. The horse does need to have a natural inclination to keep its head steady when working.
  1. When jumping, the horse needs to naturally leave the showjump poles alone and try hard not to touch them. This is called being careful and some horses have this natural talent and perhaps 75% of them don’t! You must have a horse that continually makes a big effort to be careful when jumping.
  1. A horse that has a quiet temperament when being ridden is a big advantage. Make no mistake, you will need every advantage you can get when trying to win a gold medal. Nevertheless, occasionally you will get an exception to this temperament rule.
  1. The horse does need to have good wind and not make a noise when galloping.
  1. Personally, I would like to have a horse that has a resting pulse rate of not more than 34 beats per minute.
  1. Most horses these days are Warmbloods. Please be aware that you can get Thoroughbreds off the track for nearly nothing and they can be absolutely top of the range as far as an Olympic prospect is concerned. You need to understand that the Thoroughbred in the lower classes before he is trained will rarely be able to compete with the Warmblood. Once the Thoroughbred is trained and in the higher classes, he is a very fine competition horse. Arab crosses, Connemara pony crosses, Stock Horse crosses and bits and pieces of other breeds can indeed make the Olympic cut.
  1. Your potential Olympic horse does not have to have perfect conformation but he or she does have to be sound. Soundness is very difficult to anticipate and even vet checks have great difficulty in predicting the future. I certainly am very nervous, from a soundness point of view, about a horse that does not have good feet.
  1. Most Olympic eventers are not smaller than 15.2hh and not bigger than 17.1hh.

TRAINING PROGRAM

The training program for Los Angeles 2028 means that ideally you and your horse should be competing at 4* level in 2024. You should be at 3* level in 2023 and 2* level in 2022. So that brings us to this year 2021 – and you do need to try and come to terms with 1* this year. No matter how far behind you are, you just cannot rush this. Going up levels without enough or appropriate training is simply dangerous for both the horse and the rider.

“Make no mistake, you will need every advantage you can get.”

In my opinion, the first time through a training program to the Olympics all riders need to have a weekly lesson with a coach who is familiar with these pathways. Your coach does need to be familiar with half-pass and flying changes and extended paces in the dressage arena. Your coach does need to be very familiar with distances between fences found in the competition arena (i.e. 1 striding doubles and 5 stride related fences etc).

Your jumping coach does need to be very confident with schooling and competing up to and including 135cm. The instruction you receive on cross country needs to include water fences, ditches, apexes, arrowheads, Trakehners, related lines and managing galloping.

Having a coach that is confident and competent and can do all of this is difficult to find. You may well be left with no choice and have to have three different coaches. This is a problem because you do need to stay in touch with all three disciplines each week. The other overriding consideration is that long-term soundness is always the number one priority. It doesn’t matter how well you train, if your horse goes lame it is all for nothing. Keep in mind that the average age of a gold medallist for a horse is 14. Never lose sight of the number one priority, which is your horse’s soundness and wellbeing.

SNOWBALL EFFECT

Progress is often like walking through a dark room. You go and go and go and you cannot see any progress. Then after some time you open a door on the other side of the dark room, which lets light go back and illuminates all the miles that you have travelled. You will be shocked at how far you have come. Be prepared for slow progress making you feel as though you are making no progress. As long as you just keep on going and you train thoughtfully with the help of somebody who knows, you will experience a snowballing effect, which is very exciting! This snowballing effect always comes from relentless slow training.

If you get this training program right you will go from a nobody to somebody clearly challenging the top riders in Australia within seven years. That is a fairly standard number. Seven years will take you from a young rider to a gold medallist; seven years will take you from an adult beginner to a top-class competitor; seven years will take an existing really good rider, who has stagnated or stalled, to an Olympic gold medal. The reason that very few people experience this success phenomena is that they have failed to plan. You must have the big picture mapped out on paper with dates and methodical expected achievements. This is a high performance program that anybody can do! Good luck. EQ

Cheers, Heath.

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