ISSUE 66
MAY 2021
SANTIAGO
SINGS

FOR MATTHEW DOWSLEY
SAM JEFFREE
MAN ON A MISSION
SHARON JARVIS FINDS
HER UNICORN

PLUS: GRACE KAY, THE HORSES OF GILI, CELEBRITY CUTTING CHALLENGE, PIGGY MARCH, WILLINGA PARK’S GOLD BUCKLE, ROGER’S TIPS FOR THE MEDIUM TOUR, KERRY MACK’S DRESSAGE FOR JUMPERS, THE INS AND OUTS OF BUYING A HORSE, A NEW APPROACH TO LAMENESS DETECTION & MY FRIEND FLICKA

AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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ISSUE 66

CONTENTS

MAY 2021
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A few Words

FROM THE CHAIRMAN

ROBERT MCKAY

Ryan's Rave

SELECTION DIFFICULTIES FOR AUSSIE DRESSAGE RIDERS

BY HEATH RYAN

Dressage

MATTHEW DOWSLEY & SANTIAGO NAIL IT

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Campdrafting

BUCKLE UP FOR A WILD TIME AT WILLINGA PARK

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Dressage

GRACE KAY GOES HER OWN WAY

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Special feature

THE INS & OUTS OF BUYING A HORSE

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Cutting

SPARKS FLY WHEN CUTTING MEETS RACING

BY AMANDA YOUNG

EQ Journeys

HELPING THE HORSES OF GILI

BY ELLIE JOLLEY

Eventing

SAM JEFFREE, MAN ON A MISSION

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Dressage

10 TIPS FOR RIDING THE MEDIUM TOUR TESTS

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE / EQ LIFE

Eventing

PIGGY’S SUCCESS KEEPS MARCHING ON

BY ELLI BIRCH

Health

THE RIDDEN HORSE PAIN ETHOGRAM

BY DR MAXINE BRAIN

Lifestyle

MY FRIEND FLICKA

BY SUZY JARRATT

Para Equestrian

SHARON JARVIS FINDS HER UNICORN

BY ADELE SEVERS

Training

DRESSAGE FOR SHOWJUMPERS

BY DR KERRY MACK
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While Sam Jeffree’s energy and enthusiasm might reflect his youthfulness, this rising star of Australian eventing is wise beyond his years when it comes to respect for the animals and people supporting him.

“I’ll always remember it
as my first 4-star win.”

Sam Jeffree is a young man on a mission. At just 22, he was recently crowned Australian Eventing Champion after winning the CCI4*-S class at Wandin Park, and has a team of nine competition horses all competing at, or on their way to, FEI level.

“Winning is always a fantastic feeling, especially at the higher levels. Wandin was my first win at 4-star level, and while I’ve competed at that level before on my old horse Jaybee Calypso, I wasn’t always the most successful in the show jumping phase,” Sam enthuses. “Woodmount Lolita is such a fantastic horse, and for her to get me that first 4-star win was really special. I’ll always remember it as my first 4-star win – but hopefully there are many more to come!”

Sam’s win with Woodmount Lolita, known as ‘Lily’, at the Australian Eventing Champions in March was convincing from start to finish. After producing a winning dressage test, the pair added only cross country time penalties to their score, showing their class in all three phases.

“Lily is an amazing horse and she’s always going to have a chance to take out a competition, but eventing is a really tough sport and you never know what’s going to happen. The smallest error can have dire consequences. So at the end of the day, I wanted her to come home safe and sound, and she got the qualifier I was hoping for as well, looking ahead to future competitions,” Sam explains. “She was probably not at the level of fitness where we could push to go under time on cross country, but for where she was at in her fitness program, we did put our best foot forward in all three phases and I couldn’t have asked for much more than that. Looking forward, she could definitely go faster on the cross country but I was riding the horse that I felt underneath me on the day, and to walk away with the win as well was a bonus.”

Unlike Sam, who has been eventing since the tender age of 8 and seems to have been put on this earth to compete in the sport, Lily was bred to be a dressage horse and only started jumping when she was sent to Sam to be sold in 2017. The 2008 mare is by the Sandro Hit stallion Alessandro, and Sam is the first to admit that she’s not the typical eventing type; it’s her enormous heart and try that makes her special.

“A few years back Fiona Mitchell, who has been a long-term supporter of mine, actually recommended me to one of her neighbours to put some jumping training into Lily before putting her on the market. She had just been doing straight dressage with her owners and they had decided to sell her,” Sam explains. “To be honest, I didn’t really think very much of her at the start. She couldn’t really canter and she’s not the best build for eventing; if you put together an image of the perfect eventer, I don’t think it would look at all like her! But I remember that phone call to the owners after I jumped her for the first time. I said, ‘She doesn’t have any idea of what she’s doing, but she’s really bold, and she’s really careful!’”

“Lily is an amazing horse.”

LOVE OF COMPETITION

After taking Lily to a few small events, at which the mare showed a love for the competition atmosphere that has not left her, Sam realised he had a serious horse for the future on his hands. While Lily’s owners let him have the ride for a while, they ultimately did need to sell her, at which point Fiona Mitchell bought Lily and has supported Sam’s journey with her ever since.

“I’m very lucky. Fiona actually says that you make your own luck, but I’m so very appreciative of her support, and the support of all my other owners, and try to always express how thankful I am because I don’t think anything I’ll ever do or achieve will quite match what she’s allowed and given me. I’ve known Fiona since I was in year 7, and she truly believes in me,” Sam says.

Woodmount Lolita’s meteoric rise through the levels has been nothing short of impressive and has provided Sam, Fiona and the rest of the Jeffree Eventing team with much joy and excitement. In 2018, the mare won or placed in every event she was entered in and reached 1-star level. In 2019 Sam and Lily won the CCI2*-S class at Wandin Park, then went on to win the CCI2*-L at Melbourne International 3-Day Event. By September of that year Lily was ready for her 3-star debut, and in November 2019 the pair placed third in the CCI3*-L at the Australian International 3-Day Event and Sam was crowned the National Young Rider Champion.

The year 2020 may have been interrupted by Covid-19, however, it was clearly not a time of rest for the talented pair, who remained focused on their training and the future. It paid off; in March 2021, Woodmount Lolita stepped up to 4-star level at Tonimbuk and placed second, an auspicious prelude to their Wandin win. Sam and Lily will now compete in the CCI4*-L at Melbourne International 3DE in June and will aim for a second CCI4*-L start at Wallaby Hill towards the end of 2021, before setting their sights on a 5* debut at the Australian International 3DE in Adelaide in 2022.

Woodmount Lolita may be the current star of Sam’s team but she’s not the only exciting horse in his stables. Koyuna Tactician was one of nine horses Sam rode at the Australian Eventing Championships, placing 4th in the CCI3*-S class, and Sam hopes that by the end of this year the imposing grey will be campaigned alongside Lily in the CCI4*-L at Wallaby Hill.

Koyuna Tactician is the only horse in his current competition team that Sam actually owns; the rest are owners’ horses, or in the case of upcoming star Santoro, owned by a syndicate. Sharing his journey – and success – with owners and supporters is a rewarding aspect of Sam’s career, and he welcomes involvement from anyone who wants to be part of the journey. For someone in their early twenties to have built a business and reputation that attracts this level of investment and support speaks volumes about the kind of person Sam is. Unsurprisingly, he is quick to acknowledge the support he receives from his family, owners, staff and sponsors that enables this model to operate.

TEAM SPIRIT

“Mum is absolutely instrumental in the business, she probably doesn’t get as much credit as she deserves. But she helps me with the horses all the time, everything from feeding up to the planning and the maintenance and entering my competitions. We sometimes call her ‘my secretary’!” Sam laughs.

“It’s definitely a team effort and that allows a little bit more space to really focus on the riding aspect, which is not an opportunity that everyone gets. I’m very grateful for that,” Sam explains. “My dad as well, he’s super supportive, he helps a lot with maintaining the property. There’s always a lot to be done around the place! My brother, who is older than me, doesn’t ride horses but he too is very supportive; he’s a nutritionist and he has really helped me, as an athlete, to cope with the physical demands of the sport. My family is absolutely fantastic.”

Like many successful young riders, Sam has benefitted from excellent coaching from a young age and speaks with much admiration and respect for Will Enzinger, who has taught him since he started eventing at eight years old. “Will’s been a major part of not just the riding, but also how I conduct myself and run my business,” Sam explains. “He is my regular coach, and I’m part of the national recognition squad as well, so we have the opportunity to train with some fantastic coaches. I go into it with the mindset that you can always take something out of it, even if it’s not exactly the same approach or method that you normally use.

“Initially, as a kid I was drawn to eventing because I really just loved going fast around the cross country. That’s kind of changed now, I still enjoy going fast cross country but I love a challenge and I love learning, and I’ve now got a deeper understanding of the sport and the challenges that eventing presents; the precision and accuracy, plus every phase being different means you need to really be capable in all three,” Sam says, adding with a laugh: “If you’d told eight-year-old Sam he’d end up enjoying dressage and learning more about that, he would have said “no way!”

In 2019, Sam travelled to America to spend six weeks with Boyd Martin, an opportunity that Will Enzinger was instrumental in arranging. “It was a great experience. I tried to be a sponge and take in as much as I possibly could. I think any young rider who has an opportunity to do that sort of thing should take it,” Sam enthuses. “You can learn so much just by watching and being in that atmosphere. There’s so much that you get exposed to over there and it can be hard not to get overwhelmed by it all. There might only be two or three things that you take away that really stick with you. You’ve just got to try and remember the most important parts, as you’re never going to be able to remember everything, unfortunately!”

“I’ve always had my sights
set on tackling the biggest courses.”

BUOYED BY BOYD

For Sam, a key take-away from his time with Boyd was the way that they taught horses from the very beginning that it was their job to jump the fence. It’s an approach he’s adopted in the training and development of his own horses back at home in Victoria.

“I was very lucky, Boyd allowed me to ride a horse or two at the start and watched me a bit, then by the end of my time there I was riding about five or six a day. Not everyone gets the opportunity to ride much overseas, and I was very grateful for that,” says Sam. “Over there, we allowed the horses to make mistakes and learn from them. We weren’t trying to manufacture the jump or pick the horses up over fences and I’ve really tried to instil that into my own horses and I think they’ve really benefitted from that.”

While Sam is enjoying building his business and campaigning his horses on Australian soil, his glimpse into the life of a top-level eventer overseas has left him keen to experience more on the international stage in the future.

“I’ve always had my sights set on tackling the biggest courses in the world and putting myself up against the best competitors in the world! It’s certainly something that I hope to achieve one day,” he says, adding that current uncertainty due to the pandemic does make it hard to set any goals related to competing overseas with his talented team.

For now, at home in Australia, this young man – who has already achieved so much – is staying focused on his goals for the next two years and enjoying the chance to compete such a strong line-up of horses. Sam doesn’t take his success for granted; while he may be experiencing an incredible run of great results in 2021, he is no stranger to the way eventing can be a great leveller. His first ponies were not schoolmasters, they were challenging and opinionated, and with the wonderful Jaybee Calypso, the first horse he rode through to 4-star level, he experienced his fair share of humbling moments. A star in the dressage and cross country phases, show jumping was always the experienced gelding’s Achilles Heel.

“About three times at Melbourne 3-Day Event, he was either leading or in a very good position going into the show jumping, and then we’d go in and have about 10 rails, and maybe a stop,” Sam recalls. “It was frustrating to not get that final result. There were some long, quiet truck trips home, and it was a tough one because you felt that if only he could show jump well he would be a brilliant horse.

“But at the same time, if he could show-jump well, he wouldn’t have ended up with me, he would have been a world-beating horse and we would never have been able to buy him! He was so good at the dressage and the cross country – I learnt so much in those phases from him, I wouldn’t be where I am now without that.”

LEARNING CURVE

“It was also a great learning experience to be in a position at those huge competitions where you go in last to show jump and the pressure’s on. Everyone’s watching, and even though it didn’t often go well for us, it’s a very humbling sport and it’s put me in good stead for when I do have horses like Lily where I can keep my calm and keep my head together and actually ride properly,” Sam says, finding the bright side as he reminisces about what must have been bitterly disappointing moments in his teenage years.

Jaybee Calypso is now retired from FEI eventing, however, he still remains part of the Jeffree family and enjoys occasionally competing in lower levels; Sam’s aunty rode him at Wandin in March! Sam ensured his FEI eventing days ended on a good note at the Australian International 3DE in 2019.

“The plan was always to do the CCI4*-S and for that to be his last event. We knew the time had come and wanted to have that last hurrah – to just do the dressage and cross country – so we could enjoy one more round at Adelaide,” Sam explains. “It’s not very often you get to ride around a beautiful course like that, and then pull out before the show jumping. I was really happy to finish it there, without having to go through another show jumping round. We ended on a high.”

There’s no doubt that Sam loves the sport and his horses as much – or more – than the glory of winning. It’s the reason he can’t imagine ever having another career, claiming he’d always be drawn back to the sport even if he tried something else.

“Originally, the plan wasn’t to ride horses full-time, I actually started university,” Sam explains. “I was doing a double degree, biomedical engineering and business at Swinburne University. I got a scholarship there and lasted six weeks! Right before the point where you get locked in and have to start paying your fees I pulled out, and then had to go home and tell Mum and Dad the news that I had forfeited the scholarship and was going to give horses a go. I can’t say that they were the most happy at the time, but they actually ended up building more facilities so it turned out well!”

HOOPS, NOT HOOVES

While the thought of a career that doesn’t involve horses or animals is not something Sam can fathom, he does enjoy changing pace and taking time out from his busy eventing lifestyle. “I find I do need to give myself some time to refresh. So I’m actually in a lowest of low-level basketball team in Frankston, that’s kind of my release as well! A lot of the other guys get really competitive, and it’s funny because I am so competitive on a horse, but off the horse, basketball is totally my release and I really enjoy just doing something different. I play in a team with my best mate who isn’t at all horsey, and I feel like I come back the next day to the horses refreshed and ready to go again.”

Down to earth and brimming with appreciation and respect, Sam’s success is an example of what can be achieved when talent and the right attitude combine. As the years unfold, there’s no doubt that the Australian – and indeed international – eventing scene will see plenty more from this accomplished young athlete. EQ

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