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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At first glance, the Western sport of cutting and the thoroughbred racing industry have little in common, except for the basic fact that both involve a horse and a rider! Yet at the National Cutting Horse Association of Australia’s Autumn Spectacular show in Scone, leading thoroughbred studs from around the region jumped at the opportunity to get on board and participate. Could racing and cutting have more in common than first thought?

Cutting’s roots are in America; on large ranches with few fences, horses were a cowboy’s greatest asset, used to sort and separate cattle from the herds they tended. Cutting soon moved from the open range to the arena and the first known cutting horse contest was held at the Cowboy Reunion in Haskell, Texas, in 1898. Cutting competitions are now held in 22 nations worldwide including Australia, with the National Cutting Horse Association of Australia formed in 1972. Each cutting run lasts two and a half minutes, during which the horse and rider cut out two or three beasts from the herd. With one of the rider’s hands on the horse’s neck and the other on the saddle horn, they communicate with their horse via seat and leg aids as they work together to prevent the beast from returning to the herd.

Thoroughbred horse racing – the sport of kings – originated in the 12th century, when English knights returned from the Crusades with Arabian horses. By the 18th century, the thoroughbred breed and the sport of racing, shaped by the British monarchy and aristocracy, was well established. Some of the first horses to arrive in Australia were thoroughbreds, and today the racing industry is worth billions to the Australian economy, with Scone – a country town northwest of Sydney – recognised as the centre of Australia’s thoroughbred breeding industry.

Scone may claim to be the second largest horse-breeding area in the world, second only to Lexington, Kentucky USA, yet it’s not a big place. With the town home to less than 5,000 people, it’s a close-knit community with a strong equine focus, including racing, breeding, equestrian and cowhorse sports.

SHOWDOWN AT SCONE

When the decision was made to host the Wingman Beer NCHA Australia Autumn Spectacular show at Scone’s White Park, it presented an opportunity to bring together two groups of equine enthusiasts. The idea of a stud cutting challenge was born, and local cutting riders Link Baumann and Lynda MacCallum soon created an exciting event that would see some of the biggest names in the local thoroughbred industry developing a keen interest in a sport that they previously knew very little about!

The concept for the Baumann Building Stud Celebrity Challenge Event was simple, fun and exciting; each participating stud would nominate a representative to compete on a trained cutting horse at the show, with training and support from some of the cutting industry’s top riders and trainers. It was a chance for the cutting and racing industries to share their knowledge and showcase the skills and enthusiasm of their best and brightest, both human and equine!

The breed of choice for cutting is the Quarter Horse; typically shorter and stouter than a modern thoroughbred, the breeds do in fact share history and genetics, with thoroughbreds featuring strongly in many foundation Quarter Horses’ pedigrees. Known for their strength, agility and cow sense, a cutting horse has an incredible ability to read and react to a cow’s movements with more speed and accuracy than any human could. As the thoroughbred stud challenge concept developed, so too did the idea of including not only riders from the thoroughbred industry, but also horses!

In preparation for the event, not only did representatives from 12 thoroughbred studs learn about cutting, so too did two off-the-track thoroughbreds from Godolphin and Sledmere studs. Over the course of six weeks, these horses were retrained by cutting horse trainers to be “turnback horses”. During a cutting run, a competitor has four people riding turnback horses in their support crew, and a turnback horse needs to be cowy, athletic and well behaved. The thoroughbreds, Godolphin’s Badajoz and Sledmere’s Mystic Puzzle, rose to the challenge, showcasing their versatility and new skills on the night of the stud cutting challenge as they performed the role of turnback horses under the guidance of cutting trainers Link Baumann and Matt Oakley.

JOSTLING FOR THE RIDE

The studs that participated in the competition – Godolphin, Arrrowfield, Newgate, Coolmore, Widden, Sledmere, Vinery, Yarraman Park, Kitchwin Hills, Segenhoe, Coolarest and Riversdale – found themselves inundated with interest from their staff when it came to choosing a representative to participate in the competition.

“At Godolphin, there are many employees that are not only experienced horse people, they are very accomplished riders and compete in a large range of disciplines, so our management group actually decided to put an expression of interest out to all the Hunter Valley based employees to apply for riding and representing Godolphin at the challenge,” Tayla Gilmore explains. “I definitely jumped at the opportunity to put my application in!”

For Tayla, who is a successful dressage rider to FEI Prix St Georges level, this was an opportunity to not only try a new discipline and develop her riding skills – it also held appeal from a professional perspective. Tayla oversees the Godolphin Lifetime Care program in Australia, which aims to find Godolphin’s retired racehorses a long-term, loving home with an experienced rider in a discipline best suited to the horse’s capabilities.

“This was a great chance to connect with a broader reach of horse people looking for our retired racehorses,” Tayla explains. “I often talk to people over email or phone, and I don’t usually meet them until they come to view our horse. Coming from a dressage background, the stud challenge allowed me to find a common ground with western discipline competitors and present myself as the contact for our Godolphin Lifetime Care program in Australia and promote the rehoming of Godolphin retired racehorses; not just at the competition but also during the training days and the lead up.”

TAYLA NAILS IT

Tayla’s involvement in the event was a success on all fronts. Not only did she arrange for Badajoz, the nine-year-old son of Commands who won over $600,000 in his 40-start career to play a part as a turnback horse, she met plenty of people from the cutting industry who were interested to learn more about the rehoming of retired racehorses, enthusing, “Godolphin are looking forward to seeing what transpires for next year’s competition. The idea of creating a snaffle bit class for the thoroughbred breed has been discussed. It would be fantastic to get more retired racehorses involved in other western disciplines!”

She also impressed everyone with her new skills in the cutting pen, winning the stud challenge class riding Playin With Pepto on an amazing score of 79 points – the highest possible score in cutting is 80!

“In my first lesson I was
bouncing out of the saddle,
the saddle felt too big!”

This was a remarkable performance, especially considering that Tayla, like all the stud cutters, only found out which horse she was riding in the event the day before she competed, and rode him just twice before the class!

Generous owners of some of Australia’s most experienced and decorated cutting horses allowed their much-loved steeds to be ridden by the stud cutters, while cutting riders such as Lynda MacCallum, Link Baumann, Warwick Screen and Todd Graham donated their time to teach the enthusiastic stud cutters the skills they needed to enter the show pen. After a training day at Link Baumann’s property on 23 March, three teams formed, headed by Lynda, Link and Warwick.

“I was in Lynda’s team and she was absolutely fantastic. She rides horses every day and invited us to drop in whenever we were going past her place so we could ride with her,” Tayla enthuses. “So I went there a few times for some lessons, where we worked the flag and some cattle on a practice horse named Henry. That was awesome, and so was the group training day in March with all the other stud cutters at Link Baumann’s property. I was very lucky to be introduced there to some of the best cutting trainers in Australia and get some very, very helpful tips and tricks!”

Having never previously ridden a cutting horse, Tayla had about six sessions with Lynda before the event, and says that by the time she rode into the herd at the competition she felt much more at home in the saddle than she did in her first sessions.

BOUNCING OUT OF THE SADDLE

“In my first lesson I was bouncing out of the saddle, the saddle felt too big!” Tayla laughs. “I didn’t know how much leg to use, or where to put my leg, and then how to get the horse to the point where I could put my hand down and trust it. I found out quite quickly that I had a very lazy right foot and the practice horse would certainly take advantage of that and drift when I was working the cow or the flag, he definitely picked up on our faults!

“When riding big warmbloods you need to use a lot of seat and leg to keep the horse uphill, and to perform the various movements you do throughout a dressage test. So I think I started off on the right foot, I had the muscle strength and balance to be able to change my riding style and sit to a cutting horse,” Tayla explains. “However, to ride a cutting horse, I found that instead of using my thighs and calves, I had to turn my toes out and use my feet to direct the horse, and sit more on my jean pockets. I found out pretty quickly that if you had the horse back on your feet and waiting for your direction from your feet, it was a lot easier to put your hand down and trust the horse.”

“There’s a lot of high achievers
out there – they’re very
competitive people!”

By the time Friday, 23 April arrived, excitement was running high at Scone’s White Park. The stud cutters had been allocated their horses for the competition, and nervous energy was building as they fine-tuned their new skills with their mounts for the class, which would take place that evening in front of a very animated and enthusiastic crowd!

Tayla was delighted to learn that the horse she had been allocated, Playin With Pepto, known as Fooey, was an extremely successful horse. The 2002 gelding has won some of Australia’s most prestigious cutting classes over a long career, and having previously been a serving stallion, has even sired champions including Foo Licious, who won the 2003 NCHA Futurity.

“I watched some replays of his runs, and it was great to read about his achievements before I got on him,” Tayla explains, adding that she was also able to meet Fooey’s owners Dean and Julie Jones, who were able to give her some extra tips and insights. “I was lucky to also have Dean Jones, along with Lynda, in my help team throughout the competition. He was very helpful during the run telling me when to stop, when to go, when to sidepass to get that cow out. I can’t thank Dean and Julie enough for the ride on Fooey, and for all their help.”

ELECTRIC ATMOSPHERE

In the lead up to the event, all of the studs involved were promoting their riders’ involvement in the event and it was no surprise that a huge crowd, both at the venue and on the livestream, tuned in to watch the class. The roar of the Scone crowd was deafening, the excitement palpable; each cutting horse carried the weight of not only its rider, but also the hopes of each stud’s staff and supporters as they cheered their representative on.

“The atmosphere was electric! Riding over the timeline I didn’t really realise… I was zoned in and focusing on getting the cow cut,” Tayla says. “Then once Fooey was working the cow, all of a sudden, I registered the crowd roaring and it was such an unreal experience!”

“Everyone present was itching
for more cutting action!”

With a grin on her face that said it all, Tayla wowed both the crowd and the judges, however, she wasn’t the only stud cutter who was elated by the experience. Their hard work training and preparing for the event had paid off; the riders had a ball, and the sport of cutting had scored some new fans.

“After seeing the practise day, my thoughts were ‘there’s a lot of high achievers out there – they’re very competitive people!” said cutting trainer Link Baumann; it was clear that the friendly rivalry between the studs was as evident in the cutting pen, as it is at Australia’s top races and yearling sales. An exchange of banter could be heard; when Arrowfield Stud’s Alice Messara said with a laugh, “I heard Henry’s got the best horse!” Henry Field from Newgate Stud was quick to respond, saying, “Well my horse might be good, but when I walked into the Arrowfield marquee at the Easter yearling sales, the whole Arrowfield team said, ‘You might have won the Slipper, but we’re going to win the cutting!’ When I heard that, I knew that their team was going to take it very seriously!”

It took some time for the night to draw to a close; riders, sponsors, supporters and the crowd at large partied and mingled, abuzz with excitement about what they had witnessed and experienced. Plans and ideas were already being raised for the following year’s event, as everyone present was itching for more cutting action! Coolmore’s Tom Magnier described riding a cutting horse as being one of the enjoyable things he’d ever done; Sledmere’s Catriona Murphy described cutting as “the best sport in the world”; and Widden Stud’s Antony Thompson emphatically stated that it was “about as much fun as you can have with your jeans on!”

It turns out that cutting and racing have a lot in common. Both attract passionate, generous, thrill-seeking people willing to share their knowledge and welcome others into their sport; both require brilliantly athletic horses with enormous heart and try; and both are highly entertaining sports that leave crowds on the edge of their seats – or jumping for joy! EQ

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