ISSUE 67
JUNE 2021
TAYLA & MAUS
MAKE MAGIC

REGARDEZ MOI,
LOOK AT ME NOW!
SAM LYLE & BF VALOUR
5 STARS IN THEIR EYES

PLUS: BRETT DAVEY STEPS INTO NEW ROLE, ROGER FITZHARDINGE’S GRAND PRIX TIPS, KERRY MACK’S LUNGE LESSONS, KAREN PET’S PROPERTY, GERMAN PONIES, WINTER HEALTH, BARNYARD CHEMISTRY, WILLINGA’S EQUINE HOSPITAL, OTT VETERAN’S NEW START, PLUS A ‘CONCRETE COWBOY’ & A SINGING DENTIST!

AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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ISSUE 67

CONTENTS

JUNE 2021
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A few Words

FROM THE CHAIRMAN

ROBERT MCKAY

Ryan's Rave

NEW ERA FOR AUSTRALIAN DRESSAGE

BY HEATH RYAN

Dressage

TAYLA & MAUS MAKE MAGIC IN GERMANY

BY ADELE SEVERS

Eventing

ALFIE & SAM LYLE, GOING THE EXTRA MILE

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Off the Track

GENERAL READY TO CONQUER AGAIN

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Property

PET PROJECT: KAREN’S ARCADIAN SHOWPIECE

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Dressage

REGARDEZ MOI,
LOOK AT ME NOW!

BY ADELE SEVERS

Health

HEADS UP
FOR THE BIG CHILL

BY DR MAXINE BRAIN

Breeding

THE VERSATILITY OF THE GERMAN RIDING PONY

BY STEPH HALLIGAN

Health

REPRODUCTIVE EXPERT HEADS WILLINGA’S EQUINE HOSPITAL

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Training

TAKING THE PLUNGE WITH THE LUNGE

BY DR KERRY MACK

Lifestyle

‘CONCRETE COWBOY’ SETS RECORD STRAIGHT

BY SUZY JARRATT

Dressage

10 TIPS FOR RIDING THE GRAND PRIX TEST

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE / EQ LIFE

Health

BARNYARD CHEMISTRY: pH & THE EQUINE DIGESTIVE TRACT

BY KENTUCKY EQUINE RESEARCH

Lifestyle

LEITH RYAN, THE SINGING HORSE DENTIST

BY SUZY JARRATT
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Sam and BF Valour. © Snapshotaustralia/Melissa Goodson
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Elite eventing horses in the modern era of the sport are brave athletes who must gallop fast, jump carefully and move beautifully. A horse that ticks all these boxes is a rare find; when one emerges with an attitude as impressive as its physical talent, it’s not only a recipe for success, it’s also a source of much enjoyment for all of the horse’s connections on the long and exciting road to the top!

“The results this year have been fantastic.”

BF Valour, known as Alfie, is one such eventer. According to both his rider, Sam Lyle, and owner, Charlotte Mavris, Alfie’s greatest attributes are his trainability and willingness to try. The 2010-born gelding is a force to be reckoned with on the Australian eventing scene, and one to watch in the lead up to the CCI5*-L at the 2021 Australian International 3-Day Event.

Having stepped up to CCI4*-S level in 2019 – a successful year which saw BF Valour named the NSW Eventing Horse of the Year – Sam Lyle and BF Valour have emerged from a year interrupted by the pandemic to produce a series of stellar results in 2021 to date. Placing third at Tamworth CCI4*-S in March and second at Wallaby Hill CCI4*-S in April, the consistent pair produced the goods at Sydney International 3-Day Event in May, winning the CCI4*-S class. With a world-class dressage score of 25.9 penalties, they added just time penalties in the cross country phase to claim the win.

“It was an exciting win. He’s always been a good horse and gone fairly well, but I want to have a real crack at him being not just a good horse, but if it all goes well, a really good horse,” Sam explains. “So this year I’ve been trying to focus on improving every aspect of our performance, so we can go from being pretty good to being really good. So far, it seems to be working. Of course, we have ups and downs; the results this year have been fantastic and it’s showing that we’re heading in the right direction, but we will just try to keep improving as much as we can.”

Sam’s sights are now set on his major goal for 2021, contesting the CCI5*-L at the Australian International 3-Day Event in November. “He’s qualified, having done two CCI4*-Ls already,” says Sam. “We’re also doing Melbourne CCI4*-L, because it’s been so long since his last four-star long. Melbourne will be a good fitness run for him; I figure it will help to get him really tough and strong and hard, and all those things that they need to be for five-star.”

“The plan way back prior to Covid was to do Adelaide CCI5*-L in 2020, and if we had a good run, then the following year – which would have been this year – we would have taken him overseas and perhaps done Luhmühlen,” Sam explains. “So in a perfect world, Covid permitting, if we go well at Adelaide this year, the plan would be to go overseas next year and potentially look at Luhmühlen or Pau CCI5*-L. I’d also love to ride at Aachen, depending on how that fits in. I feel this is a really good horse, and to have a chance to take him overseas and be competitive there would be amazing.”

‘ONE OF THE BEST’

While Sam’s excitement and enthusiasm about the opportunity to ride a horse he describes as “without doubt one of the best I’ve ever ridden” is clear, it’s also evident that his focus is on overall improvement and the horse’s long-term wellbeing.

“I don’t compare myself to others and where they’re at with their horses, I just tend to think, ‘Well this is where I’m at with my guy,’” Sam explains. “That said, it’s nice to remember that it’s not uncommon for horses to keep going at the top level till they’re about 16, so we may have another four years or more together. Yes it’s cool to think about WEG next year, and the next Olympics, but to be honest, right now I’m just thinking about the horse and if I can produce him to be the best he can be, rather than this particular championship or the next particular championship. I’m just trying to really get as good in each of the three phases as we can. And then if any of those championships happen for us, that’ll be great.”

Helping Sam in his quest for perpetual improvement is David McKinnon in the dressage phase, and Rod Brown at the Equestrian Australia Squad Schools in the show jumping phase. “I’ve just started working with David McKinnon this year and he’s really helped a lot with the dressage,” Sam enthuses. “I’ve also been working with someone as a type of high-performance manager for me this year, to have as a sounding board who I can talk through ideas with, and to help me put plans in place. That’s also been super beneficial.”

Sam cannot speak highly enough of the support he receives from Charlotte Mavris, who owns and adores Alfie. Having first met the impressive warmblood when he was a freshly broken three-year-old, Charlotte has remained his number one fan ever since, and her attitude towards the horse’s career and wellbeing is perfectly aligned with Sam’s.

“Alfie’s results really are a testament to Sam. I don’t think he would have ended up going quite as well for anyone else, because Sam has been so patient with him. He knows which events will suit him, and if the ground’s not right he does not run him,” Charlotte explains. “Sam is a very competitive person, but he always thinks about what’s best for Alfie and puts the horse’s welfare before his own ambitions, and that’s what we love about going on this journey with him.”

“I want that horse, he is just divine!”

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

Charlotte first fell in love with Alfie when she saw him at Jade Findlay’s property. Jade bred BF Valour; he is by the imported World Cup showjumper Copabella Visage and out of a mare who is related to HP Leilani, Jade’s superstar mare who represented Australia with Chris Burton in the saddle.

“When I first saw Alfie he had just come back from the breaker, and Jade was doing some work with him. I said to her, ‘I want that horse, he is just divine!’ Fortunately for Charlotte, a time soon came when Jade found herself with a few too many young horses to ride, and her plan was to sell Alfie as a showjumper due to his immense talent in that phase.

“Chris Chugg was interested in him. I said, ‘Don’t take him to Chris Chugg’s, tell me what you want for him, and leave it with me’,” Charlotte explains. “Jade told me what she wanted for him, and said ‘If you can do it, you can have him’, and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll take him!’”

An accomplished eventer herself, having previously competed to CCI1* level, Charlotte had three young children at the time she purchased Alfie, and was returning to the sport after some time off.

“Right from the start Alfie was just such an amazing horse, he has such an amazing temperament, just so beautiful,” Charlotte explains. “I did a few low-level events with him and took him really slowly. He was just always so willing, forgiving, and trainable, and just the nicest person. The problem was, he just kept over jumping everything, and I fell off badly and broke my wrist.

“I live in the city, so I kept him at Centennial Park and he wasn’t enjoying life in a stable. I thought perhaps I’d see whether Shane Rose wanted the ride on him for a while, because I really didn’t know what to do with him at that point,” Charlotte continues. “I took him to Shane and he said he was a really talented horse, but it was right when Shane was about to go to the Olympics. He didn’t have time for another young one, and suggested I give Sam Lyle a call. That was in 2016, and Alfie and Sam have just gone from strength to strength together ever since.”

FAMILY AFFAIR

With Charlotte’s oldest daughter now a teenager competing at EvA60 level, and her mother, Jenny, keenly involved in Alfie’s journey too, eventing has become a sport that three generations of her family can enjoy together. “We love it, my mum and I, and with my daughter now competing I’m often taking her along as well; so I’m there to watch both Alfie and my daughter!” Charlotte laughs. “I really enjoy watching Alfie compete, and as I have that connection with him from early on, it’s just really enjoyable seeing him do so well. I don’t ever call him just my horse, he’s our horse now, because Sam has such a great partnership with him.

“I love going to all the events, especially when it means going to nice places, it’s really fun. We’ve got a bit of a tribe of horses happening now actually, we have a few more that Sam’s riding, it’s become a bit of an addiction! I always knew that Alfie was very talented and could go far in the sport because he’s very good in all three phases; he’s beautiful on the flat, he’s a cross country demon, and he’s going to do whatever it takes to jump clear. The important thing now is doing everything we can to keep him the healthiest he can be.”

Like Sam, Charlotte is excited about the possibility of taking Alfie overseas in 2022 – it will be an adventure for the whole family! “I’m really looking forward to watching Sam ride him at Adelaide this year, and if that goes well, Covid permitting, we’re even talking about whether we take the young horses overseas as well and do a bit of a campaign over there!” Charlotte enthuses.

Both Charlotte and Sam are realistic about the fact that there are no certainties when it comes to an eventer’s future; even with the best preparation and management, injuries can happen and bad luck can strike at any time. However, their shared enthusiasm about the future of a horse that they wholeheartedly believe in, and their prioritisation of his wellbeing, augers well for Alfie’s future as one of Australia’s top performance horses.

“I don’t think I’ll ever ride Alfie again, except maybe to walk him around the farm!” Charlotte laughs. “But he will always be part of our family. Hopefully he has a long career with Sam and finishes his high-level career sound and happy; it would be really lovely to see my daughter then take on the ride, as a schoolmaster. Then he will retire with us – he deserves that.” EQ

OTHER EVENTING ARTICLES YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE TO READ:

‘Grace Kay Goes Her Own Way’ by Roger Fitzhardinge (Equestrian Life, May 2021)

‘Sam Jeffree, Man On A Mission’ by Amanda Young (Equestrian Life, May, 2021)

‘Piggy’s Success Keeps Marching On’ by Elli Birch (Equestrian Life, May, 2021)

‘Rohan Luxmoore Looks To The Future’ by Amanda Young (Equestrian Life, April 2021)

‘The Going Is Always Good At Naracoorte’ by Adele Severs (Equestrian Life, April 2021)

‘Start Planning For Brisbane 2031’ by Heath Ryan (Equestrian Life, March 2021)

‘Surprises & Success At SIEC’ by Ellie Jolley (Equestrian Life, March 2021)

‘Vale Di Schaeffer, Warrior Of Australian Eventing’ by Heath Ryan (Equestrian Life, February 2021)

‘Sammi Birch & Gizmo Find Their Groove’ by Amanda Young (Equestrian Life, January 2021)

‘Megan Jones Stays Focused Amid The Chaos’ by Amanda Young (Equestrian Life, November 2020)

‘Different Pathways, Same Goals Abroad’ by Elli Birch (Equestrian Life, October 2020)

‘Chris Burton Sees The Bright Side Of 2020’ by Adele Severs (Equestrian Life, October 2020)

‘Sydney 2000: Where Dreams Came True’ by Amanda Young (Equestrian Life, September 2020)

‘When Amanda Ross Met Her Unicorn’ by Amanda Young (Equestrian Life, September 2020)

‘Will Enzinger Forges The Next Gen’ by Adele Severs (Equestrian Life, August 2020)

‘Sophie Adams Boils The Billy In The UK’ by Adele Severs (Equestrian Life, July 2020)

‘What I Look For In An Event Horse’ by Heath Ryan (Equestrian Life, June 2020)

‘Brocks The Wonder Mare’ by Amanda Young (Equestrian Life, June 2020)

‘Through A Horse’s Eyes’ by Kate Herran (Equestrian Life, June 2020)

‘The Barrett Family Circle’ by Adele Severs (Equestrian Life, May 2020)

‘Why Horses Love Ingrid Klimke’ by Dr Kerry Mack (Equestrian Life, May 2020)

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