ISSUE 70
SEP 2021

PARAS WIN HEARTS
AT TOKYO
KEVIN McNAB & DON
STRIKE SILVER
OLYMPIC BLOODLINES
WITH HEATH RYAN

PLUS: LUCINDA GREEN, AMY GRAHAM, EMMA WEINERT O’ROURKE, DIAMOND B’S SECRETS, THOROUGHBRED REHAB, WALERS TO THE RESCUE, SET GOALS WITH KERRY MACK, THE BLACK STALLION, BUILDING AN ARENA, FEEDING & FOALING

AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
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ISSUE 70

CONTENTS

SEP 2021
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A few Words

FROM THE CHAIRMAN

ROBERT MCKAY

Opinion

BREEDING FOR BRISBANE: WHAT TOKYO TAUGHT US

RYAN'S RAVE BY HEATH RYAN

Para Equestrian

PARA EQUESTRIAN FAB FOUR WIN HEARTS AT TOKYO

BY ADELE SEVERS

Dressage

EMMA BRINGS IT ALL BACK HOME

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Off the Track

A THOROUGH BELIEF IN THOROUGHBREDS

BY AMANDA YOUNG

Showjumping

AUSSIE AMY GRAHAM’S JUMPING LIFE IN EUROPE

BY BERNARD BALE

Training

SO YOU WANT TO GO TO THE GAMES?

BY DR KERRY MACK

Health

HOLD YOUR HORSES: FEEDING FOR COOLNESS

BY ELLIE JOLLEY

Lifestyle

THE MAGIC OF THE BLACK STALLION

BY SUZY JARRATT

Property

DESIGN BY VISION

BY ADELE SEVERS

Eventing

KEVIN McNAB’S SILVER DEBUT

BY ELLI BIRCH

Lifestyle

THE HORSE AS THE HEALER

BY ELLIE JOLLEY

Showjumping

HOW DIAMOND B PRODUCES ITS GEMS

BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE

Health

SEPSIS IN FOALS

BY DR MAXINE BRAIN

Eventing

LUCINDA GREEN’S JOINT VENTURE

BY ADELE SEVERS
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“My story started the same as many little girls. I fell in love with ponies and horses from the minute I started riding,” says Australian showjumper Amy Graham. “They were so beautiful, athletic and challenging… I knew that I wanted to spend time with them, ride them and have them as friends. I was six when I first rode.”

“Some people grow out of that as they discover other attractions, but I never have; I am probably that same little girl at heart, but I have been fortunate enough to be able to ride, to compete and to spend all day, every day with horses.”

“My parents were not keen on my wanting to ride and they certainly never encouraged me to consider that showjumping might be my career. Living in Australia, showjumping was not a high profile sport. Today with social media and the Global Champions Tour TV, showjumping is readily available to see at the highest level, so kids dream bigger and maybe parents can see that they have a future.”

“For me, it wasn’t until I was at the highest level in Australia that I started to dream of bigger oceans. I always wanted to be challenged with new levels and it seemed logical that I needed to be in Europe. Don’t get me wrong… it is never easy to be in Europe and the challenges are immense, from language barriers to homesickness.”

Very few people climb the ladder to success without having their setbacks and Amy admits that there have been times when she thought that perhaps she had gone as far as she was likely to. “I think all of us in our darkest, most frustrating or disappointing moments have these fleeting thoughts of despair or perhaps a bit of a confidence crisis,” she says. “But for me they were, or are, just that, fleeting. With the right mindset the negatives make me stronger and more determined to achieve and keep bettering myself. The dark moments are sometimes an aid to get back into the light with more experience and determination.”

Amy has been based in Normandy, France, since 2014 at Haras du Ry, but in no way has she turned her back on Australia. “I came to Europe in 2009 because I wanted to challenge myself and the European circuit is the strongest there is,” Amy explains. “It is true that I have been firmly based at Haras du Ry for eight years but I do get back to Australia to visit friends and family – not as often as I would like but I do get home when I can. I haven’t forgotten my roots on the Yorke Peninsula (South Australia).

“I also keep a close eye on how showjumping is developing in Australia. I think progress has been made since I left 12 years ago but as I am not in Australia, I feel that I cannot really comment on ways forward. That being said, I am a fiercely proud Australian and will always take every opportunity to represent my country in international competitions. I am hopeful that with the added presence of more talented Aussies in Europe now, that we can convince our federation to field more Nations Cups teams. There is nothing more rewarding than competing as a team.

“It is also a thrill for me when I see another Australian come over to Europe to give it a go where the competition standards are so high. It takes determination and resilience and I’m proud and happy to support anyone that needs help to achieve their dreams over here in Europe.”

“On weekends with no shows, I love to cook.”

Amy’s high profile in European showjumping is a tribute to her hard work, but it is not just about the competing, as she is also a trainer. “I enjoy the journey,” Amy reveals. “I love the competitions, especially if you are successful, of course. I love the training just as much though. Some trainers wouldn’t want to compete and some riders wouldn’t want to train but I like both equally. When you get a new horse and you share the training and then the competing experience with them, it is something very special.

“A special horse doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years to build a partnership like I had with Bella Baloubet. He had been successful in young horse classes but he stepped up to greater challenges and showed all the promise we had first seen in him. He was a Holsteiner stallion and had all the self-esteem you might expect. He was always willing to learn and loved the competitions. It was a personal affront if he knocked anything down. Sadly, he died last year but he will never be forgotten.

“I was so fortunate with Bella Baloubet that my parents didn’t pressure me to sell, so we had the years together. Now that I am running a business and employing staff there is always the need to sell talent to keep the business healthy!”

Amy explains that the last couple of years have been a very different challenge with Covid-19 and then also the quarantines associated with the equine herpesvirus (EHV-1) outbreak. “The many competitions at national and international level just vanished. It has taken a long time but things are slowly starting to pick up again. Hopefully by 2022 we will be back to normal with many competition choices, from the French young horse circuit right through to the World Championships in Herning, Denmark.

When the showjumping world is at its normal, busy level there is little thinking time, but Amy often contemplates where she is and where she is going. “Time flies in the horse world so you have to work at finding time to see where you are and where you are going. There are many top shows in Europe, too many to count and they seem to just follow each other so rapidly. While riders are always appreciative of every new circuit or series it is incredibly important to remember the historical competitions. I have had the privilege of competing in 3,4 and 5* shows at venues like La Baule, Dinard, Salzburg, Rome, Monaco, Paris, Chantilly… my ‘local show’, Saint Lo, has an incredible atmosphere because the crowds are all local horse people and truly understand and appreciate good riding and good horses. Then I have my dreams… I want to jump at Aachen and London Olympia…. there’s always another dream or ambition to try to achieve!”

If a rider is contemplating having a crack in Europe then be prepared to listen, watch, and take every piece of advice that comes your way. “I have often been given good advice and I try to pass it on. I was told to enjoy the high moments, small achievements or even just a normal day. Those wins or little achievements along the way don’t come often and must be celebrated. Life is too short not to, and the horse world is tough. Having a good day or competition is worth enjoying to the full.”

So how do you achieve a good day in the competition arena? It’s all about “preparation, preparation, preparation,” says Amy. “Finally, what happens in the ring that day you can’t change, but the real improvement and success comes from the hard work and consistency at home. Put good people around you – staff and loved ones and friends! This is so important for your mental health and wellbeing.”

Amy likes to keep a level head and balanced perspective on life overall. “Not really a horsey piece of advice,” she offers, “but don’t wait for happiness to come. You can choose to be happy or have an optimistic outlook. Every day is a day to be grateful for. Change your mindset and your life will change along with it.

“Also, nobody will ever be able to ‘find the time’ to add something new into their already busy lives. If you want to see things really change you have to make the time. Everything is possible. Do your best until you know better, then do better!”

What if none of this had happened for Amy? What would she be doing now? “I had always thought I would love to be a horse vet, and did some internships at a young age in local clinics. The vet had some very good advice for me; they said I couldn’t compete at a professional level and study vet science, so I chose to ride!”

So far, many of Amy’s ambitions have been fulfilled but there are still more on the near horizon. “I don’t think my ambitions have changed very much. I still dream of that next big Grand Prix horse and jumping in those great shows. I also enjoy the road that builds horses to this level. I have a great owner that I work with closely and so have five or six young horses coming through each year. It’s exciting to train and watch these horses, so I hope that continues. Of course every rider is always looking for that right person at the right time who wants to invest in a rider’s Grand Prix career. I am always ready to take that phone call!

“For me it is also important to be realistic and I want my life here in Europe to be financially stable, meaning that sometimes we need to sell these horses to keep the stable running smoothly. I love where I live, it’s incredible, beautiful, and a horse’s heaven. I’m very proud to call it my home and I’ll do anything to make sure it becomes financially sustainable.”

That might sound a little stressful but Amy also knows how to relax. “I love to cook!” she reveals. “I work out regularly and have started to meditate. On weekends with no shows, I love to cook and entertain the clients and staff living in and around my stable. We are a large group of 15 to 20 people and we all enjoy each other’s company, so cooking and drinking wine is a real treat!”

TALKING ABOUT TOKYO

By Adele Severs

At the beginning of 2020, Belgian Sport Horse mare Coleraine des Bergeries (Canturo x Overon Du Molin) — whom Amy Graham part owns with breeder Philippe Jadot — was in top form with Tokyo just around the corner. “She’d performed very well at competitions in America,” recalls Amy. “At that time I thought, ‘yep, she’s ready’ and I was happy to go and give [Olympic selection] a crack.”

The Games were then postponed for a year and at the beginning of 2021, Coleraine des Bergeries contracted EHV-1 (equine herpesvirus). While she fully recovered from the illness, the path back to peak fitness and form has taken some time.

“She was symptomatic with rhino (EHV-1 can cause rhinopneumonitis, a respiratory condition roughly equivalent to the common cold in people) at the beginning of the year and she has taken a long time to regain her condition,” explains Amy.

By the time selection came around in July, the 13-year-old mare was no longer symptomatic and back in full work, however, after quite a long break Amy wasn’t sure whether she’d be at her absolute best. “I said all along ‘I am happy to have my hat in the ring if you do need me, but she’s not at her 100% best form as she was at the beginning of 2020’.”

It’s of course hard for Amy to say what she would have done had the call came through for her to step onto the team for Tokyo. The mare was sound and well at the time of selection, however, having since been out to competitions over the past month or two, Amy now says that in hindsight she knows her mare wasn’t quite ready for the Games. At that level, even the slightest loss of form can make all the difference.

“At the time, I didn’t know how quickly she was going to rebuild her condition; it was the first time she’d been out of work for that long. Having been to a few shows over the past month or two and knowing what I do now, in hindsight I know she wasn’t quite ready [at the time of selection]. She’s more than capable, but at the that time she wasn’t ready.”

In terms of the issues that befell the Australian jumping team in the lead up to Tokyo, Amy’s not exactly sure how it ended like it did — but she believes it’s a situation we can learn from. “It appeared almost every other team had at least two reserves. And it was strongly encouraged that these reserves were ready and if not both at Tokyo, at least one was. You could see how much they used them, how much they were interchanging, and how vital it was,” muses Amy.

“One thing I do believe is that the selection criteria and the whole system needs to be a lot more transparent, and there needs to be better communication with the qualified riders. The selectors from some of the most successful showjumping countries, they are constantly in touch with their potential rider and horse combinations about how the horse is going, how they are feeling, and what they think.”

Amy makes it clear she’s not interested in pulling anyone down; she just really wants to see the system improve. “Being over [in Europe], and seeing how the best countries in the world [manage championship teams], it’s important to learn from that. As riders, that’s what we do; we look at the best riders in the world and think, ‘what is working for them and how can I take a piece of advice and make it work for me’.”

After speaking with Equestrian Life, Amy and Coleraine des Bergeries joined Hilary Scott on Oaks Milkyway and Jake Hunter on Jativia as part of Australia’s Nations Cup team in Drammen, Norway, at the end of August. The team finished in equal second place after all three produced outstanding performances; it seems Coleraine des Bergeries is finding her form once again!

The World Championships for jumping are set to take place in Herning, Denmark (10-14 August), and while the official schedule is yet to be released, the program currently denotes a return to team medals being decided ahead of individual medals (a reversing of the Tokyo format). The number of combinations per team — and therefore how selection will play out — remains unclear, yet with the Championships less than a year away Amy won’t have to wait too long for another chance to possibly represent her country! EQ

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