Nullegai and Joy were selected to compete at the Moscow Olympics in 1980, however the Australian team did not compete that year due to the boycott. After numerous Dressage Horse of the Year awards, Nullegai retired at the age of 21 years old. After the challenge of taming Nullegai, Joy went on to compete with many other horses with great success. In 1982, she achieved her dream to ride and train at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. Joy then went on to become a coach to share her knowledge and the “gospel” of dressage to every Australian.
Joy decided that the next important step for Australia was judging. Joy attended many clinics in Europe to hone this craft. Once this mission was complete, Australia could have a uniform judging system meaning FEI events could be held. This idea of having a show just for FEI horses in Australia was unheard of, however, in 1984 the Lochinvar FEI competition was born. After a few years the competition outgrew Lochinvar and moved to Horseworld in Sydney and then moved to the Sydney International Equestrian Centre where it is today, called the Sydney CDI. The Sydney CDI is perhaps now the biggest international dressage competition in Australia and without question its beginnings and consequent development had a lot to do with Joy Charlton.
In 1991, Joy went on to be the first ever recipient of the Gow Gates Award, as the NSW Dressage Person of the Year.
Going back a bit, Joy in the 1970s took on the fight against the Sutherland Shire Council, which is where Joy lived (Gymea Bay); the council wanted to remove horses being kept in suburban backyards. Joy fought tooth and nail with the council for the residents of the area to keep their beloved horses at their homes, often on house blocks. Joy solicited the support of the RSPCA and for a while this was a very hostile situation. Joy was relentless and just never gave up. Eventually a resolution was reached, and would you believe it the council became her friend and in 1979 the council even went so far as to grant a park for the sole use of horse riding. Later, two purpose-built dressage arenas became the home of the club named “Southerland Shire Horse Owners Association”. This association commenced in 1980 and Joy was the president.
Joy remained president until six years ago. She was instrumental in organising events, encouraging everyone to compete including young riders, disabled riders and beginners. In 2001, Joy moved to her dream property in Theresa Park; having her own arena and acreage was a far cry from a Gymea Bay houseblock.
In 2002, Joy and Neville’s grandson, John, was born. He was the apple of both Joy and Neville’s eye. Sadly, Neville passed away in 2010.
Resulting from her hard efforts, Joy was nominated and won Equestrian NSW’s volunteer of the year and then later went on to win the Equestrian Australia national award.
Joy’s crowning achievement was being awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2020. It was an honour and she was so proud of this award. It was the pinnacle of her remarkable life.
Joy Charlton was one of those quiet Australian defiant warriors who was completely dedicated to the development of dressage in Australia. Joy was completely devoted to the sport herself and also completely devoted to encouraging other Australians to become involved and to become knowledgeable and to enjoy their horses for the beautiful animals that they are. All of us in the equestrian world here in Australia owe Joy so much. Joy has gone now, but has left just so much here in Australia for we horse riding enthusiasts to enjoy and develop with our horses in the future. Thank you Joy and we will remember you.
P.S. Most of this eulogy was put together by Joy and Neville’s baby girl, Kerry, who was born in 1964. Thank you Kerry.