Gill Rickard is a very well-respected name in the equine industry. Strong-willed and strong-minded, worldly, well-educated and well-read, she is unafraid of a challenge and never shirks responsibility.
This dynamic NSW equestrian personality can sometimes be misread as authoritarian — but that is simply because Gill knows where things are heading and what she wants. Underneath her strong exterior is a compassionate woman who revels in helping any people, sports and situations around her. As a sportswoman, she takes on that steely attitude with “to be the best that is possible” as her motto.
She represented Australia at the World Equestrian Games in Stockholm in 1990 on the small palomino mare Peaches and Cream, a fairytale that only came true because of her determination to never let negativity get in her way. Obstacles only make Gill Rickard more determined.
Gill grew up in the Sydney suburb of St Ives where her passion for horses was evident early. Her sister Jane had a pony that was passed on to Gill when she was eight. Ricky was brown and nondescript with a talent for pigrooting! Gill took Ricky to Avondale Pony Club where there were two very good dressage riders who coached — June Smyth-King and Viv McCormack, who were instrumental in setting up the Dressage Council of NSW.
Gill says her attempts at becoming a “showjumping princess” were thwarted by negative reinforcement as Ricky either stopped at the fence and she would tumble off or, if he jumped the fence, he would pigroot on landing and again Gill would be ejected! Under the guidance of June and Viv, she soon took to dressage with great enthusiasm and found flatwork was the way to go.
Viv found Gill her next pony; he was 11.2 hands high and 10 years old, but had never cantered on the correct lead when on the right rein. With the help of Doug Green, Colleen Brook and Viv, he eventually cantered right, which Gill says was a milestone and turning point in her riding skill and attitude. She was awakened to the benefits of training and of balance and aids and understanding. It was not so long before the fruits of her efforts were recognised when that pony, with Gill, took out Champion Dressage Pony at the State Championships.
Gill’s parents had no real understanding of equestrian pursuits; their focus was on academic results. Gill knew that if her pony took up too much time and head space, she would lose him, so with that thought driving her, she made sure she excelled at school.