Behind the scenes the phones were running hot. We had scheduled a live stream of a panel discussion that included Julia Battams, Maree Tomkinson and Rozzie Ryan, all key supporters of the Paras, alongside EA High Performance Para-Equestrian Panel chair, Dani Fraillon. Equestrian Australia board representatives were invited to discuss the decision on-air with our panel hosted by Roger Fitzhardinge – but initially declined. As it turns out, they were having a panel discussion of their own; an emergency board meeting!
Roger opened our live-stream discussion by saying that everyone was dumbfounded by the decision to ground the Paras. But just as panel members were about to express their bewilderment, Roger received an unexpected request over Zoom to join in. EA board chair Mark Bradley wanted to tell us something! Guess what? They had just come from EA’s emergency board meeting.
“EA always has fabulous surprises,” Roger quipped as Mark was given his cue. “It was pretty clear from the outpouring just how strong feelings on this matter have been,” the EA chair conceded. “Our board met tonight and we actually resolved to ask the selection panel and (HP director) Chris (Webb) to revisit the decision and to in fact overturn the decision.” Broad grins broke out among all panel members while Julia pumped both fists in the air! It was “a popular decision and the right decision,” Mark Bradley added.
So, there you go, dear readers and viewers. More power to you. The fact that the broadcast had more than 48,400 minutes viewed shows the depth of passion in our equestrian community. Congratulations to you all! We at EQ Life couldn’t be prouder of our community and I couldn’t be prouder of how our team played a helpful part in this groundswell.
So, on with the Championships! In this issue, we bring you comprehensive coverage of all our riders and their horses at the FEI World Championships. We talk at length to not only our Para Dressage team, but also the abled-bodied Dressage contenders, the Show Jumpers, and the Vaulting team. And surprise, surprise, Heath Ryan has a few things to say about our chances, the selection processes and the Para volte-face… and also previews the Eventers who will have their World Championships in Italy in September.
Tori Stuckey will be watching the Herning competition with particular interest: Jayden Brown and Emma Booth, should they qualify, will be doing their freestyles to her choreography. As she tells Amanda Young in this month’s magazine, what began as a sideline is now helping to pay for her “expensive show jumping habit”.
Up-and-coming West Australian eventer Kenya Wilson will be in Italy for the eventing; not competing but watching, perhaps with an eye to a tilt in the future. Having shown her potential on Sandros Salute MW at Melbourne 3DE, she opens up to Adele Severs about her dreams.
In our Training and Health sections, Roger Fitzhardinge explains how to maximise your horse’s longevity at competition level, while Dr Maxine Brain encourages owners to build positive relationships with all equine health professionals. And in a version of “Where are they now?” Roger also talks to Kate Taylor-Wheat about her legendary horse World Star, and how he still thinks he is a star! In Lifestyle, Bernard Bale talks to Nicole Kidman about her love of riding, Corinne Fenton introduces her new picture book about iconic duo Subzero and Graham Salisbury, and Suzy Jarratt previews a surprise hit movie of the 2022 Cannes Film Festival – all about a donkey! EQ
Let the games begin!
Robert McKay AM