Based at Krefeld, Germany, Maree Tomkinson has just wound up a particularly busy few months. In August she was actively supporting our para dressage team at the FEI World Championships, and last month was in the saddle at the FEI WBFSH Dressage World Breeding Championship for Young Horses. When Paralympian Emma Booth was looking for a mount for the FEI World Championships earlier this year, Maree came to the rescue. She and the co-owners of her horses Friday IV (Fürstenball x Diamantina IV) and Furst Deluxe (Fürstenball x Rosario) agreed to offer Emma the chance to qualify. Emma flew to Germany and started to train on the two horses, giving her a genuine chance of giving her best shot at Herning. Between Maree and Emma, they actually qualified both Friday and ‘Fursty’.
What followed was the debacle with the Australian selectors electing not to send a para dressage team to the World Championships – a controversial decision that was only overturned by the Equestrian Australia board after a public outcry.
Emma and Fursty were immediately selected and headed to Herning in Denmark, where they produced great Team and Individual tests to gain a start in the final Freestyle competition, where they had another great performance.
On returning from Herning, Maree continued working her horses – this time to represent Australia at the FEI WBFSH Dressage World Breeding Championship for Young Horses in Ermelo, the Netherlands, with Friday IV. They contested the six-year-old classes, scoring 7.2 in the qualifying round and then placing 12th in the Small Final on 7.72. It was a remarkable effort by Friday to have competed at the World Young Horse Championships and gained qualification for the World Championships for para dressage, all in the same year – a rare feat!
Coming off the back of this whirlwind of activity, Maree was gracious enough to share her insights into her experiences in Europe this year, and offer her candid views on the reality of European-level competition and where Australia could do more.
ROGER: So, Maree, what was it like being involved with the para equestrian team for the World Championships?
MAREE: Well, I’m all about experience and variety in life. And that’s what it was for me, it was a really wonderful, enlightening, and rewarding experience. I was particularly proud of my horses, the way they stepped up – and the “perfectness” of those two horses was just something to behold. The way they just let Emma do what she needed to do with them, and adapted to what they needed to do, it was just outstanding. It was wonderful to see the two of them do that, I was so proud. And then of course Fursty going to the World Championships.