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A Few Words
FROM THE CHAIRMAN
PLANNING FOR PARIS, LEADING TO LA, BUILDING FOR BRISBANE
On completing Year 12 and intensive study, I received an offer to work overseas. Wondering whether to accept or go straight to university as planned, I remembered what I promised myself as a 14-year-old – to one day work and ride for a professional showjumping stable in Europe.
I made the leap and promptly accepted the offer from IN Showjumpers in England. I tried not to overthink all the daunting aspects of moving to a completely different country on my own for an indefinite period of time.
When it came to organising my move, at first it was overwhelming researching visas, planning flight dates, organising health and travel insurance and residency permits. I decided to take it one step at a time – the first being renewing my passport followed by a lot of research and speaking to knowledgeable friends and family for their advice on what visa options I was eligible for. Once my passport arrived and my visa application was submitted, I looked at the dates on which I should make my move and booked the flights!
Based at the IN Showjumpers home stables in Henley-on-Thames, England, I lived on the property where the majority of my work as a rider and groom took place. My primary role was to ensure the horses had a comfortable and healthy lifestyle; it was a huge goal of IN Showjumpers to maintain the happiness and health of the horses each day. I was assisting and managing the care of all the horses, tacking up for other riders, doing off horses (post-exercise care), exercising horses, caring for injuries and looking after clients who were based at IN Showjumpers.
I was also a rider, on average working one to four horses each day. The exercise of the horses varied from schooling, to jumping, fitness and hill work, to hacking out. The goal was to always keep the horses’ minds occupied.
I got to ride many extremely talented horses, which I am forever grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with. It is hard for me to choose a standout, as I rode everything from the ultimate schoolmaster to young and green five-year-olds and talented future stars that are about to make their competition debuts at the end of 2022.
“I plan to be in a position to ride at shows like these in the future!”
However, there are two that definitely touched my heart. ‘Quinn’ – who tested my riding at times, being quite a sharp horse – was the picture of every young rider’s dream horse… a grey, 16.2hh schoolmaster. The other horse was ‘Zeppie’, as we called him on the yard. He was one of the six-year-olds at the stables who is heading to Spain to debut at the end of this year. With all the talent he has – and in my opinion the best personality on the yard – I couldn’t have been luckier to have ridden and worked with him!
Although I didn’t compete during my time at IN Showjumpers (the UK and European circuit is a completely different ball game when it comes to financial commitments), I was a show groom for the team at Knokke Hippique in Belgium and Dinard CSI5* in France. These amazing shows taught me so much about managing the care and health of the horses whilst at a stay away, presentation, and other duties required of top grooms. It is with the experience I gained at these amazing venues that I plan to be in a position to ride at shows like these in the future!
The main things I learnt were the importance of variation in the horses’ exercises to manage both fitness and performance whilst caring for their mental well-being. Each horse’s exercise varied from schooling on the flat, to hill work, grid work, trackwork and active rest days such as a hack, time on the walker, field time or hand grazing.
When you have a such high-calibre horses like at IN Showjumpers, you really don’t need to actually jump more than once a week – if that. And it was only on the odd occasion the jumps were put up to the heights the horses would compete at or slightly bigger. You really do not need to prove the potential of the horse by jumping more than that each week, that is for us riders! It is our job to maintain and preserve the health of these horses so they can continue to answer the big questions we ask of them in the ring. Therefore, learning how to strengthen the horses with minimal strain on their bodies was super helpful.
I’m now back home in Australia and heading to university, but I definitely plan to visit IN Showjumpers on my uni breaks. The main plan for me now is to continue to pursue and achieve my goals while back in Australia, with the hope to one day return and have my own shot at the European show circuit.
My advice for other young riders is to surround yourself with people who align with your future goals. It is being around those individuals that opportunities such as training overseas arise. Learn to be comfortable with hard work – you can practise your discipline each day even before you take the next step overseas. There will be days as a rider and groom where you feel your body needs to rest, but if you want to achieve your goals and give the best care possible to these animals like they deserve, you are going to need to push through those moments and remind yourself of your “why”.
Most importantly, my advice is to just do it! You will learn so much by stepping into a new and professional environment. There are so many areas to learn and improve in; in this sport you can never stop learning. So definitely take that big leap and see where it takes you! EQ