PLUS: JODIE MCKEONE'S, ALL EYES ON THE EUROS, TRAINING FOR SUPPLENESS WITH KERRY MACK, SCONE POLO INTERNATIONAL, WHAT MAKES MARY NITSCHKE TICK, PARA DRESSAGE AT HARTPURY, ROLEX II SHINES IN THE SHOW RING, A VET’S LOOK AT OVARIAN TUMOURS, A NEW APPROACH TO FEEDING & SUZY JARRATT ON ‘THE MIRACLES OF THE WHITE STALLIONS’.
AUSTRALIA`S BEST EQUINE MAGAZINE
click here to start reading
click on left side to read the previous article
click on right side to read the next article
scroll down or click icon to read article
A Few Words
FROM THE PUBLISHER
TRACKING OUR PARIS CONTENDERS
BY HEATH RYAN
SIMONE PEARCE’S SOLID SILVER SERVICE
BY ADELE SEVERS
SCONE SCORES ON THE WORLD STAGE
BY ADELE SEVERS
ALL EYES ON THE EUROS
BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
WHAT MAKES MARY NITSCHKE TICK
BY ADELE SEVERS
THE SUBTLE ART OF SUPPLENESS
BY DR KERRY MACK
HARTPURY TAKES US TO ANOTHER LEVEL
BY BRIDGET MURPHY
MIRACLE OF THE WHITE STALLIONS
BY SUZY JARRATT
DAVID SHOOBRIDGE’S MATING GAME
BY SUNDAY MCKAY
GRANULOSA CELL TUMOURS
BY DR MAXINE BRAIN
PERFECT FEED IS IN THE BAG
BY SUNDAY MCKAY
ROLEX II TICKS OVER NICELY FOR KAITLIN
BY ADELE SEVERS
THE SEASON FOR FUTURE STARS
BY EQ LIFE
JODIE MCKEONE: MISSION POSSIBLE
BY ADELE SEVERS
Sharon Jarvis, Stella Barton and Bridget Murphy recently competed at Hartpury CPEDI 3*. Image Jessie Downs.
Putting scores on the board is an important step towards the Paris 2024 Paralympics, but so too is gaining international exposure. A recent trip to the UK helped me, Sharon Jarvis and Stella Barton gain that all-important experience.
With the Paris Paralympics a year away, selection criteria now on the table and a qualification event scheduled at next month’s Australian Dressage Championships, there are exciting times ahead for Australian Para Dressage riders.
Bridget Murphy and Delphdale Alice. Image by Jess Photography.
“I was so blown away by the response and support of everyone.”
Each year, Hartpury University in Gloucestershire, England, holds the International Festival of Dressage, which includes a CPEDI 3* competition. Australian para riders have a long history of making the trip over, as it is a fantastic event to gain international exposure at without the pressure of a Paralympic or World Championship environment. This year is the first-time post-Covid that anyone has headed back, and I was thrilled to be part of the group, along with Stella Barton and Sharon Jarvis.
For me this journey started while I was competing at the Leader Equine Dressage Spectacular, while having dinner with Sharon Jarvis. She was telling me her plans to go to compete at Hartpury, alongside Stella. Jokingly, I said “maybe I’ll come too”. Sharon’s eyes lit up, and she explained that if I did go, Australia would have enough riders there to form a team – which would mean more points towards securing Australia’s spot at the Paris Paralympics. By the next morning, the idea had gathered steam, and my joke was starting to become a plan. Macey [Penmain Promise] and I had just gained the scores that qualified me to ride there, which fuelled the idea further. I just had to find something to ride and work out the logistics to make it happen…
POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA
That’s when the power of social media kicked in and worked two miracles. First was to find a pony, and a backup pony just in case the first one didn’t work out. I reached out to Sophie Wells (British Para Dressage Superstar) who had recently coached me during her Australian clinic tour and asked if she knew of anything. She replied almost immediately with a yes!
I also made a Facebook post asking my friends if they had any possible leads over in England. The post blew up overnight and I had over 200 offers of horses! So, just like that, I had found two ponies to go try out and choose from.
Now that I had ponies lined up, I needed to start booking everything else! Flights, accommodation, entry fees, car hire, mobility scooter hire, horse documents, human documents… the list went on and on. My savings were quickly dwindling to nothing, so my friend Kate started a GoFundMe page to try and get some financial help. I was so blown away by the response and support of everyone. It really wouldn’t have been possible without raising the extra funds, so once again, the BIGGEST thank you to everyone who helped!
So, in eight weeks I went from sitting at dinner making a joke to sitting on a plane to London, on my way to ride two ponies owned by strangers and compete in my first international CPEDI 3*, with just a week’s training prior!
Once landed in England, I was based in Lincoln, close to Sophie Wells’s yard. The pony she had found me, Charlie (Lyndhurst Soldier) – owned by the Ohara family – was going to be based there for the duration of my stay so I could have lessons daily. Spending the time at Sophie’s was priceless. The level and skill that she not only rides at, but also implements in the day-to-day running of the yard, was amazing to watch and learn from. It was clear to see why she’s had so much success, and still does!
Bridget and Lyndhurst Soldier. Image supplied.
My backup pony, Alice (Delphdale Alice), was owned by the Britton family and based about an hour from there, which was lucky because after my first ride I knew she was too good to be “just a backup” and ended up entering her too! I spent the next week driving from pony to pony each day, trying to get as much time in the saddle as possible before we had to pack up and drive to the other side of the country to Hartpury University for the competition.
COMPETING AT HARTPURY
Hartpury is a beautiful venue, tucked into the English countryside. It’s on a bit of a hill, with stables at the top and arenas at the bottom, which gives this beautiful grassy hill to watch all the action from. The indoor area has grandstand seating all around and there is a café at the top of one end with big glass windows where you can watch the indoor from one side or the outdoor arenas from the other. There are also many other arenas across the grounds that were being used for warm-ups or smaller classes. It has a really great atmosphere, without being too intimidating.
The team all stayed on site, making use of the empty student accommodation dorms, which meant we had lots of time to absorb all that was on offer.
We all arrived on the Sunday to get settled in and have some arena familiarisation time. Everyone’s horses went fantastically, which was a huge relief as being on borrowed horses we needed to be confident they were okay with the environment. It was also a good chance to meet some of the other riders from all the different countries.
Monday was trot-up day! I had a quick ride on both the ponies in the morning, then it was time to get them spruced up for trot-up. All the “Australian” horses were clear through and accepted straight away. Competition kicked off on Tuesday with the Grand Prix A tests, followed by Grand Prix B on Wednesday. Those who made it through would ride their Freestyles on Thursday to conclude the event.
Bridget and Alice performed well and qualified for the Grade II Freestyle on the final day. Image supplied.
For me personally, I was super happy with how my competition went. I hadn’t set any target scores for myself going into it, I just wanted to learn and experience as much as I could without any added pressure. On day one, in the Grade II Grand Prix A tests, I scored 62.6% on Charlie, and 63.1% on Alice. Both ponies gave me really good rides and felt great, so I was happy with how things went.
Day two, the Grand Prix B, saw another consistent test on Charlie for a 62.4%, and Alice and I found another gear and scored 65.9%. This meant I had qualified both ponies for the Freestyle, but the rules state I could only take one through, so as Alice scored higher, we chose her. With no time to custom make a Freestyle, I was riding to my old The Greatest Showman music, which didn’t quite fit to Alice’s paces, but we managed to get around and come away with a respectable 67.7%.
I couldn’t have asked for any more of the wonderful ponies, they adapted to me so well and took everything in their stride. We ended up placing in every test and had such encouraging comments from the judges and other riders. They could not believe what we Australians were doing and were totally shocked at what we were achieving on borrowed horses in such a short time. We certainly knuckled down and worked hard, but none of it would have been possible without the generosity of the owners of all the horses, so I would like to again express our gratitude and biggest thanks!
Stella Barton and Hera Buxton. Image supplied.
Stella Barton, a Grade I rider based in Victoria, arrived two weeks before the competition began. She used this time to get to know her horse, Hera Buxton, who was owned, bred and very generously loaned to Stella by Lucy and Frankie Buxton. Hera and Stella did a super job throughout the whole competition, scoring over 60% in both tests (in some terrible weather) and qualified for the Freestyle. However, FEI rules state that only the top eight can go through, which sadly because of the large class size meant Stella couldn’t ride her Freestyle. A situation that we never have back home, but Stella handled it with such professionalism.
Stella was lucky enough to spend time training with Sir Lee Pearson, one of Britain’s most successful para riders. She even got the privilege to train on his gold medal-winning horse Zion and looks forward to applying what she learnt to her horse, Falcon Disco Hit, back at home.
When I asked Stella about the trip, she said: “I had so much fun riding at Hartpury and felt so proud to be representing Australia on the international arena. It was my first ever international competition, and I learned so much by being there and participating. I really hope that I have another opportunity to compete and to represent Australia overseas again. It was such a thrill.”
Sharon Jarvis and Furst Crusador (Jazz x Rohdiamant). Image by Jess Photography.
Sharon Jarvis, a Grade IV rider from Western Australia, decided to compete at Hartpury as a side mission on her trip to the UK to scout for potential horses for her Paris Paralympic campaign. Sharon has her eyes firmly set on the 2024 games, and if successful in her campaign, it would make her a four-time Paralympian!
Sharon landed just a week out from competition and still had to ride and pick a horse. From three good options, she narrowed it down to two, and then entered both! She rode a lovely mare named Femme Lijbra (Chilli), owned by Flo Dawes, and a handsome gelding, Furst Crusador (Shroomy), owned by Char Lassetter and ridden by Daryl Ware.
Sharon’s experience really showed, and despite only having two or three rides on these horses before competition, she remained competitive amongst strong, established combinations in classes with big numbers. Sharon and Furst Crusador went through to the Freestyle – not riding to the music prior and it being only their sixth ride, they managed a score of 69.46% and sixth place!
Sharon had this to say about her time at Hartpury: “It was a good experience to be able to share the knowledge I have gained over the many years of competing with Stella and Bridget competing in their first International overseas. We had a great team atmosphere that everyone enjoyed. We had the very experienced Sally Francis as our Chef d’Equipe and this was appreciated by all. I also have to thank my coach, Rozzie Ryan, for making the trip over with me. I think if there are riders in the future that are considering aiming to make a Games team, then doing a trip like this is great for experience and exposure, the value of this cannot be underestimated.”
Sharon and mare Femme Lijbra. Image supplied.
There were riders from all over present; of course Great Britain, but also Ireland, America, Hong Kong and Singapore to name a few. It was very interesting watching and learning how other riders and teams operate. Not to mention the horsepower! It was really eye-opening as to the standard that we as riders, and our horses, need to be at to be competitive on the international circuit. Not wanting to downplay the great horses and riders back home in any way, but it is really a whole other level overseas. I really encourage anyone who has the opportunity to go over and experience it for themselves to do so.
POINTS FOR AUSTRALIA
Whilst the other nations competing had four riders, we only had three and were on borrowed horses, yet we still held our own and came fifth in the team rankings – adding some more important points to Australia’s current ranking towards our Paris qualification!
Team Australia at Hartpury. Image supplied.
We must thank Equestrian Australia for their support and guidance of the Australian team. We could not have formed a team without EA’s formal consent, so we appreciate them backing us.
EA Para-Equestrian Performance Lead Nick Hunter said: “It was fantastic that these riders were able to self-fund a campaign to Hartpury. It was a valuable opportunity for them to gain international experience, which we always encourage, and the points they earned in the Teams competition have helped Australia’s campaign towards Paralympic Games qualification.”
Team Australia wasn’t just the riders, it was everyone who was there with us too: coaches, owners, grooms, families, supporters and ring-ins! We certainly flew the flag loud and proud. It was such a great environment to be a part of and really embodied the Aussie spirit and values of what being part of a team is. A special mention must go to Chef d’Equipe Sally Francis, who made sure we all had a fantastic experience.
As with all my Para Dressage adventures, I wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of my team at home, and the wider equestrian community. I’m so very thankful to everyone who played a role in making this trip happen. It really was an experience of a lifetime, and I hope you all enjoyed following along with me via social media.
Now I’m home and super keen to put all that I learnt into practice back here, especially with the Australian Dressage Championships coming up from 12-15 October, it will be a great to get back out there on Macey.
Bridget is looking forward to getting back in the arena with Penmain Promise, aka Macey. Image by One Eyed Frog Photography.
With selection criteria recently released, the Paris 2024 Paralympics is at the forefront of everyone’s minds and the Australian Dressage Championships is the next opportunity for Para Dressage combinations to post a score on the board. It will then come down to producing two strong performances in 2024, and so the Australian Para Dressage scene is bound to only get more exciting from here! EQ