PLUS: RYAN WOOD TAKES FLIGHT; LALWA MAY LEADS THE WAY; WHAT THE JUDGES ARE TELLING YOU; REBECCA WEBBER & ZAC’S PARA DEBUT; OUR EQUINE QUARANTINE SYTEM; AGE NO BARRIER FOR OTT VETERAN; AUSSIES REIGN AT MOUNTED GAMES; THE JOY OF RAISING FOALS & FRANCIS THE TALKING MULE.
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A Few Words
FROM THE PUBLISHERS
PELOTON BUILDS ON ROAD TO PARIS
BY HEATH RYAN
STELLA & BUG SEIZE THE MOMENT
BY BRIDGET MURPHY
TOP MARKS ALL ROUND AT THE NATIONALS
BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
RYAN WOOD TAKES FLIGHT
BY ADELE SEVERS
Off the Track
AGE NO BARRIER TO ROY’S RESURRECTION
BY ADELE SEVERS
FRANCIS THE TALKING MULE
BY SUZY JARRATT
THE JOY OF RAISING FOALS
BY DR KERRY MACK
LALWA MAY LEADS THE WAY
BY SUSANNA RODELL
REBECCA & ZAC, POWERFUL PARTNERS
BY ADELE SEVERS
WHAT THE JUDGE IS TELLING YOU
BY ROGER FITZHARDINGE
KEEPING OUR COUNTRY FREE OF DISEASE
BY DR MAXINE BRAIN
AUSSIES REIGN AT WORLDS DOWN UNDER
BY EQ LIFE
Stella Barton and Lord Larmarque, aka Bug, were crowned the Australian CPEDI3* Grade I Champions at the recent Stable Ground Australian Dressage Championships. Image by One Eyed Frog Photography.
There is one special story that needs to be shared from the Australian Dressage Championships, as it really shows just what this sport is all about and what can happen when people come together with a common goal, and that’s the story of Grade 1 rider Stella Barton and Lord Larmarque, aka ‘Bug’.
The Stable Ground Australian Dressage Championships drew riders from all across Australia and New Zealand to compete at Boneo Park for the prestige of a national title. This event had extra significance for Australia’s para dressage riders as it was the first CPEDI3* event that counts towards selection for Australia’s team for the Paris 2024 Paralympics.
This saw a huge number of entries, with almost 40 combinations entered. I believe these numbers are partly due to the FEI Intermediate tests being offered, which gives athletes a better and much-needed entry point into the sport. But it is also a huge testament to the success of Julia Battams and the Equine Pathways Australia program offering access and support to para athletes at all levels. In my five years in the “para world” I have never seen such numbers at a competition, which is absolutely fantastic for the development of our sport.
CPEDI3* Grade IV Champions Kirsty Van Loon and HV Dante, one of nearly 40 para combinations to compete at the Australian Dressage Championships. Image One Eyed Frog Photography
“In my five years in the ‘para world’ I have never seen such numbers at a competition.”
In typical Victorian style, we experienced all kinds of weather down on the Mornington Peninsula. Trot-up Tuesday and Test A Wednesday had beautiful sunny weather, but the wet well and truly set in for Test B Thursday and Freestyle Friday. This didn’t stop the riders though, with everyone pushing through and getting the job done no matter what. (Although, I’m sure the use of the indoor on Friday was much appreciated!) With so many riders, the days were long, but everyone pitched in to help and support each other. The results speak for themselves, with many riders hitting personal best scores or personal goals throughout the competition.
CPEDI 2* FEI INTERMEDIATE
Grade II Champions: Carol Homes & Fiasco Reserve Champions: Rebecca Webber & Glenayre Skyline
Grade IV Champions: Helen Batson & Devine MI Reserve Champions: Suzin Wells & Kendall Park Odyssey
Grade I Champions: Stella Barton & Lord Larmarque Reserve Champions: Morgan Webb Liddle & Thamesbourne Sunsation
Grade II Champions: Maddison Cooke & Byalee Magic II Reserve Champions: Bridget Murphy & Penmain Promise
Grade III Champions: Amylie Hines & EA Exquisite Reserve Champions: Kelly Ffrost & Karabil Park Janz
Grade IV Champions: Kirsty Van Loon & HV Dante Reserve Champions: Claire Graham & Fürst Olli 3
Grade V Champions: Chelsea De Jonge & Don Dancier Reserve Champions: Mietta Innes-Irons & Elfenzauber
Stella Barton scored some PBs too, but how she got to ride Lord Larmarque (IMP) is a fascinating story in itself. Bug, a stunning chestnut Arabian Warmblood and licensed Hanoverian stallion, is owned by Jade Edwards and Alan Moody. He has been the longtime equine partner of Sharon Jarvis and resides at her property in Donnybrook, Western Australia. Together they have travelled all over Australia competing in both the dressage arena and the show ring with huge success, while also standing at stud. The pair were on track for the Tokyo Paralympics before an untimely minor injury ruled Bug out. Fortunately, he is now fully recovered and back in business. Sharon did make it to Tokyo on a borrowed horse, Romanos, aka ‘Rommy’, and on her return announced her retirement from the high-performance side of the sport.
Stella Barton, Lord Larmarque and Sharon Jarvis. Image courtesy of Stella Barton Para Equestrian Facebook page.
“It was the shortest retirement in history…”
THE SPIRIT OF GIVING BACK
Fortunately for everyone, it was the shortest retirement in history because Sharon is back with a mission to not only reach her fourth Paralympic Games, but to give back and promote the sport in any way she can. It was this desire to give back which led her to offer Bug – knowing how outstanding his temperament is – to other para riders for lessons and local competitions.
Sharon had seen Stella ride at competitions for a few years now, and after spending a lot of time with her together at Hartpury in July this year she really pushed for Stella to enter the WA State Championships on Bug. I can tell you from personal experience that Sharon is very persuasive, which is why on 20 September Stella had her first ride on Lord Larmarque after flying to WA, just two days before the competition started! The new combination had rides three, four and five in their competition tests! Stella scored a personal best in each test and their Freestyle cracked the elusive 70% that Stella had been chasing.
Team Stella and Team Bug were all completely thrilled with the results, and this led to a plan for Sharon and Stella sharing Bug at these Nationals at Boneo Park. Sharon was already entered on Bug as well as Emma Robertson’s OEH Directors Choice, aka ‘Spider’, and the trip across from WA was all planned out. They arrived at Boneo Park early to give the horses time to recover and to allow Stella to have a few more rides. Stella was working hard with Sharon and her coach Sally Francis to build on her connection with Bug and refine their test movements. However, in an unfortunate twist of fate, Sharon was struck down with the flu the day before the competition started. She made the tough decision to forfeit the ride on Bug and focus on Spider, meaning only Stella would ride Bug.
This small glitch in their plans didn’t matter though. Day one, Grand Prix Test A, Stella and Bug hit a new personal best score with a massive 72.3%! Day two, Grand Prix Test B, and another PB with an impressive 74.4%. Not only are these fantastic scores and a huge milestone personally for Stella, but they also count towards the Paris team selection, with riders needing to score over 67%.
Day three, and it was time for the Grand Prix Freestyle, everyone’s favourite day. Stella and Bug were in such harmony and sync it was beautiful to watch. It was rewarded with a massive 75.4%! There were a lot of happy tears when that score came through. It is not only a PB for Stella but an Australian record for a Grade 1 Freestyle!
Stella and Bug were the 2023 Australian CPEDI3* Grade I Champions. Image One Eyed Frog Photography.
STARSTRUCK BY LORD LARMARQUE
Coach Sally Francis was full of praise for the Stella and Bug combination. “At our first meeting, Team Stella was starstruck at Lord Larmarque’s beauty, his majestic rhythmic walk, and his super manners. And then Stella rode him and wow! What a great match. And gosh, they have just scored the highest percentage of any Grade 1 Australian athlete in a CPEDI3* event. A wonderful moment for our Para Dressage sport thanks to Stella, Lord Lamarque and his connections.”
“Everyone commented on how much I was smiling during my freestyle!”
Grade 1 riders have the greatest impairment on the para classification scale, and their tests are performed in the walk only. This means the horses Grade 1 riders require to be competitive internationally must have an outstanding walk and temperament to match. These unicorns are few and far between, (the other side of the country in this case!) but it seems that this combination is off to an amazing start.
Stella was still all smiles when I asked her about her experience with Bug so far. “I first rode Bug two days before the WA State Championships, and he was unlike any horse I have ridden in a long time. When I got on Bug for the first time, I found that his walk felt huge but by the second ride I knew what to expect and felt more comfortable. It’s really good riding Bug because he has a very consistent walk so I don’t need to work to keep him going, which means I can focus all of my attention on the quality of my figures.
Stella is loving riding Bug and they have achieved amazing scores in a very short space of time. Watch this space! Image by One Eyed Frog Photography.
“I am absolutely thrilled with our performance at the Nationals with three personal best scores, all over 70% at a CPEDI3* level competition. Everyone commented on how much I was smiling during my freestyle! I was smiling because I could feel how well Bug was walking and I just love my music, but I also caught sight of my friend Lindsey Ware who was sitting between my mum and [fellow para rider] Mietta Innes-Irons watching. I felt so happy seeing them all sitting there together. It was so exciting, and I feel so proud of myself and my team around me who have helped me so much. It’s a real jump for me in terms of scores so I am excited to see what the future holds for us.”
The success of Stella and Bug coming together is just one of the stories that show just how great this sport can be. Riders, coaches, horses and owners all working together to give each other an opportunity to dream and go on adventures together. Sharon and Jade generously offering Bug, Stella for being open and brave enough to jump at the opportunity, the support teams coming together to make it all happen… and of course Bug, the big chestnut unicorn that just keeps marching on. Can’t wait to see what comes next!
“Next stop on the road to Paris selection for us para riders will be at Willinga Park in February, 2024.”
A big thank you must go to Jade Woodhead Butler and her team at Carlton Performance Horses, Boneo Park and Stable Ground for putting on such a great show. Also, to Equestrian Australia and Leader Equine for the generous sponsorship of the para dressage classes.
Next stop on the road to Paris selection for us para riders will be at Willinga Park in February, 2024. There are a lot of very strong combinations all hoping for a spot, so it’s sure to be an exciting event! EQ