THOSE WHO HAVE…
Thought that I would like to share with you the different types of people that have influenced me.
I would have to start with a little bit about my life, the reasons why I got involved with horses. No one in our family has ever had anything to do with horses.
At the age of six and just started school Grade 1. The month of June, a cold day and well, you see, I always wanted to become a dancer, and that’s exactly what I was doing this day. Dancing in the lounge room of our house, around the gas heater, and my long winter pyjama dress caught fire and up I went. I suffered burns to over 40% of my body, mostly second and third degree, pretty bad. The ambulance man, the medic who had his first ever emergency pick up, was coming to me. Mr John Laws (not that one) but a very special one nevertheless, he fell in love with this little girl sitting there on the front steps of the house waiting to go to hospital. My Mum and our neighbour Carmel Conde did a dual effort and saved my life, Carmel through a bucket of water over me to actually put out the fire. My Mum pulled off all my cloths as they were on fire and Mum had all her fingers and hands burnt. So in Grade 1 at school, I spent most of the year going to hospital for operations and many skin grafts (hence I am not keen on needles now).
But all is okay as everyone that surrounded my life gave me confidence to do what I wanted to do.
I started horse riding at a public riding school at Wynnum in Queensland, with Mr Wallen. He was the kind of person who insisted upon everyone having very polite manners. Yes, Mr Wallen, no, Mr Wallen. Please and thank you were always used.
The kind way for the horses and the dedication and commitment, I learnt here.
Some time was spent with another type of horsemen. Mostly they had worked with cattle and the sort of rougher type horses. They gave me a lot of confidence to ride all types of horses, and I learnt lots of the older style of horsemanship. This allowed me to build on my ability as a horse person.
Think like the horse and outsmart him.
I have done over 15 years with the racing industry. Now, here is where you do learn a tremendous amount of skill to become another type of handler of horses. The horses you deal with are sometimes worth a lot of money and you cannot afford to have them get hurt from your error in handling or riding them. So I learnt how to lead, tie up, bandage/boot, saddle, groom, feed, shoe, float, watch and assist the vets that give different treatments to them, prepare yearlings, ride freshly broken, jump them out of barriers, gallop, half pace, three quarter pace, generally be around these highly energetic big young horses.
Confidence is needed and experience essential.
There have been three racehorse trainers that I have worked for. Mr Colin O’Neil who was married to the lady jockey Pam O’Neil. This is where I started in the racing world. I cleaned boxes and had in my care about 6 horses. I’d ride the horses every afternoon, walking them bareback around a small house block size ring. I used to ride most of the more difficult horses as I could stay on if they got excited.
Mr Barry Miller formerly of Cunnamulla in outback Queensland was training over 40 horses at Eagle Farm racetrack in Brisbane when I started for him. I asked Barry if he would let me ride track work and he said yes. I’ll have to admit that I became a very good track work rider. Not so much at the full on galloping stuff – he would prefer to put on the jockeys for that – but I really liked to train the horses to go kindly and in a relaxed manner and generally round and balanced. I think that of course is the dressage/eventing background.
I used to watch the other riders and some of the jockeys and if I could see that their horses went so well for them, I would ask them for some tips on how to get a hold and what to do if the horses did this or that. That is how I learnt. My knowledge from dressage and eventing combined with the race horse technique. I soon was riding 10 to 12 horses each morning and most of them were the more difficult horses. I tried my hardest and be very persistent to get them to relax and just travel on the track. I learned from Barry how to look after the stabled horse, caring for the general injuries from the workload that they do.
Again I was shown the dedication and commitment that you need to succeed.
For almost two years in the ACT, I worked for Mr Ken Callaghan who also had consistently about 40 horses in work. I rode track work and did most of the general injury care of the horses here too. I actually attained my picnic jockey license here, but that’s another whole story. I only learnt here that winning was of paramount, and not the horse to come first. I learnt that I am not a ‘win to do or die type jockey’. Too much in love with the horses I guess.
So all in all, these trainers have to have dedication and commitment to produce the results for their owners. These three men all worked long hours and got results.
Another person I worked for whilst living at Raymond Terrace (near Newcastle), was Mrs Barbara Rees who ran a rural produce and saddlery called Windeyer’s Country Centre.
I learnt about being a positive person and taking on a challenge. Break down the tasks involved to achieve the goal.
My Biggest Influence in Dressage
Sandra Pearson-Adams has been training me for almost two decades, and the main things that she has taught me over the years are: Be true to the horse – keep in your mind his body structure for his ability to be able to do the work and his mentality for his training. Keep the horse happy and interested in his daily work. Sandra has made me think out of the norm and try to think like the horse when training them.
Once again I am reminded of the dedication and commitment needed to perform and strive for perfection and always
like the air you breathe
the love of the horse is there.
Mr Nuno Oliveria was one of the great masters of training dressage horses and I was also inspired by this man. He too was like Sandra and wanted to achieve the happy horse in training and a lightness to express itself in the partnership of the rider and the horse. I found that these two trainers had lots of similarities and I liked the attitude they have around the training of the horses.
So many people have helped me gain confidence and ability to be where I am today.
But, if there is one thing that seems to be everywhere, that is Dedication and Commitment.
Of course my family, my Mum and Dad are truly amazing. Their love for me and what I want to achieve sometimes overwhelms me.
I am a lucky girl to have one of the best husbands in the world. He would give the world to me if it was to make me happier.
My Sister was the one to start it all. She took me horse riding when I was 10.