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Age is just a number – riding over 70

Paddy McKee has been riding since she was three years of age and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. A regular at local dressage competitions, Paddy has won countless prizes and always has a smile on her face and a kind word to say.

The amazing thing is, Paddy is 73 but proves that age is only a number and never lets that slow her down.

Whether it’s mustering cattle for weeks on end, burning up the local trails or taking part in the Masters Games – Paddy gives it her all and enjoys every second.

“I’ve been riding for as long as I can remember,” explains Paddy.

“I was born horse crazy and I still am horse crazy – something inside me every day urges me to get up, see my horse and ride.

“As I grew up I was my father’s right hand man and helped break horses in, I then successfully competed them at shows where the horses were sold – that’s how we made money to feed the family.

“My father was a well-respected horse trainer and that’s how he made his money, so horsemanship skills were instilled in me at a young age.”

After marrying and having a family of her own, Paddy was still heavily involved in the horse industry.

“My husband was a jockey so we used to train racehorses for steeplechasing but before they could race they had to qualify in hunting events,” Paddy said.

“Hunting events were quite good to get miles under the horse’s belt, so we’d take them through the hunting fields and pop them over the fences. If they could clear the five fences at a hunting pace then they would qualify for the steeplechasing trials.

“It got a bit tricky when I had a family to look after, but we still kept training horses and I’d often compete at events with my babies in the pram. We still had to work the horses and provide an income.”

Fast forward to 2015 and Paddy had success in at the Masters Games in Charterville Queensland on a borrowed horse called Voltabolta.

“He was a green Thoroughbred who had been off the track for twelve months and turned out for three months on the lead-up to the games,” Paddy said.

“I didn’t really know the horse when I took him to compete – we’d only had a handful of rides prior to the games. I wasn’t out to win anything though, it was just about having a good time, having some fun and relaxing.

“We ended up competing in the dressage and hacking events, coming away with six gold, three silver and one bronze medal.

“I was the only one at seventy years of age competing and my fellow competitors were calling me the Senior Citizen. I absolutely had the time of my life!  Voltabolta was lovely and looked after me.”

This year Paddy has a new horse and intends on competing as much as she can.

“I purchased my new horse Jack in November last year,” Paddy said.

“He’s a twelve year old Thoroughbred and stands at 15.2hh – the best part is he’s been out and done some hack shows and dead quiet.

“He’s good with other horses and working well, I’ve put a few miles under him with my trail riding and he handled it nicely.

“We don’t do a lot of work in the arena at home, I go out on regular fourteen kilometre trail rides where you can go through the horses paces and work on their laterals – it’s a nice atmosphere and gets the horse thinking.”

When asked how she keeps her confidence, Paddy had some wise words to say.

“I don’t really have much of a fearful bone in my body but it’s important that you feel confident on the horse,” Paddy said.

“Know your limits but get out there and have fun – relax and take your time. Confidence comes from having the right partnership, being able to achieve small goals and allowing your horse to look after you.”

We look forward to hearing of Paddy’s achievements in 2017 – she’s a true inspiration!