The quality of entries in the final round of Delivering Dreams 2021 was truly inspiring. Thanks to each and every one of you for taking the time to share your hopes and dreams for the future.
Although a difficult task, our 10 finalists have been selected and here they are! We’ll be giving you, our readers, a chance to have your say with the very popular Performa Ride Reader’s Choice Award and you can cast your votes below.
We give a sincere thank you to our wonderful sponsors. Without their generous support, we would not be able to offer this innovative and exciting program.
Through Delivering Dreams, my dream of encouraging and supporting riders committed to achieving their best has become a reality – so too can yours!
Read through each of our applicant’s and then VOTE for your favourite for the Performa Ride People’s Choice Award below. Voting closes 24 April and winner is announced in the May issue of Equestrian Hub Magazine.
2022 Delivering Dreams Shortlist
Kelly is show jumper and EA Intro coach, competing at a 1.30m Young Rider level with her dream horse Showtym Burrow.
She began jumping in 2015, and spent over five years training with Vicki Roycroft, followed by two stints at Showtym Sport Horses in New Zealand, which, she says, was a ground-breaking experience for both her relationship with her horses and her approach to her sport.
Reaching Young Riders was pivotal for Kelly: “Since buying Burrow we have worked our way up to 1.30-1.35m, something I always thought unattainable. The highlights of our partnership include our first Young Rider win at Waratah Show Jumping, achieving the first clear round in the 2020 Summer Classic Young Rider final, and competing at the 2021 Sydney Royal Easter Show.”
Recognising that she hadn’t yet scratched the surface of her partnership with Burrow, 2021 was a year of recalibration for Kelly: “I decided I needed to improve my mindset and confidence in order to bring out the best in both myself and my horse.”
And with some ambitious long-term goals in mind, she’s on the lookout for a mentor to help her with the self-confidence she needs to make her way in the sport. “I believe that with consistent training, both mental and physical, I’ll be able to not only deliver outstanding results in competition, but will feel proud of and fulfilled by my achievements, something I can then pass on to my students,” she adds.
For Kelly, riding is about prioritising the wellbeing of both horse and rider, and she believes that with the right support network, she can achieve her dreams.
Kate’s main interests are dressage and showing. After many years away, in 2020 she returned to the equestrian world – first taking lessons to re-establish the basics, and then rescuing a mare in dire need of help. In December last year she competed in a dressage competition, her first in 16 years, and won both her classes.
Now with four horses, Kate trains as often as she can afford with an FEI dressage rider. She is also the secretary of Gin Gin & District Pony Club, and is upgrading her teaching qualifications. “I’ve taught across most English disciplines in both the UK and Australia but my previous qualifications had long since lapsed,” she says.
With many previous successes under her belt, including qualifying for several state competitions, Kate is now training two of her horses (both OTT Thoroughbreds) to Preparatory and Preliminary level, with plans to compete at Medium on her coach’s schoolmaster. Her longer term goals include enrolling for a Level 1 EA Instructor’s certificate, opening the doors of the riding school she’s in the process of establishing, competing at FEI level dressage, and from there developing her skills through to Grand Prix.
Kate has found her biggest challenge is regaining her confidence after so long out of the saddle, and has been working with a local trainer to help overcome her fears. But she’s thankful that she found the courage to chase her dreams: “Returning to riding was against the odds – everyone told me I was crazy! I had no money but I knew it was something I needed to do. Horses are my happy place.”
Sue is an eventer who’s currently enjoying an exciting rise through the star classes. After competing in the lower levels for many years, she bought talented Warmblood gelding Bamboo Textiles Roulette (Ollie) in 2018. The pair have formed a great partnership. “We’ve been very successful at 1*, finishing in the top ten in 10 out of 13 starts. We’re now competing at 2* level,” she says.
Other than managing a niggling injury, Sue recognises that her mindset and skills are areas that also need improvement. “But I have strategies in place,” she says. “I have two wonderful riding coaches and have accessed mindset and sports science coaching to assist my personal growth. I firmly believe that to have professional results I need professional habits, and I work toward that ideal.”
With that in mind, Sue has developed effective horse management and training protocols, including a daily routine that combines her own physical and mental fitness needs with a sustainable training plan for Ollie. “Being well organised in this sense allows me to achieve in a demanding career outside of the horse world,” she adds.
Sue is proud of her work ethic and dedication, which have helped keep her focussed through the inevitable ups and downs as she edges ever closer to her dreams. Her immediate goals include competing successfully with Ollie at Perth’s Equestrian in the Park later this year, and at 2* level in the 2023 Adelaide Australian International Horse Trials. Long term, she aims at progressing to 3* competition and beyond, and representing WA in both the Sydney and Melbourne International Horse Trials, and Australia in the Oceania Challenge.
Now a keen dressage, show jumping and eventing rider, Kristle first discovered her passion for horses as a 14-year-old gymnast training at the Australian Institute of Sport. But gymnastics had taken a toll on her body, and her physiotherapist suggested learning to ride as a way of helping to keep her joints mobile. It wasn’t too long before gymnastics was a distant memory!
After leaving school, Kristle groomed for Grant Hughes of Canberra’s Emmaville Performance Horses. Her job involved accompanying Grant and his horses to shows all over Australia, experiencing the sport at its highest level. “I worked as Grant’s groom for four years, an amazing, career building and once-in-a-lifetime experience. My riding ability and horsemanship skills flourished,” she says.
A successful competitor herself, Kristle has travelled to major shows all over NSW, qualifying for the Sydney Royal in 2015 and 2016, winning Amateur of the Year at the 2015 Forbes Show, and successfully competing in the 2017 Bega Cup Mini Prix. Her current horse, Little Bit of Blue (aka Harry) is a ten-year-old gelding with plenty of natural ability who she intends starting at Mini Prix level next show season.
Now with her own coaching business, Kristle has completed her EFA Introduction and Level 1 Coaching Qualifications, and has her sights set on an EA Level 2 qualification. But there are other goals: “I want to compete at a high level in show jumping and dressage on horses I’ve nurtured and trained myself. I also want to increase my knowledge of horse management and training, as well as to develop my coaching into a full-time business.”
A driven and passionate eventer, Courtney dreams of making the equestrian community a kinder and more encouraging space. “I hope to improve the culture of the competition scene through supporting other riders to achieve their goals, by being an ear to listen, and a kind spirit around the training and competition days,” she says.
In working towards that outcome, Courtney has created a network of like-minded riders, arranged clinics, and has an Instagram page sharing inspiring and positive posts.
Striving for her dreams with no family support has taught Courtney empathy and compassion. She’s frequently the first to help other riders needing a hand, offering to drive them to competitions or lending out her float. “One of my great achievements was being appointed a Pony Club Captain, where I was able to mentor younger riders. I was also very privileged to win the best and fairest award across our entire Zone,” she says.
In the saddle, she counts taking out Champion at Silver Hills ODE, placing second at the State Show Jumping B Grade Championships, and most recently producing her young horse from 60cm to 1* eventing, as some of her greatest successes.
Of course, there are always more goals to attain and for Courtney that’s competing at Adelaide’s Australian International 3 Day Event, while inspiring other riders along the way.
All of which is not bad for a city girl born and bred. “In metro areas there are limited agistment options, so I drive ninety minutes each way four to five times a week to see my horse, and to ride her enough to keep her fit,” she says.
Top of Merryn’s list is showing. She began competing when her previous horse, a schoolmaster, got her back into riding after a 10 year break. “I started at the bottom, worked hard and was rewarded by winning the Horse Riding Club Association of Victoria Level 4 at the 2015 Summer Royal. I was graded up that day,” she says.
Unfortunately her beloved schoolmaster became increasingly unsound, and was eventually replaced with Merryn’s “dream horse” Gizmo – then a two-year-old unbroken Riding Pony, now a large Galloway.
Merryn, who has lessons with her coach when finances allow, is confident that Gizmo has the talent for a successful showing career. “I attended my first competition with him last March. We finished the day on a good note and I was excited for our next comp,” she explains. But a devastating setback (a torn suspensory ligament acquired in the paddock) intervened, and it wasn’t until late last year that Gizmo was given the all clear.
Determined to improve in her chosen discipline, Merryn is always ready to learn. It was during Gizmo’s rehabilitation that she became aware of nutrition’s role in recovery, performance and overall health – and she now recognises the impact a good diet has on topline and general presentation.
A passionate equestrian, Merryn has set herself a number of goals, including improving her riding skills and developing her partnership with Gizmo so he works kindly both at home and in the show ring. “The icing on the cake would be to win a Champion in his Hunter class,” she adds, “and that’s a goal that I dream about every day.”
In 2013, Kate fell from her horse and broke a hip. As she lay in the dirt waiting for an ambulance, she had a sudden realisation: that this very moment was the beginning of her horsemanship career. “A fire was truly lit in my belly,” she recalls.
A Riding Club devotee, Kate has found her soul mate in Scarlett Cross Prince – a 16hh OTT Thoroughbred – who has taken her from horse rider to horsewoman. “We have developed horsemanship skills, riding skills, life skills and competitive skills. We’ve competed in three shows and placed well in each, with a fourth in our first dressage test. We’re now very ready to get out there and bust some more dance moves for the judges!” she says.
Passionate about ethical horsemanship and competition, Kate studies the old masters and classical dressage, as well as the latest in science and biomechanics: “Horses and horsemanship are my entire life. If I’m not out with Prince I’m learning from books and other sources. I’m obsessed!”
And she is delighted with Prince’s progress. The OTT has become balanced and supple, and is now working well both in hand and under saddle, in either a cavesson or a snaffle bridle.
Other than being a role model for other riders who have experienced setbacks, Kate’s goal is to grow her skills and knowledge (particularly in the area of equine biomechanics) so she and Prince can continue to develop. While always putting her horse’s welfare first, she’d eventually like to compete in Advanced level dressage- giving her the opportunity to show that it’s entirely possible to compete horses in an ethical and kind way.
Show jumping enthusiast Kacey has ridden all her life. As an eight-year-old she joined Pony Club and competed in games and horse trials at state level. Now the keen show jumper and her family have started a business retraining and educating performance horses.
This venture has grown considerably since Kacey registered as an Acknowledged Retrainer with Racing Victoria. She and her husband now rehome OTT Thoroughbreds, as well as breeding racehorses and performance horses. “What was originally a passion and hobby has transformed into a successful small business,” she says, “with interest from buyers and people seeking to have their horses on our team for further education, training and experience. It’s an exciting moment in time to see where this journey will take us.”
Aside from working towards establishing an all-weather arena to increase their training capacity, one of Kacey’s main goals is to compete her home bred Warmblood at Grand Prix level. “I also have a stunning five-year-old OTT Thoroughbred mare showing super talent over fences. I hope to see her competing at some exceptional events in the future,” she adds.
Never afraid of hard work, Kacey gets up early every morning to exercise her horses, before going to her 9:00 to 5:00 job four days a week. On Fridays, her day off, she works multiple horses and prepares for shows.
“I also retrain the OTT Thoroughbreds and keep them until the right home is found. I put 110 per cent effort into every horse with no shortcuts taken. I take pride in all I do, and the horse always comes first,” she says.
Lisa is a dressage rider, Paralympian and combined carriage driver. Riding competitively since childhood, her family took her to events all over Australia – a sacrifice which paid dividends when Lisa represented her country at Prix St Georges and Grand Prix level both at home and internationally.
When she married, she and her husband moved to a small country town. “Because having lessons and competing involved travelling between five to fifteen hours, things became difficult – but we made it happen.
However, following two severe riding accidents, Lisa’s ankle was restricted to less than 15 per cent movement. Although initially returning to able-bodied competition, she eventually took the opportunity to classify as a Para-equestrian, and was subsequently selected for the Australian Para–equestrian Team for Rio, where she came fourth in all three tests.
Unfortunately, two years ago Lisa had another particularly nasty accident, smashing her pelvis and damaging her spine. Although doctors were initially unsure whether or not she would walk again, after two years of rehabilitation she returned to the saddle and was awarded a Bronze medal from Dressage NSW for the percentages she achieved in competitions last year with her homebred mare.
As for dreams and goals, well, she has a few! “In two years I want to compete at Grand Prix level dressage, represent Australia again at the Paralympics, and eventually compete as an able bodied athlete at the Olympics. That would make me the first athlete to represent Australia in both Para and able-bodied Grand Prix dressage. But I’ve also started combined carriage driving, so there’re a few goals to kick there as well,” she says.
Jamie has been riding her entire life, but her passion is for show jumping. Originally from the show ring, she started jumping around ten years ago and certainly hasn’t looked back.
Currently the NSW Senior State Show Jumping Champion with her horse Courage, she’s a member of the Martin Collins team for the Australian Show Jumping Teams League. She’s ranked at 15th on the World Cup ladder and has ridden three World Cups, placing seventh and ninth in two of them.
Jamie is also runner up to the Australian Young Rider Champion, and has competed all over the world, representing Australia on many occasions: “Two years ago, I placed third in the medium tour at the Berlin Global Champions event on a borrowed horse. I won numerous titles as a Junior and Young Rider, and I’m now competing at the top level in Australia,” she says.
Jamie is one of the few Young Riders who produce their own horses from the breaking in stage to elite level, and is currently ranked as one of the top three riders under 25 years of age in Australia.
While her goal is to represent Australia internationally and to be selected for the Olympics, Jamie also has a strong sense of community. “I always try to be a good example, and I aim to be a true ambassador for the sport,” she says. “I love my horses, I love competing, and I also love helping younger riders out when they’re having problems with their horses, or life in general. If I can inspire one person to aim higher on their horse, I am a very happy person.”
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