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Delivering Dreams Winner: Emma Hulse

Delivering Dreams 2021

The scope and variety of the hundreds of entries we received in the first round of the 2021 Delivering Dreams Sponsorship was amazing!

Although the decision was extraordinarily difficult, our judges selected Emma Hulse as the winner out of a field of ten exceptional finalists, while the Readers’ Choice Award went to the very deserving Nicole Mutimer. Congratulations to you both from all of us here at the Equestrian Hub.

I’d like to thank our wonderful judges – Charlotte Inglis, David Shoobridge and Wayne Copping – and to acknowledge the very generous support of our Delivering Dreams sponsors.

And don’t forget, applications for this year’s second round close on 31st December. Through Delivering Dreams, my own dream of inspiring, encouraging and supporting riders committed to achieving their best has become a reality – so too can yours!

Emma and Fiddy placed second at the 2021 Harden EVA80 (Image by Britt Grovenor Photography).

Delivering Dreams Winner: Emma Hulse

It’s a pleasure to introduce our very excited Delivering Dreams recipient Emma Hulse. Although the quality of candidates was exceptional, our judges were particularly impressed with Emma’s application.

It’s really not out of the ordinary that Emma Hulse began riding at the age of five. What is unusual is that at the time she was living in Jakarta with her parents. Her best friend there happened to be having riding lessons, and Emma was eager to do likewise. Eventually her parents succumbed to a barrage of requests and agreed to one lesson, thinking it would satisfy her. Instead it fuelled the fire and Emma began weekly lessons.

Over time, her skills developed and her parents leased an Indonesian Thoroughbred named Tigger. “You couldn’t put him in the stable, you could hardly put a head collar on him, saddling up was a nightmare, but I still loved him so much,” Emma says, “which looking back was probably a bit crazy!”

When she was 15, the Hulse family returned to Australia and settled in Sydney. Emma continued to ride and after completing Year 12, began lessons at a Centennial Park riding school, eventually becoming a coach there and, with the help of a bank loan, buying her first horse, Don Duveah. “But that name really doesn’t suit him,” Emma laughs. “He’s a big, beautiful dope and I call him Don Don.”

Unfortunately, it was with Don Don that Emma had two accidents which profoundly shook her confidence. The first occurred on a cross country course at an apex fence. “I’d developed an irrational fear of apexes, and I manifested the fall I’d seen a million times in my head,” she recalls. When the injury she’d sustained to her knee healed, Emma began training again, slowly building up to 95cm.

Later that same year she was competing at Wallaby Hill. Everything was fine until a few fences from home. “Don Don was going really well but he misstepped on the jump coming out of the water. I corrected him and just got over the fence but he twisted his body and I was unseated. I tried to hang on but went under his neck, through his legs and he trampled my left thigh,” Emma says.

Although there were no broken bones, the damage to tissue and muscles was extensive and she was airlifted to hospital. Although Emma mended physically, regaining confidence, which she says has never really been the same since, has taken considerably longer.

These days Emma is enjoying eventing on Warmblood x Thoroughbred Eagle Elms Fiderstar (Fiddy for short). Initially agreeing to ride him to help his then owners get him ready for sale, she eventually bought him herself. “He’s a bit rambunctious and quite quirky,” she says. “It took a bit to get him to work nicely at his owner’s property, and taking him off-site was a nightmare. But now I’m competing with him, and event photographers love to snap Fiddy because from the ground he looks so gorgeous. But on top of him you feel like you’re riding an explosion. He’s always snorting and passaging around,” she laughs.

With Fiddy on their way to winning the 2020 Camden Equitation Novice 2B (Image by BM Photography).

A firm believer in giving back to her sport she’s a Sydney Eventing committee member, regularly volunteers at dressage and eventing competitions, and was instrumental in Sydney Eventing delivering their first Acknowledgement of Country.

Emma believes that accessing expert tuition through Delivering Dreams will help her to achieve her goal of competing at Medium dressage and EV105 level by the end of 2022. Beyond delighted to be selected as the sponsorship recipient, she says the extra tuition will help to ensure she’s well-prepared and able to compete safely and successfully: “But, arguably more importantly, it would help me achieve my ongoing goal of having a true and harmonious partnership with my horse. I want to be able to provide the best for him, he deserves the world.”

Feature Image: Delivering Dreams Sponsorship recipient Emma Hulse and Don Duveah (Image by Bronwyn Evans).

Readers Choice Winner: Nicole Mutimer

Nicole was absolutely delighted to learn she’d finished top of the leader board in the Delivering Dreams Readers’ Choice category. 

A rider since childhood and now a full-time equestrian coach and trainer, Nicole Mutimer has proved to be a successful competitor in several equestrian disciplines. She’s also holds a Diploma in Equitation Science, and is a passionate advocate for improving horse welfare through ethical horsemanship practices.

Nicole believes that her studies have been pivotal in her success as a trainer and coach. “My knowledge of horse behavioural science and biomechanics allows me to train in accordance with the horse’s natural instincts and cognitive ability. This means it’s possible to improve horse welfare through training, and also increase safety for riders.”

Speaking from her home in the Northern Territory, she says she hopes her win will prove to other local equestrians that all things are possible. “We sometimes suffer from a bit of a small town mentality up here, feeling like we don’t quite measure up to the rest of Australia. So hopefully this encourages other people to think ‘oh, I could do that too’.”

High on Nicole’s agenda is working with riders who are at the point of giving up, particularly women returning to the sport after having a family. “I’ve found that it’s a natural transition to be more cautious after having children. Many women beat themselves up because they’ve lost their nerve, or are not able to pick up where they left off. They’re not aiming to go to the Olympics, but they do want to improve their horsemanship, safety, and to feel that they’re growing as riders,” she explains.

In the winner’s circle on stallion Clydenvale Jacque (image by Grand Effects Photography).

Nicole, who owns and operates Darwin Equestrian Academy, currently holds clinics for women all over the Northern Territory, and has set herself the goal of offering clinics interstate.

Amazed by the response she received to her Readers’ Choice post, Nicole admits that it wasn’t easy to promote herself. “I don’t think anyone is particularly comfortable with that, so I was actually really humbled by the people who responded to my post. It was very encouraging and validating.”

As the Readers’ Choice winner, Nicole can indulge in a $1,000 spending spree from Performa Ride, which, as it happens, couldn’t be more perfect. “I wear their shirts all the time! They’re really cool and comfortable – ideal for the weather conditions here,” she says.