My Horse Story
Originally from Southern Africa, my family were keen competitors in Saddleseat Equitation and jumping. Horses were part of my story and I was desperate to be around them.
In my school years I spent time working at dressage barns. I loved the idea of owning a warmblood but found off-the-track thoroughbreds to be more within my budget.
Back then, my money-making scheme was to take thoroughbreds and ‘flip’ them by retraining them and selling them on. My scheme was ruined when I met Beau. Beau was, in my opinion at the time, untrainable and unsellable. He was the only horse who would charge across his yard to attack a stable hand and on the same day faint from fear when tied in the wash bay. Beau found his way to me, as one of my very first teachers.
Where my thoroughbreds did succeed was in the eventing and jumping arenas, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This gave me scope to start coaching at riding schools and clubs, open my own coaching business, and took me overseas to compete.
In 2016 my eventer, Rio, suffered a severe ligament injury.
A vet concluded that he would never return to work; however, I wasn’t ready to let Rio go, so I started down the path of learning about rehabilitation.
To keep competing, I got a chance to take on Joe.
Joe was perfect on paper; a higher-level jumper with national awards, well-travelled and the sweetest horse to handle. However, after our first season of jumping together, I was concerned about how he responded to my aids, and I wasn’t keen on how he incorporated bucking and rearing into his rounds. Advice like “put a bigger bit on him” was no longer working for me, and so I pulled back from the competition scene.
Here I was, with a full stable block of horses that had physical or mental issues. I was feeling lost.
Understanding none of them would be able to jump in their current state, I went in search of a training method with focus on retraining and rehabilitation. One that would provide me explanations based on extensive scientific research and where the communities would welcome me with open arms. I found all of this in the classical training communities.
Immersing myself into the world of classical training assisted me in rehabilitating and retraining my horses into the strong, balanced and reliable partners I have today.
"...you don't throw a whole life away just 'cause he's banged up a little."
- Chris Cooper as Tom Smith, Seabiscuit (2003)
BSc, BEng(Hons), MIEAust, DipPM, MAIPM, DipLC, DipSportPsych, CertNLP
I am a qualified Scientist, Engineer, Project Manager and Coach (Equestrian, Sports Psychology, Neuro-linguistic Programming and Life Coach).
My recent corporate roles have been working on space capabilities, so yes, I can confirm training horses is more difficult than rocket science…
In the past, I was Head Coach at the National Equestrian Centre, and have spent time at riding clubs nationally and internationally. I am a current student of Belinda Bolsenbroek and Bettina Biolik. I also have to thank Marijke de Jong, Zaneta Georgiades, Karen Rohlf, Warwick Schiller, Stephen Dingwall, Andrew Hoy and many others for my equine education.
At the end of 2022, I became one of the only qualified Straightness Training Instructors in Australia.
Straightness Training is based on the systems of the ‘Old Grand Masters’, the founders of the classical training principles. The system aims to prepare the horse to carry a rider in a healthy way, developing them symmetrically in body and limbs, using gymnastic exercises to become strong and supple.
In future, I'll start back at university (again).
It’s so important to understand the inner workings of our horses, so we can best support them through their retraining or rehabilitation.
My current research interest is the long-term impacts of overriding dorsal spinous processes (‘kissing spines’) surgery on horses who have returned to work.
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Journey of Equine