Sunday, July 15, 2012

Liberty wins the OTTB award at Loch Moy!

At Loch Moy I added to my very impressive pile of red ribbons from this year! Both Liberty and Cole were 2nd in their respective prelim divisions. Both of these horses have been on breaks from competing, Liberty taking some R and R after Bromont. Cole's break wasn't as pleasant for him, he's been doing so much dressage that he feared he had been turned into a dressage horse! For him that's his worst nightmare! Fortunately for him (and me) he's still an eventer and all the practice paid off with a very good test, scoring his best score of a 33.5. Next for him is Millbrook Advanced. I'm so happy the his owner Rege Dvorsky and partner Jeanne Leone were able to make it out to see him go. And for the ice and drinks they brought us! Liberty was back on form, hugely enjoying himself in all three phases! Next time I hope to make the dressage a little less exciting tho... He's also headed to Millbrook. Fudge had a rail, which actually cost me my third second for the day. He had to settle with a 5th place ribbon, his owner Tracey did point out that that was one of the ribbons missing from her kids 'Fudge Ribbon Collection', so I'm glad to get them one step closer to the complete set! All that's missing now is a blue one.
By far the best part of the day went to Liberty. Rebecca Greene and Christopher Morris sponsored an award for the highest placed/lowest score Off The Track Thoroughbred. There are so many horrible stories in the horse world of barn fires, barn accidents, trailer accidents, falls and just plain bad luck. One could wonder why anyone would want to do this sport at all. Earlier this year Rebecca lost her two competition horses in a barn fire, both of whom she had trained from the track and into eventing. Absolutely heartbreaking. In remembrance of these two horses she created this award and I'm extremely honoured to have won it with Liberty. It actually came down to Cole and Liberty battling it out as they were first and second. Cole's dressage was better (amazing, has NEVER happened before!) but Liberty was a bit faster cross country. As they are pasture mates, I can only imagine their conversations in the field this week. Liberty will probably think the award is something else we're using to plot his downfall. He thinks everything we do is an attempt to harm him! Cole will spend the whole week exploiting this train of thought. He'll tell him that the plaque we've put on his stall door has listening devices and cameras in it and that we're watching his every move! Anyhow I'm very proud of the two of them, I'm a huge advocate of the off the track horses and I'm lucky to have several really nice ones. Thank you to Rebecca and Christopher from both myself and the owners of Liberty, Jill and Patrick McCuan. I hope to see Rebecca out competing with her new horse soon. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I must be getting old when people start asking advice for the younger kids!

Last week I was invited to talk at Full Moon Farm's Long Format three day event ( . This is such a wonderful event where Karen and Stephen Fulton go to great lengths to educate the riders on the horsemanship and skills needed for three day eventing and they get quite a good turnout. Anyhow one of the questions was: What advice would I give to an aspiring young professional rider? I thought about it for a minute or two and answered with 'always wear sunscreen and moisturiser, don't date guys based on looks alone and don't mix your liquors. After an awkward silence the question was clarified: What advice would I give to an aspiring young professional rider about becoming a professional rider..... This required a bit more thought. Over the years my answer to this question has changed. In the beginning it was 'work hard on your riding and take care of your horses'. This is still true but the single most important piece of advice I can give is to take a business course. There are plenty of hard workers and excellent riders out there who don't make it as riders, and not for lack of trying. The truth of running a business is that you need money. Without money you can't pay for your entries. Without money you can't pay for your horse feed. No money, no rent. No money, no fuel for the truck. I come from a background where money was non existent and have made my own way along financially. My mum has always helped in every possible way she could, but money doesn't grow on trees in Queensland so, despite the abundance of trees, there was NO cash. From the age of 13 I've had to buy my own horses, tack etc. I got lucky more than once with good horses to teach me and great guidance from older riders on how to make money. Some of those riders led by example of what not to do, others by what to do. I've also been a keen observer of successful businessmen who turn a seemingly unprofitable venture into something that draws an impressive income. So thru these mentors I've slowly developed skills to not only grow my business, but keep it financially viable. Along the way I've made some horrible, horrible mistakes (some of which I'm still paying for now) but I've been able to make my way thru and each time learn and use the experience to build a durable, well rounded business. There have definitely been plenty of times where dinner was two minute noodles and I had holes in my boots. Unless you have unlimited family money behind you, this can happen. The trick is to know how to get out and to learn from these mistakes. The other thing business teaches you is strategy. Long term planning. How to get from point A to Z by progressing in achievable steps. Going to the Olympics requires a strategy. Most trainers can't offer that advice because it's not something in their resume of experience. However in the business world the only way to measure success is growth. Growth is often directly related to placement or 'being in the right place at the right time prepared the right way'. Also known by the average Joe as luck. And successful businesses actually test their plans, not just theoretically running thru them and getting distracted when they see that imaginary gold medal hung around their neck and watching their horse eat his celebratory carrots. So this is another skill easily learnt from the business sector.
Having taken the time to provide myself with a secure financial base, it allows me to concentrate on my riding and personal goals. It's taken longer than I ever thought but I'm now in a position with some good horses and great riding skills to have a real crack at it. So my advice to those kids was: stay at school, get business training. If only for an extra couple of years. Riding skills are easy to improve but there's no point if you find yourself in a position where you can't afford to do it. And there are plenty of hours before and after school to ride.
The other advice I also have to offer is: Learn to live without sleep. Or food. And get an iPhone, it keeps you organised and from forgetting lessons!

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