Welcome to the first in a series of stories about the best Australian riders you've never heard of. They’re cutting it in the top barns in Europe and North America, literally making themselves from the ground up whilst working for the best in the world. I’ve got a name for these riders, I call them the Secret Weapons. The first is William Matthew working for none other than Isabell Werth and I’m so excited to bring you his story. Trust me, it’s a good one…
I'm delighted to welcome Eliza Henry Jones as a contributing author to the Lara Tweedie blog. Eliza is keen horse rider and accomplished novelist, In The Quiet (2015), Ache (2017), P is for Pearl (2018) and How to Grow a Family Tree (2020). Eliza joins us here to share her perspective on the challenges of returning to riding after having a baby.
To mark the end of the show season, I invited two of my favourite riders, show rider, Chanele Hunter Cooke and show jumper, Frida Lindgren to spend the a beautiful winter's afternoon with me at Prancing Horse Estate on Victoria's Mornington Peninsula.
In September of 2017, I was sipping coffee at an indoor play centre in Mornington, 25% frazzled, surrounded by over excited toddlers when out of the blue Cassie Palm turned to me and said “Rob’s going to ring up about that horse today.” Me “Wot horse?” Cassie “Niki Rose’s horse Walter. The one he and Mike were talking about on Friday.” Me “???”
Way back in 2016, Mike and I met Kate Donnelly and Athan Dolduris, the great people behind Love The Pen. Their creative work and passion for our local area really resonated with me and we worked together on a photo shoot for our veterinary practice, Tweedie & Associates. The setting was 'Mitchell Park' a beautiful property owned by my good friend, Cassia Montgomery.
2017 will go down in history, as the year I made the Pilgrimage. The year I journeyed to the land of fast cars and glorious horses, the year, I went to GERMANY. My long suffering friend (LSF) and I touched down at Dusseldorf Airport after a gruelling +++ hours in Qantas Economy Class. Me; “Errmerrgerrd, we’re in GERMANY!” LSF; “Yep.” Me; “What side of the road to they drive on?” LSF; “The other side.” Me; “Errmerrgerrd, doesn’t everyone drive really fast over here?”
Although I am not entirely without my own ambition, for me Grand Prix dressage is basically, a SPECTATOR SPORT. Historically, during selection years, as far as our top competitors and combinations are concerned, I like many of us, don’t have the opportunity to spectate at shows in Europe. So it seems as though all the action happens MILES away and the spectating is only for officials and like, posh and fancy people and I’m stuck in the rain, in Melbourne, in Winter and I’m like, trudging through the mud and FML and so much MELODRAMAH right now. WINE.
There are lots of ways to become a Princess. You could be born one, you could marry a Prince, alternatively, you could PROCLAIM yourself to be one as you pitch your dressage whip across the tack room BUT as Zara Phillips has shown us, there’s only one way to become a four-star eventer, and that is to RIDE. It’s Melbourne 3 Day Event this weekend so TALLY HOH BITCHES!
Around Christmas time, Katie and I decided that we had better get organised and buy tickets to see Charlotte Dujardin OBE, whom I personally like to think of as Charlotte Dujardin CDU -Commander of the Dressage Universe. We briefly considered tickets for the VET (very expensive ticket) section but since those tickets were going to be $USD which = $AUD??? we thought better of it and decided to just spend $AUD??? on a couple of cheap seats instead.
Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it, showing is not for the faint hearted, in fact, I think showing is actually SUPER HARD. However, one thing I do realise, is that my reasons for thinking along these lines, may not be the reasons you imagine. So, in honour of the great Australian pass-time that is showing horses, behold, the top 5 reasons why I think showing is harder than ANY OTHER HORSE SPORT ON THE PLANET;
Okay, so this might come a little out of left field, but one of my favourite things to do at a competition, is to scope out potential horses to add to my fantasy stable. Yes, friends, it’s a thing, it’s my thing, and just ask my friend Kate Nash, it’s been going on for years. Theoretically, I SUPPOSE, I could spend my time at competitions engaged in other pursuits like gossiping, picking apart other riders training methods or moaning about the judging/state of/marks too low/marks too high/ bias/blindness/blah/blah/WINE. So, ANYHOODLE, fantasy stable it is.
Okay, so one of the things I love most about equestrian sport is that on top of a horse, men and women are equal. I read press about how women in tennis fight for equal prize money, because apparently we would all rather watch the men play? Unheard of in equestrian sport. Women’s sporting teams flying economy whilst the men’s sporting teams fly business? Can ANYONE imagine the Shanghai Swans in cattle class? I mean, like completely, LOL, enough said. Anyway, gender in equestrian sport is such a non-issue that I have never known it to be discussed on social media, not even ONCE.