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News from Vicki

29 August 2009

It's been a bit of an exhausting week.  The twice yearly National Meetings happened on Wednesday and Thursday, with the World Cup committee and the High Performance Panel, ably chaired by Peter Cooke and Brett Mace respectively taking place over most of Wednesday, and then the National Jumping Committee, chaired by me, occurred on Thursday.  All Meetings were extremely good, with excellent people now involved in all Committees, which is thankful for me in my case, as I sort of fell into this position. But I am so fortunate that all State reps, Peter Cooke (WA), Nick Crowe (SA) Graeme Watts (Q'ld) Paul Brent (Vic) Isobel Casey (Tas) and John Vallance(NSW), as well as Colleen Brook as the Rider rep. are all very knowledgeable people with a passion and enthusiasm to improve the sport.  Also the tremendous roles played by EA CEO Franz Venhaus, and the terriffic Mandy King, who works like a terrier to make sure things are followed up now.  I also invited Graham Davey to be part of our Committee for many reasons, but principally he is our most qualified judge who is out there 'in the field', and can give us valuable advice on rule matters (he has already single handedly revised and collated the National Jumping rules), and assist in what I see as one of our biggest ongoing problems, encouraging more people to become qualified jumping judges, course designers and stewards. Nick Crowe is a valuable IT man who is on the job of steering us, and the other disciplines, towards being much more Internet based with the organization of our shows such as they are in Europe.  A big job that I have been trying to push for sometime, but hampered somewhat by my total lack of knowledge on the subject, but he seems well up to the task(!).   

At World Cup level we still have some scheduling issues, but these are being addressed and we are working on sponsorship proposals to try and get the World Cup classes to a better level.  With High Performance, the two Selection Shows in Europe were decided upon, they being Muenster and Padeborn, both CSI4* shows in Germany, not far from our National Technical Advisor Gilbert Bockmann's base in Germany.  Chairman of Selectors Peter Cooke worked with Gillie, and Debby Winkler, a well known previous visitor and sometime resident in Australia, now married to arguably the most successful jumping rider ever, Hans Gunter Winkler, to select these shows. Also it was decided that the Assessing Delegate class, whereby combinations can achieve WEG qualification status with a round of 8 faults or less, will now be held at the Issa show at SIEC in December, instead of possibly Sydney Royal, due to the probability of some of our combinations being out of the country.  Chris and Helen Chugg had spoken to both Peter Cooke and me about this issue, and with the likelihood of Chris winning the World Cup League, and thus not being here at Easter, as well as some other combinations, such as Paul and Nicklaus, also indicating that they may head to Europe early next year, it ended up not being a difficult decision to reach.

So I'm driving back home late Thursday afternoon feeling pretty happy that all Meetings have been worth the effort, when Romain, my invaluable French boy who is with us til November, rang and reported that Irish seemed to have colic, and what should he and Janina (also here to help us, from Germany) should do?  I was about 20 minutes from home then, so just got them to bring him to the stables where I could assess him as soon as I got home.  Then called our vet Brett Jones, to warn him that I may need him, as both Romain and Janina are capable, experienced horse people, so I already felt alarm bells.  Once home, it was apparent that my poor Irish was not comfortable for whatever reason, and had a low temprature and a high heart rate, so Brett came, and after examining him, we decided to take him to Agnes Banks Vet Clinic, in case there needed to be a surgical option. So Romain, Janina and I set off with Irish and got to Agnes Banks at 8.30, where Derek Majors and his team were waiting.  After examinations and blood tests, Derek concluded that he had bleeding into his stomach, and while he didn't know why, he thought that we should leave him at this point, and see if non surgical procedures could help him.  So at about 11 pm I gave my now more comfortable Irish a big cuddle, I think I suspected I wouldn't see him alive again, as he was quite nuzzly, which is unlike his normally sensitive, but a bit timid nature.  Next morning Derek reported that not much had changed, but it was a relief to me that he had made it through the night.  At about 2.30 Derek called, and said there was no improvement, possible deterioration, and that he felt surgery was needed to see what was happening.  So after a few calls to other vets who concurred with Derek's view, we decided to go ahead with the surgery.  Sadly Derek found an inoperable, benign tumour in his bowel that was too large to remove that had caused the bleeding, so he had to be put to sleep.

He will now be buried in Wayne's jumping field with the other great horses, Looking Ahead, Mickey Mouse, Apache and True Colours.  Coalminer, at 28, is still well and truly above ground, but potters around and pays his respects.  My final memories of Irish are how well he jumped recently at Toowoomba when 2nd in the World Cup, and just last Tuesday, when I jumped him here at home, and Janina, who has seen many good jumpers in Germany, was just amazed at his ability.  While he had already won me some super classes, the World Cup in Canberra, EFA Cup at Sydney Royal, Elysian Gold Classic in Q'ld, it was only now that I was getting the rideability that I needed to match his turbo charged engine. So it makes it that much tougher to lose him, as I feel there was so much more we could have achieved together.

Rest in peace my friend

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