24 December 2008
Christmas has been mercifully quiet, and it is lovely to look out on the green, lush paddocks thanks to the fabulous season we have had so far, and all the happy, contented horses grazing there. It has been an up and down year, like the last few I have had, but I am exceptionally grateful for the huge support I've had from my wonderful owners and clients, which allows me to do what I enjoy most, play with my horses! So great thanks to owners Robynne McTaggert and Tony Trevisan, Tjeert Rykens, Eric Negre, who have trusted me with their super horses, and great clients Mark, Charlene, Carrie and Tarryn Innes, Warwick and Sophie Miller, Dave,Toni and Lee Warneke, who also trust me with the care of their horses and the training of their kids, which has seen some great results this year. Plus all the others during the year who have allowed me to help their horses enjoy the sport a bit more.
The year started slowly with EI still restricting competition, but once it was gone, everyone came out of the woodwork, and the sport is stronger than ever, as reflected in the great result at the Olympics this year, arguably our best ever with Edwina, Laurie,Matt and Pete doing us proud. Edwina has continued to ride super, and is now firmly entrenched in the Top 10 jumping riders computer list, no mean achievement for this talented, dedicated rider. Also, coincidentally female(!) Amy Graham in winning the World Cup Pacific League, the youngest ever, and Becky Allen winning the Issa Tempo grand prix with only double clear round ever recorded over Leopoldo Palacious' tough track. You go girls! Noblewood Park Blatini gave me some wonderful rides this year, good placings at Sydney Royal and a win at the Aust Ch'ships that decided a trip to Europe for her to try for the Games team, but our lack of time together let us down at the second Selection Trial, after jumping super at the first one. Eliza Jane also was leading horse in Section 2 at Sydney Royal before going to her new home with Danni and Greer Butcher, where she is doing great things for the girls. Low point was the positive swab for butazolidin for Irish after his win in the Grand Prix at the Copabella Classic. A staggering shock to me, who has managed to go for around 35 years in competitions (and over 100 swabs on my horses over the years) without a problem. However, butazolidin is an excellent therapeutic drug, and one I use to assist the horses, just as one takes paracetamol for minor pain. Irish had been administered Bute after the tough jumping at Sydney Royal, as had Blatini, but that was too long a time (10 days) to still be in his system, but during the week before Copabella I had been treating one of the young horses, Puma, for a swollen leg, with bute powders in the stable, and can only conclude that traces of his feed were still in the feeder used for Irish after his work. It's either that or foul play, and I don't want to think of going down that road. Hardly deliberate, seeing as I was the one who urged the show organizers to always have drug testing when they first started the show, and was swabbed on both occasions after wins on Ricardo D and Copabella Visage in the Grand Prix, and as anyone who knows Irish would attest, if I was going to use anything illegal on him, it would for sure be a tranquilizer, not an anti inflammatory!
Many, many thanks also to my great support team, Nakita Barber, who had great success with Eliza Jane, Nike and Sparky before their sales, farrier Sandy Parker who just puts his heart and soul into the job, and saxaphone playing vet extroadinaire, Brett Jones, all who have provided enormous support and wise counsel over the year. And of course my fabulous long term sponsors, Mitavite, Ariat Ridingwear and GPA helmets, who keep my horses looking great, and me, at least well dressed..
Looking forward to another big year, with a bunch of nice Errol youngsters to work with, and the year starting out with the inspiring teachings of the legendary George Morris, who is unquestionably the world's most successful jumping rider trainer, with a second Team Gold medal being won by USA under his watchful eye. Don't miss the chance to come and watch one of his Clinics while here on the 9th to 11th (SIEC) or the 13th to the 15th (Mount White), plus Chrissie Johnson and I are also putting together a Coaches' Clinic, hopefully at Sydney Jumping Club, on either the 17th or 18th Jan. Watch this space!
Good luck and good riding to all for the New Year...