I was born in Yorkshire England, and like many young girls I loved horses from an early age. I started riding at the age of 9 at a local riding school. I then became stable rider for the owner of the school and also attended Cleveland Pony club. It was at this early age that I discovered my passion for competing. I actively pursued my passion by competing on many show jumping ponies for all of the local owners and competed at the famous Prince Phillip Games, where we were runners up for a spot to compete at Wembley, the world’s most famous horse show. An exciting and fantastic start to my riding career.
My family moved to Australia when I was 14. My passion for riding, jumping and competing continued to grow, and was then more important than school. I quickly joined Mentone Pony Club on a pony called Licorice which I purchased from Jim Schmul for the sum of $220, a huge amount for a 14 year old school girl. Unbeknown to me she had been quite a tricky horse but I was able to iron out those bugs and started having success on her and winning ribbons. With this success Jim started sending me ponies to compete on and to sell. Jim and I started a fantastic Equestrian journey riding and producing many exciting show jumpers to the highest level, horses such as, Main Street, Mr Kevin, Annoushka, Tee and the amazing Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse and I were very successful and after selling him to Vicki Roycroft as a 12 year old they went onto compete at the Seoul Olympics for Australia in 1988 and also came 10th in the 1990 World Equestrian Games in Stockholm, Sweden.
The highlight win of my career was on Mickey Mouse at the Barastoc horse of the year show where we were named champion show jumper of the year. Winning on Mickey was a highlight as I had produced him from a yearling. Breeding became part of my program to produce quality horses. One of those horses was Schnapps who I trained until he was 5 years old. He then went on to the Seoul Olympics as an 8 year old and was later sold to a US Olympic rider.
In 1986 while continuing to compete at Grand Prix level, I purchased the Victorian Equestrian Centre in Upper Beaconsfield where I ran a successful jumping and dressage stable producing many young horses, giving lessons, conducting clinics for all standards of riders and holding competitions including World Cup qualifiers and the first ever Inter Schools Equestrian competitions that have now grown to be very popular throughout Australia. During this time I also purchased off the race track Eros, a 4 year old thoroughbred who I trained with my working pupil Adam Wootten. Eros was later sold to Ann Kursinski in the US. Eros continued his outstanding career winning major Grand Prix events including 1st in the Rome Nations Cup and 2nd in the US Team Event at the Atlanta Olympic Games.
Another highlight in my career was educating Scandal. I rode and trained Scandal during the week which was then ridden by Chris Chugg in competition nationally and internationally. Scandal was subsequently purchased by Princess Haya and went on to be a very successful international horse.
I am now based in Beaconsfield where I focus on coaching jumping and dressage. I have a wide and diverse clientele ranging from up and coming junior riders to Grand Prix riders. I also actively advise on and procure horses for my clients. Matching the right horse for the rider is critical for obtaining success. Over the years I have worked with a large number of students of all levels and with a huge variety of horses. I have spent many months in Europe coaching Amy Graham in preparation for the London Olympics on her wonderful horse Bella Baloubet, also purchasing and training her future young stars in Europe. Amy was included in the Australian Olympic Equestrian Team and thereafter continued her success at the highest level in Europe.
I strongly believe that consistent and appropriate flatwork is necessary to achieve high level outcomes. Developing a good classical style is an effective style and leads to success. If someone is effective, then they are subtle. They don’t make their aids obvious because they don’t have to. The highest praise is to have someone say, ‘It looks as if the horse was doing it all by himself.’
My biggest strength as a coach is to be able to accurately assess all aspects of a situation between horse and rider, which will lead me to a suitable range of solutions to achieve a positive outcome for both horse and rider. I owe a lot of my knowledge to many very astute coaches who have taught me throughout my career which include George Sanna my main coach, Mary Hanna, George Morris, Clemens Dierks and in my early learning days Art Uytendaal. I find it extremely satisfying to give back to my students the knowledge I have gained from these very talented riders and coaches.