A life with horses...
I was lifted up onto a horse at the age of four by my elder sister Heather who ran a riding school from our property in Mooroolbark. From there my love for horses grew and I was sent to Oakwood Riding school’s live-in holiday program at the end of each school term. At 13 I had my first horse - Banjo, a 4yo 16h ex race horse - (not the ideal first horse) who I rode 6 miles along the Princes Highway into Traralgon Pony Club each month. Banjo was too slow to race but he taught me how to jump and to ride a buck bareback.
A move to Natimuk in the Wimmera saw me inherit Chester, a fast Quarterhorse gelding for trail riding and stock work with sheep and cattle. At 14, knowing zip about competing, I entered my first Agricultural show there, where Chester excelled himself by bolting with me out of the ring, through the queue at the Fairy Floss stand, to jump the boundary fence and take me home. Clearly the 'show ring' was not going to be our thing.
After a stint travelling and working overseas I completed an Arts degree at Latrobe Uni, then spent 10 years in Retail Learning & Development. We bought a property in Panton Hill to escape the city and keep horses, we are still here.
I completed the Equine Studies course through Melbourne Uni. worked through the Parelli Natural Horsemanship program and entered my first dressage test at the age of 34. In the same year I started Equine Encounters with my beautiful QH mare Amber, and took many lessons with a pro western trainer.
I was curious to learn about equine behaviour and dressage, and attended many clinics with Andrew & Manu McLean at the AEBC. Soon after I was studying to become an accredited coach but found that Amber was changing. My previously calm and obliging partner became hard to catch and disobedient, resisting the new methods I was being advised to use. We were both unhappy and confused, So, there my search started for a more respectful and harmonious way to teach dressage.
In 1998 I left a management role and started focussing on dressage and teaching. I tried various instructors until buying an elementary trained horse and adopting a mindset to find lightness and finesse with respectful horsemanship. At this time I buried my head in classical texts and articles and was inspired by Manola Mendez and Richard Weiss. Finding Philippe Karl was for me a huge sense of relief - I loved that everything was explainable and logical in terms of the horse's anatomy and psychology. It was technical, effective, practical and kind. It just made sense to me. Philippe is an intelligent, ethical, curious, analytical, wise and witty teacher who I think will inspire me for many years to come. Its been a long, challenging and fascinating journey so far, but I'm addicted to the learning, and grateful for the opportunities that all my teachers, horses and students have given me.