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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Bits: Ode to wet riders, horse deaths and Connemara podcast to download

ABOVE: Oh dear. Picture: FELICITY CLAY

THIS is a love letter to every child, adult, mum or dad who has ever looked out the window at a red dawn on the morning of an event but still headed out, put the horse on the float and turned up.

This fantastic photo of Horsham Pony Club rider Iris Sudholz and her horse River by Felicity Clay at the recent Midland Zone Horse Trials at Maldon is the inspiration for this round of applause. You can almost feel the rain running down the back of Iris’s neck as she salutes the judge in her dressage test and have to wonder what she was thinking at the time.

Iris wasn’t the only one to get a soaking that day but of all the photos it’s the one that really sums up just how tough this mainly winter sport can be. We are pleased to report that Iris went home with a blue ribbon for her efforts so if you would like to see her looking less defeated, head to our coverage of the Midland Zone Pony Club Horse Trials 2023.


AGRICULTURE Victoria has nothing new to tell horse owners about recent horse deaths since its update published yesterday afternoon.

The department is investigating the sudden death of 13 horses on five separate properties on the Mornington Peninsula (one property), south-east Melbourne (two properties near Cranbourne) and near Ballarat and Colac in the west.

It says some of the deaths may have occurred weeks ago.

“One reported similarity between all the deaths is a rapid onset of illness, followed by death within hours to one day,” it said.

“It is not yet known what has caused these deaths (so) it is therefore possible they are not related and are different causes on each property. Testing and information gathering continues.”

Agriculture Victoria is working with private veterinarians and industry experts to build a picture of the situation.


THOROUGHBRED Industry Careers has teamed up with Pony Club Australia to launch a National Pony Racing Series, which is scheduled to kick off in Brisbane next month and run across five states (Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia), culminating in the finals being held during the Autumn carnival in Sydney next April.

The series will have 12 qualifying races, comprising six individual qualifying race days with two different age and height categories before the two finals, which will see the winners and runners-up from each state compete.

Participating clubs for the qualifying races are the Brisbane Racing Club (Eagle Farm August 12), Moonee Valley Racing Club (October 27), Western Australian Turf Club (Ascot, December 9), the Gold Coast Turf Club (January 6), the Australian Turf Club (Warwick Farm, January 26) and the South Australian Jockey Club (Morphettville, March 11).

In total, 120 riders will compete across the race series with 10 riders in each race.

For anyone interested in getting involved, there will be a pony racing taster day held at Benalla Pony Club on September 9.


THE 2023 Equestrian Victoria Awards have been presented. Winners from the 20 categories can be viewed here.


THERE are lot of people wanting to try endurance riding. For all the newbies to the sport, there is a booklet on the Victorian Endurance Riding Association website about getting started in the sport. Download it here.


LOVERS of the Connemara Pony (Fran puts her hand up) are in for a treat.

The international Connemara Pony Tales podcast has featured three Australian Connemara pony breeders in a new episode.

Catherine Hollingsworth is the Connemara Pony Breeders' Society of Australia (CPBSA) registrar and breeds under the Badine prefix.

George Hillis-Howe and her family are long-term breeders of Welsh Ponies and Cobs under Nawarrah Park prefix for more than 50 years. George is now also breeding Connemara ponies under the same prefix.

Dianne Collins is a CPBSA committee member and breeds Connemara ponies under the Capall Park prefix.

Listeners can find out more about the Australian pony, the society and what these ladies like to see in a pony.



ABOVE: Deputy Dan was a much-loved member fo the team.

SAD news from the Top End with the passing of “Deputy Dan”, one of the Northern Territory Police Mounted Unit’s favourite horses, following complications during a minor surgical procedure.

Deputy Dan commenced his career with the Northern Territory Police in 2014. He was a valued member of the mounted unit for nine years and worked for the police up until two days before his passing, with his last patrol being along the picturesque coastline of Darwin.

Dan has worked all over the Northern Territory in multiple deployments which include stints in Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and around Darwin.

The mounted unit members have said that Dan always had your back and could be relied upon in any given situation.

He was known for being a gentle giant with a wild personality who always kept the mounted unit members on their toes. Dan brought much joy to those who were lucky enough to care for him and meet him. He will be sadly missed.


A CHAMPION polo pony in Australia, Riviera, was recently scouted by one of the world’s top international players and is now set to play against the best in England when the prestigious Cowdray Gold Cup kicks off later this month.

The Thoroughbred mare was bought by the world’s best polo player, Adolfo Cambiaso of Argentina.

“It’s no surprise; she’s been a very good mare for me,” Jack Baillieu, Australia’s top-ranked professional polo player, said.

When Riviera lines up for the Cowdray Gold Cup, she’ll be playing against some of the best in the business. Not bad for a mare that was too slow to even be officially named as a racehorse.


IT will be old home week for many of the horse class judges at the upcoming Royal Melbourne Show.

Many of the people listed have competed against each other in that arena in years past

Lindy Walker, Sylvia McLaughlin, Tania Hay, Gary Beaton and several others have all been elite show ring competitors and top level showjumping rider Becky Jenkins will swap her jumping boots and spurs for a suit and nylons as she deals with the senior riding.



ABOVE: The Australian showjumping team is off to Paris. Picture: LIBBY LAW

THE Australian showjumping team has qualified for the Paris Olympics. The riders are Edwina Tops-Alexander and Fellow Castlefield, Hilary Scott and Oaks Milky Way, Chris Burton and Chedington Hazy Toulana and Lauren Balcomb and Verdini D’Houtzeld Z.

Riding at the International Arena in the Netherlands, Australia finished round one with seven penalties and went into the second round in the lead. After adding 16 penalties in round two, the team finished on a total of 23 penalties over the two rounds, with their nearest competition, Japan, finishing on 32, New Zealand 46 and China 59.


THE Australian eventing team has finished in fourth Place in the CCIO4*-NC-S at Haras de Jardy in France over the weekend.

The team made up of Rebecca Braitling and Caravaggio, Megan Jones and Toulando and Kevin McNab and Willunga were well positioned in second place after the cross country with all combinations jumping clear, but with four rails down in the jumping phase, the team ended the Nations Cup Event on 158.6 penalties and fourth place.

Australia also had a number of individual combinations competing over the weekend including Isabel Finemore and Heartbeat (CCI3*-S), Andrew Hoy and Cadet de Beliard (CCI3*-S), Megan Jones and Guhr (CCI3*-S), Megan Jones and RLE Barina (CCIO4*-S), Kevin McNab and Faro IMP (CCI3*-S) and Kevin McNab and Miss Pepperpot (CCI3*-S).

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