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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Bits: Road users hearing, pony trots and endurance news

ABOVE: The Victorian Government is investigating safety issues for vulnerable road users.

ANIMAL Care Australia and Bitless Inc represented the horse community last week at a Victorian Government hearing for the inquiry into the impact of road safety behaviours on vulnerable road users.

Horse and livestock representative for Animal Care Australia Karri Nadazdy and president of Bitless Inc Sue Lewis appeared before the committee on Thursday to discuss the experience of equestrians when on roads in Victoria.

Both organisations appeared by invitation and provided testimony that motorists are failing to safely pass by horses on the roads, usually driving too fast, not leaving enough space, or deliberately provoking the horses to react.

“The short answer is that things are bad out there,” Ms Lewis said.

Ms Nadazdy told the committee that problems stemmed from there being no laws to guide the behaviour of other road users.

“We feel like we are one of the wildlife that you have to swerve and dodge when you see us, and it’s not how it should be done,” she said.

Potential solutions to improve equestrian safety were discussed, from signage that tells drivers to slow down to 40km/hr when passing horses, and whether helmets and high visability clothing should be a requirement to ride or drive horses on roads.

The Economy and Infrastructure Committee is expected to complete their report and publish their recommendations by March 31, 2024.

It's a busy month for ACA advocating for equestrians at government inquiries. They have been involved in a biosecurity consultation in South Australia, an inquiry into pounds in NSW (impounding legislation includes horses and donkeys, and more broadly, rescue organisations), the NSW Review into Rental Laws (horse agistment is also a rental agreement) and an inquiry into veterinarian shortages in NSW.


THE Victorian Tradesman and Delivery Horse Group’s sale at Heathcote showed there’s a lot of interest in work vehicles and harness with more than 45 lots sold. The top-priced horse at the sale sold for $17,000, the top-priced vehicle $14,000. There was a 96 per cent clearance with a large crowd of buyers from both the local area and interstate.


YOUNG indigenous horsewoman Lalwa May is having an amazing year. She was announced as the NT Indigenous Junior Sportswoman of the Year and will act as the team captain leading the NT Interschool Team to compete at the 2023 Marcus Oldham Australian Interschool Championships in Victoria next month.


JUNIOR harness racing kids had a great “Sunday Fun Day” for ponies and drivers at Melton last weekend. They played “Simon says” on points of the pony, as well as negotiating flags and cones and an obstacle course, all designed to learn skills in control, patience and precision. A practice race finished the day. Their next training day is at Ararat Harness Club on September 10. All are welcome. Email to get involved.


IF you have a passion for endurance and think you have the capacity to become a ride organiser, the Victorian Endurance Riders Association (VERA) wants to hear from you.

VERA has developed a ride organisers' mentorship program to help anyone who is interested in putting on a ride in their region moving forward. Not sure whether the arrows go up or down? How much water do we require? What questions do we need to ask Local Government?

“These and many other questions can sometimes really detract from a new ride organiser’s enthusiasm to pursue a ride,” VERA representative Jen Green said. “The reality of it is that none of these hurdles are really that high, you just need a well-seasoned, wizened old endurance nutter to give you a hand.”

If you are interested in hosting an endurance ride in your area, send a message to the admins of the VERA Facebook page and you will be put in contact with the VERA mentor for your region. Western and South West - Renee and Mark Henry; North and North West - Russ Gillingham; North Central and North East - Louise Mackey; Central - Paul Nugent; and East and Gippsland - Kerrie Gab.


THE FEI has confirmed the shortlisted bidders for the FEI World Championships 2026. The shortlist comprises five organising committees that have applied to host events in various disciplines, as follows: Aachen (Germany) – jumping, dressage, para dressage, eventing, driving four-in-hand, vaulting; Boekelo (The Netherlands) – eventing; Burghley (Great Britain) – eventing; Al Ula (Saudi Arabia) – endurance; Samorin (Slovakia) – endurance.

The FEI Board will allocate championships at its in-person board meeting on November 18 in Mexico City following a thorough review by the FEI Evaluation Commission, taking into account recommendations by the technical committees.

The FEI has returned to a more flexible approach accepting single and multiple World Championship bids with a focus on catering to the needs and specificities of each discipline after three decades of a unique host formula for senior World Championships under the FEI World Equestrian Games format.

“We are very pleased with the variety of bids we have received,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “Following the outstanding FEI World Championships 2022 organised in Denmark, Italy and the UAE, we are confident this flexible approach with single and multiple bids serves not only the sport, but also the fans and the development of equestrian around the world, allowing different nations and venues to bid to host a major FEI event.”


SOMETIMES the kindness of strangers and the equestrian community needs to be recognised and celebrated.

Endurance rider Megan Swift had a rough end to her day at a recent ride at Eldorado when her car broke down at Glenrowen. “We had some wonderful locals try and help me get it started and a very lovely couple from Bendigo who stayed with me until I could get help. Three hours later and a lot of phone calls the car ended up getting towed and I had a very stressed out (horse) with nowhere to go, I called Tina Manousaki and she was very quick to get me sorted.

“I cannot thank the endurance community enough for all the support I have had and a huge thank you to Tina for organising help and to Tracy who came and took Saji for me so I could take a minute to breath and of course a huge thank you to Sandy and Damien for towing my horse and float and taking me and my dog home, I do not know what I would have done without you guys and I hope I can return the kindness some day.”

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