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  • Writer's pictureFran Cleland

Keely determined to take Fudge to the top in dressage

ABOVE: Keely Keet and Fudge looking the part. Picture: ANGIE RICKARD

RIDERS once took a long time to decide which sport they liked best and where to focus their energy.

For example, Olympic dressage riders Margaret McCormick and Mary Hanna both were originally keener on horse trials, but today it seems youngsters decide early what their chosen path will be.

Keely Keet’s first dressage competition was at a Chris Hartigan Australian Pony owners and breeders event, first year on a lead, then the next year flying solo.

Keely was riding a little 11.2hh section A Welsh mare when her mother, Kerri, was approached by a friend who suggested she look at a new pony.

“I thought Keely wasn't ready for a bigger pony at the time but she insisted, so I bundled Keely and my mum into the car to have a look,” Kerri said.

ABOVE: The trot up at the Australian championships. Picture: JO JENNINGS

The pony, GB Creme Deluxe, aka Fudge, by the German Riding Pony Chevel D Luxe was being sold by his breeders Glennis and Georgina Barrey.

As soon as they put Keely on Fudge it was clear that there was something special between them. "Mum said at the time, ‘well if it was me, I would be trying to stuff Fudge in the back of the ute and take him home now’."

Keely and Fudge started out showing, and like many horsy children, Keely's dream was to compete at the Royal Melbourne Show. She qualified him in their first year by herself at seven years old for the hunter and rider classes. Fudge carried her to VASA rider of the year and competed in Adelaide and Melbourne royals, as well as doing pony club, combined training and dressage competitions.

The pair began competing in dressage in 2019 and then COVID stopped everyone. When it began again they started EA pony dressage in preliminary and were grade four in pony club.

It was then that Keely decided that dressage was what she wanted to do.

Now 12, she competed in her first Australian Dressage Championships this year and placed third in the teams at her first FEI CDI Childrens competition.

This month she was the youngest rider on the smallest horse to win the pony club advanced section in the Barwon Equestrian Dressage Series.

Her goal now is to represent her pony club, Barwon Valley, and the Barwon zone in the Pony Club Victoria state championships in advanced dressage on Fudge in February.

Her ultimate dream is to get Fudge to EA advanced dressage, then Prix St George and, of course, to ride at Grand Prix level and maybe even represent her country.

“At no point when we purchased Fudge did we think they would have the journey they have had,” Kerri said.

“How many little girls and boys are trotting around at pony club on their little ponies thinking that their ponies are not big enough to do more?

“You never know until you try.”

ABOVE: On the way to winning champion junior rider at the Midland Zone Championships. Picture: DALE WEBSTER

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