Yesterday was a significant day: I waved goodbye to one of my horses as she went off to her new home. Horses have been such a significant and influential part of my life. I felt inspired to share a little about these three Irish sport horses, and generally the way that horses have touched my life in the last almost 20 years.
More than educational, my intention for writing this is to share more of myself with you! So, if you like stories, settle in with a cuppa tea and peer into my world…
The first photo is Poppy, she was the first good quality competition horse I bought for myself. I took out a bank loan and paid $10K for her when I was 19 in 2006.
I was working in a bar and studying at the time, and had very big ambitions for my horse riding future. Not long after, Poppy needed significant surgery, which my parents paid for because it was in the multiple thousands of dollars. Spurred on by finding myself even deeper in debt and wanting to pursue more competitive riding, I took a job as an exotic dancer in a premiere men’s club in Melbourne.
Over the next three years, I juggled full time study, becoming an award winning show girl (Miss Exotic Entertainer Australia in 2008) and pursuing competitive three day eventing with Poppy.
In 2008, Poppy and I had a serious accident while training. While I was physically fine, it really rocked my confidence. This accident and the resulting loss of confidence, was the thing that prompted me to begin exploring personal development, mindset work and understanding high performance, and ultimately led to me finding my passion for coaching which has become my life’s work!
At the end of 2009, I got the opportunity to take a job with one of the world leaders in the equestrian sport of three day eventing, Megan Jones (Beijing Olympics Silver Medalist). I relocated to her property in South Australia and began intensive training. Poppy moved to South Australia with me, and went in foal (got pregnant, for my non-horsey readers) to one of Megan’s amazing stallions who was a relative of the horse she went to the Beijing Olympics on.
In December 2010, Frida was born. Photo two is Frida, Poppy’s daughter.
Poppy went on to have another foal a few years later, and stayed with me until she passed away at 19 years old in 2016.
Frida spent a few years in the paddock growing up before she could be ridden, and in the meantime I owned and rode an amazing horse called Archie – another Irish Sport Horse. He’s not the centre of the story today, but Archie was likely my most influential of all the horses I’ve owned. I got him in 2010 during my time in South Australia at Megan’s place as a very naughty 3 year old and together we competed to two grades below olympic standard in three day eventing. I sold Archie to a good friend in 2016 when I gave up professional riding.
In 2011, I left Megan’s place in Adelaide and moved home to Melbourne. This is also the year I got qualified as a Business and Life Coach and started my coaching business!
Fast forward to 2014, I’m riding horses professionally alongside running my performance coaching business, ‘Think Forward Coaching’, which was focused on serving other equestrian athletes to get better competitive results or improve their confidence, and it’s time to break Frida in!
Breaking in is the term used to describe the process of teaching a horse everything they need to know about being ridden. It’s quite an in depth process, one that I’d been part of before, but Frida was the first horse I broke in entirely myself. I had some wonderful help and guidance from my best friend and dressage coach, David Boyle, with whom I was also running an equestrian property at the time.
Frida was so much fun to ride, and myself and my coaches were all excited about her potential once she got going. In 2015, she started her competitive career and consistently came home from events with a ribbon. In the year that she was out and about competing with me she traveled all over Victoria and up into New South Wales, as well as over to South Australia for a training visit with Megan Jones who was still one of my coaches.
The beginning of 2016 saw a seven and a half year relationship end (very painful at the time, but I’m so glad it did, it was a pretty unhealthy relationship) at around the same time as Poppy passed away. The tides of my life were changing, and it was time for me reassess. I was 28, I’d been doggedly pursuing my equestrian dreams for a decade, sinking ALL of my energy and resources into furthering myself as an athlete, and I hit major burn out. I had to answer the question; Did I want the next 10 years of my life to look the way the last 10 years had?
The answer was no.
In April 2016, at my last ever competitive equestrian event in Albury, I made the choice that I was done. After that event, I sold Archie, and my two young horses – Frida, and another horse called Luke, had a holiday for a few months and I rested. In time, I also sold my other horse Luke, my horse truck, and a lot of my competition gear. I completely released my ambition to be a professional athlete, and surrendered to a new direction. My healing journey during this time took me deep into the exploration of trauma, the nervous system, somatic experiencing, dance, sacred sexuality and the feminine. This also significantly influenced my business and pointed me to the path I’m walking today in my coaching.
So it was 2017, and it was just Frida and I! I went through a journey of having to totally re-write the way I related to myself as a horse rider, learning to ride just for fun again, and learning to no longer be defined by my results or what level I was competing at.
Fast forward a few fun years together, and in 2020 during some training, Frida tripped. At the time I thought nothing of it, but over the coming weeks it became obvious something wasn’t right. It turns out she’d injured a ligament in her front leg when she tripped, as she’d knocked herself.
After many months and many vet visits, it was clear that Frida was never going to be able to be ridden, and I made the choice to put her in foal.
Enter, Moxie! – Photo three is Moxie, Frida’s daughter and Poppy’s granddaughter, born December 2021.
Yesterday, Frida got on a transport truck to go to her new home in Bendigo where she’s going to be a professional mumma – she’ll be birthing some amazing performance horses into the world and living in a home where she’s well loved.
These horses have been a constant in my life. Through change, pain, joy, growth, reckonings, ambition and devastation, they’ve been there. That photo of Moxie was taken yesterday, looking all cute and hairy. She has a few years of growing to do before I’ll get to ride her, but I’m looking forward to that day. Even more so, knowing the legacy she represents.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading, I hope this story has put a smile on your face and had you reflect on the chapters and changes in your own life. 🐎 🥰
Just for fun, here are some more photos of these three ladies from over years: