Informative, Inspirational & Aspirational

Informative, Inspirational & Aspirational

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January/February 2021 Edition


Fiona Todd

It’s a new year, and for many folk around the globe a welcome opportunity for a new beginning. Like most people, I don’t like to wish my life away, but I was very happy to see the back of 2020 – and I suspect I wasn’t on my own! To help us all get 2021 off on the right leg, Amanda and Sonia give us the lowdown on setting goals, suggesting a path forward designed to help no matter how big or small your dreams might be.
And what a privilege it is to have Warwick Schillar as our first Spotlight of the year – such an amazing equestrian and all-round great bloke. In case you missed it, Charlie Brister spoke to him in Episode Five of The Right Rein Podcast. If you haven’t already, make sure you catch that episode and prepare to be inspired.
Speaking of Charlie, the final in his series on lunging is in this issue. If you thought lunging your horse was all about sending them around and around in rather boring circles, you absolutely must make sure you catch each of this three-part series. And Charlie, I love your model!
Ever heard of sarcoids? In the first Vet Vibes, our new regular feature, Dr Doug English introduces us to these pesky skin tumours, their various types and their treatment. We also hear from Tasmanian vet Dr Susan Peden on the subject of Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis, also known as HTMA.
It’s no secret that I love show jumping, but what you probably don’t know is that these days, I don’t ride (a long story for another time) – so I simply get to drool. Something that’s always fascinated me is watching riders walk the course. What are they doing? What are they thinking? What are they looking for? Wonder no more! Our guest columnist Jeanne O’Malley answers all of our questions.
Natural health therapist Catherine Bird takes a herbal approach to helping your horse cope with the stress of our hot climate, whilst equine nutritionist Leisa Hofstetter offers a scientific approach to some of the challenges feeding in summer presents. Get it right and your pony looks and feels amazing, get it wrong and there may be problems.
With borders opening up and hopes of being able to travel again looking a bit brighter than they have in quite some time, Sonia Caeiro Alvarez takes us on an armchair journey to a spot not too far from her own home town in Portugal.
In Life After Racing, Jo McKinnon catches up with Shory Park Director and Head Trainer Nikki Cook, who runs a stellar OTT rehoming program. Three hundred Thoroughbreds through Shory Park’s gates last year alone is nothing to be sneezed at!
Then that talented duo Skye Liikanen and Joshua Knight hop up On My Tackbox and talk about preparing baby for their first ride, closely followed by the inspirational Jose Mendez with his take on the lost art of patience and some excellent tips on training in-hand.
Amanda Mac chats to Candida Baker about her latest offering, The Heart of a Horse, and then we invite you to feast your eyes on the bodaciously baroque Andalusians, Lusitanos, Lippizaners and Friesians who star in this issue’s Breed feature.
We introduce you to our Young Rider, the super speedy barrel racer Alishia Thomas, and then explain why John Solomon Rarey and Cruiser turned out to be Perfect Partners. That’s before we wrap it all up with 20 Questions, this time with the fascinating Dr Andrew McLean.
Phew! It’s a full-on edition for you all to enjoy as we roll on into 2021 – and may this be the year when all of your dreams come true.
And finally, as always, pour your favourite tipple, sit back, relax and enjoy.

In this issue - January / february 2021

Going with the flow

Take expert horsemanship, mix with mindfulness and a belief in putting dreams out to the Universe. Add a serve of serendipity, plus a willingness to go with the flow, and, writes AMANDA MAC, you have the extraordinary life of Warwick Schiller.

Lunging: It’s a circular question

In the final part of our lunging series, resident columnist CHARLIE BRISTER adds jumping into the mix.

Ready, set, goal!

Are there strategies that can help you to turn your dreams into reality? There are, and AMANDA MAC and SONIA CAEIRO ALVAREZ have been exploring some options.

Equine sarcoids: what you need to know

If you’ve noticed a wart-like lump on your horse’s skin, it could very well be a sarcoid. Veterinarian Dr DOUG ENGLISH discusses types and treatments.

Taking it in your stride

You’re about to start your show jumping round – but how well prepared are you? JEANNE O’MALLEY shares strategies learned from renowned equestrian coach Trevor Morris that will help you to take it all in your stride.

Feeding for summer

As with all times of year, what you feed your horse in summer depends on factors such as their level of work, age and size. However, feeding horses over summer comes with some unique challenges, writes LEISA HOFSTETTER.

Paradise in Portugal

They say there’s no place quite like home, so SONIA CAEIRO ALVAREZ armchair travelled very close to her hometown in north western Spain and found magic in Midões.

A hair’s breadth

What is HTMA and how can it improve equine health and wellbeing? DR SUSAN PEDEN, an experienced vet, shares some fascinating insights.

There’s strength in numbers

Rehoming racehorses is a full-time business for Nikki Cook, Shory Park’s Director, Head Trainer and Coach, writes JO McKINNON.

The heart of a horse

Well-known author and journalist Candida Baker speaks to AMANDA MAC about life’s lessons, communicating with animals, and her latest book.

Bodacious horses to baroque your world

If you’ve seen the 1989 cult classic Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, you’ll know that ‘bodacious’ means extreme excellence. But do you know what ‘baroque’ means? Happily, CHRISTINE ARMISHAW does.

Seeking relief during summer

As summer temperatures soar, our horses can suffer from a variety of heat-related issues. CATHERINE BIRD, one of Australia’s leading equine natural health therapists, suggests some herbal remedies for common problems.

Bates Pony Dressage Saddle

Trying to fit a broad shouldered pony with a saddle later to be used on another pony altogether wasn’t quite such a problem as you might have expected.

The first ride

It’s time to educate baby, but where to begin? SKYE LIIKANEN and JOSHUA KNIGHT believe that thorough preparation will help to prevent many of the problems they’ve seen in young horses.

The forgotten art of patience

Spanish-born JOSÉ MENDEZ began working horses in-hand as a boy. He learned, in great detail, how to teach them piaffe, passage, Spanish walk and long-reining, and generously shares his knowledge with us.

The queen of speed

Barrel racing is a discipline in which horse and rider sprint around a circuit of barrels in an attempt to achieve the fastest time – and that’s something at which Alishia Thomas is very, very good, writes AMANDA MAC.

Cruiser and John Solomon Rarey

What do you do when a horse simply won’t cooperate? Back in the 1800s, they called in John Solomon Rarey, who even managed to calm the intractable and dangerous stallion Cruiser, writes N. G. QUINLAN.

20 Questions with Dr Andrew McLean

Dr Andrew McLean, PhD (Equine Cognition & Learning), BSc (Zoology), Dip Ed, is Co-Director of Equitation Science International, and conducts demonstrations around the world. He is Senior Vice President of the not-for-profit HELP, and his achievements in eventing and dressage are numerous.

Delivering Dreams Scholarship

We received some exceptional applications for this year’s Delivering Dreams Scholarship. Selecting a recipient proved difficult, so much so that our judges have chosen two particularly outstanding applicants: Jamie Hocking and Luke Purtill.

The HorseVibes Delivering Dreams Scholarship is something of which I am extremely proud. It has been a long-held dream of mine to help equestrians of all ages and abilities move closer to their own dreams. And that’s exactly what the scholarship is designed to do: to motivate its recipients and assist them in removing any barriers that might be holding them back.
This particular scholarship round has been outstanding. We introduce Jamie and Luke to you on the following pages, along with our nine wonderful finalists. And I would like to personally thank everyone who has made it so very special, our applicants, our very generous sponsors, our panel of expert judges, my family, and my many friends, all of whom have helped in so many ways.
With much gratitude, Fiona

Jamie Hocking: Vaulting

Jamie Hocking is a 24 year old rising star in the world of equestrian vaulting. He’s been an Australian High-Performance athlete since he was 12, and is absolutely passionate about his sport.

Luke Purtill: Dressage

Luke Purtill doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the way he feels about horses: “They’re the best thing that I’ve ever done,” he says.

Antonia Bearda: Eventing

Some people expect good things in life to land in their lap with little or no effort on their part – Antonia Bearda is not one of them. Originally from New Zealand, her first equine partner was Gem, a 27-year-old paddock pony who was very selective about who rode her. However, she introduced Antonia to Pony Club and the pair subsequently became the six-bar champions, clearing 1.30m.

Kasey Bogie: Western Reining

Ever since she can remember, horses have been an essential part of Kasey Bogie’s life. She comes from a Western riding dynasty, and trains, travels and competes (she first rode in reining competitions at age 10) with three generations of her family. Her grandfather, Rick Sciberras, is her coach and mentor, and Kasey has learned much from him.

Michaela Bray: Dressage

After learning to ride as a child and later progressing through Pony Club with the usual assortment of equine companions, Michaela Bray finally found her place in the world of dressage. “For me, dressage was an easy choice,” she says. “I thrive on the challenge of building and maintaining my horses’ fitness, elasticity, enthusiasm and strength. I cannot imagine a life without dressage, and more importantly, without my horses.”

Claudia Brodke: Dressage

Claudia Brodtke has been obsessed with horses her entire life. Much to her parents’ dismay, the obsession started early: show jumping over broomsticks, lunging the family dog, and 'Why You Should Buy Me a Pony' PowerPoint presentations were a regular occurrence.

Kelsie Cranston: Show Jumping

Although Kelsie Cranston is an accountant by day, her real passion is for horses. Unfortunately, working 8:00 to 5:00 with an additional two hours travel (she lives on a cattle property) doesn’t leave much time for riding. However, she makes it work with the help of arena lights and a very supportive partner

Annabel Cusack: Eventing

After learning to ride as a child and later progressing through Pony Club with the usual assortment of equine companions, Michaela Bray finally found her place in the world of dressage. “For me, dressage was an easy choice,” she says. “I thrive on the challenge of building and maintaining my horses’ fitness, elasticity, enthusiasm and strength. I cannot imagine a life without dressage, and more importantly, without my horses.”

Pearl Dessart: Working Eqitation

Pearl Dessart’s love affair with horses started early and reached critical mass when the The Man from Snowy River travelling show came to town. It was then that she lobbied her parents in earnest for a pony. One eventually arrived in the shape of an on-loan Shetland.

Poppy Douglas: Working Equitation

When it comes to blitzing Working Equitation competitions, Poppy Douglas does it well! She was the Australian Junior Champion in 2017, 2018 and 2019, scooped the 2019 Consagrados 1 Horse of the Year, an event ridden one-handed, and is the only junior to have qualified for the NSW State Team.

Madison Doyle: Eventing

Madison Doyle had an amazing run in 2018 and 2019, achieving a personal best of 125cm, a string of show jumping successes, and qualification for State Level C Grade competitions.

Around the traps - January / February 2021

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Meet Our Team


Fiona Todd
HorseVibes publisher Fiona Todd grew up on the North Coast of NSW on a dairy farm and developed a love for animals from a young age. “I spent hours playing with my dad’s trusty stock horse, Smokey,” she says, “and I eventually got my own horse when I was 12. She was the first in a long line of ...

Amanda McWinnie - HorseVibes Deputy Editor


Amanda McWhinnie
UK-born Amanda McWhinnie’s love affair with horses began when she was four-years-old. “I was with my parents at a show jumping event when a dappled grey horse caught my eye as it cleared jump after jump with a carefree swish of its luxuriant tail. I was entranced,” she says, “and it started a lifetime ...

Candace Brigden

Marketing Manager

Candace Brigden
Candace’s journey in horses and her career are as varied and as much of a mixed bag as each other. Being raised in a non-horsey family meant that owning and riding a pony was often done through her own hard work and dedication, a trait that has followed her throughout her life and anything she puts her hand to ...


Jo McKinnon
Jo Mckinnon is a multi-award winning horse racing and equestrian broadcaster and documentary maker. She is the host of a popular radio programme & podcast 'Talking Horses' and is a former top-level show rider, who has competed all over Australia with her hacks. “As someone who has been a racing commentator for many years I love the positive life after racing stories,” she says.

Feature Writer

Candida Baker
President of equine charity Equus Alliance, Candida returns with her popular Horse Listener column, this time to explore the complexities of the horse’s eye. Did you know that horses have nearly 360 degree vision yet can’t see a jump during and after take-off? Candida discusses these and other facts in her fascinating article. .

Charlie Brister - HorseVibes Columnist


Charlie Brister
If Charlie Brister was to advertise himself for sale, he says he’d put himself in the ‘All Rounder’ category. A bush-bred boy, he grew up riding pre-track racehorses. “I’d gallop through the bush with no idea of what a rising diagonal, or a correct distance was,” says this now NCAS Level 2 Eventing Coach...

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