During a family camping trip, seven-year-old Ellie Gough had her first horse ride. The horse’s owner mentioned that due to poor health, the ill-fated creature was to be put down. Horrified by the thought, the family went home, arranged a float and rescued the horse. It was soon apparent that she needed a friend, who arrived in the shape of a Shetland pony called Pebbles. Sadly, she eventually succumbed, but Pebbles thrived as Ellie’s first pony. Seven years later and the now 14-year-old from Perth, Western Australia, is big news in the show jumping ring.
“I fell in love with horses as soon as I started to ride, and began jumping on a pony called William,” Ellie says. The only equestrian in the family, she not only fell in love with horses, but also with the excitement of showjumping, and William was eventually replaced by Western Diva, aka Sassy.
“She was the jumping queen,” Ellie recalls, “she taught me everything I needed to know and kept up with the bigger horses in the 100cm classes. She was a speedy 14.1hh Stock Horse who won almost everything she entered and even took me to my first Nationals in Victoria.”
When Ellie eventually outgrew Sassy, along came GKO Arpeggio, a 17hh Warmblood gelding, followed by Bellhaven Cardentice, another Warmblood gelding, then Starting Over, an OTT Thoroughbred, and finally the most recent arrival, Bellhaven Cascade, a seven-year-old Warmblood and the only mare on the team.
For the past four years, Ellie has competed successfully throughout Western Australia. She currently holds the George Hall Perpetual Trophy for Leading Junior Showjumper, and last year represented her state at the Interschool Nationals in Sydney. Despite being the youngest in her class, she won Reserve Champion Rider at 1.10m, and was recently awarded the title of Equestrian Western Australia’s Most Outstanding Showjumping Rider, which led to a Rising Stars Squad scholarship.
Besides showjumping, Ellie also has a keen interest in eventing. “Sadly I haven’t evented much over the past few years due to my showjumping. However, I’m aiming to attend more events with Bellhaven Cardentice and Starting Over, which I’m really excited about.”
Success like Ellie’s doesn’t come overnight, and it certainly doesn’t come without dedication and hard work. “I ride one or two horses every day, and at the weekends I usually ride them all. I also have weekly jumping lessons and fortnightly dressage and cross country lessons. Because of my age, I still go to school so I have to work around that to fit everything in.”
And her goals for the future? “I want to compete successfully at 1.30m to 1.40m all over Australia. I’d also love to compete in the junior section of the Boneo Cup in Melbourne. But my main goal is to make it to the 2024 Olympics and compete for my country.”
So, there’ll be a few busy years ahead for Ellie, who has some people she’d like to thank for their contribution to her success so far. “A huge thank you to my parents who constantly help me with the horses and drive me everywhere, also to Nellandra Henry, my showjumping coach, and Phillipa Collier, my cross-country coach, and to my amazing sponsors: Lanoir Equestrian Saddleworld, 4Cyte Epitalis-Interpath, and Perth Equine Hospital. And finally to Kelato Animal Health, sponsors of the Next Gen Team of which I’m very proud to be a member.”
Congratulations from all of us here at HorseVibes on everything you’ve achieved so far, Ellie – and we’re absolutely sure that even bigger things are yet to come.