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Saddle up for Canberra’s best equine experiences

In and around the ACT there’s plenty of activities, businesses, and charities that all celebrate the bond between people and horses.

WINSTON Churchill once famously said that “no hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.”

That quote would ring true for many in Canberra, where there’s plenty of activities, businesses and charities that all celebrate the bond between people and horses.

This week “CityNews” spoke with some local horse lovers to find out about the equine experiences on offer in and around the capital.

Award-winning horse riding store

HORSELAND Canberra took out the Horseland store of the year award last year, chosen for their expertise in all things equestrian out of 51 stores nationally, says manager Kelsey Young.

“We live and breathe horses,” she says.

“Being nationally recognised for our expertise and excellence is a result of our team’s passion and skill and is an achievement that we’re really proud of.”

Stocking the world’s leading equestrian brands, Kelsey says they have the biggest range in the Canberra region to suit all budgets.

“It doesn’t stop at saddles and bridles, but includes horse health, stylish casual wear, dog rugs, toys, boots and more,” she says. 

Like many of the staff, Kelsey started horse riding from a young age and says she “never looked back”. 

“Several of the team get out regularly to compete across disciplines like showjumping, dressage, endurance and eventing,” she says.

Kelsey says she and the team are always excited to help riders that are starting out.

“[It] can be such an exciting time, but it can also be daunting — I love being able to share in their journey and provide them with all the advice they need,” she says.

Horseland Canberra, 3/14 Ipswich Street, Fyshwick. Call 6280 6657 or visit horseland.com.au

Horses bring joy and therapy to people with disability

LOCATED on an “idyllic”, 40-hectare farm around 10 minutes from the centre of Belconnen, Pegasus ACT is a charity that delivers therapeutic horse-facilitated programs to people living with disability.

CEO Matthew Watson says its programs can provide a range of benefits, from developing confidence right through to physical therapy that can help people learn to walk.

“It’s about being able to build a relationship and trust with a horse, and learning to work with that horse,” he says.

“Seeing people’s personalities grow and develop through that relationship with their horse is amazing. Even the nervous kids are on a horse within two lessons. They’re calm, they’re having a good time, they’ve got a smile on their face.”

He says the programs always try to keep the same horse and same volunteer for each participant, so that they can build a relationship and understanding with both.

“If you have a participant who can’t walk or has difficulty walking, the movement of the horse actually encourages those muscles to move,” says Matthew.

“We’ve had children here who when they started could barely walk, if at all, and after a few months they are learning to sit up on their own or starting to walk on their own.”

He also says they’re always looking for volunteers, and that they don’t need any prior experience to help out.

“Words can’t quite explain it. Many people come along and fall in love with the place,” he says. 

Pegasus Riding for the Disabled, 119 Drake Brockman Drive, Holt. Call 6254 9190 or visit pegasusact.com.au

Bird’s eye view of Willinga Park.

Centre houses latest in equine technology

COMBINING stunning architecture, sculptures and a native botanical garden, Willinga Park is a world-class equestrian centre that houses the latest in equine technology, says owner Terry Snow.

Set on 41 Hectares of the NSW South Coast, Terry says the facilities include a conference centre, luxury stables, commercial cattle stud facilities and extensive facilities for the agistment and training of horses.

“Each year the park hosts several community-wide events and premier equine sporting competitions across dressage, showjumping, eventing and campdrafting.”

Terry says he’s strived to contribute to the Olympic sport of dressage by creating the best facilities in Australia, where riders of all levels can qualify for international standing.

“The Park fully supports Australia’s athletes across equestrian disciplines and aims to fully support past and future Australian Olympians,” he says.

“Willinga Park-based dressage rider Jayden Brown, his grooms and six Willinga Park dressage horses recently moved to the UK to compete and train with the best in the industry while they set their sights on the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.”

Willinga Park, 132 Forster Drive, Bawley Point. Call 4405 5666 or visit willingapark.com.au

 

Race club membership offers ‘fantastic’ value

MEMBERSHIP to the Canberra Racing Club is available in young, full or senior categories. 

It provides members with a variety of facilities and benefits and offers great savings, says marketing and sponsorship manager Robbie Ringland. “Memberships at Thoroughbred Park are fantastic value with the full cost returned to you in credit to be used on food and beverages on-course,” he says. 

“You also receive free entry to all race days and entry into our tipping competition that’s currently worth $61,000.”

Thoroughbred Park is the home of the Canberra Racing Club, which holds race meetings there 25 times a year, including TAB Melbourne Cup Race Day and the Canberra Racing Carnival encompassing John McGrath Auto Group Canberra Black Opal Stakes and TAB Canberra Cup Race Days. 

Robbie says the Canberra racing scene is having a great season, with local trainer, Matthew Dale being recently crowned Canberra’s Premier Trainer for 2021/2022 to go alongside his victory in the Barbara Joseph Medal at the 2022 Canberra Racing Carnival. 

“To win the inaugural Barbara Joseph Medal was a great honour” Dale says. 

“Any winner over your home carnival is a great thrill, so to get two winners and take home the medal was great.” 

Dale puts his success down to consistency and the hard-working staff he has around him.

Thoroughbred Park, Randwick Road, Lyneham. Visit thoroughbredpark.com.au

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