Para Equestrian International Qualifier
11th-13th December 2009

Susan debuted her new horse 'Larundel Gelata' at the CPEDI*** Para Equestrian International Dressage Competition held at Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre, in Victoria. The event was run by Equestrian Australia and the Australian Paralympic Committee in conjunction with the 2009 Saddleworld Dressage Festival and was the first integrated Para and able-bodied event held in Australia. Along with the Australian entries were riders from New Zealand, Canada, and Japan, who had made the journey aiming to gain qualifying scores for the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky 2010.

Susan rode 'Larundel Gelata' to 2nd place in the Team Test with a score of 70.35%. And also came 2nd in the Individual Championship Test. The pair finished a close 3rd in the Freestyle to Music, which had 2 false starts due to the music stopping in the middle of the test. The new combination were awarded Reserve Grade 1B Champions, and achieved well over the qualifying score for the 2010 World Equestrian Games. Susan would like to thank all the people who helped her compete at this competition especially West Brisbane Daybreak Rotary Club, Horse and Rider Saddlery, Sunshine Shoe Fix, Larundel Warmblood Stud, Menora Morab and Morgan Stud and her sponsors Heritage Downs Animal Care Products, GiddyUpGirl, and The McIntyre Centre.

 

Susan and Gelata's New Saddle
18th November 2009

Thanks to some local support, Susan now has a new saddle to fit her new horse, "Larundel Gelata." Due to her disability, Susan needs a very special saddle that is adapted to her unusually leg position. Also, as she cannot use stirrups she must balance entirely on her seat, but no saddle is made with this in mind. Thanks must go to Horse & Rider Saddlery and Sunshine Shoe Fix for helping to fit and modify Susan's new saddle. Susan and "Larundel Gelata" are currently training to compete at next month's Para Equestrian Dressage International Competition, which is a qualifying event for the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, USA.

 

Giddy Up Girl!
18th October 2009

Susan is proud to introduce Giddyupgirl Australia as her new clothing sponsor. Giddyupgirl is Australia's own funky fashion label and their range includes riding essentials such as jodhpurs, chaps, boots, and helmets. They also stock t-shirts, polo shirts, jackets, hoodies, and hats. Giddyupgirl was inspired by surf designs and developed for horse lovers to look the part in and outside the arena. Their riding gear and clothing will really make you stand out from the herd! Check at their unique range at: www.giddyupgirl.com.au

 

Para-Equestrian National Championships
24th- 29th September 2009

Susan and her helpers drove, with her horse "Menora Wildfire" in tow over 1000kms to compete at the National Dressage Championships which were held at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre at Horseley Park. Despite car troubles on the drive down, a severe dust storm during training, and a absent groom for part of the competition (due to her dog having puppies at the event) the pair performed well in a strong field. They placed third in the Team Test, fourth in the Individual Championship Test, and a very close fourth in the Freestyle to Music with 2nd to 4th places separated by only 1.5%.

 

National Coach Visits
29th- 30th August 2009

The Alexander Barr Sporting Complex at Caboolture was the venue for the first ever Queensland clinic with the new National Para-Equestrian Dressage Coach, Julia Battams. National Squad member Susan rode her superstar paint "Menora Wildfire" and introduced her exciting new prospect, "Larundel Gelata" for dressage lessons with Julia over the weekend.

 

Heritage Downs is the Natural Choice
18th June 2009

Susan is excited to introduce her new sponsor, Heritage Downs Natural Animal Care. Susan started using Heritage Downs products to treat Wildfire's skin condition, Queensland Itch with impressive results. Not only did their Sulphate Free Shampoo and Conditioner heal and soothe Wildfire's itchy skin, it also produced a soft, clean, and shiny coat! It has helped Wildfire's mane and tail to regrow and removes those annoying tangles.

After trying a number of other unsuccessful treatments, Susan now uses the Heritage Downs Natural Animal Care products exclusively to keep Wildfire looking and feeling his best, in and out of the competition arena. Heritage Downs has an extensive range of natural animal care products including bug sprays and creams, wound sprays and powders, message oil, leather dressing, deodorizers, and greasy heel cream, which are all environmentally friendly and Australian owned and made. Check them out and order a trial pack at: www.heritagedowns.com.au.

 

Equestrian Australia Squads
21st April 2009

Susan has been named on the 2009 inaugural National Para-Equestrian Development Squad. Para-Equestrian is Equestrian Australia's newest discipline and will include high performance dressage for athletes with a disablity. Julia Battams from Victoria has been announced as the new Para-Equestrian National Coach.

 

Sporting Dreams Award
15th November 2008

Susan was one of nine lucky athletes to win an award from the Marayke Jonkers Sporting Dreams Foundation. Paralympian Marayke Jonkers, handed out the awards to a group of promising athletes on Saturday night at a gala dinner. Marayke is an inspirational role-model, who started this fund to recognise outstanding sporting performance and help other athletes achieve their future sporting dreams.

 

Susan Wins Nationals
9th-11th October 2008

Susan blitzed the competition at the National Championships last weekend, making a statement after the disappointment of missing the Beijing Paralympics. She was defending her Australian title from 2006 when she rode her own horse "Menora Wildfire" to victory. The Championships were cancelled in 2007 due to the outbreak of Equine Influenza.

This year Susan borrowed a Victorian horse "Mellizo" and after only three days practice won all three tests and took home the 2008 Australian title, with the highest score of 73% out of all the competitors at the event. She also helped the Queensland team to second place in the team competition. Susan would like to thank Nicole Downs and her family, Matty Sormani, Coralie Kedzlie, Marita Hird, and the Wallace Family for their support.

 

Womensport Mentors
15th May 2008

The Womensport Queensland mentoring project kick started today with a meet and greet breakfast at Fusion Cycles shop in Brisbane. Fourteen Sport and Recreation Queensland Rising Star Award winners were given the opportunity to get inspired by some of Australia's best known sporting legends. Susan was named a Rising Star in November last year. Some of the champions involved in the program included Susie O'Neil, Naomi Castle, Gillian Roltan, Karla Gilbert and Vicki Wilson. Susan's mentor is Paralympic medallist and motivational speaker Karni Liddell.

 

Misses Paralympic Spot
28th March 2008

Unfortunately Susan has fallen short of her dream to represent Australia at the Beijing Paralympics. She was notified by the chairman of selectors that she was unsuccessful in gaining one of five spots on the team and that the results of the selection trials are not going to be released to the riders involved.

Susan is now aiming towards the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, USA and the 2012 London Paralympic Games. While she is still searching for a new horse, she is training and competing on 'Menora Wildfire' in open EFA dressage at novice level. She would like to wish the Australian team all the best in Beijing.

 

Beijing Selection Trials
3rd-5th March 2008

Susan had only two days practise to get acquainted with her Spanish Andalusian mount 'Mellizo' owned by Nicole Downs, before competing at the Paralympic selection trials. Held at Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre in Victoria, the trials consisted of training sessions with the national coach and two competition tests, including the freestyle to music. The pair showed some excellent work and Susan was very happy with their performance. She would like to thank Nicole Downs and her family, Matty Sormani, Pauline Wallace, and George Poulter for all their amazing support.

 

Qualified for Beijing
10th January 2008

Susan is one of 12 qualified athletes short-listed for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. The Australian Para Dressage Team will be selected following trials scheduled for March 3rd to 5th. The venue will be Tonimbuk Equestrian Centre, Bunyip North, Victoria. However, due to the Equine Influenza the judges will travel to states that are unable to move their horses. There are only five places available in the team.

 

Young Achiever Awards
22nd September 2007

Susan was honoured to be announced one of three finalists for The COATES Sports Award at the 2007 Queensland Young Achiever Awards. She attended the Gala Awards Presentation Evening held at the beautiful Crowne Plaza Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast.

Susan was very surprised to be announced the winner of the award over a strong field of 80 nominations from all different sporting backgrounds including athletics and V8 super cars. Susan would like to thank the sponsors of the award, Coates and Heritage Building Society for this extraordinary opportunity and everyone that has helped her over the years to achieve what she has.

 

Flying Changes Saddlery Sponsorship
12th July 2007

Susan would like to welcome Kenmore's Flying Changes Saddlery as her new sponsor. The saddlery recently celebrated their first birthday with a midnight sale. Susan is very grateful for their support!!! The store has a huge range of top quality products at excellent prices, check out their great deals.

 

RDA Queensland Dressage Championships
10th June 2007

Susan competed at the Riding for Disabled Queensland State Dressage Championships, this year held at Gatton Showgrounds. Riding 'Menora Wildfire' the pair won all three tests in Grade 1 and were awarded the Senior Highest Score Trophy, which they gained with a score of 73% for their freestyle to music. This was the highest score given out of all the competitors on the day!

 

Stuartholme Support
4th June 2007

Susan was honoured to receive a donation from the Stuartholme School Equestrian Team. She was presented with the donation by equestrian captain, Geo Burke, at the school assembly in the church. The school's on-going support will help Susan achieve her para-equestrian goals. She would like to wish the team all the best in their QISEA competitions and would like to thank Geo for nominating her and the school for their help.

 

Channel Nine Extra
17th April 2007

Channel nine's Extra interviewed Susan for a story on over coming odds in the quest for sporting excellence. Reporter Doug Murray conducted the segment at the Riverside Equestrian Centre. Along with footage of Susan riding Menora Wildfire, her coach Jenny Gehrke, and her mum were interviewed. The show will air at 5.30pm today.

 

Network Ten News
14th March 2007

Television news reporter Mark Suleau interviewed Susan for an inspirational story that proves determination is the equal to any physical attribute when it comes to sport. Footage was taken at the Riverside Equestrian Centre and includes Susan riding Menora Wildfire, and other interviews with her dressage coach, Jenny Gehrke and her mum. The story will air today on channel ten local news at 5pm and tomorrow on the national ten news at 11am.

 

Australian Dressage Championships
12th-14th October 2006

Susan competed at the 2006 FEI Para Equestrian Australian National Dressage Championships at Werribee Park Equestrian Centre, in Victoria this month. Susan took home the Grade 1 National Champion Trophy after winning all three tests aboard her horse 'Menora Wildfire'. The pair achieved personal best scores of 71% in the warm-up and freestyle tests. She would like to thank all her supporters, especially the Wallace family, Alyssa, Janine, Jenny, the Queensland team, and Queensland support staff for all their help.

 

Para-equestrian Pacific Rim International
1st-3rd September 2006

Thirty-five riders with disabilities from eight counties including Russia, Argentina, United States of America, Canada and China participated at the FEI Pacific Rim Para-equestrian Dressage International Competition, held at Milner Downs Equestrian Centre in Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

The Australian team were introduced to their mounts at the Riding for Disabled Victoria Stables on the beautiful Vancouver Island and had only six days to establish a partnership. Susan was kindly loaned a 16hh, 9-year-old, bay quarter horse mare named 'Conclusive Talent', by owner/breeder Jen Kraft.

Susan and 'Conclusive Talent' placed 6th in the team test, 4th in the championship test and 3rd in the freestyle to music in Grade 2. She was re-classified to Grade 1B at the conclusion of the competition, which indicates the level of physical disability. The Australian team placed third overall behind Canada and United States of America, whom had the advantage of riding their own horses.

Susan would like to thank Jen Kraft for loaning her wonderfully talented horse, Jane James for sourcing all the Australian Team horses, Roy and Virginia for the generous use of their stables, Michele, Erin, Ruth, David, Vicki, Mary and Ken for all their support and hard work. Well done Canada for hosting such a brilliant event!

 

Funds for Canada
2nd August 2006

Susan would like to acknowledge and thank David Finch, MP Michael Johnson, and Magdalena Depa for donating items to help raise much need funds for the upcoming international competition in Canada. These wonderful donations including three beautiful equine drawings which are currently for sale, and a Parliament House wine glass package, which is currently being auctioned. With such valuable support and further financial assistance, once unattainable dreams have become realities.

 

National Squad AIS Camp
19th-21st May 2006

Twenty riders, the National Coach, Chef'd'Equippe, and CEO of Riding for Disabled Australia, attended a 3-day training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, ACT. The first night, riders and staff were treated to a motivational speech from world record holder and Paralympic shot-put gold medallist, Hamish McDonald, on his inspirational journey to become an elite athlete.

The next day program included, a very informative session on nutrition for competitive performance with AIS nutritionist, Bethanie Allanson, followed by international para-equestrian classifier and physiotherapist, Sharon Gregory's talk on physical fitness for equestrian competition. After lunch we departed to Canberra's Riding for Disabled Centre Pegasus for a riding demonstration by Kate Hodson, on her gorgeous horse Buddy, and the national coach discussing some of the finer points of dressage.

Lisa Stevens, a former Australian Women's Show Jumping Champion turned sports psychologist, took us for the final day. Her presentations were both enlightening and entertaining as we focused on performance anxiety, the importance of mental preparation, and team attributes. Feedback suggests the weekend was successfully educational and enjoyable. Thank you to Ken, Mary, and Gill for organising the weekend, the knowledgeable speakers, and Beaky Layton from Pegasus.

 

National & International Squads
3rd May 2006

Susan has been chosen in the National Dressage Squad for the fifth consecutive year but for the first time as a Grade 2 rider. She has also been selected to represent Australia at the FEI Pacific Rim Para-equestrian Dressage International CPDI**** Competition in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. The competition will be held on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of September and is a paralympic qualifier event. The Australian team of seven riders will borrow horses in Canada.

 

State Dressage Championships
30th April 2006

Riding for Disabled Association of Queensland held their State Dressage Championships over the Labour Day weekend, at the Maroochydore Showgrounds. For the first time the event combined able-bodied classes along with classified and unclassified classes for disabled riders.

Susan was re-classified before the event and now rides in Grade 2. Tests in Grade 2 are equivalent to EFA novice level excluding canter, except in the freestyle to music where canter is allowed. She rode her mount 'Menora Wildfire' to 1st place in all three tests and was awarded Grade 2 Section A State Champion for 2006.

 

Maryborough Success
10th April 2006

Queensland's Maryborough Showgrounds hosted a very successful fundraising auction with all proceeds going to help Susan purchase a specially designed and built saddle. Many local businesses, as well as major companies kindly donated goods to auction including I'd Rather Be Riding Saddlery, The World's Best Hoof Oil, Susan River Homestead, The Good Guys, MI Helicopters, and Kingfisher Bay Resort.

Susan would like to sincerely thank everyone who attended to help and bid so generously, all the wonderful sponsors, and the Maryborough Active Riders Group. Particular mention and deepest thanks to Colleen Kelly and Leandra Hulst for their tremendous support and hard work in organising such an exceptional event.

 

Saddle Fundraiser
22nd March 2006

Entertaining speaker Colleen Kelly has kindly donated an evening lecture on 'How to improve your seat & posture for all horse sports' with all proceeds going to Susan's new saddle fund. Susan's saddle is being specially designed and made for her disability by David A Morris Saddles. The lecture will be held on the 8th of April at the Community Pavilion, at the Maryborough Showgrounds in Queensland, starting at 5pm and followed by a fundraising BBQ and Auction.

The event is being supported by some great companies who have donated items very generously for the auction. Susan would like to thank I'd Rather Be Riding Saddlery, The World's Best Hoof Oil, Susan River Homestead, The Good Guys, MI heilcopters, and Kingfisher Bay Resort for their very generous contributions. Please come and make this a successful fundraising event!

 

A Saddle for Susan
6th February 2006

Susan currently uses a dressage saddle that was kindly donated to her by the John Maclean Foundation. While Susan has learnt to ride using this piece of equipment, it would now seem that a specially designed saddle more suited to her needs would significantly improve her comfort, safety, balance, and skills.

Susan has been fortunate enough to have the help of respected biomechanics lecturer and official judge, Colleen Kelly in finding someone willing to design and make this unique saddle. Colleen and her team contacted saddle markers throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Asia, and every state in Australia.

Imagine the excitement when Margy at David A Morris Saddles convinced the amazing engineering & saddle expert David A Morris, BE to take on this wonderful project and build Susan the very complicated saddle she is going to need to make it to the top of the paralympic field! With fits and refits, we have a target to raise $5000 for Susan to get this vital piece of equipment.

Susan would like to sincerely thank Colleen and her group for their efforts, support and enormous enthusiasm in the face of such a challenge. Also to teammate Catherine Alati for offering a saddle for experimentation proposes. And finally, many thanks to Margy and Dave for taking on this project.

 

Farewell to a Friend
3rd February 2006

Harry Le Bherz OAM (Medal of the Order of Australia) sadly passed away on the 27th of January at the age of 75. Harry was an inspirational leader and supporter of all equestrian disciples and made strong contributions to the sport by being involved as an administrator, volunteer, and official.

Harry and Susan met in 1998, when he judged at the Queensland Riding for Disabled State Dressage Trials at Park Ridge Pony Club. His funeral was held today at the Holy Spirit Anglican Church with a guard of honour made by riders in formal riding attire. Harry will be dearly missed and forever remembered.