Megan Jones, 36 at the time, rides Flowervale Maserati, a powerful horse with a dark coat. As rain begins to fall, the pair of them continue to push themselves, hoofs beating ground and throwing grass into the air.
A variety of interesting jumps have been set up; huge logs balanced over low stumps, trimmed hedges and neatly crafted wooden huts. For this moment, Megan’s entire focus is paired with her horses. Their speed and their movements counterbalance each other’s as they hurtle over obstacles.
The exhilaration of the ride drives them both forward to win the event; a trial held in Ballarat. The skill it requires of the two of them is enough to take Megan to the Olympics, where she won a silver medal in Beijing in 2008. If that skill fails, the risk is severe – with injuries and fatalities occasionally appearing in the news. While Megan has suffered from the intensities of riding (she has a stress fracture in her back that required a 12 week rest from riding), others have lost their lives in the controversially dangerous sport. It is, by any sense of the word, an extreme sport.
With so much danger, intensity, skill and tradition, what kind of an audience does equestrian riding have in Australia? SBS made news recently for scheduling coverage of some of the top international equestrian events, including jumping and eventing. It’s a break from Australia’s surprisingly reticent history of equestrian sport coverage, which rarely makes news unless in the context of the Olympics. Yet equestrian events alone make up a $362 million dollar contribution to the Australian economy, and the equestrian industry in total contributes $6 billion. World-class athletes are being trained in Australia, and a nearly $1 billion a year goes into breeding high class horses.
So why isn’t the equestrian industry covered by television programming? It has everything; excitement, interest, an existing market – there seems to be no reason why equestrian events shouldn’t be all over our screens. And there’s one big reason; quarantine.
Horses coming into Australia are required to be in quarantine for 3 weeks in their country of origin and then for another 2 – 3 weeks when then land in Australia. That’s a potential total of 42 days of quarantine. Horses going into American, as a point of comparison – require only 3 days of quarantine, and 7 days for a small selection of limited countries. Australia is already geographically distant from Europe, where horse riding is more popular, but delays like this make it near-impossible for international competition to take place in Australia.
That means Australia ends up isolated and it becomes much harder to increase the quality, value and competition of the industry. There are no five star events held in Australia, only the four star Adelaide three-day event. Australian riders can become successful; Edwina Tops-Alexander of Australia was the first person to earn over $2 million in an equestrian event. But, much like Tops-Alexander, they move overseas to a European base in order to reach that kind of success.
What Australia is doing is exporting all of our equestrian talent. We’re not completely without hope. Grand Prix rider Lone Jorgensen moved to Australia from Germany and set up base here; proving again that the country has promise in the equestrian field.
The only way to invigorate the already solid industry is to modify quarantine laws to allow more efficient imports. If we can encourage world class internationals to compete in Australia, events will grow and television coverage will follow, unlocking the potential the market already has.
The 10 Best Dressage Horses & Riders Ever
10. Juan Manuel Munoz & his horse Fuego de Cardenas.
9. Laura Tomlinson-Bechtolsheimer & her horse Rosalie B.
8. Kristina Bröring-Sprehe & her horse Desperados.
7. Adelinde Cornelissen & her horse Parzival.
6. Anky van Grunsven & her horse Bonfire.
5. Carl Hester & his horse Wanadoo.
4. Isabell Werth & her horse Gigolo.
3. Steffen Peters & his horse Ravel.
2. Edward Gal & his horse Totilas.
1. Charlotte Dujardin & her horse Valegro.
How Buildings Change The Way Kids Learn
We spent the vast majority of our time inside buildings, but we often overlook just how much the affect us. Children can be particularly susceptible to changes in buildings when they’re learning and developing.
So how exactly does a building affect a child’s learning ability?
Certain colours are more suitable for learning than others, and allow students to get the most from their experiences.
Brighter colours have a positive impact on pre-teen childrens’ learning, while more subtle, subdued colours are better for teenagers.
Temperature and airflow –
These were found to be the two most important influences on student achievement. Temperatures that are too high can cause kids to slow down, whilst stuffy air has the same effect. The simplest way to improve your students’ learning? Open a window.
Noise pollution –
School are usually designed to reduce the amount of noise interference from nearby. Rooms are closed-off and students are encouraged to be quiet. This is for good reason; noise from nearby makes it much harder for students to process what they are learning.
Room to move –
Buildings change learning by changing the behaviour of the people in them. A great way to keep the brain active is to move around every now and then. Large buildings with open spaces that students are encouraged to move through can ensure that students keep fresh, active minds and retain what they learn.
Large rooms –
Another benefits of large rooms is that they encourage creative, out-of-the-box thinking. Being stuck in a small space limits your ability to create fresh ideas.
Natural light –
Natural light works wonders in improving productivity. Studies consistently show that sunlight makes people happier, more active and more productive, whether they’re working or studying.
Areas that have low rates of school graduation benefit from transparent windows. Allowing people in the community to see into the resources and activities of the school encourage enrolment and makes children value their educational experience more.
To see some of our school buildings, download the brochure here.