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.
How To Calm A Skittish Horse
Easy-to-frighten horses are skittish and can be difficult to work with. But if something in the environment is scaring your horse, there are ways to help your horse be more calm.
Researchers tested three different methods to find out which was the most effective.
The Fear Stimulus: A white nylon bag.
This research used a white nylon bag that was able to be moved along a line. This was found to be universally uncomfortable for horses, and provided a good test stimulus.
The Habituation Method
Horses were exposed to the nylon bag repeatedly until they had become more calm.
The Desensitization Method
Horses were gradually exposed to the nylon bag. The first stage was much less intense than later stages and horses only moved onto the next stage when they were totally comfortable with the current stage.
The Counter-Conditioning Method
Horses were given food rewards every time the nylon bag appeared. This intends to build up a positive association that overcomes the negative association of the fear response.
Most effective method: Desensitization
The desensitisation method was the only method that worked for all participating horses. It was the most effective, longest-lasting and fastest process.
To see some of our horse arena photos, download an EquinaBuild brochure here.
Sheds and Garages in Sunbury
At Central Steel Build, we’ve been building sheds and garages in Sunbury and the Hume area since 1975. Based only a 30 minute drive away, some of our earliest sheds were erected in Sunbury and we’ve since built hundreds, from small backyard sheds to large industrial sheds.
Our sheds are custom designed, engineered and manufactured locally at our Kyneton offices, just 51km away from Sunbury. Our central location allows us to service all of the Macedon Ranges area and most of regional Victoria.
We design and construct the following types of buildings in Sunbury and surrounding areas:
Other Steel Framed Buildings
See below some of the projects that we have constructed in Sunbury in the past:
1. Machinery Shed
We crane lift large and industrial sheds, as you can see in this photo of a machinery shed being lifted in Sunbury.
2. Storage Shed Extension
We often revisit existing projects to add extensions or expand sheds we’ve built in the past.
3. Residential Shed
This residential shed offers vehicle storage as well as an additional shed space for private use. Sheds like this are popular on Sunbury farms and homes.