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BLOG: Meet EQ Life's newest blogger Bonnie Andrews

My current horse, Bradgate Park Aarmani. © Petrina White

My current horse, Bradgate Park Aarmani.

© Petrina White

 

Back in the day when I was in primary school, the age-old tradition of being asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, was still very much alive. Flicking back through school portfolios from the early 2000’s has helped pinpoint the exact moment I made up my mind on this subject. Circa Year 2 - "When I grow up I want to be a... vet." This bold statement was accompanied by an 8-year old’s attempt of drawing a healthy, happy dog. Even with four years of veterinary studies now under my belt, I don’t think I’d be able to save that poor dog I attempted to draw!

My name is Bonnie, and I am currently studying Veterinary Science at Charles Sturt University, in Wagga Wagga NSW. I was lucky enough to know that this was always the path I wanted to take, right from an early age. However maybe I took this a little too seriously, as I distinctly remember crying when I got a C in Year 7 Science, worried that I’d never get into Vet. Luckily for me, the application for Veterinary Science at CSU didn’t specify my Year 7 Science grade and I was offered a position to commence studies in 2015.

Through this blog, I am going to share my experiences of balancing both high level study whilst still continuing riding, and how you don’t have to choose between the two!

But for my first blog, let me share a bit of background about myself and how I got to where I am…

Having spent most of my childhood growing up in rural NSW, I have always lived on a farm and loved having pets. Birthday, Easter and Christmas presents for me usually involved an orphan goat from a nearby farm, or a Bantam hen from down the road. The only animal missing was a horse…..

We were lucky enough to live on the same road as several large horse studs, with the owner of one also managing the other at the time. Being the generous, kind-hearted people they are, on weekends and holidays they would let my brother and I ‘help’ which usually involved coming along for a ride on the feed-run. In return for all our hard work (or lack thereof), they took the time out of their busy days to teach us how to ride. This instantly sparked a new-found love for horses, and I am eternally grateful for this. I spent the next few years constantly begging my parents to let me go up and ‘help’ them in order fit in as much riding as possible, and learn everything I could about horses!

As fate would have it, when I was 12, my Aunt and Uncle decided to sell up their property in Victoria and called my Dad up asking if we would like not one but two horses!

Zen was a 12 year old Arab X, who had never left my Aunt and Uncle’s property, and was now expected to keep up with my growing enthusiasm for riding. He was accompanied by his 26-year-old mother Sharnia, whom he had never been weaned from, which made for some difficult rides when they were within earshot of each other. One broken arm later, Sharnia was rehomed as a companion horse where she lived out her days very happily.

 

Zen and I at 2010 Pony Club Camp.

© Fred Harrop

 

Zen and I spent the next four years learning everything we could at Pony Club. He went from fearing poles on the ground to a successful Pony Club B grade showjumper, thanks to the wonderful support and teaching from Murrumbateman Pony Club.

However, when I was 15, due to my heavy training schedule for triathlon, my sport of choice at the time, Zen was sold to a close friend, who gave him his forever home.

This allowed me to focus on my triathlon and eventually qualify for the 2012 International Triathlon Union World Age Group Championships. However, I was also trying to balance rowing at the time and decided to finish up with my triathlon and instead focus on my rowing. This decision paid off, and in 2013 I represented Australia at the World Rowing Junior Championships in Lithuania.

Following my return to Australia, I suffered from chronic fatigue, which made Year 12 a very difficult year. Once recovered, instead of returning to rowing I decided it was now time to focus on my riding.

Emmaville Sir Reginald (Reggie) was my second horse, who was an OTTB with limited experience. I had always wanted to event, and in my gap year, I was lucky enough to be offered a job working for Niki and Shane Rose at their beautiful property, Bimbadeen Park.

Reggie and I made the move up to Camden, where I lived and worked full time. It was an incredible experience working for such talented riders and alongside extremely experienced grooms. I learnt so much throughout that year, and both Niki and Shane were very generous in making time to give lessons, despite their hectic schedule that started before sun-up and finished well past sunset.