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MacKechnie to make a difference

Horse legs - Shutterstock, no credit needed

 

Equestrian Australia is pleased to welcome popular Scotsman Erik MacKechnie into the fold as its Para-Equestrian High Performance Manager.

He brings a wealth of experience to the role having previously worked for more than a decade in a coaching capacity with the British Para-Equestrian team.

A keen and accomplished national championship standard dressage competitor himself, Erik is passionate about coaching and bringing the best out of riders and horses at the highest level especially at the Paralympics.

“I made a conscious decision to go down the coaching route which gives me a good life. It’s still hard work. Anyone that works in Equestrian and makes a good living is doing a good job,” said Erik.

After a recent move from Scotland to England late last year, he took up the role with Equestrian Australia.“It’s amazing if you take opportunities that come along what can come off the back of it and that’s the way my life has always gone.”

Erik made his first trip to Australia recently to acquaint himself with the country’s elite and upcoming Para riders at the Boneo Classic in Victoria.

During the course of the competition, a compulsory qualifying event for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018, he was able to gauge the standard of horses and riders and begin strategizing and planning towards Tokyo 2020.

“I see a lot of talent but I also see a lot of untapped talent. I see some riders who are actually better than the horses and some horse and rider combinations that I would describe as rough diamonds that need a bit more polish and structure put in place to help them get to the next level,” he said.

“My contract is to deliver two medals for Tokyo and I have made that clear to everyone I have met.”

“WEG is coming up this year and is a whopping benchmark on the way to Tokyo. It would be very easy for me to take my eye off the ball and focus on WEG but that’s not my primary focus. From that point of view Tokyo is not very far away. I need to be doubly proactive from here on in as it is a short run into the Olympics.”

Erik has a focus, determination and air of professionalism that is refreshing and inspiring and says he is looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the role.

“I’m not seeing it as pressure but as a positive challenge.”

“I think I can bring in processes that will make a difference and show in medals and if it doesn’t then if anybody wanted to do an internal audit they would see there are much better processes in place as far as accountability of EA to athletes and athletes to EA.”

Erik says he will initially be focussed on three key elements - the horse, coach and athlete.

“I want to also change the culture and get away from them being referred to as riders, they are athletes.”

Erik’s passion and enthusiasm for the development of Para-Equestrian will help take Australia’s athletes to new and unprecedented levels and he will be pivotal to the success of the team in Tokyo.

“There’s been so many books ridden on equitation but there’s not been any for training Para riders. Part of the appeal for me is that no day is the same. You think you have worked with the majority of riders or disabilities. I remember the first time I worked with a blind rider I was blown away. But the more you work with them you realise they are no different to someone paralysed from the waist down.

There are no better or no worse they are all individuals with their own individual problems. The appeal for me is finding the solutions.”
His next visit to Australia will be in May for the Sydney CDI at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre.

Source: Equestrian Australia (EA) website

 

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