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BLOG: Mid 50 still going strong

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By: Trish Joyce

This is a blog about my Wesley. Why you may ask ? Well even though I am a biased candidate to express words of how great he is as a father & husband I wanted to share with you how he became the best general horseman I know.

Wes grew up on a dairy farm and his father often expressed his desire for him to fill his shoes. They farmed pigs potatoes and beef cattle as well. Everyone knows the farming lifestyle is never a dull one there is always plenty to do. By the age of five Wes could drive a tractor feed out hay and even ride a horse.

Wes Joyce photo Credit Michelle  Teralto

All his brothers and sisters took a turn in learning how to ride went to pony club while also attending other sports as well. Wesley is quite a good basketball player and footballer. I personally think after observing him for nearly 30 years he is quite a toughie. But riding horses was his most loved passion. After completing all his jobs on farm he still found time to ride sometimes it would mean getting the cows on horseback no time to saddle up , he would venture off bareback at a flat out gallop across the hills.

Many times we rode together in the early days rounding up cattle I was in awe of how he could sit in the middle of the horses back no saddle & grip with his legs, letting the horses head go so he could find his feet on rough terrain. He was more efficient on a horse than on the four wheeler motor bike. Once he went flat out on the motorbike and tipped it over on top of him with the handle bars pressing into his neck – he needed stitches that afternoon but when we returned he mounted the horse and he was off again to finish the task he started.  He always said he felt better on the horse than the bike.

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At the age of 16 he left home to work in Pakenham in a Dealing Stable (buying and selling horses) this is where he really got to experience so many different types of horses. Many bad ones he recalls. This was hard constant work some days he rode up to 30 horses. But he loved it he felt tremendously good about his lifestyle. Wes was doing what he loved most, riding.

Family called so back to the family farm for a short stint at 18 then off overseas to have a taste of the European horse world. Wesley rode for Alwin Schockemoehler , brother of Paul Schockemoehler. Paul was three times European Champion on his best horse Deister. Alwin is by far the best showjumping rider in the family winning many Olympic Gold Medals for Germany  and also attaining the German Championships Title four times plus many more accolades to many to mention here. Franke Sloothaak  was the head rider when Wes was there. He says Franke was just a super star. Franke competed at four Olympic Games – Los Angeles, Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta – for two team gold medals and a bronze, he was third at the Rome World Championships, and World Champion at The Hague in 1994. The cold weather played havoc so Wes returned home for a short stint only to go back again and this time working for Gerhard Wiltfang another Olympic Gold Medallist.

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My point in mentioning all these riders is because they all played a major part in Wesley’s life. The fond memories are embedded forever as the lessons learnt along the way of how to improve his riding and being taught how to get the very best out of even an ordinary horse. Because the really talented ones only come into your life occasionally and when they do can you detect it and then as a rider bring out the very best? This is a special skill that I think Wes does acquire he can produce many different types of horses for himself and others.

Then Wes received a phone call to comeback home as his father fell ill and then a minor setback falling off a showjumper. The horse fell on his ankle in a hole on the ground snapping all the ligaments bone in half. Being the toughie as I mentioned previously he somehow pulled the ankle lower leg toward him, he said it looked better. But then felt quite sick. Many months of rehabilitation his ankle is not a pretty site but it works he can still ride. The doctors said they did not think he would be able to use it properly especially in the riding sense. He cannot push it down to create lower leg. But this did not deter Wes’s passion drive to keep doing what he lives for.

We married about 2 years after this accident and started our own horse riding agistment business. Sarah was born then Tiffany we were all very settled. Wes rode every day breaking training and giving lessons. Eighteen months on Wes was asked to go back to the family farm as his father became ill again. Within 3 months we were all living on the dairy farm Sarah in kindergarten and me milking cows as well. Time for Wes riding became sparse – he was to run the family farm. He now had a young family and the sacrifices rolled in thick and fast.

Funds became tight as they always seem to do in stages of married life. Wes had 1 showjumper named LH Iceberg  his home name was ‘The 4 falter’. Without a doubt he would pull a rail at every show, we did not go to many so when he did compete he never made the jump off for over 3 years. This did not deter the training ‘ Wes rode him religiously every single day. He focused his efforts and time on his girls. He totally brainwashed them – like barracking for Richmond footy club. He would have the ponies saddled so after school they quickly changed and rode while he rode the bike rounding up the milking cows. Wes constructed jumps all over the 350 acres . He even made a state of the art ski ramp & water jump.  I loved watching them from the top of the hill those memories are etched in my mind forever.

After milking he would trek up himself to the arena and again give Sarah & Tiffany lessons show jumping of course. They were mounted on their second ponies by this stage. He provided them with 2 rides each he was so unselfish taking a massive step back on his own hopes for himself. He wanted his girls to ride and ride well. He even educated these ponies some days while they were at school he saddled up the real green naughty ones and took them to work on the farm. Then he would plonk the girls on so they could enjoy a blissful ride.

Back in the day there was no smaller heights in showjumping so the girls could only ride in the show ring. He wanted them to stay keen so he bred & educated show ponies just for his girls. To this day I am still in shock when I think back to him being able to break & train these small feisty riding ponies. Many times he hopped on these ponies at the shows before and after his jumping rounds just to give his daughters a great day out.

He has ridden horses for many other people over the years again because we chose to put money into education. Wes has made many humble sacrifices over many years and finally in the last 5 years it is mostly about Wes riding here at Lals Haven Stud. We are getting closer to being able to just ride – the last few stables will be finished this winter. Constructing a horse property from scratch has been very time consuming and rewarding because again Wes has done it all himself.

Many people who know Wes love his hearty genuine laugh. He is always chatty with a good listening ear. He is genuine as they come what you see is what you get. He tells is how it is no hidden secrets. These traits are what I admire in him and his horsemanship skills are above and beyond the norm. He can do every single task in relation to the horse. I am only here to clean really.

I am so proud to look back and say everything he has he got by himself. He has worked far too hard I think which has worried me a little, now in his mid-50’s still going strong is what I say every day. If you ask him he says he is an athlete’. Losing weight is the hardest battle but Oaks Volta has given him the fire in the belly to crack that one. Never before has he sat on a 6 year old with so much scope’ energy and drive. I so hope it is Wezzy’s turn in life and that it is not to late’ and he can keep going in mind body and soul to fulfil his passion in producing another fine Performance horse.

Oaks Volta is going to definitely be one to watch. We continue with Watch Volta Grow to Watch Volta Go!

Wes is finally living his dream!

 

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