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Q & A with Young Rider Steph Spencer

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Angie Richard ©

Steph Spencer, a once strong-minded seven-year-old with stars in her eyes, is forging the dressage career she always dreamed of. Today, the 25-year-old champion relishes competition, honing skills and training under some of our most highly decorated dressage mentors. Here, the West Australian reveals her love of dressage, fond riding memories and receiving those coveted horse cuddles.

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Angie Richard ©


What are your first memories of riding?

As a seven-year-old, telling my mum that I can do it on my own. I remember my first ever event; a leadline competition and Mum insisted on calling the test. I said I knew where I was going because I’d marked it out in the dining room and practiced on foot!

Where are you now?

I’ve been at Hardwick Park with Shanon McKimmie for the past six weeks. Today I’m moving to Mary Hanna's for some boot-camp for my current horse, Redskin. I’m hoping to really crack on and start consolidating the grand prix work with him, just building more strength and confidence in what he’s already doing. And then we’ll compete at the Dressage Festival, Werribee Park.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Mary Hanna. In 2010, I worked for her for two-and-a-half years and that's when I realised; this is what I can do. She had more grand prix horses in her barn than we did in the entire WA. So just the opportunity to sit on those horses and watch them work every day, helping develop the young horses, watching the progress and the steps to get there, I think that was why I was inspired.

What is your most memorable dressage achievement?

In 2012, my grand prix horse Rambo and I won the first ever under-25 Grand Prix in the Sydney CDI. I’ve been quite successful on a few different horses in WA state competitions. Redskin, has won every state championship he’s been in.

What is it about horses that gives you the most joy?

Last weekend, just after the nationals at my very last test, the St George Stars of the Future, I got back to the stables, got off Redskin and walked around to roll up my stirrups. I gave him a pat and he just put his head over me and gave me the biggest cuddle, like, “I did so good, didn’t I?”

How important is comfortable stabling?

Very. It’s important to keep them clean and dust free. I use Horsemate. For a shavings based material, cleaning is easy and quick. I go through about three or four bags a week. Because they’re in plastic, they don’t get wet or blow around. I just keep them in a corner. Sand is easy to use but the horses eat it, and then of course you have all sorts of issues. So I found that peace of mind with Horsemate.

How do you make travelling more comfortable for your horses?

We recently went to Sydney and put Horsemate in the truck. So when they’re standing on the truck for ten hours, they’ve got more shock absorption and they’re happy to have a wee and be comfortable for that whole time.

 

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Angie Richard ©


What do you love about dressage?

I love the challenge and how you can never get 100 percent and I really like the critique and constantly trying to improve. I’d like to get Redskin to grand prix and I’ve got some really nice young horses coming through. I’d like to keep training them and keeping them happy and just do the best that we can do.

By: Kristie Hayden
 

To learn more about Horsemate please visit their website: www.pelletmate.com.au

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