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Reflections from Maree Tomkinson

 
Maree Tomkinson
©Adam Fawcett/www.ozdressage.com
 
By Maree Tomkinson
 
I always thought I had a 'Brady Bunch' childhood. I had lived a charmed life full of health and happiness. Not as privileged as some but far better than others. Sometimes you can take for granted how wonderful your life is, when the difference between a good day and a bad one is the score you get on a dressage test.
 
2013 was a terrible, tragic year for us and such acute trauma fundamentally changes you. Unfortunately there are enough people out there that understand exactly what I am saying. 2014, through all its ups and downs, turned out to be a beautiful, surprising and rewarding year. Nothing will ever be the same as it was, just a little less whole and a little less golden. Despite that, the only thing left for us to do is continue and continue we did.
 
I grew up in New Guinea, in a non-horsey family, and from the moment I could talk all I ever wanted was a horse, and all I ever wanted to do was ride and when I was old enough to understand it, all I wanted was to represent my country riding my horse. A young, naive dream with no real understanding of how that was ever going to happen. You get on that path and with dogged determination and tunnel vision, an unrealistic work ethic, little to no guidance and an iron-will, off I marched… and kept marching for some 40 years. You put everything you have into it, every penny, all your energy, time, dreams and motivation is donated to the cause. Relationships suffer, your body wears out, little thought for the future beyond the next games. 
 
I remember many years ago, after winning Champion Lady rider at Sydney Royal for the fifth or sixth time, already at the ripe old age of 26, I lay on my bed and looked up at the ceiling and thought, so this is it is it? This is my life, as good as it gets? Some years later I wondered if I would feel the same if I ever made it to any of these elusive games. Would I lay on my bed after my six minutes, at 40-something and think all that, my whole life… for that?
 
Maree Tomkinson Maree Tomkinson
©Adam Fawcett/www.ozdressage.com
 
Well, we did make it to those elusive games, and it was tough, ruthless… not what I expected, but now I know. And it was worth it, it was worth every beat of my anxious heart, every lonely hour, every sleepless night, every broken tear. It was worth it because I had a super hero with me all the way reminding me why we do this. The bond, love and trust, between my Diamond girl and I through this tour was a revelation and an unexpected surprise. She is a pretty cool customer, Diamantina, aloof, independent, often not so friendly and not so easy either. But we spent a lot of time together just her and I and we became great friends. She trusted me and relied on me to keep her safe and thank The Lord I managed to do that. She made it home alive and healthy. I would never have forgiven myself if she hadn't.
 
Maree Tomkinson
 
The other thing that made the WEG experience so wonderful, so worth it, was how unbelievably kind and supportive the Australian equestrian community can be. I would read all those beautiful messages with tears rolling down my face in my little room above the pizza shop looking at the old church and just be filled with gratitude and awe at how amazing it was. It was inspiring and uplifting and empowering. It was awesome!
 
Someone sent me a song, Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’. It was beautiful and so perfect on that day, it will always be my WEG song.
 
 Maree Tomkinson
 
We are home now, Summer in Oz and it is slightly broken and perfect. Horses and dogs and family.
 
We start competing again next year. The Boneo Classic is our first one and I am really looking forward to it. With Her Highness and the new ones as well. I love my job!
 
We have ten horses going from TGD with Morgan and Stu and Kody… my kids. They are great, funny and talented.
 
We are only riding horses, not curing cancer or MND, but you have to do something with your days, something to fill in the time until the end and I couldn't think of a better life than this.
 
Working with animals, travelling the country and the world, what amazing places they take us to and the opportunities  we have been able to see and experience through them.
 
It's important to be grateful for the life you have, it's a privilege denied to many.
 
One more day with your eyes open… it's a beautiful world!
 
Merry Christmas, safe travels, love the people close to you.
 
Maree Tomkinson
 
 
For D
 
And I would choose you
In a hundred lifetimes
In a hundred worlds
In any version of reality
I'd find you and I'd choose you
 
Maree Tomkinson. Photo credit David Sinclair www.shootshorses.com.
©David Sinclair www.shootshorses.com

 

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