Equestrian Life
The end of an era

Emma Pigeon at State 2© Paul Smith Photography 

© Paul Smith Photography

By Emma Pidgeon

The time has come, a time that seemed such a distant concept when I first started. For me, pony club is finished, I’ve been handed my pen (despite a hearty campaign to give last year riders rugs, just this once!). I won’t be competing in any more state events at Pony Club, that should not be mistaken for ‘I won’t be involved in pony club’ or ‘I won’t give up every spare moment to coach, organise or generally work my butt off for pony club’. Unfortunately for my beautiful fiancé, I will continue to be heavily involved in the organisation that has given me so much.

It was a confronting moment, walking back to the stables after the show jumping round of the State ODE in Maryborough. I was glad to finish with clear cross country and show jumping rounds, adding only a few time penalties to my dressage score (those damn speeding fines). However, the result of the event was fairly irrelevant. Of course a rug (or at least a ribbon) would have been perfect; I was finished. This was my time of quiet reflection. To really look at the people who have given up countless weekends to coach me over the years, to organise events I have ridden at and people who shaped me, by simply being around.

My first ever pony club experience was dancing around the kitchen as Mum told me she had found someone to take my horse to pony club for me. It was just a rally, which I now take completely for granted. I was completely ecstatic. My mum of course was instrumental in my early years in pony club begging, and borrowing (stopping short of theft) to get my horse a lift to pony club.

I won’t make a big list of names, but there are people from, even my very first day at pony club whom I strongly associate with my pony club beginnings. Some are still involved in pony club today as organisers, judges and coaches, in some cases they now have grandkids in the saddle. These people I remember as instructors and as a young rider completely lacked both the ability to thank them properly and to really understand the impact they would have on me.

Emma Pigeon at State © Paul Smith Photography

© Paul Smith Photography

Throughout the years I have travelled many thousands of kilometres in the passenger seat with my mum. I have no doubt that these long hours, coupled with early mornings kept me out of trouble as a teenager. Of course I fought with my mum, but I was never sneaking out to go to parties, because I had to be up at 5am to go to an event. Apparently I was no cup of tea to deal with in the car. Upon arriving in Bundaberg once, mum explained to me that she needed a rest because she had just driven a long way. I questioned why she would need a rest as everyone else had driven just as far that day, “they didn’t do it WITH YOU” was her response.

There are many judges, coaches and organisers who I have looked up to and taught me tips and tricks over the years. No one has been as influential as my current chief-instructor Tracey Camilleri. Tracey has had a mentoring role in my life since I was about 14, sometimes subtly, other times, well, she can’t always be subtle. She has kept me moving in the right direction, as a rider, as an organiser, as a person.

From a non-philosophical point of view, my week at State was mostly smooth sailing. Arthur was pretty tense for the first few tests and I struggled to keep a lid on it. However really came into a league of his own for the eventing. Arthur really impressed me with a nice calm test (FINALLY), following that up with one of the best cross country runs of my life, and finished off with a clear show jumping. Unfortunately, all my gallop training really paid off and I finished up with 4 time penalties for being too fast. I dropped from 5th to 8th place, finishing just a few placings outside the ribbons. The cross country has inspired me to jump up to the next grade to have a last run up at Herbert River in a few weeks before Arthur moves on to a new young rider.

I will surely keep you updated on Arthur’s first Prelim cross country run, as well as the progress of the ‘bay ponies’ (the bay ponies being Kate and Jay, my young horses coming up to replace the old boy).


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© copyright. Equestrian Life. Monday, 6 April 2020