I've been to the dark side

      The Paris Masters


Over this past northern hemisphere winter I was invited to join the dark side… (aka show jumping). And I liked it … I know, shock horror – the eventing vet has been working at pure show jumping competitions and he liked it?

Don’t get me wrong, my heart still lies in a muddy field at the end of a cross country course. There is nothing more satisfying than helping a client’s horse successfully complete a 3-Day and come home safe and sound, but there is something quite nice about putting on a shirt and tie, cracking out the polished RMs and knowing that after a day’s work at a show jumping comp you’ll come home clean, dry and warm.

I’ve been doing some work for the FEI which has been really enjoyable and also quite an eye-opener. The world of elite European show jumping is like nothing else – the money, the prestige and the horse power is amazing. These big indoor European competitions are of a scale and level of poshness I’ve never experienced before. The locations are simply breathtaking and the VIP experience is unmatched.



It all started with one of the strangest and most memorable appointments I’ve been given in the world of equestrian; vetting at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

Never heard of Turkmenistan? Don’t worry, neither had I…

Turkmenistan is a central Asian country bordered by the popular tourist destinations of Iran, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It is one of the most secretive, oppressive and isolated nation states in the world. It’s very hard to put in words what it was like to visit and work in Turkmenistan, but I think the best way to describe it is to say the country is like North Korea if Walt Disney was put in charge. It has all the glitz, glamour and superficial cheerfulness of Disney Land (‘the happiest place on earth’) with all the control and repression of North Korea. It was a surreal experience.




Like most multi-sport games once you are inside the ‘games bubble’ it all feels the same and you are buffered from the ‘real’ country you are working in. But like my time in Rio, I made a big effort to get outside the bubble and experience ‘normal’ Turkmenistan life. It was weirdly fascinating and quite fun.

The actual jumping wasn’t much to write home about, but what the event did do was to reaffirm my faith in the power of sport to break down barriers and unite people together in the purity of competition and sportsmanship. With riders from former Soviet countries like Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan,  Middle Eastern powerhouses of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the war torn nations of Syria and Iran and of course the locals from Turkmenistan; the geo-politics of the competition was complex to say the least.

Seeing Qatari and Saudi riders laughing and joking with each other despite the massive political tensions between their nations was moving, to hear what life is really like inside Syria from an actual Syrian, not from the ABC, was fascinating, and to bond with the Iranian team vet whilst trying to get one of his horses sound enough to compete was surreal, especially when the current American President would have me believe that Iran is a ‘murderous regime’.

Sport transcends all

And to play one’s small role in something bigger is pretty special




I write this blog sitting at my office window looking out on a winter wonderland thanks to the #BeastFromTheEast. For a boy from sub-tropical Brisbane snow covered fields and icicles on the eves of houses is a scene only imagined from books and seen in movies. So to be living and working thru a proper snow filled winter is quite fun.

My colleagues aren’t as enthusiastic about the snow as I am, nor are my clients, but the novelty of snow is still high for me. My thoughts are if it’s going to be -6C outside, it might as well be snowing!




Eventing 2018

Very much like last year, I am living the dream with a whole bunch of eventing cover already booked in my diary. A nice mix of private vet work, whole event cover and some fun FEI appointments await me in 2018 (if the snow ever stops…)

I’m back at all the Bs’ – Badminton, Burghley, Barbury, Bramham, Belton and Blair along with Houghton, Goring Heath and Gatcombe. I’ve also been asked by the FEI to vet out in Poland and in France later in the year. And then there’s the small matter of WEG over in North Carolina. My role at Tryon is yet to be determined as it’s very tricky to get an American veterinary licence, but whatever I’m asked to do I’m sure it will be super fun.


        I’m back at all the Bs’ including Barbury (above) and beautiful Bramham (below)


I’m very excited for a great northern hemisphere summer of eventing ahead of me. I’ll do my best to keep you up to date with all the happenings of the veterinary eventing world a bit better than I did last year.

As always, stay safe out there

Bring you and your horse home safely