Riders are treated equally all around the world

    Gilbert Bockmann, Prue Barrett and Ben Netterfield enjoy some sunshine at Wallaby Hill

It’s only a few weeks ago since we reported on the Elite Squad clinic which took place at the Unicorn Trust Equestrian Centre, England for the British based Australian eventers and now here we are with a slight feeling of déjà vu as we report back on the Elite Squad clinic for the home based riders. The feeling of déjà vu comes from the fact that the riders, horses and location might be different but with the same coaches and the same sort of work being carried out it doesn’t seem to matter what hemisphere you are in as Australian event riders are being helped in a really consistent and progressive way. An Eventful Life caught up with Prue Barrett who attended the clinic in her role as National Performance Director for eventing.

“Being able to have Gilbert Brockmann and Brett Parbery coach our riders on both sides of the worlds is pretty amazing,” admitted Prue. “Regardless of hemisphere we have been able to have a continuity of coaching within the programme which is so good. The riders really enjoy working with Brett and Gilbert and the good thing for me is that they are simply really nice guys to be around. We have also had Tarsha Hammond teaching dressage as well, which is always beneficial and like the other two coaches Tarsha is so easy to get on with.”

   Brett Parbery (above) and Tarsha Hammond (below) work on improving those dressage scores


The clinic took place at Wallaby Hill (indoor school pictured below), in the Southern Highlands of NSW and the always-stunning property of Alex Townsend and Derek Pascoe looked even better thanks to the rain a few weeks ago and then glorious sunshine during the two day clinic.

“It’s wonderful to be at Wallaby Hill because it’s provides the sort of environment that brings everyone together. People tend to come the first morning and stay overnight in preparation for the second day of coaching. Over the two days there is a lot of interaction between riders and coaches and plenty of opportunity for coaches to do video reviews of riders performances at events. The chance for riders to talk to the coaches in a casual way all helps to build a good team environment and our riders respond really well to that environment. It’s good for me in regard to managing the programme to be able to talk to the coaches and fill them in with what the riders have done since the last clinic. That way there is no for these coaches to feel they have to get to know a combination all over again, they can just keep moving forward.”

The riders worked outside on the large dressage arena and came inside to do their jumping work, where Gilbert spent time on exercises using poles before and after the fence before going onto jump a course. It was soon clear after a few minutes of watching riders in the indoor that Gilbert' s focus was completely on the rider he was helping. His voice was quiet and his comments few, which is often the mark of a great coach, but what he said and his manner of saying it obviously made an impact and all the riders finished their session with a smile on their face.

For Prue her year is really about to pick up the pace as she starts collecting lots of frequent flyer points. “Like a lot of the riders here at the clinic I head to Albury next for the CIC and then it’s onto the Trans Tasman in Kihikihi, where we hope to bring back the trophy that often eludes us. From there I will go to Sydney CCI3* at the end of April and that coincides with the Rolex CCI4* in Kentucky. We have five riders at this stage going to America; Kadi Eycamp, Kevin McNab, Clayton Fredericks, Andrew Hoy and Peter Atkins. However Andrew and Peter have double entered for Badminton as well so we’ll just see how that pans out and where they end up going.

From Sydney I go straight to Badminton. Thank goodness they run it over a long weekend so trot up isn’t until Thursday so I will have a little breathing space to get my head around where I am. We had 10 riders entered for Badminton, but two – Catherine Burrell and Emma Dougall didn’t get in on points, so at this stage we have 8 running. Two weeks after Badminton is the CCI3* at Saumur, France and we might see combinations running here that have had problems with Badminton. This will be similar for riders who have had problems with Sydney, who will then chose to run them at Melbourne CCI3*. In the UK we might see quite a bit of double entering just so riders are covered if something goes wrong at the last minute with their first choice of event.

Our selection deadline for the Olympics is 18th June and then you allow a couple of days for appeals and OAC documentation. I understand that 20th June is the official Olympic cut off for nominations so by then we will know exactly who is going to make up our team. The Australian based riders will fly from here on the 4th July and then before we know it will be time for the opening ceremony at London.”

Alex Townsend makes sure lunch is ready for everyone



Isn't that Ben Netterfield, not Stephen Lamb, in the photo with Prue Barrett?

Well spotted Lilian - now fixed up, thank you!