Really great Reynella | An Eventful Life

Really great Reynella

       Megan: Please hose Festy down.................. James: Yes honey

With the year winding down there are only a handful of events left on the eventing calendar and one of these is Reynella in South Australia. I was first exposed to this brilliant little event two years ago and what an event it is. Coming over from Victoria and being more of an observer rather than a first class ‘yes man’ here in SA (Megan must have her demands met throughout any event which leads to my initial response to her demands; ‘Yes honey’) I must say that the SA events are so much fun to be a part of. Maybe I am just happy to be home from England and prefer walking around 15 year old cars and floats, people camping around fire places, dusty sun kissed car parks in comparison to the million dollar rigs, concrete car parks and no camping that the English events offered. All I know is Reynella is a great little event.

      Not a yellow coat in sight................

One of the points I had made (more of an observation) when in England was the lack of presence of FEI officials. After feeling as if some Aussie events were running their own ‘FEI official class’ (yellow vests galore) it was a total shock in England when you realised you were entering a warm up ring, stable area or cool down area with not one yellow vest in sight. One of the first things I picked up on over the weekend was this exact same point; I don’t think I saw one vest, there were no ‘power trips on legs’ with a clipboard wanting some attention by bossing around a nine year old with a 2hh pony... and guess what...? The event ran so smoothly I think they were actually ahead of time. The trot up was announced that many times that the MC was nearly getting angry as the Grand Jury and Vets were ready and waiting with no riders!! Well done Team Reynella.

      Not only rider but also event organiser extraordinaire - Farlie Taylor

You all know just how involved ANYTHING to do with a horse is but you can only imagine what it takes to put on an event such as this. There isn’t any big corporate sponsorship or assistance from the government with our events so we really need to take our false tail and plaits off and hold our hats up for some of the team behind the event. Karen and Farlie you guys are superstars...... what an event!! These girls not only are part of the team organising it all but they are riders as well. Honestly, well done. I have got behind this event in a personal way with my company Logan Floats Australia and my family’s company Deacon Land Rover (how do you spell ‘blatant free plug?’) both getting behind this event. By increasing prize money for everyone, not just the star classes, putting some money towards the maintenance of the grounds and the promise of new sponsors we hope to get some serious new support for this brilliant local event next year.

Megan and KP Irish Empress (Chooch) trot up Aussie style - may be a touch dusty but look at the floral arrangements (they even match Megan's shirt!)

Okay,  now to the horses... The entries were pretty sporadic this year as so much has happened and for many it has been a long, long year. It was great to see our local riders back on home shores including the lovely, the talented and drop dead gorgeous Soon To Be Mrs James Deacon (Megan Jones) who was present with some of her team of young stars, stallions and seniors (aka Chooch, Stout and Festy). Miss Wendy Shaeffer has arrived home after a very long stint on Pommy soil and Wendy was the recipient of some very flashy new rides from a generous (another extremely good example of what the top end of the gene pool has to offer in the opposite sex), Mr Anthony Thomas. For those of you who aren’t aware, Anthony has been one of our top World Cup Show Jumpers for more years than he would like to remember and recently he also started his career as a male model. This career was launched when twice ‘Best Dressed Champion’, Mr James Deacon (aka, me) was knocked off his perch by one..... Anthony Thomas.  Donning a navy suit with a light grey pinstripe, blue shirt and yellow tie Thomas squashed the competition and is eager to defend his title next year. Unfortunately tragedy has struck the Thomas Camp; in his rigorous ‘catwalk’ training early one morning Thomas collided with a fellow model in what was described as a career ending accident. Anthony sustained a shoulder injury but after speaking with him on Sunday, he has his sights firmly set on the Australian 3 Day Event 2** in Adelaide for his comeback. Another young rider who is no stranger to Reynella is Miss Jaimie Stitchell who was also the recipient of a Thomas ride - Jaimie had a great weekend on both the Thomas ride and her own Image Blue Ice.

     Sarah Nipperess is ready to go eventing!

The dressage brought what all Australian dressage days bring; tears and frustration, errors on course, uncharacteristic spooks and movements breaking the hearts of some riders. Some smiles were reported however the standard Australian dressage judging was ever present and I would say that, even though the low presence of officious officials was an improvement, the judging was worse.

 For those of you reading this thinking ‘who is this guy?’ and ‘where does he get off’ I have this to say. I am someone who is very much aware of what it takes to put in the hard work in this sport, dressage, eventing, hunting, polo, tendons, colic, cold mornings, heatwaves, dust and the Werribee mud. It is hard in this sport to be able to afford a horse and it is very hard to keep the planets aligned to get your horse fit, healthy and sound long enough to compete. It is even harder to do a dressage test and be demoralised by yet another low scoring judge. For me, reading some of the judge’s comments in some of the younger grades on the weekend was actually a little embarrassing. Some of the girls were in tears or were on the brink of tears ...does this keep the kids positive? Does this keep them coming back? I think not. For the Wendys, Megans, Shanes and Stuarts out there, fine, comment away..... they have had years to develop thick skin... but I do feel some positive affirmation is required in our junior classes. Don’t get me wrong, no need to inflate scores to keep a kid happy, but surely we can turn around the bad stigma Australian dressage judges have in this country and around the world.

The cross country day saw the crowd gather on top of the hill which would boast one of the best overall views of any cross country track in Australia. Out they came and around they flew. Before long the gathered crowd were all waiting for a little familiar face (I do apologise for reporting a bit too much on one person... what can I say.... I have a vested interest!) “Kirby Park Irish Jester” came out over the PA. Emily, Isabella and I ran up to the top of the hill with cameras at the ready, I wiped away my pre-cross country tears (this is off the record) and prayed my girl and her boy would come home safely. Then they were off.... little Festy’s customary head bob doing what he does best and all as part of his preparation to possibly his last 4* in a few weeks, through the hedges, over the logs, up and down the bank and in and out of the water. Clearly he has lost nothing for the sport he truly loves so much. Reynella is a hilly track and they ate it up, coming home strong and safe as 100 times before. Megan and Jester had finished what could be one of his last events at the top.

      "Just another day at the office" says 19 year old Olympic medallist, Festy (Kirby Park Irish Jester)

Andrew Cooper knocked Megan off her high horse (maybe 15.3hh) to claim victory in the 1* and Pre- Novice - well done Andrew.

The weekend was honestly a blast, everything ran smoothly, the weather held up for its part and really put on a show. To all involved I must say it was a success as clearly measured by the smiles and laughter in the car park. To all the riders who participated, well done on another event under the belt and good luck for the rest of the year.


For full results from the Horseland Reynella Horse Trials CLICK HERE

Thanks to James Deacon for the article and photos. Here are a few more that capture the feel of Reynella

      Bye Bye Reynella - it's been fun