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Saddle up

Hardwicke1_PPMany years ago, Dr Chris Hardwicke of Corinna Dental Group in Woden, ACT, decided to ride a horse. His life was never the same again

“My interest in horses began 24 years ago. My three daughters were very young at the time and my wife thought that it would be a good idea for the girls to learn to ride. I began to take them to riding lessons on Sunday mornings but, as a city slicker, I would just read the newspaper and have a coffee.

“One of the trainers said to me, ‘You should give this a go; you’ll enjoy it’, and before I knew it, it had taken over my life. It was a really good thing to do with my girls. We had fun, spent time together and were seriously competitive against each other.

“I acquired one horse, then two horses, then the numbers grew. Everything else followed—the property, the four-wheel-drive, the trailer, more horses. It just kept escalating.

“The girls were competing in the show ring while I was involved in both the show ring and as an eventer, competing in dressage, show jumping and cross-country. The commitment continued and I started my coaching accreditation. I am currently an NCAS (National Coaching Accreditation Scheme) level-two coach—teaching in all disciplines. From there I became a coach educator training other coaches, a workplace assessor and national assessor. At present I am one of the five appointed national committee members responsible for equestrian coaching with Equestrian Australia. If I’m not coaching or riding, I’m often out there judging.

“I’m also heavily involved in breeding horses and have some cute youngsters on the ground. I have two beautiful dressage horses and a very talented show jumper in work. I also have a couple of old eventers that carried me safely for years. They are enjoying their retirement on my property now.

“One of my horses, Meeandah Zebedee, is currently being ridden by a young blind teenager. They have been working on their dressage and she has recently started show jumping. That’s incredibly brave! I’m very proud that my horse does such a good job for her and retains the training he received growing up with us. The rider is a definite candidate for the Paralympics.

“My involvement in the equestrian world is a huge commitment of time, energy and finances but it’s one of the greatest joys of my life. It’s a privilege to be able to work and relax with these animals. They have given me so much in return.”

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