The sport of Dressage is gathering fans in Australia and knowledgeable enthusiasts agree that the quality of horses along with the standard of riding and training now puts Australia in a great position to close the gap and step up to match the skills demonstrated by the dominant riders from European countries such as Germany, The Netherlands and newcomers to the international podium – team Britain.
Left Nadia Coghlan
I was delighted to witness the recent Sydney CDI Grand Prix Freestyle performance of ex-pat Victorian, Nadia Coghlan who now resides in the “dressage belt” of NSW where she trains several horses in between her day job.
Nadia rode her newcomer to Grand Prix, the very attractive imported bay gelding Carlyle and cemented herself and Cali as real contenders for WEG next year and even better prospects for the Olympic Games in Rio 2016, given they will have had another 2 years to polish their performance and master a reliable degree of competence at Grand Prix.
Nadia purchased Cali in Germany as a 4 year old and had German based Australian Olympian Kristy Oatley to help with his early training. She says, “Cali showed lots of potential and progressed well in his early training. He competed in at the World Championships for Young Horses in Verden (Germany) in 2005, scoring a very commendable 7.28. He took part at many competitions during the next 12 months and qualified for the 2006 Young Horse Championships as a 6 Year Old. We missed the World Championships, as a horse that qualified in Australia and travelled to Germany was chosen as the Aussie representative. It was disappointing, as we had made this a goal and our scores appeared to be higher.”
“After 4 years in Germany, in 2006 I returned to Australia with Cam and Cali. I would need to write for a week if I were to try and cover the highlights of my stay in Germany, so will not do that now. But I must acknowledge Kristy and Mrs. Rehbein and thank them for helping me to achieve a memorable career highlight when I returned in 2006. Just weeks after landing back home, Cam gave me the best ride at the National Dressage Championships in Sydney, where he won the Grand Prix class. It remains my goal to do it again!” said Nadia with conviction.
Right - Nadia and Northern Campion (Cam) show their legendary Piaffe.
Nadia tells of her rise to Grand Prix with Cali and says, “I guess it was a low time in my career that was the turning point! Last November, after the National Dressage Championships I retired Cam (Northern Campion). It was a difficult decision as he was sound, enjoying his work and still competitive. We had achieved so much together, it was a fairytale! Cam was my pony club horse and in 2002 we went to Germany to train, compete and improve. Kristy Oatley was very supportive and I got the benefit of her many years with one of the world’s best – Karin Rehbein.”
“Even though I returned to Australia with 2 horses, Cam got most of my attention. He is such a gentleman and it was difficult not to consider him my No 1 horse. While I concentrated on competing Cam and improving the Grand Prix movements, it was difficult to give Cali the attention he needed to step up and consolidate. I always felt that he wanted to be No 1 horse, but knew he played second fiddle to Cam!”
Left - Kristy Oatley at the WEG in Aachen Germany 2006.
“When Cam retired, Cali happily moved up to become my No 1 riding horse and he has embraced the role, giving me a feeling that he loves his new found status and knows that he is a clever boy. It is a great feeling to be putting the early misunderstandings and difficulties behind us and enjoying the compliments for a job well done!”
“In Germany I learned that diet is very important for a top level dressage horse and I was pleased to find the feed I was looking for when I returned to Australia. My dad is a vet and always stressed the importance of correct feeding – not too much to make the horses fat, but enough of the necessary nutrients to keep them in peak condition. A careful balance, calculated for each horse and just right to see them reach their potential! He hates me to over-feed and says that fat horses are not healthy and cannot be good athletes! But I like to know that they are getting enough to look good and perform well.”
“I feel that I am fortunate to have such a great group of supporters and consider that the Prydes Team has helped me significantly with Cam and Cali. The feeding regime for Carlyle (Cali) has varied from Cam. Cali is not as quiet and forgiving and I doubt that I would have been able to manage him before Cam helped me to become an effective Grand Prix rider. Cali needs special feeding to keep him healthy and provide all of the minerals and trace elements, but does not fizz him up and make it difficult to keep him attentive and concentrating enough to show the judges his very special talent.”
Right - Nadia at home.
Cali has very expressive movement with distinctive high knee action and active hocks. He is sharp – and now that I can control it, I am loving his power and energy! He felt great in Sydney and I felt that I could just sit there and enjoy what he gave me. It was a “less is more” moment!”
“I must say that Australians are really fortunate to have a comprehensive feed range such as Prydes EasiFeed. We (Nadia and her family) have looked into all feeding options and know that with Prydes EasiFeeds we can tweak the energy, protein and fibre to meet the periods of high demand or the times when the horses are consolidating and not working quite so hard. My parents find Prydes EasiFeed perfect for raising quality youngsters and keeping the brood mares in peak condition.”
Nadia and Carlyle (Cali) finished in the top placings at her recent Grand Prix campaign at the 2013 Sydney CDI 3*, which is one of the most prestigious Grand Prix events in Australia. Nadia said, “I was thrilled to read the lovely comments from the International judges and this has made me realise that I have now achieved my goal to reach Grand Prix with Cali.”
Nadia and Carlyle at the Sydney CDI 3*
Nadia laughed when she added, “It’s funny Berni, it has only taken 9 years to become an “overnight success”, it feels like this, as people did not realize that I had a superstar in the paddock at home! All dressage riders know that it is a long hard road, with many ups and downs along the way. I am very proud to have lived up to the confidence that our supporters have shown and am thrilled with Cali, as he has presented me with many challenges and often caused me to wonder if I would ever get there?”
“I would love to take this opportunity to thank all of our support team, my parents, family and my wonderful fiancé, they have been with me all the way and I really appreciate everything they do for me and the horses. I would also like to thank Prydes EasiFeed for their diet advice, great products and I know that correct feeding and good training and lots of hard work have been the key to our success.”
“Berni, I would like to thank you and Cyberhorse for allowing us to share our story, it makes the achievement a little bit more real and tangible. I look forward to the next few years and hope that we can make it onto an Australian team.”
I wished Nadia all the best with her plans and assured her that we would love to follow her campaign with her stunning Cali.