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Posted by Equestrian Australia on 17/09/2015.
Catherine with one of her home-bred horses
Photo credit Horsemoves

COACH OF THE MONTH Catherine Davies

COACH OF THE MONTH is a new series in our Evolve News. It is a way of highlighting the EA coaches and educators who work with dedication and passion all over Australia.

Catherine Davies is an accredited EA Level 3 General Coach, Level 2 Dressage Specialist Coach and Level 2 Eventing Specialist Coach. She is also an EA Coach Educator. Based in Romsey, Victoria, Catherine coaches riders of all levels in all disciplines, works with trainee coaches as a Coach Educator as well as training and competing her own horses. 

"I think all coaching is rewarding and fulfilling in so many ways. I have had influence in my own riding from so many different coaches, both local and international, and I always take something from everyone, both positive and negative. I have learned a lot about communication skills from many varied coaches, again both positive and negative. I also really enjoy coach educating, as it makes me reflect on my own coaching a lot more, plus there is always something to learn from the trainee coach candidates. Coaching a 3* rider and honing their skills can be just as rewarding as teaching a Level 5 adult rider… this is what is so enjoyable about coaching, as there are never two lessons the same! I really like finding new ways to express information, especially to riders who have difficulty feeling certain things."

Catherine discovered horses when she was only 4 years old. Her step-sister got a horse, and with this horse came a very green Welsh pony mare as a package deal. "Quickly it was realised that this mare was unsuitable for a 4 yo beginner who mainly wanted to brush it and pick out its feet!" A more suitable pony was sourced and that was the beginning of a passion for the young girl. "My first real horse was still a pony cross, but managed to take me around my first 3DE at Naracoorte Young Rider Championships when I was 14. He was 15.2hh, tough and strong and managed to complete this event which in those days was at Intermediate (2*) standard…needless to say my parents both suffered heart-failure while walking the cross country!"

"I always had the aim of coaching being my part-time job while I was at Uni, so I progressed through my Level 1 (through the old system) while I was in Year 12 and completed it when I was 18. I was very lucky to have an amazing mentor and coach, Jill Schwartz (EA/NCAS Level 2 and CE), who introduced me to a very classical way of teaching and training and set a high standard which I still aim to achieve. From the age of about 10 I rode in every training day and coaching exam that Jill had anything to do with, and I’m sure that this set me up for my own coaching career, as what I learned from a young age being involved in the EA/NCAS system has certainly stuck with me! I did my Level 2 in 2006, again through the old system. This was difficult while I was still commuting back and forth from Tasmania to compete, plus I was still doing Uni part-time by distance education. In 2013 I did my Level 3, and I think I am the youngest Level 3 in the country."

Catherine is a keen instructor and enjoys teaching horses and riders and seeing them learn and improve. "It is my goal to produce educated riders with good feel and empathy for their horse. I very much teach to the training scale, whether coaching Dressage or Jumping and even with younger riders. If they can learn the importance of the training scale from an early age, then it becomes second nature and they will never cut any corners ! This was drilled into me from a young age, and I really appreciate the fact that it was. My horses have always been eventers that do a lot of dressage (one of my 4* horses even had a couple of Prix St Georges starts). I am very keen on establishing the basics on the flat before adding Jumping to the equation. People are becoming more aware of the importance of Dressage training and how it influences their Jumping, but it is still something I find I have to go back to with many riders."

Catherine owns and operates Queen's Park Equestrian which was established by Catherine and her mother Laura Hedberg in 1997. Originally called Churchill Equine, the business was based in Tasmania and Catherine and her horses commuted back and forth to the mainland to compete. In late 2006 Catherine Purchased Queen's Park in Romsey, and became a permanent Victorian resident. Initally a bare block, Queen's Park has been developed into an equestrian facility. "My business is the base for my coaching and also where I train my own horses (mostly now home-bred prospects)". The property was named Queen's Park after her first 4* eventer Queen's Consort. 

Catherine has been coaching, taking horses for schooling and competition, selling horses for clients etc. but now a new project will start for her in a few month, having completed a Bachelor of Teaching (Secondary). "I will be spending a little less time on the arena and will be appreciating a warm classroom during winter!" says the new teacher. "While I was completing this degree, I was mainly coaching, including private clients of all levels and ages, Pony Clubs, Adult Riding Clubs and a regular clinic in Tasmania. Next year when I start my new job, I will be sharing the equestrian journey with as many riders as time allows, as well as competing my home-bred horses."

Catherine was nominated as EA Coach of the Month by Equestrian Victoria. 

"This was on Queen’s Consort, my first 4* horse, who I produced myself from a 3yo off the track. I was only 12 years old when we bought him" Photo credit : Julie Wilson

Related articles : 

16/07/2015 : Coach of the Month Lydia Jackson

15/06/2015 : Coach of the Month Rebecca Thomas

15/05/2015 : Coach of the Month Tamsin Adcock

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