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Posted by Equestrian Australia on 03/06/2024.

Coach of the Month - May 2024

Tasmanian equestrienne Elizabeth (Liz) Booth has devoted much time and passion training to become an EA Level 1 General Coach and contributed to equestrian sport in many areas over a period of 25 years. Equestrian Australia congratulates Liz for being nominated by Equestrian Tasmania and achieving the recognition that comes with the Coach of the Month award for May 2024.  

Equestrian Australia spoke with Liz and she agreed to provide information for this story, she said. “I have been teaching EA members, pony clubs and adult riding clubs as well as coaching my own students for almost 3 decades.  In that time, I have also have managed two riding schools as well as working as a professional trainer and groom. I will go back to where it all started.

“Outback Queensland was my early home and the family moved to the foothills of Mt Tamborine before making the big move to Tasmania. 

“My love of horses came from my great God mother who had ridden all her life and introduced me to the stockhorses and farm ponies at a very young age. I could not get enough of them, I was hooked.  My first two ponies were the Shetland x Welsh crosses Whisky and Fiona and they taught me a great deal. Both ponies preferred to head back to the milking shed much more than leaving home and sometimes they returned without their rider aboard which resulted in a long walk for me. Some of my best memories are riding on the farm from dawn till dusk and as far as the thousand-hectare farm allowed, swimming in rivers, dams and over the hills, going on cattle runs or just general farm riding, a perfect childhood you could say.

Above: Liz enjoying some bush jumping, age 9

“In the 1980’s Queensland was in drought and owning a horse was very expensive. It was a holiday in beautiful Tasmania with its cooler climate and greenery, that impacted my family who came to the realisation that ‘Tassy’ would be the best place to live for a horse-oriented family.  My mother knew that my passion for horses would never fade and being in Tasmania would give us all long-term lifestyle benefits.    

“The many years I spent as a child in pony club and later as the pony club mum of my own children has given me broad insights and experience. I have taken on many roles for committees and realise the importance of giving back to the sport and see equestrian interests as far more than just riding horses.  Many of life’s most valuable lessons are learned from the responsibility of owning and caring for a horse and being an active member of a club.  Young riders learn to work in a team environment, putting the club and other members first and in the era of mobile phones and electronic devices, horse sport and all that goes with it gives young people life skills and values that stay with them forever.

EA asked Liz if there had been any very special horses in her life and she said, “When I think of all the horses I’ve owned, and there have been many, but I can’t say there is an absolute favourite.  However, I will say that they have all taught me valuable lessons in patience, understanding, empathy and to never give up on trying to understand them and work with their individual strengths. I have competed in many disciplines from carriage driving, eventing, jumping, polocrosse and even some rodeo events thrown into the mix and from all of these experiences, the message is that success comes from sound basic training and I focus my teaching on establishing the foundations of classical dressage and horsemanship.

Liz acknowledged that many people have influenced her journey, but particularly mentioned 

the stand outs.  When I was working as head groom and trainer at Hopfield’s Equestrian Centre (now known as Pringle Park), I was encouraged to start my Equestrian Australia coaching accreditation by my boss Brian Connolly. I appreciated his vote of confidence and support as being an accredited coach has opened many doors for me.

“Another significant influencer of my life with horses came from Jose Mendez. I first met Jose when he was a visiting instructor at the riding school where I worked. As a Level 2 Dressage specialist and Coach Educator, Jose had a great deal to offer and I trained with him regularly over seven years. The way Jose approached his training of both horses and riders was inspirational, he is so thorough, kind and compassionate and his lessons made a huge impression. I knew that this was the style of trainer/ instructor that I wanted to be and consider myself lucky to have had him as my mentor, coach and collaborator. I believe that I have been able to pass on Jose’s love of horses and kind approach when teaching my students.

“I have made it a mission to keep learning and broaden my horizons. After finishing an EGALA course in Sydney (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning), I teamed up with a psychologist and worked with my own herd of seven horses implementing a specialised form of horse Psychotherapy. This gave me a new and unique perspective on the relationship between horses and humans and helped me to adapt and appreciate the ever-changing equestrian world.  I see that my role as a coach is to help spread the word about horse welfare and preserving the privilege of working with these wonderful animals in a way that meets ‘best practise’ standards.

EA asked Liz about her current teaching and coaching activities and she explained. “I enjoy teaching at Huon Hoofbeats, it is a family-friendly club with fifty or so members. We teach a broad range of skills from polocrosse to extreme cowboy challenges and my daughter and granddaughter are also members and go regularly, so my family has 3 generations involved with the club.  

“My love for the horse, involvement with EA’s Coaching fraternity and the new Equine Science syllabus for Pony club Australia have all allowed me to meet new people and introduce these programs to younger members.  I get asked a lot to offer advice about becoming an EA Coach and I strongly advise teenagers and their families to find experienced people that inspire them and are aligned with their moral compass. Enthusiasts must make the time to get to know what the successful people in the industry are about, talk to them, watch them teach or ride, go to clinics and ask lots of questions - never be afraid to ask questions!

Liz concluded saying, “It is important for all participants to be kind and respectful, as the organisers (of clubs) always do the best they can and shows/events rely on volunteers. I urge everyone whether as a competitor or parent of a competitor to be kind, courteous, patient and forgiving of human error. The organisers have one goal and that is to run a safe and fun event for everyone - volunteers included.

“I would like to add to the end of my story a big thankyou to Equestrian Australia for this award and acknowledge the role of the EA Coaching Committee and Equestrian Tasmania.  It has been a thrill to be named the Coach of the Month. I will continue to work for the love of horses and those who share my passion – thank you all.

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