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Posted by Equestrian Australia on 09/10/2023.
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Interschool Nationals 2023 - a resounding success

By Berni Saunders

Driving into the Werribee Park National Equestrian Centre gave competitors, their families and horse sport enthusiasts a wonderful feeling of inclusion and camaraderie, with every state of Australia represented in the welcome banners and the involvement of the main name sponsor, Marcus Oldham College on show. This display acknowledged the event as a truly national showcase of equestrian sport in Australian schools and paid homage to the role of structured competition in the development of future equine professionals and competitors. Riders representing every state and territory across four different disciplines joined in the fun.

Werribee Park was transformed into a “pop up” equestrian village to accommodate almost 500 competitors, their families and support crews and stabling for around 600 horses that came together in celebration of the special place that equestrian sport holds for many school age children and teenagers. The enormity of the event could be gauged by the number of camp sites, portable stables, horse transports and cars that stretched as far as the eye could see, it was great to take in the atmosphere and wander the trade stands and food stalls that made for a wonderful five days of competition. The weather gods were very kind for the first three days, but Melbourne turned on some of its infamous Springtime extremes and for the final two days everyone had to cope with grey skies, wind and rain, but nothing dampened the spirits of the riders and their teams.

The Interschools competition structure provides a platform to foster equestrian sport for young riders and encourage grassroots participation.  Interschool committees around Australia work hard to conduct qualifying events that bring the best riders forward to take part at the Australian Championships making this event a must for young riders who participate in equestrian sport as a part of their school’s curriculum. 

The first equestrian competition for high school children took place at Pine Lodge in Queensland in 1984. Harry Le Bherz OAM was the first president of the committee in its original QISEA structure. Harry was passionate about all equestrian sports and as a FEI Official and a selector of Australian gold medal- winning Eventing Teams, he believed that youth development was an important part of securing a future for all of the equestrian disciplines. 

In 2005 Australian Olympian Gillian Rolton met with Harry Le Bherz and the first national planning meeting took place to establish The Australian National Inter-School Competition and the first event was held in Toowoomba and was hosted by Equestrian Queensland. This level of competition continues to this day and the talents of young riders who have qualified at competitions run through their states Interschool structure are showcased annually at the Australian Interschool Championships. 

The Equestrian Victoria Team hosted and managed the 2023 event with the support of countless others and volunteers. EV is especially grateful for the Discipline Coordinators that kept everything running smoothly, specifically, Kerry Pursell for Eventing, Helen Ashby for Jumping, Deb McNichol for Dressage, and Susan Bufton for Show Horse.

Equestrian Australia congratulates the Organising Committee for their effort to bring a memorable event with many career milestones achieved by successful combinations.  It must be noted that horse sport in the junior and intermediate ranks records age related achievements that chart progress and provide a measure for the development of skills and experience.  Many Interschool competitors have gone on to hold important and influential positions in equestrian sport.

Amy Slayter said, “We want to extend a huge congratulations to all the participants.  We are especially grateful to the Sponsors and Traders who helped support the competition.  We were especially impressed by the energy, sportsmanship, and community that the participants brought to the competition.”

Equestrian Australia caught up with Marcus Oldham College’s Director Equine Business Management, James Lang (MBA, BAgrS) and he said, “The College enjoys a well-deserved reputation for supporting students of Agriculture, Agribusiness and Equine Business Management.  Equestrian sport is a key focus for the college and our curriculum gives future equine professionals the knowledge and training to ensure that they can carve out a career with horses either as a rider, trainer or coach and many of our students go on to work in managerial roles within the diverse Australian equine industry.”

James added, “Marcus Oldham College is known as an innovator in career development and the focus of the College is ensuring that students have been given accurate and realistic career guidance and will complete their studies with the skills and experience to enable them to establish a career that suits their talent, temperament and future ambitions.”

The success of the 2023 Marcus Oldham Australian Interschool Championships has made the event a highlight on the national events calendar and this is sure to motivate and inspire participation into the future.

Thanks to Event Secretary for the taking entries and providing live streamed results, this service is valued by competitors and enthusiasts alike.  Now, schools all over Australia will be preparing for representation at the 2024 event. See you there!

For more information about the event can be found HERE.

Results HERE



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