A NEW team is building on the success of the NEGS Equestrian Centre, with aims to further consolidate its reputation as the leading school equestrian facility in the nation. We talk to Equine Director Brett Davey and Equestrian Centre Manager Sally Reed about their roles and vision.
Brett, firstly tell us about where you grew up and your introduction to horses.
I grew up in between Newcastle and Maitland and attended Hunter Valley Grammar School before heading to Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, where I studied exercise science and business.
Since then I have been running my own business in the Hawkesbury region, where I have been teaching, training horses and breaking in horses. I got my first pony at the age of 2 with the influence from my family – mainly Dad, who has been associated with showjumping for many years, including judging at an Olympic Games and officiating at a World Cup Final.
You are also a NCAS Level 1 instructor, a former national young rider dressage champion and have competed and produced horses to Grand Prix dressage level. That’s quite an achievement for someone still in their 20s! What have been particular career highlights?
Brett Davey: I was fortunate enough to be a member of the inaugural National Young Rider Squad and was a member for 8 consecutive years. In that time I was lucky enough to represent Australia throughout the country and in America and NZ.
Winning the Pacific Challenge here in Australia against the best riders from 6 different countries and taking horses to NZ and winning the Trans Tasman trophy against the Kiwis on their soil were pretty exciting times. More recently, having success eventing at all the major international events throughout the country.
I understand you have previously coached school equestrian teams for Abbotsleigh in Sydney and St Stanislaus in Bathurst?
Brett Davey: While I was at university, I was a resident master at Stannies and then fulfilled a similar role to what I am doing here, but on a slightly smaller scale. The past 3 years have been involved with Abbotsleigh at the major interschools events.
Do you think being deputy chair of the Royal Agricultural Society’s Youth Group gives you a particular understanding about how young people view the relevance and importance of country shows and indeed, the Royal Easter Show, and how this might influence the programs you can offer?
Brett Davey: Local agricultural shows have been such an important part of Australia’s culture and helping establish agricultural excellence. As host of the Sydney Royal Easter show, the RAS of NSW has seen the importance of engaging youth to help continue the tradition and importance of local shows and the Easter Show. I think having a good relationship between NEGS and the RAS of NSW will provide many exciting opportunities for both parties.
So what sort of equestrian instruction will be offered at the NEGS Equestrian Centre in 2013, both to NEGS students and those from the general community?
Brett Davey: NEGS will continue to provide instruction in all disciplines, but with the focus being on the 3 Olympic disciplines of dressage, showjumping and eventing. There are a number of coaching clinics in the planning stage across all disciplines, with Australian elite competitors and coaches.
Sally, you have been a rider since childhood. What is it about the NEGS Equestrian Centre that excites you?
I started riding when I was around five years old. I attended the local pony club for a number of years. While I don’t ride competitively, I ride regularly and especially enjoy riding with my two daughters.
The things that excite me about the Equestrian Centre are the fabulous facilities for the school and the local community. Our team is continuing to build a reputation for providing high quality equestrian training for our students and also children and adults from the community. It is very pleasing that we are now organising our second One Day Event – the first attracted over 170 horses and 140 riders to our town.
You’ve spent the last 16 years working in both public and private enterprise in Human Resource Management roles. What came next?
Sally Reed: Yes, that’s right. I have spent many years in Human Resource Management. A large proportion of this was at CSIRO here in Armidale. I have also had my own HR Consulting and Mediation business.
It was always a childhood dream to run a riding school and while it is much different to my previous roles, I am immensely enjoying working here.
Obviously your new role involves the management of this incredible facility. Remind us of the scope of it?
Sally Reed: The facilities are available for hire by the community for both equestrian and non-equestrian events. Part of my role is to develop this further.
The management of the Equestrian Centre involves arranging the day to day lesson requirements and organising both junior and senior school girls to attend competitions, as well as providing lessons for children and adults outside NEGS. Our instructors run twilight show jumping and cross country training on Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week, which is open to all interested riders.
We have over 50 school and privately agisted horses here, so excellent horse management is very important to us.
I guess the next really big event at the centre is the NEGS One Day Event to be held on March 16-17, that is bound to again attract Olympic riders. What other things have you got planned?
Sally Reed: We are very excited about our next event, and we hope to build on the huge success of the first event held in October last year. We were very lucky to have attracted Stuart Tinney and hope to have a number of other previous Olympic riders come to our March event. We will have entertainment and trade stalls once again. We would warmly invite potential sponsors to make contact with us to obtain a sponsorship package.
Of course, the Equestrian Centre is used not just by NEGS but other groups. Who are some of the community groups that use the facility, and how can people learn more about what is available?
Sally Reed: The Equestrian Centre has been used by many other equestrian groups, but also used for the New England Unhoused Ram Sale and a variety of different horse riding clinics. We would be more than happy to discuss the needs of particular community groups should they wish to hire the facility.
Many thanks Brett and Sally.
This article was published in issue 69 of New England Focus