Sarah Venamore – NEGS

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Sarah Venamore is the manager of NEGS Equestrian Centre. She shares her excitement about escorting students to Melbourne for ‘Equitana’, the most anticipated biennial equine event of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Tell us about Equitana?

Equitana attracts over 50,000 visitors per event. There are four days of everything equine: Olympic gold medalists, stunt riders, world renowned educators, an elite equine competition program, Australian and international educators, plus over 300 exhibitors, making up the largest equine shopping spree in Australia.

The event will be held at the Melbourne Showground from 18 to 21 November 2010.

How did NEGS become involved with the event?

As the NEGS Equestrian Centre Manager, I have been teaching group lessons for 15 years. I was invited to present my topic entitled, ‘How to teach group lessons’ and to bring with me a range of riders to show how group lessons can be run effectively. I have written two books, ‘The Right Track I and II’ (Excalibur Press). The effectiveness of the exercises from the books will be demonstrated at Equitana.

Eight girls from NEGS will ride for me in the group lessons. The girls range from Year 2 to Year 11, showcasing that a range of ages and standards can be taught effectively in a group lesson. The lessons will show the riders being safe, having fun and learning throughout the session.

Why did Equitana want you to run this display?

Group riding lessons are slowly becoming more popular, as there are only so many hours in the day (and after school). So to teach riders before the light fades (or homework needs to be done, dinner cooked etc.), riders may be interested in sharing a lesson. This makes it cheaper for the riders, as they can share lesson prices. Another reason to ask for the group lesson is that it takes the pressure away from the riders; they have a chance to practice what the coach has suggested without the coach critiquing their every stride, so they can have a break in between coach comments and suggestions.

Riding in a group is a good preparation for competition. It encourages you to ride to the best of your ability, while watching where all the other riders are. The group lessons allow, if not encourage, the rider to continually practice the riding aids. Groups encourage more accurate riding (change of gait at a marker) and therefore discipline of one’s riding.

Group lessons are good training for the horse to work quietly and competently around other horses, and they demand and improve the ability to plan and prepare from all the riders.

When is the team off to Melbourne, and for how long?

The team leaves Monday 15 November, with a two day trip down. They ride in the display sessions on Thursday 18 and Friday 19 November. The girls and horses then have a rest day to work on equine assignment topics, before retuning with the two day trip home on the Monday.

Are you fundraising to help the girls?

We have sent out a letter to ask if anyone is interested in sponsoring, as we are able to have company names on a variety of places eg horse rugs and the arena where the girls are riding (with the opportunity of there being hundreds of spectators). If you are interested in helping in any way, please contact NEGS Equestrian Centre on 6774 8717.

How long have you lived in the region?

Two and a half years. I was living and teaching in the Southern Highlands, prior to becoming the NEGS Equestrian Centre Manager. It’s a little cooler here, but a beautiful place to live.

Where did you learn your teaching skills?

I originally trained in England, where I gained my first teaching qualifications. I then managed an Equestrian Centre in Brisbane, where the majority of my teaching was with group lessons. I have now been the NSW State Pony Club Dressage Coach for 15 years, which involves me teaching group lessons to members around NSW.

What rewards do you gain from teaching?

The enjoyment of seeing a rider have a ‘light bulb’ moment is a wonderful feeling. It’s exciting to see a rider understand a concept and be able to use it by themselves to teach and gain the horse’s confidence.

The ultimate joy of the lessons coming together for a rider to successfully compete is a pleasure to watch, and watching some of my young riders who are now competing at the international levels feels like a ‘proud mum’ moment.

What type of facilities and training does the NEGS Equestrian Centre provide?

The NEGS Equestrian Centre was established in 1972. The facilities include an all weather floodlit indoor arena, an outdoor sand arena, a showjumping arena, a cross-country course, a polocrosse field and approximately 60 acres to ride on, as well as a stable block.

The Equestrian Centre offers riding to the public for children and adults in both individual and group lessons. The centre has school horses trained to medium / advanced dressage and able to jump 1.10m, or a student can bring their own horse for their lessons.

As part of New England Girls’ School, riding tuition is offered to students from Kindergarten to Year 12 – from the basics of learning to ride and care for a horse, a TAFE course for Years 9 and 10 in Performance Horses, to an ATAR course in Primary Industries (Agriculture-Horses) for students in Years 11 and 12.

Students may board their own horse at NEGS, or the Equestrian Centre can provide horses for students to ride.

How successful have the students been?

Our major success this year was being the first school ever to win the NSW State Interschools best junior school and best senior school.

Our riders have been successful in all fields and at every competition this year have not come home without a ribbon, trophy or rug.

We now have a successful group of eventing riders who travel around NSW, regularly winning and placing.

Plans for the future?

NEGS plans to runs several of their own competitions next year for local and interstate riders. We already run vaulting (gymnastics on horseback) competitions, and with the current upgrading of our cross country course, we will run eventing, showjumping and dressage competitions next year.

We are currently undergoing renovations for a livestock precinct, which will give us another indoor venue to hold world cup showjumping competitions.

Thank you Sarah.

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