Podcast Episode 18: Sharon Jarvis - Paralympian Equestrian Medalist

Podcast Episode 18: Sharon Jarvis - Paralympian Equestrian Medalist

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In this podcast, Natasha has the pleasure to speak with Sharon Javis. Sharon is a paralympian equestrian rider, trainer and coach. She has overcome the odds and has a heart warming story of determination and love for horses and riding.

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Full Transcript Expand to full transcript

Natasha (00:02):

So thanks for joining me today. I'm so excited to get to know you better and have this conversation.

Sharon (00:09):

Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Natasha (00:11):

Our pleasure, our pleasure. So I think I'd just like to start with, how did you start with horses? Did you have a Shetland when you were little, did you start later in life? Were you always horse Mad? How did it all kind of evolve?

Sharon (00:26):

Um, yeah. Well I think, well, I feel, I was definitely lucky growing up on a farm. Um, so we come from farm down Southwest of Western Australia, um, where we have a beef cattle and a Apple orchard. So, um, my mum still blamed herself for putting me on a rocking horse age one. She's like, Oh, I should never have done that. You know, like, um, because I come from a non horsey family. So like, yeah, well we have some, a little bit of history. So my dad's, um, father, um, he left school when he was 12 years old and basically rode the mail run, um, around the area and stuff. But, um, yeah, my, and then they had working horses on their property. Um, but my dad, Dad never rode and mum was a city kid. Um, so yeah, but, um, I had, I have a older brother and sister who are six and eight years older than me and they, they liked the idea of getting a horse and, you know, so we had land. So mum and dad, you know, went off and found a horse and honestly how we didn't kill ourselves when we were younger, like we did everything wrong really. Um, and by the time I was, um, turning, turning five, it was safer for my parents to try and buy me a pony rather than had me climb up the legs of my brother and sisters horses. Um, and you know, honestly we were saved by the local pony club, you know, they actually gave us guidance and you know.

Natasha (01:59):

This is how you feed a horse, really?

Sharon (02:03):

Oh, like I looked back in the, you know, I think, Oh my God, the tech we used and, you know, you're like just crazy. Um, and we had, you know, the, so we went to local pony club. Um, back in those days we had the open cattle crate that we used on the farm for transport. And, um, you know, I liked that it made the most amazing memories, you know, one side of the town and the pony club was on the other and, you know, we would stop at the, um, cattle ramp in town and load a few more ponies on the truck and, um, off we'd go. So, um, that was, yeah, how, how I started and, um, amazing memories and went to, I went to a few local competitions, um, and just, yeah, I was seriously bitten by the bug and I'd spend the day at school and then come home and, you know, tie the lead rope from one side of the Holter to the other side, climb up Superman onto my pony. And if my pony moved on, hit the dirt and I'd climb up. Um, yeah, that was, yeah, how it started. And my first pony he was, he was, um, yeah, he's a little bit of a devil every time he cantered he buck, you know, it took me a long time to learn how to sit to a buck and stay on. Yeah. Like, um, yeah, he was 10 .3 hands. He was, uh, a little Australian pony. His Pinto name was Tonka, so there's definitely a Tonka toy and, um, yeah, great memories. So I love it. That was the beginning, the beginning of the end. Yeah.

Natasha (03:51):

And then we, we've got to now, so, um, uh, can you touch on, I'm not at all familiar with the classification and the disability classifications for all that. How does one go about learning that and exploring that?

Sharon (04:07):

Yeah, well, it was definitely a learning phase for me. So come about having, having a disability because of having bone cancer as a child. Um, so, um, I wasn't born with my disability. It was an acquired disability. Um, so yeah, so I was, uh, turning, coming up to my seventh birthday and I was obviously an active kid and, um, I started to limp and complain of a sore leg. And my parents were like, well, you're not the type of kid who would complain. So they took me to the local doctor and the local doctor looked at me and said, she's just got growing pains. So, um, which was, you know, I was only seven years old. Why would I be having growing pains? Um, and my parents weren't really entirely happy with that. So they took me off to see physios and, um, things like chiropractors and nobody could come up with answers. And then, um, so it was just before Christmas and my dad walked into local doctor surgery and said, look, we're not leaving until we get an appointment for a specialist so we can see, you know, what's going on. And so they, um, yeah, got me an appointment for a specialist. So they took me off for an xray, uh, went back to the specialist and they said, um, look, carry her home, pick up, you know, get belongings, take her straight to the hospital. And the bone on x-ray looked like it was going to explode.

Natasha (05:36):

Wow.

Sharon (05:36):

So, um, yeah, they did biopsies and, uh, yeah. Then diagnosed me two days later with having a Ewing sarcoma, bone tumor. So it was a type of, um, is rare, um, cancer and type that would normally affect a teenage boy. So, um, yeah, they told my parents. I had about three months to live and 20% chance of survival.

Natasha (06:05):

Wow.

Sharon (06:06):

So they yeah. Told my parents to take me through the perth of the major children's hospital and not to expect to bring me home again. So that was, um, what started the whole, um, yeah, they did experimental limb surgery, so they limb salvage surgery. Um, they took my case to the head of pediatrics oncology in the U S to work out what to do. Um, first of all, to saved my life. And then secondly, to save my leg because the position of where the tumor was, if they were to amputate, they would have had to taken like from the whole hip. So, um, to then put a prosthetic on that was in those days really difficult. Um, and they wanted to give me the best life possible. So they went down the experimental limb, salvage surgery route, um, which has given I've kept my leg, but it does have limited abilities since then. Um, so yeah, so for me, the worst part was not being able to ride my pony for that year

Natasha (07:14):

And how much did, I mean, you were seven. I can only, I just have full just love and just wow for your parents. Cause I can't, I'm a parent and I can't even fathom how, how to go about doing all of that. If it, you know, a doctor gives me that diagnosis and says, you've got three months, like I just don't even know how I'd begin to process that. And they're so awesome already just fighting for you, like going no, we're not leaving until we get that specialist appointment. And, um, just huge. So in your memory of it was it just, I can't ride my horse. This is awful.

Sharon (07:50):

Yeah. So honestly I have so much admiration for my parents. They actually, what they chose to do was not tell me how sick I was.

Natasha (08:01):

I was going to say that would be my, be like, you're fine.

Sharon (08:07):

So obviously I knew I was sick and I went through chemo and went through radiotherapy. And like the longest time I spent out of hospital for that year was 10 days. So I was like, I knew I was sick, but the, um, the words that were put into my head was, you know, my job was to get well. So that was, you know, I might just keep it your job of getting well, you know, like, so that was, um, I think it was definitely a harder time for my parents, my brother and sister,

Natasha (08:39):

They were a lot older, they would have really understood what was going on a bit more. Yeah.

Sharon (08:42):

Yeah. So they definitely got the harder job. I see, um,

Natasha (08:48):

You were just eating jelly in the hospital.

Sharon (08:53):

It certainly wasn't a pleasant time. Um, but you know, like I remember the water fights in the ward with the syringes and I remember the crazy sock days we would have. And, and I remember attempting to play, skip rope with the line that was hanging out of my chest. Like I remember the races up and down the code or in the wheelchair and things like that. So, um, you know, I, there, there are the good parts that I remember. I mean, I remember the not so nice parts. Um, but yeah, for me, the hardest part was not riding. I mean, mum and dad used to put me on my pony when I got home and it would just lead me around, but it was never the same. So when I got to the end of that year and I went into remission, they allowed me to ride again. Um, and I got back to doing other things. Um, and yeah, so I went back riding and playing netball and, uh, seven months later, nine months later, I then actually suffered a fracture in the place where the tumor had been. Um, and that was then the end, the writing for six years.

Natasha (10:02):

Wow.

Sharon (10:03):

Um, like we end up having complications from that, um, and bone grafts and plates and pins and yeah, the doctors just couldn't risk it, um, and, and said no riding and.

Natasha (10:16):

because it's the fall, like the fall factor.

Sharon (10:19):

Yeah. The fall factor. Um, and they had, you know, like I had would go to every checkup with the list of things. Could I do it? Can I climb trees? Can I do this? Can I do that? And eventually it got down to basically, you know, the only thing that was left on my list is can I ride again? Um, and so to, yeah, like in the end, the doctor just said, I can't say no anymore. You're not going to give up, asking can ride. So he'd put up with me asking for six years. Um, and, and that was that, was it

Natasha (10:55):

Was it a factor because you're growing like, so then everything in that joint and everything is also growing.

Sharon (11:03):

Yes. Yeah, yeah. What I ended up with six centimeters difference between my leg length. Um, so they had to work out how to fix that. And what, what that normally do is kind of like make one leg grow. But instead what they did to me was stopped one leg growing. So, so they stopped the good leg from growing. So they stapled the growth plates.

Natasha (11:30):

Wow.

Sharon (11:31):

So I would have probably been about six centimeters taller than I am now.

Natasha (11:36):

There goes your modeling Career. It was, you know, six foot here you were.

Sharon (11:42):

Yeah. So they did a few, you know, things along the way to yeah. Try and even me up, but pretty, pretty good. Now there's yeah, just a couple of difference. So, um, so yeah, so when I could get back riding again, my poor parents just shuttered at the thought

Natasha (12:02):

I know I'm thinking as a parent, I'm like, I've kept this, my daughter alive. I've got it through everything she's gone through. And now she wants to get on a bloody horse and risk her life.

Sharon (12:14):

Honestly. Yeah. My parents were put through hell, but you know, they, at the same time they'd been so supportive. You know, like in those six years they let me try everything. Like I, I played netball, I played basketball, tennis. I was crap at them all because I couldn't run. But you know, I was out there giving a guide and the local clubs were gorgeous cause they'd include me in the teams. And um, and the only, the only sport I could do during that time, that was, I was good at, um, was swimming, quaint, quench my thirst. I was, I could be competitive in that. Um, you know, so I, I, that definitely saved my competitive spirit.

Natasha (12:58):

Is that a big part of who you are? It's I want to win, I want to win. I want to win.

Sharon (13:04):

I think I not necessarily winning, but just, I just like to be good at something, you know, like, like the things I wanted to be good at, I couldn't do at that time. You know? And, and I think, you know, and teenage kid, you don't know where you fit in my world. Like, so, so having that one thing that I could do and I could be good at it. Yeah. It was, it made my school. I did not enjoy school.

Natasha (13:32):

There was no English or math that you would kind of be

Sharon (13:36):

No, no time whatsoever.

Natasha (13:41):

No, no Nobel prizes for the physics award.

Sharon (13:46):

Nah, he was so come sport. Like that was the thing that I loved. Um, and, and so it was kind of the only time I was ever, like it gets included in things. So, um, when I could get on my pony, I just had this ability to be equal again,

Natasha (14:06):

you could run and be fast and the freedom.

Sharon (14:09):

Yeah. It was just, you know, there was my legs. Um, and so, yeah, and I just, I could ride away from my troubles of the days at school. I wasn't, I wasn't a bad student. Definitely. I was probably a very quiet student. Um, but the, the bullying side of school definitely showed, showed, unfortunately, but this was getting, getting back on. My pony was my way of escaping at all.

Natasha (14:36):

Thank God you had that vehicle to give you Enjoy to give you your center back. Thats really important.

Sharon (14:41):

Yeah, it was just, yeah, I had my legs. So that was, that was it. And there was no stopping me. We had a riding lesson the next week at the local riding school. It went from there. My parents went on holiday and I organized the lease of a local pony.

Natasha (14:56):

Good on you. I will find away

Sharon (15:00):

Definitely find a way. And then, you know, and then my parents supported it and you know, they helped drive me to local pony club and things like that. So they, as much as they didn't want me back riding again, they didn't say no. Yeah.

Natasha (15:16):

Brilliant. So. And are you, you started competing in dressage, just normal dressage.

Sharon (15:23):

Yeah. Yeah. I look, I honestly, I did everything in those early days. They even had me on the games team, um, in pony club. I never did the games where you had to jump off the pony cause I was never very quick at getting back on. Um, and so yeah, I did. Um, I actually, my first love was eventing. Um, loved, loved that, but it frustrated me because I couldn't make my stirrup short enough to go up and do the bigger jumps and the con the concussion on the leg actually just had me in tears, tears most of the time. So, um, so I got frustrated. I couldn't go up the levels that I wanted to go up in that. So then I got the opportunity to sit on a dressage horse that knew some tricks.

Natasha (16:05):

And you were hooked.

Sharon (16:07):

That I was hooked. like honestly.

Natasha (16:09):

What was the trick. Was it, was it P off? Was it a change? What was the trick?

Sharon (16:13):

It was a com. I got to try this one day. Um, my coach at the time, Karen spice put me on her horse and I got to try a flying change. I got to try a half pas, try some half steps. Like, like it was just, I will never forget that day for the rest of my life. Um, the adrenaline rush I got was like, I found what I wanted to do. I'd been doing a bit of showing, um, cause I'd worked out. I could go showing and I could, yeah. I had a bit of success in that and did some Royal shows and um, but then, you know, yeah. Was the next step was finding dressage that was like, Oh my God. Yeah. I found what I want to do. So, um, yeah, I competed, I like, we went and found, um, we thought, okay, we'll find the, you know, advanced school master can teach me something. Can we went and found this freshly broken in three year old? Uh,

Natasha (17:12):

Yep. I'm looking for a grey horse. I got a black one.

Sharon (17:16):

So we got the freshly broken in three year old, but um, yeah. It's so it was actually interesting. So once I started riding again, um, I actually had, I didn't realize that I had this massive fear when I started riding again of falling off.

Natasha (17:30):

Yeah. Understandable.

Sharon (17:34):

Like from the early days going through pony club where I'd literally squeak or squeal, if the pony did something that I didn't want it to do or, you know, then, but then progressing to a big horse, this fear actually reactivated. Um, and so it took me a good long time to actually get over that fear. So I, they had the first three years I had this freshly broken in three year old was definitely a love, hate relationship. Um, I can only imagine driven, driven out of fear and he wasn't even that big, I think it was a 16 or just over 16 hands maybe. Um, but yeah, he, he loved me to the beginnings of a dressage journey and that, and so, um, yeah. And, and then, um, this crazy thing, I had no idea I could read the Paralympics. Like I love the idea of the Paralympics. I'd seen a little bit, you know, um, but I didn't have a full understanding of it and I was at a competition in Perth and um, so when I get on my horse, I get on the wrong side. So I got on the off side. I can't. Yeah.

Natasha (18:44):

Because thats the stronger leg?

Sharon (18:44):

yeah and so, um, someone saw me getting on my horse on the wrong side and um, they said to the person next to him, you know, what's wrong with her? Why, why is she doing that? And they said, Oh, that's Sharon. Um, yeah, her leg doesn't work properly. And um, they said, Oh, I'd like to meet her. So I went and competed and I came back and um, I was walking past my friend said, Oh, um, and Mary would like to see you. And I'm like, yeah, who's Mary. And she's like, go introduce you to Mary. And I met Mary and there was Mary and, and, um, Mary happened to be sitting in a wheelchair.

Natasha (19:23):

Wow.

Sharon (19:24):

She just straight out said to me, have you thought of going to the Paralympics? And, and I looked, I looked at her and I gave her the most evil looks and I could've killed her and buried her six foot under because I was just so like, who the hell do you think you are telling me I have a disability.

Natasha (19:45):

Yes. Yeah. And I could imagine that would be a, because you're such a go getter and you're such a, nothing stops me. Um, that, that kind of mindset is hang on. I, I reject that. Um, but yeah, as you get more into it, it's like, well, hang on. This is kind of cool.

Sharon (20:01):

Yeah. Cause I was just like, and she's like, well, what's wrong with your legs? And I'm like, Oh, it just doesn't work properly. And you know, and she, you know, she was like, well, you know, Beijing's in two years' time. Have you thought? And you know, she said, look, here's my name, here's my number. You know, if, if you want to get involved, let me know. And I can tell you how to go about this. Wow. And, um, honestly, like I went to my friend and I said, Oh, I've been asked about this. And she was like, great. Super went to my coach. And she was just like, I'm glad somebody had approached you about this. Cause I was too scared to approach you about this. Um, yeah. I was suddenly like, Oh, all these other people seeing me as a disability. I, I hadn't really, yeah. Seen it myself. And so, um, yeah, it was crazy. So I got in the car and I drove, you know, the three hours home from the competition. And I actually, I cried the whole way. Like I was just, I, it was just in a sense, just so confronting. But then at the same time I've got, these thoughts are going through my head of, Oh my God, here is my way of representing Australia, doing what I love the country. I love. And like, yeah. So I went home and I said to my, I got home and I said, Oh my God, I've been approached about doing, you know, do I want to do the Paralympics? And um, my parents again, which is brilliant because they just said, look, if you want to, if you want to do it, do it. If you don't want to do it, don't do it

Natasha (21:44):

Easy, do what you want to do.

Sharon (21:48):

Yes. Yes. We'll support you. If you say you want to, we'll support you. If you say you don't want to, you know? Um, so yeah, but what happened the next morning? Oh my God. I, I woke up, it was honestly like this kid on Christmas just had this fire in my belly, this like, is this thing that I could do? Um, yeah. Like, and the whirlwind since then was just nuts. So I don't think it's actually still the most, I've lived the most crazy life since then, honestly. Um, but yeah, so I just, yeah, I rang the lady and, and I saw she actually, her first words were, you're going to tell me you don't want to do it. I actually said, no, tell me more, what do I have to do? Um, so yeah, so the, the parents have this whole classification system, um, and there's five different grades, grade ones, the riders with the most disability grade fives, the riders with the least disability and you have to get classified. Um, so I went for the classification and my words were look, honestly, I don't think I've got enough of a disability to classify. They were my words anyway. Um, and we get to the end of this classification and they're like, yeah, I think,you are grade four.

Natasha (23:15):

Wow.

Sharon (23:16):

And, and I'm like, but that's not even the least. Somehow I've managed to fit it. So absolutely what we found out through this whole process, which was really interesting was that my, my, what we thought was my good leg actually, um, doesn't function correctly. Wow. It comes down to when they're at a hundred percent, when they, when they did the, um, you know, it was obviously affected after they stapled the growth plan. Um, so I was just like, Oh, right, okay. Well, I thought I had at least one good leg. Maybe I've got half a good legs. Um, so yeah, so, and that was how I fit into the great degrade that I do. Um, so yeah, and I just couldn't it. So I went that year and competed at what was then the RDA nationals and was just mind blowing by that experience and picked up a third and a fourth, I think it was. Um, and then that, that got me selected into going to the world championships the next year. Um, and they were held in England at heartbreak and they were separate to all the other disciplines with, we had to go over there and borrow horses like Australia wasn't even taking their own horses. Um, so that was a massive experience. And then we, yeah, so did that and picked up in sixth and eighth place. Wow. If I can do that on a horse, I've riden for a couple of weeks and I just said no. And so, but we had to like, so then the, you know, the decisions came that, you know, the horse that I had, um, uh, wasn't going to go international. And he was at that stage, I still had the horses being the freshly broken in three year olds. Um, and of which we just had an incredible partnership.

New Speaker (25:19):

And, and, you know, as a pair we'd achieved something, I never thought I wouldn't, we, we rode it the, um, nationals for show horse in my rider class, you know, like here I was in a disabled rider, riding in my rider class at national was like, that was just beyond what I'd ever dreamed of doing actually. So, um, yeah, so we had to sell, sell him and, and I'd been breeding a few ponies at home, um, because I had the passion for ponies cause I was too scared to ride big horses. Um, and so we, we sold as many as them as we could. And with the help of my parents and the bank, you know, we, we came up with a budget to, to buy a horse, to, to go to the games on. And that was pretty scary. Um, and we couldn't find anything in Australia and by chance, um, we had, when we were training in England, we had a day off from training and we went into the local town. And so what does Sharon do? She does. She goes and finds the, um, horse and hound magazine and the horse and hand magazine and sits down and has a coffee and fixed through there and finds an ad for a horse for sale. So your had him due to arrive into Australia. So then, you know, we're thinking, okay, we've got to qualify and get selected for Beijing. And the weekend is due to arrive into Australia the EI outbreak hits

Natasha (26:44):

And he gets stuck

Sharon (26:46):

Stuck in month for months in the quarantine, in the UK. So budget got completely blown out of the water. So I'm finally, finally getting back back home to Western Australia the week before Christmas. So,

Natasha (27:06):

and he's not been in work now for a long time.

Sharon (27:10):

Nope. They didn't work for six months. And um, yeah. And, and literally six weeks later was the selection. It was so crazy

Natasha (27:22):

Talking, keep telling me that that was a good ending. Ah

Sharon (27:28):

Yeah. So he arrives into Australia very massive steep learning curve for the horse.

Natasha (27:38):

Can you imagine so you're trying to like do Christmas, but you're like, Oh, I gotta learn how to. For level four. Do you have to walk, trot, Cantor? Like what's the difficulty of this dressage test?

Sharon (27:50):

It's about, it's a weird combination. It's about an elementary level. Um, and your freestyles about a medium level.

Natasha (27:58):

So it has changes in the freestyle. Yeah.

Sharon (28:01):

Has changes in your freestyle. You don't have to, but like, honestly, if you want to be up here, you've got to be there. So yeah. So

Natasha (28:10):

Like, you've got to find buttons.

Sharon (28:13):

I had no idea what I had at all, he, he trained, um, he'd, um, done. He competed up to, into one then, and, and you know, he's half steps there and things like that and no idea what buttons I was pressing.

Natasha (28:28):

And then obviously with the legs, you would use a lot different leg guides and one leg stronger than the other. I'm assuming. So there's a lot to get used to.

Sharon (28:37):

Yeah. Well, the thing that got me when, when I tried him that one ride was, he just said, Oh yeah, I think I know what you mean. Yeah. I think I'll give that.

Natasha (28:49):

Yeah. Good on you. Yeah.

Sharon (28:51):

It was such a character though. He was, Oh my God. Just such a character. So it was kind of controlling learning about the character that do will actually probably the hardest. Um, and so we did this selection competition and they were flying the judges around Australia because what had happened with EI. So they flew the judges all around Australia and um, yeah. And then just, yeah, we, we were selected, it was just quite really crazy. And at the same time.

Natasha (29:19):

So you won the test or came second, like you, you, you are now selected for the Beijing

Sharon (29:26):

For Beijing and you know, we had to make plans. And then in the middle of all this, my, my dad actually suffered a heart attack. Um, and then had a quadruple bypass. Um, and, and a week later I had to be on the road to Victoria to go base, to, to prepare for the games. You know, that was good.

Natasha (29:47):

How old are you at this time?

Sharon (29:49):

Um, what was I? I was 29, 29 and I driven, I'd already driven across Australia.

Natasha (29:58):

Yeah. Because that's where I'm about to go with that.

Sharon (30:03):

Well, uh, I tell you what, like, it adds a whole different perspective to your understanding of how big Australia is.

Natasha (30:11):

Yes. And let's just say for everyone in Europe, the distance is like, it's so many countries of Europe, isn't it from Western, do you know the kilometers?

Sharon (30:23):

Um, it's just on the 4,000 kilometers.

Natasha (30:26):

Right. But it's like dessert like, it's not like there's hotels. Like I don't even know how you do it with fuel. Like there's no fuel, there's no petrol stations. I don't understand. I'm scared.

Sharon (30:41):

I see. I believe everybody should do at least.

Natasha (30:45):

Well, I think you're right. I think it's a good challenge.

Sharon (30:49):

My, my, my dad used to be my co-driver, um, and that, so he would always, he'd always, um, do the trip home with me. Um, and we, I used to borrow my uncle actually at times now I've honestly borrowed everybody. I can possibly find to help drive that drive. Sometimes I've borrowed, friend's husbands,

Natasha (31:10):

Just a random guy

Sharon (31:14):

And people either love it or hate it. It's really interesting

Natasha (31:18):

are you a good singer, I feel you need good fan tracks and good singing.

Sharon (31:24):

I'm so good at singing. I turned the volume up so loud that you can't hear my singing. Um, and yeah, so that was just being involved in that Paralympic experience for the first time was completely mind blowing to me. Um, and it really is like an, um, like, ah, I think it will fifth at first test. Um, so that was cool. It was cool. You know, um,

Natasha (31:57):

did you go there Going for the Gold's mine or were you just happy to be there? You had no idea. Cause obviously the combinations also new and you were just like, whatever we get is whatever we get.

Sharon (32:07):

Yeah. Honestly, you know, it's like a metal would be nice, but I had no idea what I was getting into I've come fifth and my horse, we went, we rode out into the arena for the first time and um, he's literally exploded for like, he's just like, like he's, you know, being a bit, we've probably, I've probably underprepared, you know, you haven't been worked enough and that, and everything else is going on. And so he's kind of been a bit explosive. And I think in that test had, we had a score from, from a two to a nine. It was, that was this. We had an explosion and, and, but then we had amazing work. So, um, come the next test. It was like, right. And we worked really quite hard and um, you know, and then I draw the worst place possible. Nobody wants to draw first and I draw first and the next test. So first out of those blocks and then just.

Natasha (33:08):

So this is the freestyle now with the flying change.

Sharon (33:09):

We've done the team test, this is the individual for a metal. This is a metal. And we go and we perform for what at the time was probably our best test. And then we're getting through the, through the best part of going first is when that sport or scoreboard goes up, it's your name and place first.

Natasha (33:43):

Right? The one is next to my name. It happened.

Sharon (33:46):

Completely. And, and so, um, we, um, and then we get down and then someone else beats me and someone else beats me and me sitting in bronze metal place.

Natasha (33:57):

I'm dying, Im so nervous.

Sharon (33:58):

and I'm the rider. rides. And I'm sitting with my parents in the stands and the last ride, a ride. And we're sitting there on the edge of our seat, waiting for this score to go up. And she just beats me by like 0.8 of abstain or something. And I'm just like, ah,

Natasha (34:18):

I can't believe you watched, I would just be under like, I'd be in bed with the covers over my head. Going just tell me when its over.

Sharon (34:25):

I Love watching. Honestly, if I could watch every test I would love, I know I love watching how other people ride their tests and learn something all the time I really do and.

Natasha (34:39):

so you have come fourth. We have got fifth and now fourth. We're so close. Tell me, give me some good news. What happens in the freestyle?

Sharon (34:48):

Yeah, it wasn't our test suite test, but it was, I think at that time, um, you know, like probably as a bit tired, I was exhausted by the whole situation where we were as a team. Like we did a nice test, but it was that lack of international experience really that probably, you know, we weren't, I think we finished, I think we got seventh, you know, the toptebd, like it's just fine. Don't really complain. You know, I was, I was so static about my fourth place. We definitely put this fire in my belly. Like I wanted that. I wanted that.

Natasha (35:33):

I can only imagine you were very obsessed before now you're on. Tell me what happened for 2012.

Sharon (35:41):

Well, we were have to go through 2010 first.

Natasha (35:43):

Oh, WEG.

Sharon (35:49):

that was the next one was, um, when was the first time that para in 2010 was included in every other sport. So it was all the FEI sports where there in Kentucky. Um, and so it was definitely, it was like, Oh my God, I've got to get her and I've got to go get my medal. Yeah, definitely on that mission. So yeah. So I head back to WA after Beijing and the games and, you know, starting to make plans for what, you know, 2009 is going to look like to lead into 2010. Um, and then just suddenly completely out of the blue. Uh, my dad died and, um, just a heart attack and just, it killed him, killed him in my mom's arms. Um, and my, my world just died like that. Just my dad had been such an incredible supporter. It was completely my rock. He was my, my, um, you know, fuzz on the phone. He, you know, when I ran out of petrol a kilometer from home, because I'd been, you know, going, yeah, I'll make it home without fueling up. And he would come and save me. Um, you know, but he taught me a lot of things. Um, you know, he was like, right, you can do this, but he was also like, you have to work for it. You know, like, and, um, I had this, this one time, um, I'd filled up some water buckets. We had, um, uh, before we got water in our stables, I'd filled up some water buckets and I needed to carry them like 20 meters. And I filled them up to full and I couldn't carry them. And I asked, my dad said, you know, dad, can you carry these water buckets for me? And, um, what he did was he picked up the water bucket. I literally picked it up and tipped it over my head. So I just ended up drenched like, and I'm like, what the hell was that? I was just lucky. It was a hot day. What was that for? And he's like, look, he's like, I'm not always going to be here to do stuff for you. You you've got to work out a way to make things happen, you know? And, and it's a bit of a tough lesson on the day. Cause I was, it was just, you know, it's taught me, taught me everything because, you know, I might, I might be able to do things, but not necessarily most conventional way, but I can make things happen. Um, and so yeah, like definitely, um, had to draw on everything because, you know, then, you know, my mom's just, you know, she's at home on the farm and, and, and my brother is there and you know, my, my dad ran the farm with them and suddenly, you know, we had to work out how to make the farm work without him.

New Speaker (38:38):

Um, and I can remember my brother ringing me one day going, so, you know what cows were getting joined to the new bull. And I'm like, I have no idea. Like dad, dad was a farmer that kept everything, a lot of things in his head. So it's, it's probably taken, you know, the next 10 years for us to really sort out how to run the farm. Um, so yeah, I, I, yeah, I went, yeah. I went to Kentucky, my, my mum flew over and that was a massive experience for her to come and to come by herself. And, um, yeah, like I placed third in the team test and, and that was kind of, I think it probably was when I was like, okay, I am.

Natasha (39:23):

You got a team bronze metal?

Sharon (39:26):

No. So they don't actually award medals for the team test individually. So I had to ride the freestyle and no, sorry, the individual championship test. And like, it was interesting. So I'd gone out in the first test and could be a bit explosive black we'd learnt at Beijing and indeed in a team testy. I know someone said a flash went off behind me and he skipped a beat. And, um, but we've done a fair bit of training with him beforehand. So when we would definitely attain and that, but he was, he knew when to turn it on and it could be a showman and, you know, so you had to keep him a little bit in control. And, um, so we made this plan of, okay, when we go out for the individual tests, all the Ozzies supporters are going to go crazy when I first go in, be like, when I'm going around the outside the arena. So he could have his little, Oh my God, I'm on show. And I could get him a bit under control again anyway. But the problem was, we forgot to tell my mum this. So we come up with this plan in the stables and mum hadn't been in that chat. Um, so she told me this story afterwards is that, um, you know, everybody's gone crazy when I've gone in there, he's gone and exploded a little bit and she's telling her anyway, then she, then she realized that, you know, like everybody was going crazy. So she said, Oh, hang on. This might be a bronze medal was, yeah.

Natasha (41:02):

Like you finally got that metal.

Sharon (41:05):

Got, got that metal is just, yeah, it was just incredible. And seeing that, seeing that Ozzy flag go up, but honestly saying that that flag go up, it was just, yeah.

Natasha (41:20):

And after losing it, being so close with that would have felt amazing.

Sharon (41:26):

It, it did feel amazing. Um, and, and just, yeah, it was, it was a very special, very moment. And it's probably, probably the moment where I really felt, felt my dad was there with me. Like, like just, you know, and it was just definitely watching me. And, and then, and yeah, and then I think it was two days later we had the freestyle and, um, you know, I think because I won one medal, um, you know, I always, I was thinking, God, I was just hungry for another one.

Natasha (42:02):

Did you have in your head that you could beat second and first and you were going to get the first, like, was that your intention in the freestyle or did they were just too hard for you to reach right now?

Sharon (42:14):

No, I don't think so. They were deaf, there are definitely people admire watching and riding. Um, and I, I think it was just about me and what I could do, you know, and if, if I could, if I could beat them, then that was fine, but it was just me and my horse in there. And the freestyle it's really funny. I was riding the freestyle and I thought to myself, geez, it's never worked as good as this. This is good timing. It was just, you know, I was a static about it. Um, and, um, and, and yeah, I came home with another bronze medal, which was just incredible. Yeah. So it's just, yeah, that was, that was coming home. Yeah. From there was, was incredible. Um, two bronze metals, um, Australia, one green metals that year with a Boyd XO gold medal, um, special. So, yeah, so then it was two years to London and, um, so I headed back to Western Australia and, um, planned on going to London. Um, and yeah, unfortunately I had to retire my horse before the final selection competition. So, and it kind of allowed me a year to have a bit of fun, not that the other isn't fun, but just, um, yeah. And I, you know, I actually went and eventing with my stole my niece's pony

Natasha (43:45):

2016 to get a horse ready for that one.

Speaker 2 (43:49):

Yeah. Yeah. So, um, to, um, purchase a horse, um, with the aim of Rio, um, M a found, found a horse, um, in Europe, um, and you know, like I wrote it a couple of times and, and I thought, yeah, this, this horse has the potential, um, to do this. Um, it was really fancy. It fitted within the budget. Um, and yeah, so took, took that opportunity. Um, so we looked at that, uh, December late, 2014, um, and then the horse, I don't know, it must be something to do with importing horses. There was some bland is outbreak and this or that or something. And so the timeline of getting the horse back to Australia certainly changed. Um, and then it got into Australia and was travel six, all these things go on. So six months later, again, I get a horse. Uh, we get the horse back to Western Australia in the, in the may, um, and you know, six months off and, and the horse was a little different to what I'd written in Europe, um, and was definitely again, severe steep learning curve to get used to this horse. Um, so, um, so yeah, so we lead into, um, Rio, um, and July, 2014, I went to my first competition on the horse. Um, we just went out at medium level, went really well, um, and had a couple of wins, which was really nice. Um, and a week later I break my bad leg.

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