Podcast Episode 26: Maree Tomkinson | Equestrian Mindset
In this podcast, we speak with Maree Tomkinson. Maree is a household name in the Australian Dressage scene. She's competed internationally on several occasions, including the World Equestrian Games and has claimed many Australian titles. Well known for her partnership with Diamontina, we dive into an insightful chat talking highs and lows.
To keep up with her journey, you can follow Maree on Instagram @tomkinson_group_dressage.
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Thank you for coming along today. I'm so excited to have this conversation.
Good. Yep, me too.
Great. Okay. So let's start with, what, um, when did you first start Riding? And I know at the very start you had a show career. So if you mind telling us the five minutes of the first kind of bit into horses and why you got involved with them in the first place.
Yeah. So I'm the second of four children. My parents are not horse People have never written or had anything to do with horses and neither do my other siblings.
I love it.
Um, I was born in Melbourne, but we went to new Guinea very quickly after that. So I grew up in new Guinea and we came back in, um, ended up living in Bendigo and I got a pony for my seventh birthday. Um, because I think my parents really just wanted to shut me up. I was just nagging, nagging. I wanted a pony, like for six years I wanted a pony. So we ended up getting that. They got me a pony. We lived on a suburban block in Bendigo and, um, yeah, they got me a completely unsuitable pony. And, um, that was the beginning of it. I think they were hoping that I would, you know, that I had to go and do everything on my own and no one would help me and I had to do it the pony every day. And they, they really tried to make it as hard for me as possible. So that to sort of get it out of my system.
Yeah. I love it. And it did not work. So did you do the pony club thing? What then? What did you do once you, you know, we're riding now? What do we do?
Yep, absolutely. I did the pony club thing. Um, I had, so my first pony was called black Bess and she was completely not suitable. I won't go into that, but we had a, um, we lived in this old place in Bendigo, still there, and it had a, uh, eight foot high brick wall around it. And, but, but on one side of the property, the wall was eight foot. But on the other side, it was probably only three or four feet, but it had an eight foot drop. So ladies pony used to run up to this wall and just pitched me over the wall and I would have to run all the way around through the gray backing, get onto the Pony. We couldn't put a saddle on it. Um, so I rode bareback the whole time and it was ridiculous. Really. You just set, you wouldn't do it to your child now. Luckily I'm not dead. We went up, grew up, grew up through the pony club system and, you know, I had a few more unsuitable ponies and eventually got one that was full. Um, my dad used to take me everywhere because my mom couldn't pull a float or whatever. So my dad took me in the early days. And, um, yeah, we went to all the normal gym and did the novelties and the jumping and the everything, all, all everything as you do. And, and back then, there really wasn't much dressage. It was mostly just showing, you know, it was yeah. Nearly every that don't think we even had a, you know, at first the Olympic representative was in 1984. So, so in the eighties there were, there really were no shows. Um, dressage days I'd say most of my generation work, we all started Showing or eventing or something like that, and then moved over to dressage as we go.
Okay. So that makes sense. So you, you want it, did you have it inside of you? You just wanted to be, um, was it the showing the drive because you liked looking perfect and pretty and clean, or was it, I just want to be successful in riding so I'll go there. No?
no, it just evolved that way. Like at pioneer club, I was a completely wild child and just wanted to do the novelties in the jumping and hated the flat work. And it was completely well, undisciplined. You know, I grew up with, um, like I said, not in a horsey family, so completely undisciplined and we rode bareback and, you know, through the creeks and didn't re didn't want to ride in an arena at all, but I went to the wrong. So we lived in bendigo I went to the Maroney show and I won the good hands. Okay. And the lady, the judge, the judge who judged the good hands, she said to my PA cause I was, you know, I was fair up. Um, she said to my pupil, my parents in, from the side of the arena and said to them, your daughter's actually a very good rider. And now that you've won the God hands, if you're going to take her to Melbourne show, you need some help because you can't take her down like this that's God. So that was the start. So then I think Paul quick was what was in Bendigo at the time he was, um, my mom's hair dresser. And so she's gone into having a haircut and said that Marie won the good hands. And this lady said, we can't take her down like this. What does that mean? Paul said right now, here's what we do. We've got to go down to Louie upstart and get you a riding jacket. And we've got to go to Olympic Saturday and get you a saddle and a bridle. We've got to do this, we've got to do that. And he sort of pulled us into line. And so it evolved, it just evolved in into showing that way.
Yeah. And so what's your favorite career moment when it comes to your show career?
To the show horses? Yeah. Um, well I think winning the Gary own when the first time was really, I was only 20 words, I think I was 21 and it was very exciting and, you know, yeah, that, that was pretty amazing. That was fantastic. And I think probably the last thing I won was chaired in Hackett Sydney Royal on earth day. Um, that was the very last thing. And it just happened that champion hack was just before the grand parade. So we did the lap of honor with 60,000 people watching. And that was pretty amazing. That was, that was a pretty, I mean, nowhere that they just say art, that I were there to see the grand pride, but it just happened that we did the lap of honor with the, uh, with all those people watching. So that was, that was pretty amazing.
Yeah. That is huge. And so you were so successful in the show area and achieving everything that I assume you'd set out to achieve and why the shift to dressage you were done. You wanted more.
Yeah, I don't, I've sort of gravitated towards it for a long time. You know, when I was as a hack rider, I, I had gone and had lessons off good on big and we'll scan hosel. And, um, you know, I was always having lessons with Clemens for Margaret MC, but first and then Clemons. So I always gravitated towards dressage people to train with. I wanted to learn, I wanted to ride well, and I liked the training side of things. So I was sort of lucky in that I had that training, uh, Nalco answer was my trainer, of course, when I was a hair rider. Um, and he trained with friends, bring her, I think. So he sort of had that background as well. So I was pretty lucky that I was trained quite well. I had all those good people training me. So that was, that was good. And I think I just, I, you get sucked into the hacking thing cause it's so much fun. Like it's, so it was so much fun going to Royal shows with, you know, everyone will congregating together and it really, it really was very social and a lot of fun. Um, I was about 25 or 26 and I remember winning champion lady rider at Sydney show. And I went back to the hotel room and I lied on the bed and I looked at the ceiling and I would say, this is it, is it, this is my life. This is, this is it. Like I said, I'll, I'm the Gary Allen, when I was 21, I'll work with lucky enough to win. I don't need to list it, but I was lucky enough to win a lot of stuff at a very young age, national horse of BIA. And I think I won champion rider at Sydney, like seven or eight times, you know, how many times do you know? Um, so I just sort of thought I really have to, I can't, I just can't do this for the rest of my life. And I don't take that away from anyone who does do it. I mean, I think I've said I had so much, that's so much fun. I made great friends. It's a real skill to take off the track, thoroughbred, turn it into a show horse and make it perform under those conditions. It's a real skill. Um, and you know, I, back then we were rescuing horses before it was fashionable. So to have a good eye and be able to pick those horses out of the raft and turn them into show horses, it really is a skill, but I loved the training. I loved the riding and I love training and the walk trot and canter, I just, I needed more, I needed to do more. And my show, most of them did do dressage as well. And they did that okay. But you have to be, you know, you have to decide what direction you going into anyway. So I had had a shift of direction and it was very good, was very good.
And, um, it seems this it's, what would you say is the secret to your success? Like even saying, you know, I had show horses and occasionally I did dressage with them, but obviously they weren't built for it. And it seems wherever you put your focus, you need to do it like you do it, do it to such a high degree. Was that, were you amazing at school? Is, is, is that just part of your personality, like, or is it only directed in horses or was it in everything you do?
Um, I think it's in everything I do. Um, I, I wasn't amazing at school, but the things I liked to do, I did well. Um, and considering, considering the fact that I wasn't there much, I did, I did quite well at school. Um, I just know my school for me was something I had to do so that I could finish that and get on with my real life. Yeah. Because I knew, I was wondering, it's very lucky people that knew from a very early age that I was going to ride horses and work with animals for the rest of my life. No matter what anyone else said. I say, now I joked to the, um, to, to my family, into the P the kids I teach. I say, I'm unmanipulatable, I can't, I am unmanipulatable. And sometimes that's good. And sometimes it's not, in some ways it makes you a little bit, sometimes a little bit too rigid and hard to move off your path. Um, but in other ways, it's makes you, you stay on your path. Yeah. So, so in some ways it's good in some ways it's not good, but, you know, I think, um, yeah, I, I, I was good at the things I was good at. And, and, and I guess that's why you head in that direction because you are good at them. And, and I'm very disciplined and I've always been very disciplined of I'm a focused, disciplined person. And I know that that often makes me a hard person to be around for the majority of people that are not very disciplined. I know that it makes me hard to be around sometimes, but it's not something about myself. I don't like.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's really important when you, you look at what you've achieved in your life. And do you think you could have achieved it without discipline?
No. And I mean, like everyone, I think you'll, I look at other people and think they're more disciplined than me and how much more they've achieved and how much more I could have achieved if I, yeah. So I think that's, I think everyone feels like that. I think that, you know, often there are people that come to me for lessons and they say to me, Oh, you know, if a better rider I had my horse. And I say, yeah, but we all think that we all think that don't think that Isabel were done. And everybody thinks that, you know, everybody thinks if I'd had this horse 10 years ago, or if I, you know, everyone thinks that, but that you don't, this is your horse and your journey and what you've got and you know, your horse doesn't actually care.
Yeah. Yeah. He cares about the Oak bucket. Yeah. Okay. So you've made this shift and this decision I'm guessing that is like, now I'm a dressage rider and I'm going to be the best dressage rider I can be. Is that your thinking behind that when you made that decision?
Yes. And, but you know, the goals change that the goals change all the levels of the goalposts change even before you get to them. Sadly, because that makes us never really content. But when I first started riding you know, I wanted to ride preset, George, just ride it know. And I had had a lot of success as a show rider, and I think I didn't want to be a loser. You know, like I didn't, I think I did, I did Sydney Royal in 2002, like we talked about and got champion hack. And then a week a month, a few weeks later, I did my first ever Sydney CDI. And I think I came in second last
and that's a big thing. That's actually played a trumpet. You were still on a horse. You were still in a horse competition and you were a big thing.
Yeah, exactly. We did this, um, Prix St George. And I think he came about 10th, which wasn't too bad. I mean, in hindsight, now coming tenth on a, on a ex show jumper, wasn't too bad. It was really good, but I didn't want to come tenth you know
We're not used to that.
And so then the next day I went out there and I'm like, no, we've got to do it better. And dah, dah, dah, that and came 24th. Yeah. You know? Um, so yeah, it's a huge state learning curve. And I mean, the things that happen along the way, the, the luck, the bad luck and the unfortunate things that happened with horses, it's just heartbreaking. You know, I, I, I had a horse, um, when, just before my brother died, I had a horse taken off me and I changed it from five years old to grand Prix. And the girl and I was really, really upset. I was, I mean, I was in a very bad place anyway, but I was really upset. And the lady who owned the horse, she said to me, for God's sakes, Marie, you're a professional. You should be able to deal with this sort of thing. Right? You don't deal with it. Anyone who trains a horse up to grand Prix, you put your heart and soul into that horse. You have a relationship with your horse on so many levels. Firstly, they're your friend. The horse is your friend. You know, you go out, you spend time with it every day. They, they like you. They rely on you. You care for their, every need, like a baby, like a big baby. You take care of that horse. Like it's your child. So firstly, they're your friends. You love them. Secondly, you create something, you know, it's a creation like a, like a painting or a, you know, you've, you've trained this horse to do this most amazing thing with you, deadly, they're your partner. Without them, you are nothing. You are not a rider or a horse person or anything. When that horse is removed from you. I just personally, again, then there's the financial commitment. You've called bucket loads of money into that horse. And it's now worth a lot of money. So this is the financial loss. And finally, and I say finally, because for me, it comes as the last thing. It's the success that you can have on that horse. That horse is your shop window. It's your shopfront, it's what you, you, your whole business relies on that. It's a fickle business. And if you are not out there having success in the arena, you know, people are going to come to you to learn or to buy a horse or whatever. So anyone who doesn't have a connection with the horse after they've trained it for all those years, anyone who isn't invested in that horse, whether you own it or not, even on some level, you know, it's not your horse. If you are not invested in that horse, You shouldn't do it. Get another job. You shouldn't be in the sport yeah? And a good, a good AFT it's years of work. It's Hmm. You should be invested. Sorry. That's a bit of a Lecture.
No, go on your rant, we can rant wherever we want to. It's awesome. Um, and I think that's, that's, that's a huge, we should try and unpack that a little bit, because as you said, things with horses can go wrong. They can get injured, they can do stupid things. Um, if we don't own them, things can happen. We saw that with Edward Gar, like, so how do you invest, but not invest? Or, or where is that line and how do you manage or navigate that?
Well, I don't, well for me, I look, everyone does it differently. Some people of course, you know, it just becomes about the business and you know, that's, that's their way of doing it and that's okay. Whatever. But for me, I don't want to change it. That is how it is. And I think that's what makes me really good at my job because I really am interested. I'm invested in the people I teach. I'm invested in the horses. I train, I'm invested in my clients. I'm invested, I'm old boots. Um, and, and that leaves you open to get shattered at the same time. You know, you are often, you are shattered by the people you are shattered by the horses. You are shattered by the federal shouldn't be shattered. Um, I think so you choose to live your life on a straight line or with the highs and lows. And I guess inadvertently, I've tried, I've chosen to live it with the highs and lows to continue going down that path. And I know that I'm going to get shattered, but I can't stop getting all in there anyway. And so when the, when you do get shattered on the bit shattered at the moment, you just have to keep going, get up in the morning, ride your horses, stick to the routine, cry through the day, sit on the couch and stare at the window and get up and do it again. And then it'll get better. And each day it gets a bit better than if you'd built shattered. You don't care enough, you should be shattered. You should be shattered. And if you're not a bit shattered, then like I said, don't do it. You're not, you'll never, you'll never, you'll never get there because you've got to be that invested in it. You've got to be that in love with it. You've got to be, you've got to feel that much about it.
I feel if I ask you have you ever worked a day in your life? I feel the answer would be no, I don't feel that you see this is work well.
I do. I don't know. I don't. This is my life and it's a life. It's a lifestyle. And from a very young age, because like I said, I'm surrounded by non horsey people, um, from a very young lady. I mean, you know, when you're going to get a real job, you can't do this for your whole life, blah, blah. This is my real job. This is my life. I don't need. I don't need balance on balance. This is perfect. You know, I've traveled all over the world. I go to the theater. I had a fabulous, wonderful life. I drive trucks and fly planes, and I've been to the most amazing places, all over Australia with the show horses and all over the world with the dressage horses. And I've met, you know, princesses and, um, royalty down to the grooms and everything in between from every country. And I've traveled in the backs of planes and the backs of trucks. And I've slept on the floors of lockers. And I've had a really amazingly interesting, fabulous life. And it is balanced. You know, you don't have to, it is a lifestyle that you live. You know, it's like trying to tell rockstar not to be a rockstar. That's their life, that's their balance. That's what they do. They make music and travel and do concerts and videos. And that's their life apps, and this is our life. And if you want to do it and be successful in it, it's your life. You don't get to stop on the weekend, get to, you know.
And what do you think about that in terms of an Olympic medal? I do believe to be at that high level, there is this life in this commitment, but most people do that to age 30. Their swim is, or their gymnast, or there's a finite period of their time where they do that. Whereas with us, I'm glad and lucky, but it can be a lot longer. Um, how do you feel about that? Do you have a guard? Have you got a time in your head or is this your lifestyle for your lifetime or do you have a period where you go? I know I'll stop at it.
Okay. So I'm going to go one step back because I didn't really answer your other question. There are definitely days when it feels like work. There are definitely times when I get up, when I get up in the morning and think, Oh God, I've got to ride eight horses or whatever, you know? And I'm, there are definitely days that that happens, but that's in anything, you know, I've been doing this, my health for 30 years, seed sets that's in anything, you know, and once you get down and you get on you go and it's no problem, but there are definitely days when you like, not again, like Groundhog day. Um, so as, so the next question there isn't I always used to think that when I finished with diamond, Tina, that would be that I would be finished that I didn't. That was, that was an amazing journey and experience. And watching her while I'm talking to you, she's there walking around the arena here at the moment. Um, so I thought that when she finished, I would have had enough now had she had the proper length of her career. She'd be finished now. Cause she's just turned 18 now. Right. And I stopped, she was stopped because I stopped her because I, because after Rio, I didn't want to do that to her again anymore. That was enough. Yeah. So I stopped that. Um, and then Donna Alaina came along and she's just, she was just the most, um, the polar opposite of diamond, Tina, she so delightful and so easy and just glides through the test. And she's just the most incredibly easy, you know, diamond. Tina, you always went into the arena with your heart in your mouth. You never knew what you were going to get on any given Sunday. Whereas Donna was just so lovely. And this week Donna has retired.
Oh Maree, I am so sorry.
She's got a digital degenerative genetic condition that, um, is not fixable. So yeah, that's right. Not, not even 10 years old anyway. So that's some, you know, that's, that's just the way it is. And when it happens, you think, Oh, you know, what the hell am I doing? Really? What am I doing? Why, why, how, where to from here, I didn't even know how to speak. You just with where to from here, you know, w to start again, now you have to start again. And it's such a long road, and I'm not one of those people who goes and buys FEI horse is not for any other reason than I think that's my hacking background as well. You just try much train them yourself. That's what I like. That's what I like. You know, all those, they get to grand Prix and I'm a little bit bored with it, then, you know, it's okay. They're here. That's great. Um, but you have to wait. I have to wait and just wait, give it a few more days. Give it a few more weeks. Let the time pass, make some other plans, figure out what you're doing next. Don't make the decision now while you strata, just keep hanging in there until you're not shattered, then make a decision.
Yeah. That's, that's huge.
Um, I don't, I don't think, I don't think about it. I'd like my age to finish, but I do. I do. I do. Um, think about like the next horse. Yeah. The next this'll be, this will, this will see me out. This will be enough. Yeah.
I have the, sorry, go ahead. I have diamond Tina's daughter. She's a, uh, she's just turned eight. Now she's an eight year old diamond Teeter totalis and she's a very, very good horse, but a bit like a mother, like, um, I'll, I'll end up going into every competition with my heart and my mouth. Um, and she's very good. And, you know, it'll take me to time, but she'll be a grand Prix horse in a year or so. So, you know, we'll just keep going.
Yeah. That, that is huge. Wow. Okay. Do you mind if we unpack and go back to, um, how, uh, like what happened with Rio, the Olympics? So you, I, I only ever hope to be in the situation of, uh, an opportunity to maybe represent Australia and to be in Europe and going, Oh God, our God, and doing these qualifies. Um, and if you don't mind sharing, how does that whole process go? And, and, and how, like it, to me riding is always this roller coaster. And it seems that when you add the Olympics or something, these it's just the black belt of roller coasters that the high is so steep. And then the low is that stomach churning I'm gonna throw up now.
Yeah. Um, yeah, so sure. I think, you know, you can, you can answer questions in lots of different ways, right? And I can give you a really positive, I can give you a really positive spin on it and do what's the politically correct thing to say. You can sort of tell the truth. The truth is not as pretty, you know, it's just not as pretty. Um, I still believe, and I have to believe this. Otherwise I really might as well just pack up my bags and go trail riding. Um, I still believe that Malcolm, Malcolm, and so used to say this to me when I was, when I was a kid, he used to say to me, in the end, the best horse and rider will come to the fall in the end. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. Maybe it takes a bit of time, but in the end you will good riding will come through. And I tell the young riders that I teach the same thing, learn your craft, learn how to ride. Well, learn how to take care of your, your horse is not sports equipment. Learn how to manage your horse and many to yourselves and learn your craft. And from that people with invest investors, people with a lot of money, people that were good horses, people will see you do a good job and they will give you good horses to ride. They will employ you to ride their horses. Don't think I need a good horse to be seen. I need a good whatever to be seen. You've done it. All you need to do is ride well. We see, we can see, you can see people that ride. Well, yeah. Not, not because you're winning a ribbon that doesn't make you ride well. Yes. Lots of people when ribbons can't ride very well. Yeah. We can see that the owners of the horses, the trainers we see, so just ride well. Yeah. Um, and, and you have to believe that you know, about, about going to the Olympics or whatever, but the international sport is very financial. You know, it just is, it's a very financial, and you hear the, the, you hear the people in the sport part high up in the sport, talk about, you know, this person's good for the sport and that person's good for the sport. It's good to have an American win cause that's good for the sport. And it's good to, you know, we can't just have the Europeans winning all the time where it becomes a European sport, not an international sport. And, you know, they think about the sport as a whole. They don't think about just me and my horse. They think about what's good for the sport as a whole, which is, comes a little bit like
Hugely different some, and that can be sometimes two completely different worlds when you're seeing it from one lens. You're seeing it from another
Very much. And, and you know, that international group of riders is a very small group. You think it's a big group, but it's not at each show. It's exactly the same riders at each competition. So it's a, it's a very small group of riders and judges. The judges are small group and the riders are a small group and, and they all work together. And I don't, I think, you know, for sure the judges are out there, like the riders, they have their own careers, they are seen as a wild card or as, um, you know, a bit left of center or their scores are always out of whack. They won't get asked to judge at the Olympics or weg or Arcon or any of those competitions. So they want to stay in their lanes as well. Yeah. And the ride is the same. They have to stay in their lane. They've got to, they've got to try and ride in, in such a way that is, um, the right at the time. And that can change a little bit too. So, you know, whereas some years ago that it's very hot, expressive horses were, were very fashionable. Now they've completely gone and we must have this very calm, harmonious horses that are in the ring. So you have to be able to adapt and evolve with that as well, as far as getting on a team goes, and this is the same in a lot of countries, it's not unique to our country, that you have to be the right person for the team. It doesn't mean that your, it doesn't mean that they don't like you. It doesn't mean they don't like you. It just means they're that, um, yeah, they th their, their, their team already.
And if you come in from the outside, they don't want you in their team because their team
Mm Hmm. Yeah. Yeah.
And the difference between getting on a team and not getting on a team can be 0.1 of a percent 0.1 of a percent. So it's, it's, I guess you have to be pretty much fed out. You've gotta be so much better to, um, and then you don't have to worry about whether your third or fourth, you know, if you're a number one and you're that much better, then, then you're, it's okay. You know, but again, it's not easy to get that much better. You know, you've got to have a really good horse and a really good trainer and a really good system around you. And you've got to know, you've got to put all your focus into what you have to do and not worry about where's the money coming from. Well, how am I going to get the horse there? Or I can't go to this show because I've got to pay two euros, a kilometer for every kilometer. I put my horse in the truck and that show is so far away. I need to go to this show. That's closer. Even though this show that's closer has got every good rider in the whole world, and I'm not going to have as good a chance of getting a good score as if I go further away, where there are less good riders and are more likely to get a bit score, but I can't afford that.
It's really, it's a really, really complicated and huge. And there are lots of little things that give a extra percentage each or extra half the percentage there, you know, and that's the same, that's the same in any sport. Um, it's the same in any sport, you know, the, the competitions that have had, um, better riders, they can lift you, they can lift your score, or they can make it worse because so many people getting such good scores that they make it worse. So it's a lot, it's like a game of chess and you've got to try to get all the pieces in play, and you've got to have good people behind you, promoting you and supporting you. So, Oh my God, she's such a good riders. And that he's such a good horse. You know, you've got, you've got to, you've got to have that. You've got to have this whole team around you supporting you and promoting you and getting you to the right competitions at the right time. And yeah. Getting all your ducks in a row and just getting it right. Because like I said, the difference between getting on a team and not getting on a team is 0.1 of a percent. It's a blink of an eye. It's a happy mood. One day, it's a good coffee before you test it. It's a little bit tired from a night out. It's the simplest thing, you know, can change the balance.
Everything. Thank you so much. I think you've said that so well. And I think from hearing earlier, when you were saying I'm infested, I'm invested in my clients, I'm invested in my students. I'm invested. If there's someone that's invested in you, like, do you have a coach and a support network that has got you and is like, we've got you and we can help you through that because I can see you. Are that for others?
No, I don't. And it's a massive, um, weakness of mine. No, I don't. And it's a huge weakness of mine and I've, I don't know how to, I don't know how to put that. I don't know how to put that around myself. Um, I've thought about it a lot and I'm very bad at it clearly. And I just don't know how, I just don't know how to do that. That there are a couple of problems. Like I said, one, I'm not from a family of horse people. Um, I'm married really badly, so I didn't marry anyone that can help me in my, um, in what I'm doing. I don't mean that I married a very, very lovely man. Lovely. I love him, but I didn't marry with my career in mind. Yeah. I just, yeah. Um, so I, I do well and, you know, to, to have a coach in Australia and I, we don't really have any, you know, unless you get coached by fellow riders, you don't really, we don't really have someone who can do that. You know, Clemens, like I mentioned earlier, Clemens was very good at that, but he also had his own wife and daughter that he was taking care of him promoting. And what have you. And aside from that, you know, do we have an international standard coach in Australia? That's not out there competing themselves? No, we don't. If we do let me know.
No, I know. And I think something, I meditate on a lot going, okay, hang on. Like, where do you just go talking to Google, um, horse riding coach, and you get a list of 10 and you can pick and choose who fits your personality. And there's just not that availability. And I'm hearing that, that could have been, you know, one of the biggest differences in your journey. If you'd had an and even just what's going on for you now I can hear. And I know, um, cause we know each other a little bit being in the same state, what an inspiration and how beautiful you are for your clients. And you are the dream coach and you're supporting them and you're there for them. And I'm hearing, you know, even what's happened for you this week and I'm like, Oh, someone's, someone's got to have it. Someone's going to catch it and, and, and hold you up when you're having these kinds of times. And then you're cool to go again. And yeah, I don't have an answer. I wish I did, but yeah, it is something to really,
I have, um, I have a couple of owners like lengths or Todd or who owns the other half of diamond, Tina nodes, other half of all her horses. She's a fabulous lady and a great friend. And has been by my side for a very long time. Um, and she's, she's wonderful, but she has three children of her own and a business to run and, and all of that sort of thing. So she's, she's not sort of heads on, on the ground. And she's like me, she grew up in a non horsey family and we just happened to buy this amazing mare and go on this wonderful, dirty. So she, she does everything she can within her, you know, within her limits. Um, and, and I have another owner of the horses. Who's also, um, been, been a fabulous support, but it's not, they're not on the ground. They're not on the ground. Do you know what I mean?
Like if I look at I'm obsessed with studying how people can be successful and how other people can't, and the biggest thing is you don't know what you don't know. You need someone who has gone on that path, who goes, yep. That's where the bear lives. And that don't take that path cause there's something bad. And then you shortcut and suddenly everything becomes quicker and easier because of that mentor. And I think that is a big,
but it's so frustrating. And you would know this Natasha when people don't listen to you though, it is so frustrating. Sometimes I want to say to people, do what I tell you. Just do what I tell you. There is nothing in it for me. This is not about me. This is about you. You can make a whole bunch of other mistakes, but you don't have to make the same ones I've made. So I'm telling you just do it like this. You don't need to trial and error. I've done that for you. You make some other mistakes somewhere else, but you don't need to make this one.
so well said.
Yeah. And sometimes it's very difficult, you know?
Absolutely. As well. Yeah. And I think that's why a lot of people don't mentor and don't coach because they do invest. And then when it's not reciprocated or, or actioned and it's it's because that person's going to have their own math in their own, their own stuff going on. But it is, it's like, well, okay. I, I, it seems I can't make a difference here. And then that person goes away as well. Yeah. It's tricky.
It is hard. I think there are a lot of people out there too who do get burned. And then they've got this feeling where they don't really want to trust anyone else, but somebody, they, you know, there is that, that, that does happen quite a bit. And they, and they come to you already a bit damaged and then they're not quite confident to just take your word for it. And I understand that. I know I was like that, you know, I for sure was like that in the early days as well. So, you know, it's still a little bit, it is hard to know, you know who to trust and who's just trying to flip you a horse.
Absolutely. And I think it's what you said at the very start. You said your unmanipulatable, which I love that word. I don't, is it? I don't know if it's a good way. If it's a real weapon, it's a real word. Now we're making it and you dead fast on manipulatable because you have to be the crazy one that dreams, and you have to be the stupid one that just blindly goes, even though there's no way you could actually do it and you will do it because you're sor, folks. But then as you were, as you are aware there, when do you drop it? There's times where everyone's saying you can't do it and you have to commit and say, I can. And there's other times where you have to go, you're absolutely right. That be really listen to you and put that into it and how to choose those moments. I don't have a strategy for that. I don't know how to, how to go there.
You know what I call that what I call that the key Rogers theory.
Tell me more.
You've got to know when to hold the phone, to know when to walk away, know when to run. Yeah. That's a kenny Rogers theory. And sometimes, especially as you get older, you just know, normally I will hang on to something longer than I should. And I always feel like I would rather hang on to it longer, then quit too early and regret it. So I will hang on to it. I'll sit on that. I will be on this place where I go. I've got to give up here. I'll just go another day. I've got to give up here. I'll go another way I've got to give up here. Just give it one more day. And then eventually the day comes and I go, that's it, I'm done. And literally on that day, I'm done. But I always, I know I have this moment where I'll just sit the fence a little bit and I usually will try a little bit longer than I probably should, but I'm okay with that. Because then when I done, at least then when I'm done, at least I know I'm really done. You know, I really gave it longer than I should have. And I'm done now. I think that come, I tried NT time with things just comes with time and experience. And it's a, it's just a, it's a feeling. And I think sometimes we don't trust our feelings enough. Yeah. Sometimes you just have this discussion and the feet. Yeah. I mean, you know, you have to trust your you'll. You'll feeling a little bit, a little bit more. We get talked out of it or we were told to douse it all. Um, whatever. But you know, somewhere on the inside, if you tap into that, if you really tap into that intuition for want of a better word, um, it will, it will tell you, it will tell you I need. And the hardest part is learning how to trust it. I remember when I was riding Lensar I told the reader, said to me, I had diamond Tina at home. She was a six year old. She was a young horse and Tundra Rita said to me, if you want to go to the Olympics, Marie, this was Beijing. He was a reserve horse. He said, you've just got to forget about the Yahoo. All of a sudden, you got to put all your eggs in one basket.
I need my head. I went, they are in one basket, but they're in the young bosses basket. That's the, that's where my eggs were. That's where they were. And what he said was right. But he had the wrong horse and the wrong horse, but I knew the right horse and the eggs were in her basket. And I had them in that basket, her whole life, like that was, I knew what I had a knew what I needed to do. And I knew I just had to stay with her that saved her, not with all the other people around her, all the, I just had to stay with her. Does that make sense?
And is there anything you would have done? Was there, there would have been so many decisions along the way, like, cause she, she was in Europe. Wasn't like, do I stay in Europe? Do I come home? Do I train with this person? Do I base myself over here? Like, is there any decisions that looking back now with the beautiful, gorgeous gift of hindsight we bought.
we bought her as a four year old and flew back to Australia. And then she went back to Europe because we had AI. So she went back to your five year old and did the world championships as a five year old and a six year old. And then I bought and then EI. So we were there for two and a half years. And then I bought a home after that. And I know when I bought her home, mr. Kaushal said to me, you can not take this horse home, Marie, you cannot take this horse and bury it in Australia and he's right. And that, you know, I try not to lament about it too much. And Lena and I talk about it and, and we know what we know. I know what I know about diamond Tina. I know what happened with her. And I know, I know, I know what I know, but the, the, the general public loved her. The general public could see what she was and they loved her. But the hierarchy, the powers that be whoever the hell they are, you know, we were, I was a hack. I was a hack rider that just lucked on this horse. And, and they made it as hard for her as possible all the way through to Rio. They basically would have put, they didn't, they would, they literally put a drugged horses on the team rather than her. They made it as hard for her as possible. So that was enough.
Yeah. And I can, I can completely understand. I don't know how you kept going. I don't know. I don't. I, and I think as you said, it was because there was the next horse. You didn't have a choice. It's almost like you were going to stop, but you owed it to this next horse to keep going. Is that whether.
well, I did stop after Rio. We did. I bought, I came home and I, that was the diamond. Tina never went to another competition again. That was enough. And I didn't go, I didn't compete for a couple of years. It was just, it was, it was, it was mind blowing to think that f, for whatever reason, you don't even know. I don't even know what the reason was. I don't think they even use a reason, but for whatever reason, you know, it was that you would do that, that anyone would do that. I know. I mean, I've gone into the whole situation a lot and I understand what, what, what went on and what their reasoning was for the whole thing. But it's not a reason it's like saying, you know, the reason I'm sitting here talking to you at the moment is because it's a Thursday, that's not a reason, the word or whatever. That's not a reason, you know, how does that mean? What's the hell does that got to do with anything? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Did you get into breathing techniques? Because they have to be at a level where you have to be able to let it go to move on and we're not taught in school, like how to do that. And I even like, so what I'm saying, was it meditation? How did you move past?
Well, the thing is right. I really love working with the horses and I love the training. So the idea of not going to a competition for two years or whatever, it's free, it frees you, it frees you to try and ride and do what you want to do. And then Donna was it, you know, by the time I went to another competition, she was a grand Prix horse. So I had these really easy kind, well behaved, beautiful Grand Prix to ride every day. Well, who would move that? And I said, I moved away from the Valley and I set up my own place and I just channeled my energies into something else. I just channeled them into training the horses and doing what I enjoy. And it's a little bit what I'm doing now in covid, you know, it's great. It's so nice. I just stay home. And I ride horses and not much has changed in our day. We don't have so many people coming for lessons, of course, and we don't go to competitions, but it's kind of nice that it takes the pressure of competing away. And you can just try. So I, you know, the Rio thing and people, even now people say, Oh, you know, you're good. You'll be able to go. I'm like, Oh, I will never, um, I won't ever be on the team and people think that's being negative or it's being defeatist or bitter or whatever the hell it is. And you know what, maybe it is a little bit all of those things, but it's also just the truth. It's also just the truth. And, and it's the hard truth. It's not the soft truth. You know, it's the hard truth. You've got to be connected to a really influential stable, and you've got to have super good horses some way. Somehow you've got to get super good horses, like super good horses, and you've got to be connected to a really good stable, and you have to be able to travel and compete in Europe and, and do all of that. And you made a really, really powerful, not just a bunch of well-meaning amateurs, you needed powerful and, um, indicated wise experienced in the sport team behind you. And that's, that is what you need. And I'm, I should think I'm lucky that I got to go once, you know, the sport has changed a lot and it's very professional and you really, you know, you think that now who's got, who's going to get on our team and you have Barry Lindo, Christie, um, Simone, you know, they've got massive, massive machines behind the massive machines behind. And I think in, in my way, I think, I think, well, you know what, Marie, you only missed out by one of a percent 0.1%. That's not bad. You're pretty damn close, considering pretty damn close. Yeah. And you have to, you have to be okay with that. Part of it is just being on the carpet tiles, you know, just push, just stay on the coattail, stay on the Kotel, push, push, and wait till one falls off.
And have you ever thought it's always been that thing of Australia. Like if, if, if any Australian wants to make it, you've got to go overseas and you look at what England did and you go, is there a way all of us can come together and, and, and find these coaches that are willing to live here and help us get to that next level and find a wealth of billionaires or, you know, the lottery, I believe the UK uses a lottery, the lottery for the, for the high performance or whatever is cause I'm always, you know, I'm a bit too in the cloud going, there's gotta be a fucking way. That's Oh, I shouldn't swear. But there's gotta be a way there's a way we just can't see it yet. We've got to just keep thinking outside the box to find this way.
There is a, there is a way, but it's tough. It's a little bit, our mentality, you know, being on the EDC has been a really big open up being the AADC has been a real eye opener and there are lots of things that you would wear you could do, but you know, they put a lot of hurdles up in front of you. Um, someone like Terry Snow with his place, for sure. Set up that he could identify the talented riders. He's got the accommodation and it's all, it's all there. He couldn't for sure do that. But we're funny. We're funny, fun. You know, we, we get a little bit of a nose out of joint. If someone takes too much control of the sport. And then, you know, we like to, we like to support the battler that great Aussie battler, you know, like to support the Ozzy bachelor and some of the LG bachelors we want to support. And some of them we just think are idiots and some of the billionaires, we think it's, it's great. And what they're doing is fabulous. And some of the billionaires we don't like at all, we're like money for a very, we're a very odd country. And we couldn't, I think a lot of the European psyche is that they, they have a, like, like I touched on earlier about looking at the sport as a whole. If you look at yourself, everyone has to take care of themselves. Of course, yes. You have to, you have to take care of yourself for sure. But then you also want to take care of your family or you'll keep, and then once your team is in a good place, we also have to consider the community or the broader sport. And then we have to consider our country and finally our planet. Yeah. Very good at that. We kind of stop at me.
I, me lately agree. Yeah. And it's not just horse riders mean toilet paper, disaster. Like it's, it's humanity.
You look at all the gray knives and their attitude is, well, I can't take it with me when I die and I'm just going to spend it and my kids can make their own money. That's just not a, it's not a, it's not a European attitude, you know, it's, it's quiet. Well, each family sits into the next family, each generation sticks into the next generations thing and it's acquired knowledge and acquired wealth. And yeah. Whereas we all seem to be starting a fresh from square one. I don't know. I don't, I don't know the ed. So, you know, I think, I really believe that the first point is a collective change of conscience. That's the first point.
New Speaker (00:58:12):
Yeah. I'm with you. And how do you do it? I'm stuck. Like Abby raise the consciousness Australia or the world. You're just like, Oh, all right. I think I'll just go back to the horse arena and figuring out how to get a shoulder in a little bit better.
Yes. And it's natural to be jealous or envious or, you know, it's natural to think, Oh, I wish I was doing that or have that opportunity or whatever. It's natural to think that, you know,
um, rather than that's the thought now, what am I going to do about it? And, and what can I have to learn about that? And, and yeah. All these other thoughts after that, I.
saw her, um, because my experience was, was very difficult. Um, I, uh, you know, getting on a team and previous to me, highly, highly embarrassed experience was also very difficult. Yeah. Yeah. Um, not again, not because not, not to take it personally or anything just that there already was a team. They were a team and they wanted to keep their team and they didn't necessarily want it. Anyone else in it. Yeah. So nothing not personal. Just an I tried to explain it the same with my team. If I had a team, if I was, if I was going to the Olympics and I had a team of Tyler, Dez, my Morgan Juul, Cody McAvoy, and me and someone else tried to come and take one of my kids spots I'd fight for it. I applied for my kids. Yeah. So I don't, I fought for them to keep their spot with every way in every way I could. Yeah. So I don't, I'm okay with that. I understand. But I think it's really good to see now that they are embracing Simone as part, even though she knew and not part of their team, I think it's really good that they're bracing her. And a little part of me thinks, you know, it would have made my fricking experience so much more pleasant if that had happened to me. But you know what, at least they've clearly learned from that. And they're not going to do that to the next person. Yeah. So that in itself is a good thing. Yeah. It's a really good thing. Yeah. Somehow you've got gotta, you've got to turn it around. Okay. So it wasn't so great for me, but that experience is now going to make it better for the next lot of people.
You know, you an astronomically, amazing woman. I love your tenacity. I love your,
well, I don't know about that, Natasha. I think I have just bright downs and you know, bad diet. Absolutely. Everyone else like, Oh, you know,
yes, you are absolutely human. And that's what I, that's what you know, and you don't try and hide your humanity. You wear your hat and your sleeve, but the tenacity and the strength and the great is something to be admired because not everyone has that. So that is something I really admire about you. So thank you so much. You have some, I'm going to keep talking army, you're not allowed to discount that you are going to take these compliments. You have some amazing people that help you, that sponsor you. If you would mind sharing with us who helps you and how and what their company does and how they help.
Yeah. You do. You've got to have a great team around you. The first, I think the first person that I have to mention is Sam Lang B. She sends my, I would say my green, but she's not really migraines. She my stable manager, my groom, my right hand, man. And not many people know her because she just stays at home and looks after my horses and has been doing so for some years. And Sam is my right hand, man. And I'm very, she's not a sponsor or pause, lots of money and, or buys horses for me or anything like that. But without her, we would be really lost. So Sam Lang beam is my right hand man. And the person I need to thank the most.
I love that.
Aside from that, I have great ideas in, um, playing so toddler and did meet Nicola and, um, the Carol Haynes and, um, SU uh, Victoria and Susan goest, uh, the paper that I, the horses are just fabulous and wonderful and makeup Tompkins and group, and make sure we've got trucks to drive the horses and good surfaces and do all the things that keep us going. So the owners are just fabulous. Um, our sponsors are their stuff. Of course, that have been trading my horses for a very, very long time. Even before I was sponsored by them. We still paid out all our horses on bare stock fee. Um, saddle up, settle up, settle, settle up in, um, coincide park that provide us with all the LBN saddles and all the, well, pretty much anything that we need through, through a sddle rate, um, that we have emphasized if they provide us with the aquacise use that we use nearly every day up to the vineyard in the, have the aquacise on the iceberg, the iceberg to call it wraps, um, that the lady makes specially for us. And that's the after work every day. Yeah. The ice boots are amazing. They go from above the horses, knees above their Hawks all the way down over their seats. So the entire leg is iced. Um, yeah, so they're really good going.
I've never seen nice boots over the knee. Um, so where can they find them? Like, are they for sale?
Well, they might buy this lady called Jill and they have a Facebook page called cool. K w O L I T reps. You are APS. Cool. It reps. And they're very hard to get, because she's just this, just this little lady that makes them, but they've, they're amazing. They, I, if she stops making them every now and again, she says, she's not going to make them anymore. I'm going to cry because, um, yeah, they just, they do the entire length of the leg. They're really fantastic. I think that's it. They all were sponsors. Anyway, if I think of any more, I'll let you know. But I think they they're the main ones. Yeah. Okay. How about satellites? Cool. It reps. Yeah. Good. Okay.
All right. Um, let me just do my finish and then we can chat. Um, thank you so much for spending the time today, Marie. I'm sure so many people we've got so much out of that. And, um, is there any parting advice You have for young writers or any rider that are listening to this? Um, wherever they are in their journey, they're all going to be at different levels and all have different goals, but what, what is a good summary to leave them with?
I think there is no greater life than a life spent with horses. There is no greater life and there are plenty of ups and downs and that'd be it's okay. It's okay to be down. It's okay to be a bad loser. It's no problem being a bad loser that makes you a good winner and that you just have to, you have to ride the way. Yeah. You've just got to go with it. Be down. It's okay. Don't let anyone tell you that. Get up and get going and you should feel better. And you've got to let it go be down, embrace being down because from that, when things are going really well, it's amazing.
I love it. Thank you so much. I'm sure I'm speaking to everyone that is just sending you love and thanks. And, um, I really appreciate it.
Thank you Natasha