Podcast Episode 41: Gary Lung | Passion for Coaching
In this podcast, we speak with Gary Lung. Gary is a successful Australian Grand Prix competitor, coach and trainer. Having trained with Steffen and Shannon Peters, Gary quickly developed his horsemanship skills and knowledge. With a positive attitude and no stranger to hard work, Gary is the founder of Windhill Dressage Stables and now dedicates his time to training, coaching, clinics.
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Welcome to this Your Riding Success episode with Gary Lang. Gary started riding at the age of nine years old in Papua New Guinea, before venturing to Australia many years later. Gary has competed across a range of disciplines in his lifetime, and this has helped shape Gary's horsemanship skills and knowledge. Gary had made it many Dressage squads in his journey with GB Winchester and has also trained with the Olympian Steffen Peters in the U S. Gary is the founder of Windhill dressage stables, and now dedicates his time to training, coaching, and clinics. Professional riders and trainers commend Gary's professionalism, knowledge and positive attitude. Here's Gary to share his story.
Welcome to the Your Riding Success podcast. My name is Natasha Althoff and I'm a Grand Prix dressage rider from Australia, author of three books, and a leading online trainer of riders wanting to take their riding to the next level. I'm also a shopaholic mother of two amazing children and obsesses with helping riders to be all they can be. Each week I'm going to bring in new stories of inspiration, ideas, and strategies of how to make real progress in your riding and give you actionable advice on overcoming riding fear and anxiety so you can take your riding to the next level and be the rider you dream to be. So let's get into today's episode. Thanks so much for joining me today, Gary, I'm super pumped to chat.
Welcome. Nice to be here.
Awesome. All right, so I'd love to know how horses started for you. What, what got you into horses? Were you a horse, mad boy, you were just like horses, horses, horses, or how did it all start?
It started. I grew up in Papua New Guinea, and I remember going to one of the local horse shows. It was actually the annual horse show the year. And I remember going there and seeing a bunch of kids riding and I thought to myself, well, that looks kind of fun. And I remember asking one of the kids, you know, how do you ride a horse? What do you do? How do you get into it? And I remember he said to me, horses are very expensive. And I think back then it was $150 to buy a horse. Well, I need to buy myself a horse. So I went home and counted all my money. Piggy bank, and I had 151 cent pieces. And I thought how I've got my, I went to my mom and said, mom, I have $150. Can I buy a pony? And she went, what do you mean?
And I explained, and she said, how much was it? I said $150. And she said, no, you've only got 151 cent pieces. So yeah. And then from that, I, um, befriended people at school with horses because my family's not horsey I was the only black sheep in the family who actually decided to love animals and love horses and loved dogs. And, and they weren't going to help me. Mum, dad had nothing to do with horses. They didn't want to have anything to do with horses. So I befriended friends at school who had horses. I think a lot of us kind of can relate to a story like that and poor kids who thought I wanted to be their friend. Actually, I didn't want to be their friend. And I just wanted to be friends with their horses.
Secret's out now. Sorry about that.
Um, from that I went to pony club, you know, the local pony club hung out with families, with kids, with horses. Did anything I can, if I could just pick up a brush, groom a horse, feed a horse, I didn't care. I just wanted to be around horses.
I love it. And did you have a dream when you said you first went to your first show, when you saw horses, were they jumping? Were they going around in circles, were they showing, did you have an idea of what you wanted to do?
It was more the pony. It was more like novelties, bending races and barrel races. And I just thought this looks like fun. I just wanted to yeah hoon around on a pony and I just was fascinated that, that people could sit on a horse and ride a horse and interact with the horse.
Wow. Okay. So, um, you're doing Pony club, you're having fun. Um, are you also trying to figure out what you were going to be when you grew up, was school very important back? Like, were your parents encouraging you to finish school and do something with, with schooling or what was going on?
Well, my parents originally, when you grow up in Papua New Guinea, the majority of people there send their children away to Australia to boarding school. And so you, you, you, you went to school in Port Moresby or Papua New Guinea up to, um, high school. And then from high school onwards, you went to boarding school. Well, I refused to go to boarding school because I couldn't take my horse. I said, yeah. I said to my best, I'll go, if you can take my thoughts. And of course, you know, you couldn't take your horse from Papua New Guinea to Australia. Didn't think that you could actually get a horse down here, but yeah, but, um, so I, I grew up, I sort of went to high school at Port Moresby, Port Moresby International High School had a great upbringing. I mean, growing up in Papua New Guinea back in the eighties were really like open.
We didn't have a lot of the gangs and the crime and it was a very open, you know, everyone knew everyone and it was a great environment to grow up in. And where I learned to ride was in a place called by Bomana Pony Club or what we call the turf club. And in Papua New Guinea, they don't, you don't have a horse and have in your backyard, everyone who had horses actually leased, um, like a stable or leased, a couple of acres off the turf club. And it was based around the clock. And you lived in town, you drive out, you had your horses, uh, set up there, you would ride. And we did everything. So one weekend you'd go to pony club, next weekend you, you play polocrosse, the next weekend you'd go to a point to point race. And then you have a go at what we thought was dressage back then and just a mustering cattle, and you just did everything. And it didn't matter what it was. We just wanted to be with horses.
I love it.
Well, the stock horses. So it came from cattle station or a lot of, um, a lot of race horses were, were imported from Australia and they would race for a least until they were about 10 years old. And then they'll give yes. Then they'll give them to us. And you can imagine the challenges that came with the off the track thoroughbred 10 years old raced for most of it's life.
Yeah. Yeah. It's pretty ingrained those patterns.
Exactly. But we didn't care. He had four legs and a tail and it went fast.
I was going to say, it's probably good. It goes fast. Who's got the fastest.
The way you jump and the way you went around barrels, you just went fast, the way you play polo cross, and you just went fast. I think we even did dressage fast. S.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, this is what I'm so curious about because I only know you as a dressage rider. So I'm hearing this amazing story of fast and crazy, fast and furious. Um, so what was the, what was the defining moment that shifted that?
Okay. I, um, so when I eventually moved to Australia, I started, uh, eventing and I had a thoroughbred that I did a little bit of eventing and still in that very fast mode, a hundred miles an hour. And, um, he became a little unsound in jumping. So I continue on with dressage and I had no concept about putting a horse on the bit, no concept about putting a horse through. And I remember having lessons with Edgar Lee and Glennis Barry, and they showed me actually how to put a horse round and a horse through. And I'm thinking, wow, this horse actually feels soft now, rather than a wooden neck and wooden back horse.
I was going to say, did you even think, I think my horse is broken. This feels completely different to anything I've ever sat on that first time.
It's like, wow, I can sit on its back.
So instead of bouncing around, so I think Glennis Barry was a real turning point. She showed now really gymnastically work a horse, cause I haved no idea. I just had to go round in circles, you know, okay that you did this and you just did this and this. Kick it in the guts, pull it's teeth out and off you go. But Glennis showed quite a lot of gymnastic exercises and the way to actually put a horse together and to actually access the horses back. And I thought, Oh, this is so foreign to me. And so new. And then I figured out that what I liked the most was the horse came together and the host actually started responding to you. And I think liking you picking up the gut.. And, um, and I think that was a turning point. That was when I went, you know, I liked this.
I liked the, the detail in the training. I love the, the, the, the work that you have to put to actually get the end result more and more challenging to me. Um, cause I used to just love everything fast and adrenaline was there, but this was very different. This was like, wow, I got it yesterday, but why can't I get it today? And then tomorrow then, and you just have to school it until you get it. And any, it was like hitting that golf ball or hitting that tennis ball at the right spot and getting the right, sweet spot and everything sort of lining up, getting on the horses and then doing the actual move and then it not going right. What was wrong? What can I do? And that became challenging to me. And then to actually take a horse that was very stiff, very unwilling, very behind the leg, behind the aid, very stuck and actually getting them to work underneath you and suppleness just like this light bulb moment. And I went, you know what? I like this, very challenging. I love it.
And in your normal life, uh, do you love challenge? Like, is that a part of your personality? You love a good challenge. You love a puzzle, you know, that that just lit up or everything, how you're wired.
Yeah. One of the things that, um, when people say, you know, you hear that cliche, when someone says to you, you can't, you know, the big challenge. What I like when someone comes to me though, I have a problem or I don't like this. Uh, I feel like I've been, um, bullied. I feel like I've been in injustice, happened to me. What I'd like to do is get into that, work it and turn it around and then make some, so lady rang the other day and she was really upset. And she said to me, Gary, I don't think I can come for any more lessons. The owners have taken the horse off me. They treated me really badly. And she was in tears and I said to her, look, let's look at it this way. Would you rather go down, you know, a couple of years down the track and they actually then show their true colors or to tell us now, and then you can accept it and then move on from there. And I think I always like to look at that positives. I don't like to look, Oh, okay. Let's whine on about it now, let's get on with it. And that's, I think like with any horse, you got a problem with the horse thing. Oh my God, my horse is not doing this. Why is it doing let's work out how to get through this and get on with it.
Yeah. I love it. Okay. So you're having lessons, um, and suddenly felt this amazing feeling and starting to feel all these great things. Um, did you even know that piaffe, passage, massage, one time tempi's existed? Um,
Hell no. The biggest thing I wanted to do was a single flying change. That was the goal. If I get a single flying change, I would have made it. I would have won my goal lotto. I would have been oh. I was so, so special when I did the flying change. And besides what's that it was more about the flying change. Yeah.
I love it. Okay. So you're working with Glennis and that was your focus, the one flying change by then, had you seen a Grand Prix dressage test? Had you been to competitions and seen? Yeah.
Yes. I eventually started cause I used to go down to Glennis's place and watch her train and, and I could see, okay, it's a little bit more than just a single flying change. And I could see where it all started coming together and, and then it got more intense for me, I suppose, and the drive to actually get there. And of course, you know, you, I went down the path of buying myself a school master, um, that, you know, was, you could say was knew all the tricks. Um, so it could piaffe, couldn't passage, could do the one time changes, he could go sideways, but I didn't care. I just did all the tricks. Didn't look particularly good. It was very strung out, but you know what, who cares? We were going sideways.
Like, I got it. That was the point. Didn't know it had to look a certain way. I got it.
And, um, you know, you, you think you're rather special and, and, but it, it, it gave me a few that, that passion. And then later on, then I got another horse, uh, that was a grand Prix horse and school master. He was great. He actually taught me how to put it together. Very, again, very old school, very old warmblood type that kind of looked a bit like a elephant and move like an elephant, but did everything right? And you, you could laugh at this and I, I would share this with you, but you know, for me to do my 15 one time changes was fantastic, but I used to do it way before X. So I did my 15 ones, but hang on what happened to the rest of the diagonal?
Not finished on the spot? I got my 15 ones.
And so it was, it was great to actually learn a lot of that stuff. And then wasn't until I started riding younger horses that I went, Oh, okay. I understand now where it all fits in. And then still, I just worked with a number of different coaches and what the next coach, it really helped me, um, was actually, uh, Leoni Bramall from Germany and Leoni was one that sort of opened up a whole nother world. Um, and therefore with her for a very short time. And then that's when I had the offer to go to America with and train with Stephan. So I took Chester across the story. There was Stephan came across to do a master class. Um, I was one of the, the guest riders and the guest horse and he, and I just hit it off and he actually invited me to come to Australia. I had to come to, to America. And at that stage I was like, or I don't know whether I've got enough cash for that. I don't fund that. Uh, I don't know whether I could leave my job. I don't know whether I can leave my life here, but
Good job. Do you have a real job? Have a real job.
I love that. And I say that too. I have a real job.
The real job was I was a training manager for a large public company. And I looked after all the training division. So it was a registered training organization. And we had, um, offices throughout Australia and New Zealand and I was the training manager and I looked after all that. So my specialty is adult education. So I went to uni and learnt a little bit about it, but I kind of fell into that role more because I worked through that company and I worked through the ranks, got into manager, became kind of started coaching a lot of my own staff. And the CEO said to me, Gary, tell me how you train your staff because all your staff are very confident, very competent. Um, uh, they get into the call center and they hit the floor running. What do you do compared to the other managers? And I explained that my background is in training horses and that, you know, you can't overload, you can't teach a horse, you know, Grand Prix every in one session years and blah, blah, blah, and any kind of got there. And that's when he, he opened up the, the, the door to me becoming more and more involved in training for that company. So that was the real job back then.
Because obviously you had a commitment to the company and you loved what you were doing and you were busy. And at some times I'm sure high stress, but then you had these goals with the horses and it's was not like you were riding 10 horses a day. It was definitely fitting in either before or after. So I would have felt a bit of a conflict.
It was very conflict, um, because I wanted to really spend time training. The horses actually subsidize the hobbies. But prior to that, I actually coached for a little while, but never made a living out of it. Um, just scraped through, um, I was just fresh. I went and did my back then he was the NCS level one. I went and did that and I came out and went right. I'm now level one, coach. Yeah, come knocking at the door, no one knocked at all. And then I'll sitting there eating two minute noodles going, okay, I'm making money.
So from that, I went, right. I now have to go back and have a real job. And that's where I went back and worked. Um, I actually put horses aside for a little while during that period to concentrate on my career, but also concentrate on university, went and did some study, did all that and then came back into the riding later on. And that's when I, of course touched base with, uh, Glennis and Glennis was the one that said, Oh, come and have a look at these horses. And, and Holey, Moley, there was this fall. And of course that's where I ended up with Chester. And that's where the journey began with Chester.
Right. Okay. So yeah, we filled in that bit. So now you've got a decision. Do you go to the other side of the world? Do you go to America and take an amazing training opportunity? Learn so much more? I think you knew already. It was a sense of, it was going to be another new world you had already had the world with Glennis the world with Leoni yet it was going to be the next, the next one. Yeah. So you couldn't say no.
No. So I went, um, it was a big, it was a very big decision and one that I, you know, um, discuss the family and my partner and what we ended up doing was we sent him across and Stephan was fantastic. He just said, look, you just do whatever you can and we'll make it work. And I'm in the back of my mind thinking, what, why does he want me and my horse to come to America? Let's figure it out. And he told me later on the barn that he has is quite a very lovely group of people. And it's a really lovely barn, you go there. It's very open. It's very conducive to learning. Um, you have like six coaches and trainers all working together, loads of people riding together all sharing. And he kind of likes horses and people who fit the bill, um, who were lighthearted. Uh, and because in, during the masterclass, he and I were kind of bantering and shy of course.
And, um, so when, um, he took a liking to me, of course, loved Chester. Um, and when the opportunity came, he just said, look, let's I said to him, I'm not in a position to go, you know, I just don't have an open checkbook. And he said, you just do whatever you need to do and we'll make it work. So he kind of helped a little bit, which was really lovely. And he got there, his wife, Shannon, um, fantastic lady. Um, he and Shannon, uh, uh, real health nuts. They real, really early. She bakes in early morning. She bakes is healthy, dairy free, gluten free
Vegan, free, fat free,
Fat, free cardboard looking things. It tasted nice. And, um, but they'll ride their horses in the morning and then they'll go off and do a gym session during the middle of the day or ride a bike and then they'll teach in the afternoon. So they're very healthy people, great environment to actually work in. And I think it's might have actually interviewed Emma. Yes, yes. And Emma was there and Emma was great in getting mee to the, to the system and Emma helped me out a lot. So that was really lovely. Yeah.
And so were you flying backwards and forwards working then training?
Yeah, he would he was based there. Chester was based there and Steffen would ride him through the week or Steffen's assistant lyncher would ride him down and I would fly backwards and forwards every four weeks. So I'd run around madly for four weeks doing clinics and working and getting more money and then jumping back on a plane and flying back and
Okay. And what's the flight? 18 hours. Yes.
Yeah, no, it was about 13 to 14 hours.
Okay. So long time. Yes.
I got into a routine and I get there for the years on watch a movie fall asleep. And so I became an Inn where Steffen's based in San Diego or, um, in a place called Rancho Santa Fe. And it's in the hinterland of, of San Diego and San Diego is very similar to the Gold Coast in that you've picked the lifestyle you have the hinterland. Um, and it's a beautiful part of the country. Uh, and it's very relaxed. It's very similar the Australian lifestyle. So it's really easy to slip into that type of environment.
Brilliant. Okay. And what was Chester training before you sent him over what level?
So he was doing, um, kind of small tour stuff. Yep. Yeah. So we already touched a bit on short steps. Um, he already started sequence changes. Um, you know, he didthe canter pirouettes. Um, but he never really came together for the Piaffe an passage. You know, we kinda touched a little bit on it, but nothing serious. Then it was Steffen and his wife that actually helped me. His wife did help me a lot. She does a lot of, um, uh, in hand, long reigning. And may she would, you know, the long reining a horse through the, the barn or up the Hills and there's lots of trails and she's long reining passaging up here piaffing there. And so she helped me out a lot with putting the piaffe and passage in for Chester.
And was that the intention for, I mean, obviously you knew you were going to learn a lot, but was it, I want to get this horse to grand Prix. I want to get to grand Prix and I think this is the best place to get that all done. Yeah.
Yeah. Yeah. One of the things that actually drew me to, to Steffen was it, he wrote Chester and he made Chester look amazing and he was pumped and floating around the arena. And then he came in back to me and when he handed it back to me, just so chilled and I got on chest Chester was so relaxed and I went, Whoa, okay, there's something here because I've actually, you know, chest. And I've been in a number of, uh, final's for um, Sydney CDI, Dressage with the Stars in the young horse classes. And I've had a number of German or International guest riders get on him. Yes, yes. And on, and I big auction trot around and they're floating around looking flash and then they hand him back to me and I can,
I can feel it and I'll wait, I'm not getting on this thing. Wow.
But so pumped that everything was just a Bren lines. Steffen had Chester moving amazingly and with such power and grace and softness. And then he handed it back to me and Chester was like chilled. And I went, wow. Now you're addicted
You want it, then how can you access that power?
And then I can show the, you know, so that was one of the things that drew me to it. And I knew then that I wanted him to help me take Chester to the next level. And he did that, you know, both him and Shannon and Liencia the three of them helped me out a lot. Um, and they were, it's a very encouraging atmosphere. Um, and you know, what the Americans are like, they're really, you know, clapping each other on and they're fantastic and it's a great environment. So it's the one, one experience I don't think I'll ever forget. And it actually changed the way I rode changed the way I change the way I think changed the way I actually train a horse.
And one of the things that prior to that I used to always concentrate on, okay, at this level, your horse has to do this at this level to do this. And, and whereas I learned very quickly at Steffens that it's not about that. It's about the quality of the horse, the quality of that put it together. How can you access the horse? How can you get the horse through it, working through its body. And then you go off and do a couple of moves. And when it falls apart, how can you quickly put it back to where you had it? So you've got that. So often you see them, you know, like six people working in arena and they're not doing massive flash, extended trots and sequence changes and half pass. And are they just going through pure training and then I got hooked on that and I understand.
So I suppose now when I ride a horse, it's all about what I go looking for, the problem, places, the sticky bits, and how can we address that? How can we fix this? Because if you don't fix it, it's going to raise its ugly head later on down the track and slap your head, um, need to dress it back then. So that was real eye-opener to me. And it changed the way I, I thought, it changed the way I trained. It changed the way I taught as well. So I've come back and I've come back and I've got this very different approach to, well,
But it's like, it's different, but then I'm sure they would've started to say these amazing results as well, going all right. I'll, I'll go with it. It's good.
And one of the other things Tash that I really liked was, um, they would all go to a horse show, quite a big horse show as a stable. So majority of us would go and they, they, they stay there for the week and you get to school there at a competition. You still work with Stefan and you still work withShannon, you still with Lynchia and you worked there under those conditions. And there were a couple of times when there were like two CDIs back to back and you could just run, you know, run competition and go straight into the other one. And, um, and that was great to train at home. Great to try and how all the moves and how to actually put your hosts together. But then they clicked into test riding mode. And that, that was new to me because I was, I always struggled in the past of get it home and of course I, win the warmup, you know, as you do, if you get into, the test and it all falls apart, but yeah, that, that was a big eye-opener. So when I came back to Australia, I actually started encouraging all my students. Let's do this. This is training. This is test riding. Let's prepare you for competitions and absolutely. Lots that I learned.
Yeah. So how long was it all up of the coming and forward coming? Like how long was Chester there?
Uh, Chester was there probably close to 18 months. Probably a little bit longer. Yeah. Oh God, I don't want to look at it.
Oh yeah. Wait, we won't go there? It's all right. Never happened. I think I could have bought a car.
Yeah. BMW's Ferrari's and some posh cars.
Okay. So, um, but you've got from small tour. So you were definitely doing the CDI's, um, in the Grand Prix before
No. I only actually in, when I was in America, um, I did a handful of medium tours. Oh, right. Yep. Yeah. That's it. The one in between small and big tour. And it was very, very rusty cause I was still trying to work on it myself. And at that stage Chester has his ones, if you set it up. Right. But of course, you know, it's so often I would get five and then two and then the rest of it. And uh, he kind of confirmed, um, he could piaffe he could piaffe the house down. I couldn't put the piaffe, walk piaffe, besides together. I couldn't put it all together. Uh, I got the canter pirouettes. I've got most of it, but I just couldn't put it together in that situation. And as much as we practise you know, I think, um, my, my senior brain was sort of cutting in and my grain nomad brain was cutting in and my coordination wasn't there and it was still a learning curve for me at that stage.
Um, and it wasn't until I actually came home. So that helped me set it up. I came home, I had the option to stay another six months and do it. And I thought to myself, do I do it? I mean, I love going there and coming back to sports and I thought, no, I'm going to bite the bullet. I'm going home. I'm going to come home. And then, you know, continue on with the training. And until I got home that I was left to my own device, that I had to step it up. And that made me, uh, kind of stand on my own two feet. And then I played, cause back then, I think I was relying a lot on, I'm going to ask Steffen it's all apart, what do I do? Um, and he would say try this, whereas at home, it just, I just couldn't pick up the phone or I couldn't speak to him. I had to work it out.
And then I touched base again with Leoni who used to come regularly from Germany and she helped me kind of polish it off a little bit, but then they, and you know yourself, you're a Grand Prix rider and trainer, you can do the moves, but it's not until you get in the ring and you actually have to put it together. And I remember someone said to me, once, when you get to grand Prix, you, A have to learn how to ride again. And do you need to do at least 20 grand Prix, for it but feel comfortable? Yeah.
Yeah. Well, what strikes me all the years it took to get to Grand Prix, it felt like it's going to take all those years to get good at it. So if it took you 10 years to get to Grand Prix, I now need 10 years at Grand Prix.
And you get to Grand Prix and you're at the bottom of the pecking order and you have to play through chip away and improve your marks, improve your horse. Your horse has to get strong. Your timing has to get better because you know, you know yourself in Grand Prix, you're furiously counting, you know?
Yeah. And everything. There's no break. Next Diagonal. The next one next diagonal is the next to it.
You're counting all the time and if you miss one, well, you know, you'd have to deep dive. So I felt that I stepped it up to Grand Prix. I thought, and I, I, you know, I struggled through it and going, uh, Leonie helped me and then, um, Lonnie actually joins, it helped me as well. I started having lessons with her and she, she was very great in supporting me and, and putting it all together in a test situation. And he made me ride it pretty much every day. So I used to have to ride it every day and that's where I kind of got better and better in the Grand Prix. And not only do I think I got better and better in the Grand Prix, but I think my riding in general got better. Um, the handling, my timing with young horses got better. Uh, I was poor. My poor students got copped it because I made sure they got better. And I said, right, come on, speed this process up.
These are our new standards.
That's right. And no more having cups of tea, come on, let's go, let's do this. And my favorite saying is stop setting the table and folding napkins and doing the flower arrangements, we're having fish and chips on the couch. Let's do it.
So, um, I think that the pushing myself through to that Grand Prix has really made me, uh, I think a better, rider in terms of timing and expectation. And, uh, and I think you, you could relate to this, you know, you, there's not, a lot of people say they can train and ridden at Grand Prix and once you get there, it's like, wow, you feel like you have such respect for anyone else that's ridden at that level. And it's like a Grand Prix club and not trying to disclude anyone, but you feel like you support each other and it feels quite nice.
Yeah, absolutely. So what's, what's your favorite memory of competing with him? What's your favorite venue or your favorite test that you ever did?
The favorite tests would have to be at I rode it Willinga, um, one of the CDI's there, and I remember, I don't know what it was, but everything, I think all the moons and stars lined up and I remember riding the Grand Prix thinking, wow, I've got time to knit a jumper in between each movement. It was like, wow, wow. I've got time to prepare this. I've got time to think, but time to assess the next one. And then it all clicked for me. And that felt amazing. That was, um, probably one of my highlights. Just, it felt good. Um, and I felt like it was, I was in one and Jesse was with me in, and we had lots of conversation between the two of us and so often when I ride Chester he has a lot of discussions with me. Like, no, no, no, I can do this. You just sit there and I'll do this and I went.
No, no, no, no. We need to do this together. No, no, no. I can do this. And I bet I love it. You asked about favorite riding time, another time that, and I tell this story to everyone. Um, I think we're in the finals of the five-year-old at Dressage with the Stars and think from memory, I can't, we were, I was in the top three and it got down to the last three of us and it was pretty edgy, like, yeah. The atmosphere I had him so pumped for the trot work and I was like, this is I'm on fire, went across and do the walk and of course you remember Werribee in the corner with the buys. Um, they've also got wooden floors and there was a massive dog fight.
And of course everyone's scattered chairs fell down and Chester froze, ran backwards and went, I don't know, something's over there, completely lost the whole thing. Um, and the pieces, everything went to pieces, but I remember thinking it's stopped and everyone pause and the judges were looking at me and I was looking at the judges and the people look at me and I'm gonna give a people I'm going to die. I'm gonna die here. But, um, you continued on, I remember, um, off, more or less said to me, Gary, um, this is certainly not your Sunday.
Oh, I love that. It's your favorite memory though? Like when you, yeah,
I got, and I just thought, well, it all fell apart and you know what
You survived and exactly, you didn't burst into flames yep. That's awesome.
Yeah, I did. I was waiting for the earth to open up and so I could smell it.
But it doesn't actually happen. So there's nothing to worry about. It's all good.
Well, I say that to a lot of people, because I say, you know, you worked so hard to get to something like that and in, in a split second to go up and all fall apart. So yeah. Soldier on.
Exactly. So well said. So, um, then there would've come a time. Um, that, uh, what are you thinking about, like, what are the goals with this horse and is he, am I going to keep riding him forever? Like, is there a retirement, um, how did you speak, speak to that last bit? And then I believe he did something very, very cool.
Yes. Um, so Chester he's now 17 and last year I was riding along thinking to myself, like he's now 16 and it's always in the back of my mind, you know, what happens in his Twilight years, life. He's definitely part of the, family's not going anywhere. Um, you can imagine I've had lots of offers, you know, people want to buy him, but he's been with the family for so long. I just thought, you know, you can't do that. And, um, and I didn't really want to be one of those Grand Prix riders that bashed around on their old Grand Prix horse in their twenties stiff as an ironing board. And for people to go out, he's still riding Gand Prix. I wish he would retire that horse. And what for? To say I've written grand Prix. You know, I think it was a bonus to actually get him to go Grand Prix and keep him sound in the brain sound in the mind, sound in the body and that's a bonus.
And, and, um, to keep him there would be ideal, but I'm also aware that he's getting older. So what I did, I wanted him to continue on with life, uh, with his, um, his competition life and actually looked around for someone to actually take him on. I didn't want to sell him. I wanted him to stay here. I wanted a young rider to take him on. And, um, this is where Indie Cochrane came in. Uh, India, I've taught since she was eight years old, she's an event rider and a lovely young lady, lovely family. Um, and I remember even at eight years old, she was like riding for Australia. She came in on the pony and she was like determined. And, and the words that I can explain, words that I can describe, India's someone that's very compassionate. Um, someone that's very resilient, uh, someone that would just keep working hard.
Uh, and as I said, a very supportive family and they would, um, they have come to me religiously every week and they'd bring one horse that horse wasn't like, like unfit or lame they'd bring the other horse. And they were very dedicated to the horses education, but also the child's education and the child's riding career. So when I made that offer to, cause she's had a couple of rides on Chester before I've allowed, I've got a couple of my students have a little sit. Um, and she had a ride on Chester and it didn't particularly go too well when she first rode him. But that was more, you know, cause I think he was so, um, you know, so fit, Grand Prix fit and sort of, yeah, she was still, I mean the know has never ridden past novice and for her to take on a horse like this, but what I like about it is that she's a very kind rider and she's a very thoughtful rider and, um, and has amazing feel so and coordination. So when I made the offer, one of the nicest things she did was she said, Gary, thank you very much burst into tears. She said, thank you very much. Um, can I have some time to think about it? And I was absolutely gobsmacked.
Yeah. You're like, what do you mean
Any norma person would grab me by the throat and shake it and say, of course I'll take this opportunity. But she said no. And I just think about it. And I found out from my mom, she sat down with a family. She wanted to make sure she dedicated time to her school, dedicate time to other horse and the eventing the time to family to take on another commitment like this. And I was like, wow, that's very grown up.
What maturity, like, do I even have that maturity now?
I know right. The journey started with, uh, Indi and Chester last year. Uh, we had him down it because, you know, she was still learning how to go sideways. And she went out and she's learning lots. Like she's got out and tick some boxes with the medium levels. She's had a go at, some advanced tests. Um, she's had a couple of go at, at home with the Prix St George and Small tour. She can press the buttons, they kind of are all there, but putting it all together is a, is another story. Um, and I think it's just that she's a, it's a very good mix and, and Chester uh, loves her. Absolutely loves her. And, and they work well together and she comes and rides here pretty much, five, six days a week. Um, and then around the corner. So they come and they ride Chester and they still have lessons with me with the other horse and they have lessons with Chester. Um, and I kind of feel like she's joined the, the family. Um, I haven't young riders that work with me. And, and sometimes I feel like either a soccer dad.
Cause situation, I'm a soccer dad or dance moms. Um, but the young girls are great and Inid's part of it. And um, we all go to shows together. We help each other out and really want to see her journey to under 25 Grand Prix. And it is a very exciting thing for her. And, and, and that, that they're very grateful, a really lovely family. Uh, the mother and father were always supportive, uh, and they do anything they can and they're hardworking. No, they can't afford to go and buy a grand Prix horse. Uh, but uh, they work hard, they have their own business. Um, she works hard at school and, and good family. So very happy with what's happening there.
Beautiful story. So then what about you? Do you have some new horses? Do you just have one horse what's what's a typical day look like for you and what horses are you riding at the moment?
Well, my day pretty much starts at about, I get up fairly early, help out with the horses and I start riding at about eight, eight 30, and I ride anywhere up to about four to five horses a day. So in the morning, and I might teach a couple before lunchtime and then pretty much the afternoon onwards, depending on days I start teaching. And sometimes I start teaching it sort of later afternoon, go in the evening. Um, and that's Monday through to Friday, but Friday before the whole COVID hit. I used to do the horses in the morning by the first of the morning, and then jump on a plane and after lunch and either fly around Australia and do clinic somewhere for the weekend, fly home on the Sunday night and then start again. So that's routine here at home. Um, but since COVID, um, of course I don't travel as much, I get to do things at home. I get to do a bit of gardening. I actually, I managed to clean my oven. Um, I don't think it's ever been cleaned.
And the nice thing was I got to reconnect with quite a lot of my local students because in the past, when I was gallivanting around Australia, coaching, all my local students would go, well Gary we can never find you. You're never home. So, you know, we kind of have lessons with you, but now I'm home. A lot of the students have reconnected and come back and I'm probably busier than I was before. In terms of horses. I have a number of horses that come in for training, of course, um, have two young horse squad. Yeah. Two young horses at the moment. I have a, um, a five-year old Chemawa mare and she's quite a big mare quite elegant. Um, and I've always made a rule never to actually own big horses because as you probably appreciate, putting them together is, is another, uh, hurdle that you have to face.
But she's 17.1, but she's got a great brain. She's really light off her feet. Um, and, but I love her temperament and I love her attitude towards it. And she's, you know, I call her miss universe because she's quite pretty. And so she's kind of the horses I'm bringing through. Another one I have is a, um, for romance to gelding who's, um, three years old, just been started lovely, um, really quite easy to work with and horse that's way past it's actual year. So I felt very excited with the two young ones coming through and, you know, you get them to Grand Prix and then you kind of start again and you'd bring another one through. And then, so
For everyone listening, um, who may have started their coaching career, and you mentioned, you know, nobody called or no one knocks and then to come full circle and to be able to not have to go back to the job and to coach and ride and train and live what you absolutely love. I'm sure everyone's like, wow, it can be done.
I think I credit that to a number of things. I think time that I had when I, in my professional life, my real job, where I learned to work with adult education and learn to an end, you know, this is, you're an educator yourself. And, um, you, you often see professionals who are very good at their job. Um, they placed them in a role to actually teach, but they can't teach. They can do their job really well. So, um, and I found that, I think I learned quite a lot from that. And then now to come back into coaching in training in the equestrian, world, I was able to bring that across and utilize all the adult learning principles and how to structure lessons, and how to engage and all that sort of stuff, stuff that you know so well, and that, um, and I think that's where the draw card is.
Now. People are starting to come to go, wow, I'm getting something from this. I understand. And, and I can see the lesson, um, where it's taking me and I can see the plan and I can see what, why we're doing this and, and, and the relevance. And I think that's one of the key things. And the other thing is, I think Steffen kind of gave me a little bit of a, you know, working with Steffen has given me a little bit of a push a bit of a profile. Um, but it's also given me, um, lots of different direction on how to train horses. So he's very much the happy athlete, the happy horse he works with. Um, Shannon, his wife is another one. They worked very much with the horse. Um, they're very, um, there are closed doors, they're Chinese, very open. They welcome people to come and sit, watch them.
They're open about their discussion with training. And that was, that was quite a, an eye opener. And it, I think it's built my, um, my new way of training. I suppose my reputation is then proceeded from that. So, um, and I think that's where now you're right. Whereas before I was like waiting for people to come and have lessons with me now, um, you know, people are knocking on my door and it's really lovely feeling and I'm, I'm grateful for it and, and have to remember to, you know, put back to the spot so to speak.
Yeah. Well, and that's what I'm seeing as well. Like your time with Steffen, you really got to model what you loved as a, as a learning person. Don't know why I don't have a word for that. Um, and to hear that you are now modeling what you saw with the competitions and you were with your team, goes to the competitions. Cause I know, I think every rider will resonate with, we, it isn't a lone sport. And then I know for years I used to get to a competition and I would know nobody and I would have no one to talk to and no one. And I just had to figure it out myself and go by myself to the gear check and go by myself and hope that this was my ring and hope that this was the time I should be doing my test and I didn't have a groom. I didn't have anyone around. So that whole team, um, support is such a huge thing. And I love that you've brought that back with you and fostered that in your community.
Yeah, it's it's and I think that's something that we should adopt more in Australia. We tend to ride by ourselves. We've got our five acres. We have our horses in the backyard. The only time we really get to see someone as we go to competition or start some social event, um, and get to see your coach maybe once a week or once a fortnight and off between, you know, you develop bad habits. Um, the, the model they had it at Steffen's was very much about you're under that guidance all the time you had that support. Um, so if you couldn't, you know, discuss it with one person, you could go to someone else. Um, and I often see Arthur used. I remember seeing Steffen and Shannon, helping all the other coaches with their students. So, you know, a coach had an issue with the horse or with the student, and there was a little problem there.
And I remember Steffen would pull that person aside and say, Hey, why don't you try this, try that. So they were supporting the coaches that were there. Uh, and coming back to Australia, I could see that we all, we're all isolated. We all do our own little thing. You come together for the competition. Um, whereas even in Europe and you know, where your all together, because you're right under one bond, your horses agisted together. Um, and I think we should do more of that whether it's getting together a couple of times a week, riding together, supporting each other, helping each other. Um, and I, there's a local club here. And I think a lot of clubs probably do the same throughout Australia where they have a, they call it the ladies day on Thursday, all the ladies get there and they have morning tea and they get together, they ride together and, you know, I think that should be more of, we should do more of that and support each other. And the other thing I learned also was the idea of coaches working together, because
Yes, that's when you said that, you know, all the coaches work and there's, it's not my client, your client. And, you know, Steffen comes in and helps, and it's just, we're all here to help and whoever can help at that time. And, and there's no his or hers or mine and yours, what a wonderful community
It's like. Uh, Nicole Magoffin, Nicole Magoffin is, um, spent time at Steffens with JB and Zach. And she understood that as well. And, and yeah, she travels around Australia coaching and I travel around Australia coaching and there are times we actually bump into each other, we share and the number of different students, and we would bounce ideas off of each other and say, hi, what did you do with that person? And, Oh my God, I had problems with this. What did you do? Um, and it was great. The Nick and I, you know, we talk a lot and, and, and we share a lot of students. And so that's when she's away, she goes, if I'm in trouble, you ring Gary up and vice versa. And I think we should do that often. We should really sort of, and that shows a bit of confidence within ourselves as coaches and as people. So you're right about that. This is my student is my client. Don't touch it and
We have to transcend that. Absolutely. Um, so what are your future goals? Do you, do you write down goals? Do you have a plan for 20, 30, 20, 40, 2050?
My goal is, um, I would really love to continue of course, training horses, but my, my goal is with young riders, I love passion with young riders and I have a number of young riders coming through. Um, I feel like I'm, I'm a talent scout. I go around and look at all these young riders and go, right. Okay. You might hate, but you know what, I've tagged you and you're coming up the rank, you've got no option. Um, and you can see those kids and you want to give them the opportunity to actually come through. And, um, and I love working with them. I love working with the families as well. And, you know, I love my favorite saying to a parent is, uh, continue fertilizing that Moneytree
That's a couple more because you need more money tree. Also. I also say to them, it's a great sport for your child to come meet through, because it's not like a tennis racket. You can't just put it back in the cupboard. You have to, you know, you have responsibilities with your animals. Um, so, you know, foster that and grow it and, and do that. So my goals are, can I love bringing the young riders through, um, taking them through to FEI, showing them that, uh, I would like to continue I plan. So these young horses that I've got, uh, I also, you know, would like to have a little look at maybe doing some judging myself. Cause I've seen a number of, I've been exposed to a number of very good judges and been with them and go, wow. And I remember sitting with a couple and thinking penciling for them, or just sitting with them and, and listening and thinking, they actually do know what they're talking about and they can see right through what we're trying to hide. And, um, and I liked that part and I think that's something I would eventually like to, to head in as well. Some judging continue on producing young riders. Um, I have a number of adult riders who actually say, hang on, what about us? You know, with the kids said, what about us? And, um, and of course producing, um, I think producing sound mind and sound, body horses.
Great goals. Awesome. Do you have a piece of advice that you live by or do all your students go ah, Gary always says, is there a,
I think one of the things I really love saying to all my students is to, I always give them the advice that they should ride more than one horse. Yeah. I always say to them, right, you can beg, borrow, steal, steal your neighbour's horse is something become accustomed to a variety of horses because your timing, your skill level will improve. And that's gonna make your you're riding for your own horse a whole lot better. Um, and I'm always suggesting, I mean, you'll get lots of parents that sort of give me the evil eye and say, don't say that the horse, and you know, we've already got five at home and we don't need another one. And, but I, I'm always saying, you know, you now have a very hot horse. You need to ride a horse at very behind the eight. You need to ride a horse that does this and does that. And, um, and I'm probably one to constantly promote that and tell all my students and every, anyone, anyone that wants to listen, go and ride in as many horses as you can. So you get the field.
Uh, do you have any sponsors you'd like to mention?
Yes. I'm sponsored by Mitavite. Mitavite looked after me for a number of years. Mitavite feeds all my horses of course. Back on Track is another one that looks after me. They send me all the goodies for my horse and myself cause you know, uh, I think the brain,
You're still 21 aren't you?
Yeah, that's what I reckon. You know brain says you're 21, but you get up in the morning and this, you know, over 50 body tends to sort of creep out of bed. Um, I have, um, Rose Hip Vitals, all the horses I've got, I've got on Rose Hip Vitals, um, Ocean Easy Stables. They sort of supply me with a lot of gear that I have. So, but, and then there's a lady called Catherine Sullivan-Butt who looks after all my saddles, she's a saddle fitter. And she travels around New South Wales, Northern New South Wales and Queensland fitting saddles. And she's always looked after Chester. So love it, love it.
We will have those companies in the show notes for people that want who want to find them. And what about where listeners can find you on social media? I'm sure you're on Tik TOK. Dancing up a storm
I'm actually not I've I've yet to try that. I've been all the younger generation they're telling me. Gary, you gotta get on TikTOk. Um, I don't trust myself on TikToK. I think the whole lot level I think I would probably cause you know, Tash, I'm very shy and if you put a camera in front of me, I'd be like, no, I'm, I'm the generation of Facebook and Instagram and, and yeah, that's, that's the extent. Uh, I remember someone said to me, what's that one? Snapchat? Yeah. I don't know Snapchat. I don't know. I don't understand. Don't understand the concept. Can't get it my head and go. Why?
So, uh, just, uh, your name if for Facebook and Instagram,
It's just Gary Lung. Yes. Yeah. Same Gary Lung as well. So great.
Okay. We'll put that in the show notes. Anything else that we need to mention to make this complete?
Uh, no, thank you very much for inviting me. I think I've kind of, yeah, I've said a lot.
Awesome. Thank you much for coming. I'm sure you've inspired lots of people with your journey and I know how much you help everyone in Australia and how much we appreciate you. So thanks for coming along today.
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