Harden a small town with a big heart in pursuit of an Olympic dream
|Harden a small town with a big heart in pursuit of an Olympic dream - 18th Apr 2012|
Nat and Algebra
Natalie Blundell (Nat) and Algebra have a unique life story. Together they have demonstrated incredible determination, perseverance and talent, whilst being surrounded and supported by a community that cares.
Both of Nat's parents were members of the Harden Horse Trials and Pony Club, they passed down their love for horses to Nat at an early age. Nat was first sat on a pony by her Mum at the age of four. "I started at pony club when I was on the lead at around 4 years old," said Nat.
"It was through this early involvement in Harden Pony Club that Nat developed a strong connection with her community, and also started to achieve success at various Pony Club events. "I progressed through the grades of dressage, eventing and showjumping. I went to all three of these at State level with wins and placings," said Nat.
Nat trained many ponies resulting in her winning the Pony Club State Championships at the age of 15. "I won the state pony club dressage championships in Griffith, and competed in the first National Pony Club championships held in Wagga. It was brought to the attention of a couple from Harden, Phil and Mary Hockney that I had some talent and they wanted to help me out by buying me a horse that could take me to the Olympics," explained Nat.
It is the goal of Nat to represent Australia at the London Olympics. It is no doubt that the extraordinary people of Harden have been there supporting Nat and her pursuit of an Olympic dream from the beginning. Finding the right horse and taking it through training for an Olympic level competition is an expensive journey. Phil and Mary bought Nat a horse called "Billy Bathgate" and together they went on to win Australia's Premier Event the inaugural Adelaide International Horse Trials in 1999. This event is the only 4 Star event in the Southern Hemisphere and for Nat her most memorable sporting achievement. In 1999 at 19 years of age Natalie was in the front running for selection to the 2000 Olympic Australian Eventing Team. However, Billy sustained an injury just a few months out from the games and was unable to recover.
Neither Nat nor the township of Harden was to be deterred. Supporters donated enough money to enable Nat to buy another horse. While this horse was certainly talented, unfortunately he lacked the temperament to compete. This is where Algebra comes in; "Algebra was bought by Julia McLean off the race track to be a hunter hack. He was a little bit naughty, so she sent him to Lizzy McRoberts of Bungadore to do some work with. It was there they discovered he could jump. I was asked if I could sell Algebra for Julia, as she thought he would be wasted if he didn't jump. After several riders looking at him (he was quite tricky for most riders) Julia decided that he clicked with me very well and decided to sponsor me with riding the horse," explained Nat.
Nat and Algebra have been appointed to Equestrian Australia's National Elite Squad and the Shadow Team for the 2012 Olympics. The horse and rider combination is currently standing in twentieth place in the International Olympic rankings and fourth ranked amongst the Australians. Eight horse rider combinations will go to the final training camp in Greenwich two weeks prior to the Olympics. Five horse rider combinations will be selected to compete for Australia.
In order for Nat to reach her dream the long standing community of Harden is again attempting to raise financial support to cover such costs as travel, coaches, riding wear and safety gear. If you would like to make a donation please visit this website http://nalgebra.com/
We wish Natalie and Algebra all the best in reaching her Olympic dream, and we would like to commend the people of Harden for their inspirational community support and generosity.
The Pony Club Association of NSW is supported by Sport and Recreation a division of Communities NSW, Mitavite official feed partner, as well as other local sponsors. To find a Pony Club near you visit the state website on www.pcansw.org.au
For more information:
The Pony Club Association of NSW
Contact: Lisa Ferguson
Phone: 02 4229 8977