Equestrian Australia last spoke with Kate last year following her wins at the Australian Youth Dressage Championships (HERE). It was clear then that Kate and her mother Heather have set some goals and mapped out a plan.
Kate and her team are currently in Wellington, Florida campaigning her two stallions. We contacted Kate and asked her to share some insights.
“Wellington is known as the ‘Winter Equestrian Capital of the World’. During the first three months of each year, hundreds of equestrians and their horses come from around the globe to participate in the international competitions for Jumping, Polo and Dressage which take place each weekend throughout the season. For Dressage, a CDI is held every other weekend at the Global Dressage Grounds in the heart of Wellington, with the off-weekends seeing Dressage CDI’s held at other venues nearby.
Three years ago, Dressage rider and trainer Bennet Conn suggested that a season competing in Wellington would be a valuable experience for me. In 2023 I took over the ride on my current horses Chemistry (Tommy) and Intro K (Intro). We had some wonderful success in Australia in the CDI U25 Grand Prix and Young Rider classes and as our scores improved, we began to consider that the timing may be right for a trip to Florida.
We were fortunate to be offered stables with Australian showjumper Ben Meredith and Dressage rider Caroline Roffman. Through Australian Dressage rider Jayden Brown, we connected with Petra Hofmann who helped us organise accommodation and my coach Jenny Gehrke, arranged for us to meet Lillie Connelly who we were delighted to bring over to groom for me. The horses flew with IRT who are experts in travelling Australia’s horses and also a long-time supporter of the sport. It really did take a village!
As a Young Rider, my goals are to use every opportunity to learn as much as possible. The great thing about being based in Wellington is the number of CDIs that I can attend, these competitions are all in close proximity and held every weekend, I am intending to compete in as many as I can while I’m here. The barn where we are based is only four minutes drive from the show, so competing regularly is easy. It was certainly a novelty to warm up and plait for a CDI at home - on trot up day!
My coach Jenny Gehrke is here for a month and has supported me through the first two CDIs in January so far. I have also enjoyed lessons with Bennet Conn who travels to Florida each month throughout the season. German trainer Petra Hoffman is also a wonderful support and I look forward to her collaboration as the season progresses.
From a social perspective Wellington is absolutely bursting with horse enthusiasts and there is no shortage of equestrian events to attend. I am thoroughly enjoying being able to go everywhere in my jodhpurs, this is what everyone wears - particularly to the supermarket! There are a surprising number of Australians based here and they have certainly made us feel welcome. We have appreciated their friendship, advice and support.
Thanks must go to my wonderful stallions Chemistry and Intro K. They flew 40 hours around the globe to get here and have not missed a beat. It is as if they have lived in Florida forever. We have been fortunate to easily replicate the care program we had at home in the horses’ new stable. They do regular aqua treadmill sessions, pulse therapy, daily walker sessions and train in a beautiful, covered arena with an exceptional fibre surface and this training regime all helps to keep them happy and in top shape.
I have won a number of classes and hearing the Australian Anthem ringing out across the stadium is beyond amazing and very emotional. It certainly makes one feel very proud to be Australian.
Last week the Australian selectors nominated Chemistry and I to ride for Australia in the U25 CDIO Nations Cup and my first ever official Australian Equestrian Team uniform arrived in the post on Monday. It feels like my dreams are coming true and right now I’m not sure life can get much better than this!
The support I have had from my family has been amazing, and it is so great to share this big adventure with my mum, who is equally passionate about the horses and this journey. I also acknowledge the role of the Australian peak body Equestrian Australia, without this organisation, international competition is not possible. I thank EA for the opportunity to share some of my experiences and look forward to seeing the Aussie flag flying high on more occasions”.
Article courtesy of Equestrian Australia