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Meet Rising Equestrian Star Emma Hutchinson

Emma and Freshman R winning Champion Senior  Girl Rider under 18 years Canberra Royal 2024. Photo: Lisa Gordon - Equinet Media

Emma and Freshman R winning Champion Senior Girl Rider under 18 years Canberra Royal 2024. Photo: Lisa Gordon - Equinet Media

Young Emma Hutchinson is no stranger to success or a change of mount. At only 16 years of age, she is motivated, hardworking and passionate about the sport she competes in. In this article, Emma shares more about her history with horses, her successes and her future goals.

Age: 16

Lives: Griffith, NSW.

Education/occupation: I am currently in year 11, studying online through the Dubbo School of Distance Education, which allows me more flexibility with training, competitions and taking on
client horses. 

Family history with horses? My mum started riding when she was eight years old. Her Pop bought her her first pony after she took an interest in his trotters. She often sat in the gig with him going to the showgrounds to work the horses. From there, she attended pony club for many years and competed at pony club gymkhanas and local shows. From her late teens, she got the showbug and started showing horses, training and breaking in.  

My dad grew up riding horses on the family farm for fun at a young age and attending local gymkhanas, but he didn’t continue throughout his later teens.

Tell us about your early involvement with horses. Ever since I was born, it was a sure thing I was going to ride horses. My mum had been training horses for some time, and when I was born, my future pony was purchased. He was only a yearling, and he was bought from Springtime Park Stud (Deyarne Pointon-Wales). He was a black, 13.3hh hunter pony. His show name was Springtime Park Exclusive Footage, and his stable name was Charlie. Once Charlie turned three, my mum broke him in, and she used to put me on the back for pony rides. Mum said I loved it, and Charlie didn’t mind either. Mum showed him for a couple of years and then lent him out to our friends Emma and Jess O’Sullivan for a year while I grew some more.

In the meantime, my parents purchased me a smaller pony called Pip. He was an 11.2hh palomino Welsh pony; he taught me how to walk, trot and canter and took me to my first competitions. He was so much fun. Unfortunately, we lost Pip to colic, so Mum and Dad purchased Brampton Park Royal Command from Kate Dertell and family in Victoria, and we continued our showing. 

In mid-2014, Charlie returned home, and I started my journey with him. He was the best pony a girl could ever have. He carried me to many wins at Ag Shows, wins in my rider classes at Canberra and Sydney Royals, second in my rider at Melbourne Royal and also in the winner’s circle at the Nationals and Grand Nationals and two consecutive years overall wins at Insterschools. My last show on Charlie before he retired was in 2019 at Nationals, where he was awarded Runner-Up Child’s Large Show Hunter Pony.

What was your first competition, and how did it go? My first show solo was in Parkes in August 2013. I was six years old and rode my pony Pip to first in my rider class. Friends often recall me cantering poor little Pip around all day, and I am often reminded of this still.

What are your top three most memorable wins? I have had some extremely memorable wins so far. My top three would definitely have to be:
1. Winning Junior Rider Under 12 at the 2019 EA Nationals in Werribee aboard the beautiful Gentry Park Take Note owned by Sara Osaulenko.
2. When I was nine years old, I placed Reserve Champion at the 2016 Grand Nationals on Springtime Park Exclusive Footage in the Open Large Hunter Pony.
3. My most recent 2024 Canberra Royal Champion Senior Girl Rider Under 18 on my new heart horse, Freshman R.

Beverley Just A Dream winner third place at the EA HOTY 2023. Photo: Simon Scully Photography

Beverley Just A Dream winner third place at the EA HOTY 2023. Photo: Simon Scully Photography

Congratulations on your Champion Senior Girl Rider win at Canberra Royal. Tell us about the partnership with your horse. We recently purchased Freshman R (Freshi as he is known at home) off Mim Poolman in Bowral in August 2023, so we are still getting to know each other. He is a 7-year-old Warmblood out of Fiji by a Starnberg mare bred by the Ryans, and he is a dream in every way. He is the sweetest boy you will ever meet. While being young, he is super trainable; he still needs a lot of confidence from his rider, so he is always looking for my guidance. He hadn’t had many outings and had only done about five dressage comps before we purchased him, so Canberra Royal was a massive atmosphere compared to what he had previously seen. He handled the atmosphere reasonably well, and I held his hand every step of the way. He does lack a bit of confidence, so you have to show him it’s OK and reassure him.

You take on a lot of catch rides at events, especially for the child’s classes. How do you cope adapting to each horse you ride? I’m extremely lucky to be able to ride so many beautiful horses for wonderful friends and clients. For the past three years, I have been extremely busy with catch rides, usually class after class, and it has been a big learning curve on how to adapt to each and every horse very quickly (sometimes without a warm-up). I try to get on each horse with a fresh mindset, get a feel for it, and then adjust what I need to and hopefully get the best outcome I can.

What is the key to your success? The key to my success is training hard and preparation. I make sure I’m training weeks before every comp so that my horses and I are at our best. At the comps, preparing myself is key, as is preparation for the ring. Look for your own space, ride every transition, every workout, every test. Show the judge the best side of your harmony with your horse. Try your best and have fun.

Another key to my success is definitely the backing I have from my family. Without my parents, I wouldn’t be able to have the horses I do or go to the shows I compete at. We are away a lot, living a 7-hour drive from Sydney and a 6-hour drive to Melbourne/Werribee, so having Mum there to help me and be able to drive me is a big task. Lastly, my coaches over the years; without them, I wouldn’t be the rider I am today.

Not only do you show, but you also compete in dressage. Do you have a favourite discipline? My dressage career began in 2021 when we purchased my first Warmblood (Gowrie Park Cognac) Ruby; she showed me the ropes of dressage riding and is definitely one of the fanciest horses I have ridden. She took me around my first dressage tests from Novice all the way to the FEI Juniors.

Although I love both disciplines, dressage is definitely starting to become a favourite. I love the feeling when you arrive at a dressage comp; it is super chilled and low-key compared to showing. Now, with my new addition, Freshman R, I have two beautiful dressage horses to compete.

Who are your current rides, and tell us about them? I currently have three competition horses in training at the moment. Beverley Just A Dream (Harley) – Riding Pony gelding he is a grey 14.1hh small open galloway by Mirinda Field of Dreams. He has the quirkiest of personalities, and everyone who meets him loves him.

Gowrie Park Cognac (Ruby) – Liver chestnut Warmblood mare by Its Speculation who is a 15.3hh medium/advanced trained dressage horse who also crosses over in the show ring as a small open hack.

And lastly, Freshman R (Freshi) – Brown Warmblood gelding by Fiji. A 16hh elementary/medium trained horse, who I have recently started competing dressage in the FEI Juniors at the Victorian Youth Dressage Champs in January 2024, where we placed third overall.

Every show varies with catch rides depending on location and my availability, but at the recent SHCV Battle of the Borders and Canberra Royal, I competed on BC Summer, Sonos Park Sweet Soprano, Aria By Design, Dreamtime Xcalibur, Eagle Park Swish, Whitmere Top Fashion, Koora-lyn Perceptions, Wynara Vegas, Rosemont Ace of Hearts, Nalinga Piano Man, and my 2 boys.

Gowrie Park Cognac competing at Sydney CDI J 2023. Photo: Rodney’s Photos

Gowrie Park Cognac competing at Sydney CDI J 2023. Photo: Rodney’s Photos

Do you have any young up-and-coming horses you are excited about? I have a super special pony that will hopefully make her debut at the show this year. She is a 4-year-old, 13hh, black Riding Pony mare. Her show name is Earlsley Park Songbird, and she is out of the stunning sire Naruni Park Class. Because of my busy schedule, she keeps getting put on the backburner, but hopefully, we will find the time this year.

How do you deal with the pressures of competing at a high level at a young age while still riding for others? I used to get extremely nervous when competing, but over the past two years, I have learnt to cope better with the pressure, and I just try to do the best I can with each and every horse.

I’m super lucky to be supported by a great circle of friends who encourage and support me no matter what, which helps me deal with the pressure that comes with competing at a high level. 

Which horse has taught you the most and why? Ruby, our chestnut mare, has definitely taught me the most; she was a big step up for me coming off show ponies and galloways. So moving onto a dressage-trained Warmblood had its challenges. She was a lot of horse who taught me how to use my core and seat to ride whilst maintaining soft hands. She was the best confidence booster for me and was patient when I made mistakes. She is super safe but quirky and has taught me a lot of how to ride, teaching me patience, the aids to the movements and the timing. 

Walk us through a day as Emma Hutchinson: It begins with around 6.30 -7am wake-up. I then head straight out to do the horses. If it’s hot we ride a few before school, otherwise after school.

My routine includes putting them into their paddocks, feeding them, cleaning out stables, etc. I then head back inside; it is normally around 8am at this time. I have breakfast and get ready for school. I do school online, and normally between 8.30am and 12pm. Once school is completed, it’s time for some lunch and then out to ride. I usually ride between three to five horses, depending if I have client horses in training. Once the riding is complete, I bring all of the horses into the stables, make feeds, do hay, etc., and then it is back inside for dinner and some more school work if needed. Then shower and off to bed, ready for another day tomorrow.

Who is your idol? I have been super lucky to attend both the Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin masterclasses at QSEC. They are both people that I idolise, and I have learnt so much from watching them teach others.

I have also been fortunate enough to train with Jessica Dertell, who is someone I really look up to. Jessica coached me and my horse, Freshman R, going into Victorian Youth Dressage Champs, and we improved in leaps and bounds in the few days we spent there doing bootcamp. It was a lot of fun and something I look forward to doing again.
What are the best words of advice you have been given? Look after my horse and do what’s best for them. The horse first, the sport second.

What is your advice for other aspiring young riders wanting to find success in the show ring? Surround yourself with the right circle of friends and trainers that lift you up, support you and make you feel inspired. Each and everyone is on their own journey, so it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there. And practise, practise, practise, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Eyes on the ground are a necessity. Have fun and make lots of memories.

What are your future plans? My future plans are to continue showing, competing and training my dressage horses up through the levels and hopefully do a few international competitions in the coming years.

3 things we don’t know about Emma
1. I take on client horses for training and campaigning.
2. I love camping and fishing adventures with family and am definitely competitive.
3. I work for the family business Hutcho’s Metalworks and Contracting in the school holidays, so it’s hands-on in hi-vis, earning some extra money.

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