Hunter Valley to New England
Moving from the Hunter Valley to New England to follow her daughters'
equestrian passions was a risky but rewarding move for Rochelle Tubb and her family.
Parents make enormous sacrifices for their children. That is a
statement few would argue with. From working overtime to pay for
school fees to giving up weekend hobbies to become head taxi driver
to and from their child's sporting matches. Parents go without so they
can offer their children the best possible opportunities in life. That
is what led us to make the move to the New England town of Armidale three
years ago, so our daughters could pursue their love of all things equestrian,
and as a family, we have never looked back.
An instilled passion
Imogen, Bronte and Arabella were introduced to horses from the time they
were just a few weeks old, the passion for all things equestrian handed down
from my mother to me and then to my three daughters. They all had small ponies
from the time they could walk and in a safe environment were introduced to the
pleasures of riding and caring for these beautiful animals.
While the girls still all ride and have come up through the ranks of pony
club, one daughter in particular, Bronte, 12, has taken her equestrian
enthusiasm to a much higher level competing at state and national level
in the world of show riding. From the time she first rode a horse, Bronte
was a natural. Some people might scoff at this term, but like all sports,
some kids have a natural aptitude and some have to work damn hard to achieve
Bronte first rode at Sydney Royal – one of the biggest and most
competitive horse shows in Australia – when she was eight years old.
With her beautiful ponies Smithfields Toy Dancer (Toy) and
Woranora Flaunt It (Pinky) she qualified for national representation
in National Interschool Championship and competed at Sydney, Canberra
and Brisbane Royals every year while she was in primary school.
In the show world we live by the motto, “Rooster one day, feather duster the
next”, as your performance is usually judged by a single person and every
judge has their own opinion. This is a great leveller as winning every week
or at every show is almost unheard of and this creates a great sense of
sportsmanship amongst show riders and teaches the younger riders that it
isn't all about winning.
An equestrian education
When my eldest daughter, Imogen, was ready for high school we looked all over
New South Wales to find a school that would not only accommodate our
equestrian interests, but encourage them. Many schools claim to have equestrian
teams, but there was no other school we could find that enjoyed and embraced
equestrian achievement and learning like New England Girls' School (NEGS).
With its world-class equestrian facilities, NEGS has nearly 100 horses that
belong to students boarded on its 50-hectare campus.
Girls at NEGS get to combine their education with their equestrian passions.
Their school days aren't easy; they are up at 6am to feed, clean stables and
let their horses out, then back straight after school to ride and train in
their various disciplines before feeding and rugging up, heading to dinner
and then doing 90 minutes of school work. The school has a firm policy of
“fail the course, no horse”. Having a horse at school with you teaches the
girls a number of life skills: to be committed, organised and independent.
While we are now further away from major city competitions and royals, we
are part of a horse-loving community that encourages girls to foster and
pursue their equestrian goals. Bronte has achieved many of those in the
last few years: ticking off winning a champion girl rider at a royal show
and qualifying and placing in the top 10 at one of Australia's biggest
horse shows: the Grand Nationals. Her next goal is to win a garland at
the Grand Nationals. She has already qualified in one class for 2017 and
is working hard towards gaining her qualifier in others. Last year, Bronte
represented NSW at the National Interschool Championships and was
thrilled to be named overall runner-up in the primary Show Horse category.
I always remember my Year 6 teacher telling me I would “never make a living
out of brushing a horse’s tail” and while a ‘career’ in the equestrian world
wasn't my ambition, having horses in my life was, and I am glad I have been
able to pass that passion on to my daughters.