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Muswellbrook saddles up stunning new mane event in Hunter Valley

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Smartly turned out, not a hair out of place and looking quietly confident as they awaited the steward’s call.

And, those were just the two-legged competitors.

Looking even more splendid beside them were the four-legged stars of the inaugural Spring Horse Show at the Muswellbrook Showground at the weekend.

Broke’s Brett Davey and three-year-old son Jack astride Tully after competing in the Under 7 Riders in the Funkana ring at the Spring Horse Show at Muswellbrook Showground. Photo: Laurie Sullivan
Candice Carroll, of Singleton, preparing to enter the ring at the Spring Horse Show at Muswellbrook Showground with her stock horse, Hugo Boss. Photo: Laurie Sullivan

Smartly turned out, not a hair out of place and looking quietly confident as they awaited the steward’s call.

And, those were just the two-legged competitors.

Looking even more splendid beside them were the four-legged stars of the inaugural Spring Horse Show at the Muswellbrook Showground at the weekend.

Not competing due to injury, Aberdeen’s Mikayla Croft, 16, and her cousin, five-year-old Halle Borham volunteered to organise ribbons at the Spring Horse Show. Photo: Laurie Sullivan
Not everyone appeared interested in the inaugural Spring Horse Show, judging by this dog’s look. Photo: Laurie Sullivan

The participants’ goal was to add more performance qualifications in Australian Stock Horse and breed classes, as well as hack, hunter or riding divisions, to earn a ticket to the big dance – the 2023 Sydney Royal Agricultural Show next Easter.

Some are professionals, while for others it’s an equally consuming hobby requiring dedication, a love of horses… and a healthy bank balance.

Doyles Creek dad Doug Palmer and his four-year-old son Buck, who competed in Under 7 Riders class at the Spring Horse Show on the family horse, also named Buck. Photo: Laurie Sullivan
East Maitland hobby breeder Aaron Fordike and three-year-old filly Miss Mafia. Photo: Laurie Sullivan

Show organiser Brooke Terry was blessed with perfect weather and a stampede of entries.

“It couldn’t be more perfect,” the Upper Hunter Show Society vice-president and horse section co-ordinator said.

“The sun’s shining, the ground is looking great and we’ve had a massive turnout – we couldn’t have squeezed in another float.

Emity Croft (Aberdeen) with mum Amy at the Spring Horse Show. Photo: Laurie Sullivan
Ready to compete in the Funkana at the Spring Horse Show were, from left Nickie Bester (Scone), Alana Williams (Singleton), Erin Wilson (Singleton) and Isabelle Amos (Tamworth). Photo: Laurie Sullivan

“Everyone has missed the chance to compete much in recent years.

“First it was COVID, then the recent rains meant everything had to be called off.

“Everyone’s been busting to get out with their horses.”

Three-year-old Maddie Stafford, of Scone, was on sure-footed Ralphy, who is eight times older than his rider. Maddie gamely lined up in the Under 7 Riders class against kids twice her age in Funkana events at the Spring Horse Show. Photo: Laurie Sullivan
Ten-year-old Mia Badior, of Singleton, teamed up with Ritzy Boy in the Under 11 Riders class at the Spring Horse Show at Muswellbrook Showground. Photo: Laurie Sullivan

Following the success of the maiden event, Terry hopes to run the Spring Horse Show annually, complementing the Bengalla Upper Hunter Show’s three-day horse event conducted during the annual show in March.

The showground is also home to the town’s Great Cattle Dog Muster.

“Today’s show was staged to help people qualify for the Royal,” she said.

“We got the go-ahead from the ASC and the RAS and I’m hopeful we can run it again next year.”

Muswellbrook judge Chris Hayes sashed Isobelle Amos’ filly Frolick after the Tamworth pair were placed in the Under 7 Riding Class at the Spring Horse Show. Photo: Laurie Sullivan 
Rebecca Janssen, Vanessa, Isobel and Adelaide Williams, all of Martindale. Photo: Laurie Sullivan

With just a six-week lead-up, it was decided not to approach sponsors, so there was no prizemoney – just ribbons to further adorn placegetters’ necks.

It was proof, perhaps, that these show ponies don’t need much of an incentive to dress up.

Singleton horse breeder Andrew Buckley was leading yearling filly with Langtree Covergirl, which he purchased from the Langtree Stud in Victoria for his 19-month-old daughter, Allegra.

He sheepishly admits he’s “starting her early”, but not by much.

Scone’s Sophie Stafford puts Imperial Quizzer through its paces at the Muswellbrook Showground. Photo: Laurie Sullivan
Pictured with mum Tammy, five-year-old Sophie Stafford, of Scone, was delighted to saddle up Buzz (Imperial Quizzer) in the Under 7 Rider Class at the Spring Horse Show. Photo: Laurie Sullivan

Sporting her five-year-old sister Sophie’s hand-me-down coat, youngsters like Scone three-year-old Maddie Stafford was one of several pre-schoolers who saddled up in the Funkana ring against kids twice her age.

While designed to be a fun way to involve the pony clubbers, these youngsters already show signs of the competitive intensity of their much older peers.

  • Laurie Sullivan
Tamworth-based judge Angie Crump with a delighted Karen Thomsen, of Sandy Hollow, who took out the Open Pony 13 to 13.2 Riding five-year-old Maxen Park Showman. Photo: Laurie Sullivan
Trinette Crawford is a picture of elegance at the inaugural Spring Horse Show. Photo: Laurie Sullivan

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