ACE Equine – Archibald Campain Elite Equine
Stuart Archibald and Tamara Campain
These two lovely riders are taking over the Equestrian community with their success, passion, love and determination. Needing no introduction, Stuart Archibald and Tamara Campain.
Where did it all begin?
I began riding at the young age of 4. My parents were not horsey at all but my mum was lucky enough to have a good friend with some land so she decided she would like to find us a horse to start riding occasionally. She came across an old free to good home OTTB who had done some eventing 10 years prior to us getting him. He was about 20 years old and was 16.3hh. Probably not the best idea for a 4 year old child but we didn’t have enough knowledge or funds to purchase 2 horses at the time. Thankfully he was amazingly quiet and made me fall in love with these animals and the sport and never look back. Over the years my family and I grew in knowledge and I was given my first proper competitive pony to lease at about 6 years of age. I went and watched Melbourne 3DE when I was 10 years old and knew form that moment that I had to keep working hard to be able to ride at this event one day. Funnily enough a short 4 years later at 14 years of age I competed at my first Melbourne 3DE. Since then I’ve seriously caught the bug of high level competitions in both eventing and dressage and my dreams and goals just continue to get bigger. Without the support of my family and amazing coaches over the years who gave me opportunities to grow as a rider and person I would not be where I am now. Im a very determined person and once I set my mind on something I do anything possible to get there. I took up every opportunity as a younger rider to learn from as many different people, ride as many different horses and watch as many high level riders ride and I feel like these are the reasons why I am where I am now riding amazing horses in 2 different disciplines and have my own equestrian business known as ACE Equine with my partner Stuart Archibald.
I was fortunate enough to start in the realm of show horses alongside my mum Joanne Lee- Archibald. I was a typical little show boy who had a cute little pony called Elvis and then a very successful Galloway called Party. Pony, Galloway and Rider classes I participated in all over the country. I was very lucky to start off this way with Mum as I did witness how to correctly present for competition and what hard work was all about. Mum probably never thought that in due time I would be taking over all the horses, including hers, to chase down dreams bigger than what she ever suspected. Show Horses eventually evolved into Eventing which lead me to solely Dressage and I have never looked back since. I have ridden a lot of horses over my time both my own and clients. They have all helped me get to where I am now and I will be forever grateful. Likewise I will be forever in debt to all my mentors and coaches over the journey including Paul Quigg, Virginia Creed, Maree Tomkison, Robyn Keam and David Shoobridge. I have definitely caught the horse bug and will not be giving it up any time soon. In fact I have managed to overcome two incidents with my back that was supposed to put me in a wheelchair for life and was only able to turn the tides because I simply had to get back in the saddle where I had left off. Nowadays, I am in a very lucky position now to be sharing this dream alongside my partner Tamara Campain which has formed ‘ACE Equine’ (Archibald Campain Elite Equine). Tara is like me; slightly stubborn and set very firmly on becoming the best and that is why we get along so well. From a young age I knew I wanted to be involved with horses for life, but I knew I wanted to share the journey with someone else. I am lucky that I am currently living that dream with a fire shared between our hearts that nobody can put out.
This pair have had many successes, but it has not come without hard work and many set backs.
Tara stated her biggest accomplishment as a young rider was when she was able to stay on her pony in the water jump on cross country.
“He used to try and roll in every single one and in most cases he succeeded!”
For Tara, riding was always fun, her parents never pushed her to win, but always presented her with every opportunity. This didn’t include the most expensive gear or horses, but just with their time, encouragement and enthusiasm towards horses and her sport.
Later in Tara’s career when things got a bit more serious, Tara started to kick goals and become recognised as an up and coming star.
- Producing 2 horses from the start of their careers to FEI Eventing by the age of 21
- 2015 Victorian Eventing Rider of the Year
- 2015 PCA National Senior Eventing Champion
- Top 10 Melbourne International 3DE Open 1*
- Producing a young green broken dressage horse into the top 5 in the 4 yr old class at DWTS 2017
Stuart has given many disciplines a go and has succeeded at all, he has many career highlights so far and is striving to achieve more and more every day. Progressing from Champion Rider classes, to State and National Representation, to Ambassador Roles for Equestrian Victoria as the 2011 Victorian Dressage Young Ambassador to International selection on a training scholarship in 2012.
“Being lucky enough to ride so many horses over the years across many different levels has allowed me to achieve countless wins at Dressage events. Being selected as the Young Rider Captain at the 2015 Dressage Grand Final with my late Roxbury Lucille is an event I’ll never forget. It was such a buzz cantering into that arena with so many spectators watching on set in the heart of Adelaide. That was something I will never forget but something I am going to set out to achieve again.”
Advice to your 13 year old selves?
To be patient! Not everything has to happen at once.
To always maintain a balance in life and enjoy everything that’s gets thrown your way.
To always stick to your values and morals and fight for what you believe is the right thing to do for yourself.
At any stage of your career did you ever loose confidence or not believe in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that challenge
Tara – Just every single day! Self-doubt it something I think every equestrian has to deal with almost every time they sit in the saddle until you really try to work on the mental side of your riding. I struggled with this drastically and still do sometimes. Breaking my back twice in 2 years caused me to really reconsider eventing and I doubted that I would ever have the confidence to go back out and gallop large xc tracks ever again. However thanks to the people around me I was able to slowly work my way back to where I was before my accident. Im still yet to have my first FEI eventing start back but it is planned to happen in November and I cannot wait. If your ever struggling with confidence, fall back on the people around you. I know I couldn’t have got back to where I am without the amazing people in my life especially my parents. Make sure if your lacking confidence in you or your horse heading into a competition that your preparation is 100%. Im a big believer in not entering the competition unless you and your horse are well and truly ready. If your preparation has been 100% then there should be no reason to have any doubt heading into that competition.
Stuart – Riding professionally really is a roller coaster. The highs are a massive blood rush that makes you seem completely bulletproof, however the lows make your heart drop and make you feel like the entire world around is collapsing in on its self around you. I have countless moments I can remember, both extreme highs and lows but it does seem to always be the lows / losses that make you lose your self-confidence and not believe in yourself that you remember and hold onto the most. This is something I think we all share in common. We are human after all and we all have our own self coping mechanism.
Mine is simple: Stay humble in the highs, stay calm in the lows, appreciate everyone’s help they offer and always return the favor when you can. Most importantly do not react or make hasty decisions when you are filled with emotion. Karma has a funny way of making the big wheel spin so simply smile and keep moving forward.
2. Do you have any pre competition routines for yourself to prepare you mentally?
Stuart and I love pre riding our horses at every competition. This includes hacking them out or if needed then a proper schooling session before the competition. We like to get to the competition really early and give each horse this opportunity to relax. Its surprising how much better we feel as riders once we do this as then the next time we get on them for the actual event, they are more relaxed and we as riders are on the job and know the horses are ready to perform as the pre ride got rid of any nerves or extra energy in the horses. Other than that we like to have everything organized and in ready to do. Stuart and I are always there for each other and know what we have to do to get each other’s horses ready. The more organized everything is then the more relaxed mentally Stuart and I can be.
3. What made you choose your discipline (Dressage/Eventing)
Tara: I started off doing a bit of showing as a young rider which I am extremely grateful for as it taught me the necessity of being well presented and looking after your horse. I then transferred into pony club and that’s where I found my love of eventing.I love that fact that in eventing we have to be good at more than one thing, I love training the horses to be confident in 3 phases and the feeling of them carrying you around a tough XC track with ease is such an amazing thing. Ive always loved the training side of dressage however and the attention to detail (not to mention the bling!!) so I am lucky enough to have 2 super young dressage horses as well as my eventing horses so that I can now do both disciplines. Just means I am a little shorter on time now and am very good at planning the competition season early!
Stuart: My origin started in the show ring. Mum was a mad-hatter showie as they are described and so that’s just where I naturally began. I went along with mum to all the Agriculture shows throughout Vic and NSW as she sought after qualifications for the big royals. I became a showie too competing at all the Agriculture Shows & Royals. I started to seek more of challenge as I got older and so started to do more Showjumping and Horse Trials with my horses which is what got myself hooked into the performance world of Equestrian. It was the age of 18 that a great friend and mentor Maree Tomkison, said to me that if I really wanted to ride professionally in the future I had to pick a discipline and go for it with everything. Deep down I knew Dressage was more of a passion of mine than the jumping side and so that became my pathway. I thoroughly enjoy the finer points of training Dressage in an attempt to seek perfection with all different types of horses and helping others to achieve their goals. Dressage is something you can definitely cannot rush nor take short cuts on. It takes patience, dedication, the right amount of self-criticism and 110% mental resilience to keep progressing.
Goal setting is a huge part of success in any field of life, whether that is business, sport, education, finance, family and day to day life.
Top-level athletes, successful business-people and achievers in all fields all set goals.
Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and your resources so that you can make the very most of your life.
- S – Specific (or Significant).
- M – Measurable (or Meaningful).
- A – Attainable (or Action-Oriented).
- R – Relevant (or Rewarding).
- T – Time-bound (or Trackable)
How do Tara and Stuart go about setting there goals and achieving them?
Tamara: I am a very determined person and used to set many goals and would work day in and day out to reach them. However after my 2 serious back injuries I now find my goals a little more realistic. I was terribly upset when I was injured as I fell short of reaching these huge goals I set myself and would mentally punish myself due to the injury causing me to not be able to reach them. This was not healthy for me or the horses and I’ve learnt to not put as much pressure on myself and go with the flow a little more. Sure I still set goals, however they are more realistic now and im better off mentally because of it. I ride a little more day to day and really listen to how the horses are feeling. Of course I still strive to be the best and one day ride at an Olympics, however there is never a time frame put on these goals anymore and it’s a much nicer way to train.
Stuart: I am very much on the same line as Tara on this one. Believe me, my dream is to be Overseas representing Australia with a gold medal around my neck for Aus and to see Tara with either equal gold for Dressage or Gold in the Eventing. That is my dream. If we achieve that dream, only fate can decide.
Therefore every day we simply chose to maintain a large work ethic and keep improving ourselves and horses the best we can. When dealing with horses, anything can happen, we all know that. Yes I am very ambitious and determined to do well and so I go by the mantra that you should always “Ride to your horse’s needs, not to your desires”. I set my goals and aims up at the start of every year with competitions and work towards that hoping that everything goes to plan for the year ahead.
Stuarts opinion on Dressage in Australia vs Dressage Overseas
Very hot topic at the moment within our community as to how Australians can catch up to the European League.
Overseas the benchmark is now 90%, I believe that just speaks for itself with where they are at. The revolution of Carl and Charlotte has definitely shaped the world of dressage for the better in my opinion. A more sympathetic less forced way of training has evolved how to identify the traits needed in a horse to take you forward no matter what the bloodlines may be and the hope that anyone can make it given the right opportunity, not just money.
Australia is on the right path, there is no doubt about that. We have some super talented Young Riders in all disciplines who are giving it a decent crack. And I feel that’s where our hope lies for the future is with our younger generation. They are very united and very supportive of one another which creates a strong network all working towards the same goal, not against one another.
Our horses are improving out of sight. We have proven already that some of the Australian breed horses can become the best in the world across all disciplines. The modern day warmblood has changed for the better; a far more athletic and impressive animal that can meet the demands of the sport and is built to last.
However where I feel Australia is lacking still is recognizing these modern-day warmbloods once they hit the competition ring. The warmblood that trotted/cantered up the centerline 10 years ago is a lot different to the one now and unfortunately is being punished with ‘tension’ remarks even though it a necessity to develop once you hit FEI.
Probably one of the biggest differences between Australia and the rest of Europe is the access to top quality trainers. Speaking from experience, in Europe you could drive through every little or major township and be told that a great former/current Olympian resides in that town and is always busy teaching. Compared to Australia where it is much harder to have that privilege. I applaud our top riders for spending every minute of the day giving back to the sport when they can with their own lessons to better improve the education within our country. We will definitely catch up to Europe, it would be un-Australian to give up. I know it’s not going to be a matter of ‘if’ we can hit the 90% bench mark, but a matter of ‘when’.
Tamara’s opinion on the fine line of young riders pushing up through the levels to quickly and ‘challenging’ themselves
Interesting question. I am a huge believer in safety and not going up the levels to fast. I for a fact have been known to down grade horses that I felt where not 100% confident at a certain level so I put them back down for a few more starts before they were then stepped back up and they were much better off for it. If riders have coaches or a support crew who are there when they needs them for advice on things like when to step up a level then I feel like they will safely be able to do this as these people will give them an honest opinion as to when they believe they are ready. However it is a concern of mine for some riders with little support around them or who have not seeked advice from a professional or high level rider and decide to push themselves by going up a level then this is a serious concern. There have been too many serious injuries or deaths especially in the sport of eventing recently (and im not saying this has to do with riders pushing themselves) That people need to really make sure they feel confident before they go up the levels. Mistakes happen to everyone and are unavoidable, however if we all take the time needed to produce horses up the levels correctly then im sure our sport will stay a happy and positive one. The great thing about our sport at the moment is that we have so many amazingly talented young riders coming through in all disciplines which is great for the future of our sport. I love the fact that these riders want to push themselves to be better, stronger & faster as we need this enthusiasm, however they just need to know how to channel that in the right direction and then we as a country will be unstoppable in the future.
Thank you to Stuart and Tara for taking the time to share their stories and opinions on interesting topics in the equestrian community. All the best for the future guys and for ACE Equine!
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One thought on “ACE Equine – Dressage and Eventing”
Nice post and it is interesting for me to get the Australian perspective on dressage.