A master of many – Grace Kay

grace k MI#DE.jpg

The smile says it all – Grace and Faberge enjoying their victory lap at MI3DE.

In the saddle from the age of just two, being led around gymkhana days and pony club rallies to taking on the equestrian world in full force in more than just one discipline.

Grace described her younger self as a wild bareback, dam swimming munchkin. Today, she dominates her riding like a true champion.

Throughout Grace’s years of riding, she has had the guidance from many wonderful coaches, Kim Peterson, Miguel Tavora and Andrew Barnett, who have all supported her in developing into the rider she is today. Grace has successfully produced two of her own horses through to FEI level.

andrea dunn

Photo Credit: Andrea Dunn

Highlights

Grace has had a very successful career as a rider and by the looks of things, there is no slowing down on that front!

The biggest highlight of Grace’s career to date is winning the Melbourne International 1* on her beautiful, Faberge, a horse she bought at 6 months old, broke in herself and trained all the way to where they are now.

The highlights of my career would definitely be winning the Melbourne International 1* on Faberge, a horse that we bought at 6months old, that we broke in ourselves and have trained on together since then. Faberge was a difficult young horse, and whilst competing some free jumping as cross training for their dressage work, Grace decided to give Faberge a crack at eventing. Faberge had success in the sand pit, as well as the show jumping arena, and has now turned to eventing full time.

Grace states Faberge “is the most talented horse I’ve ever sat on and after training with Andrew Barnett for the last two years we are getting ready for our first 2* start at the end of this year.”

Other highlights include winning a state YR title on Jamiriquai 5 years in a row and producing him from Young horse classes through to FEI. As well as these ridden achievements, a highlight would also be receiving the ENSW Young Athlete of the Year Award for Dressage in 2012.

 

grace dressage

Two Disciplines and Dominating

On a personal note, I find it incredible to watch all riders focus on their sport but in particular Eventer’s working so hard to successful dominate three elite disciplines,  but to be successful in Dressage at a FEI level as well as Event at and FEI level at the same time. I think that is fantastic and a credit to the determination and hard work Grace puts into her sport. A true athlete.

Grace loves both disciplines but she finds a lot of enjoyment in the eventing, in pushing the horses and herself to accomplish physical and mental feats that she didn’t believe she would have been able to do.

“The eventing is very much skill based and I find that sometimes when the Dressage can be quite subjective and difficult to follow I always have fun with the eventing!”

Goals

Inspirations

I think to reach my goals I have a lot of internal motivation, i’m often inspired by others around me and the top of that list would have to be Ingrid Klimke but the drive to wake up each day and keep working away is that desire to be the best.

The Future

Goals and horses I find are difficult to coincide! Long term I’m aiming for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, this year is the first that I’ve gone into the horses full time after finishing uni so I will be looking to consolidate our business and expand my team of eventers in order to reach that goal. I would love to do the double discipline but will take one step at a time!

Goal Setting

I like to have long term and short term goals, short term goals that help me stay focussed and on track but those bigger overarching goals to really work towards. Of course they are always changing as the horses develop but being flexible and not getting disheartened is really important in keeping moving forward.

first 1* win

 

Q&A

1. What advice would you give your 13 year old self?

“Keep going, the hard work is worth it” I think that working with horses is a really difficult line of work, you are constantly thinking of ways to improve both yourself and a 700kg free spirited animal but the days where you overcome one of those hurdles or achieve an accomplishment you have been working at definitely make it worth while.

2. What feelings did you experience winning the CCI* at Melbourne?

I was ecstatic. We had a difficult lead up to Melbourne, Fab is a very sensitive character and lost the plot training a few days prior to our departure when a kangaroo intruded on our session. It was a mental battle and I was quite on edge for 4 days straight. I don’t even know how many times i closed my eyes and mentally visualised all three phases but I had complete confidence in Faberge, I knew we could win the Dressage, he has so much scope cross country and is a very careful jumper so if I rode him well enough I knew we could do it. Flying over that last jump was the best feeling I’ve ever had, somewhere between euphoria and complete relief!!

3. What does a typical week include for yourself and Fab?

Fab and I generally work together 5-6 days a week, I try and school xc once a week, dressage 2-3 days, pole work one day a week and a hack out once a week as well. Fab is becoming a real schoolmaster and I often use him to pony our breakers off on hacks out!

4. Do you have any pre competition routines for yourself to prepare you mentally? 

I have in the last year started to visualise my events a lot. I like to take ten minutes while getting dressed to stop, breathe, close my eyes and mentally rehearse so that my mind is aware and able to react quickly to each situation as it arises.

5. I love your jods! Its amazing to see riders put themselves out there and be themselves. What advice would you give to riders who just do it ‘because everyone else is’ or because of the social pressures presented in this day and age?

Thank you! I think the cross country is such a fun stage of the event, I originally had a very loud and lairy set of “american” pants that my mum could spot from anywhere! This eventuated into a bit of a fun ritual till I found my gold set which I absolutely love (especially as they suit my golden boy!) I think that we need to take our sport seriously and have a bit of respect for tradition but there’s always opportunities to let bit of your personality shine through and if it makes you happy and you can have a bit of fun then I think go for it!

6. Describe the connection you and your team of horses have?

I love each and every one of my horses. I love the progression of understanding their personalities, getting to know each of their quirks and little traits, their strengths and their weaknesses. The connection I have with each one is unique and founded on trust and mutual respect. If I want these amazing animals to perform at their best and try their hardest then I have a responsibility to provide opportunities for them to understand their work and give them a chance to really enjoy and be proud of their work. For me watching Fab turn a corner, sit up, lock onto a fence and carry me down to it eagerly is an amazing feeling.

xcfabdressage

 

Note:

Grace would like to express a big thank you to all the support I have around me, my family, mum especially who spends all day outside with me, helping me with every horse. My clients who put their trust in me and help me to achieve my goals as well as sponsors; Trailrace Saddlery, Equipe Saddles, Tucci boots and Ocean Easy Stables with their Tech Stirrups. I am very fortunate to have such a great support network and feel so grateful to have them all.

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