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Personal stories


Just over a year has passed since we featured Jodee O’Leary and her chesnut horse, ‘Bobby’, on our cover.  After being caught in the devastating South Australian bushfires of 2015, losing a beloved pony, the family home and all their posessions, Jodee inspired us with her positive attitude, and determination to rebuild a future and create new memories.


“I love that feeling of freedom and calmness that horses give,” says Mollie McMaster, a young Tasmanian entrepreneur who is turning her passion for horses and her dream to work in the industry into a successful business.  From her family’s property in Campania, Tasmania, Mollie runs, singlehandedly, Lynbrae Equine, an online saddlery which has grown organically from just one line to now stocking a wide range of carefully selected products. 


Three sisters and an unforgettable journey to tame New Zealand’s Kaimanawa horses.  'For the Love of Horses' is a heartfelt story with humble beginnings in rural north New Zealand. Chronicling the trials and tears of Pony Club, the joy of riding bareback, and the pressures of adolescence and competitive show-jumping, it follows the Wilson sisters’ remarkable rise to success at the highest level of competition. It is also the story of an unlikely childhood dream coming true.


It starts with a few strands of hair cut from a horse’s tail. For several days, the hair is cleaned. The craftswoman sets to work: a skeleton of vegetable fibre is made. Around this structure, she weaves a strand of hair. She shapes it as she weaves, moulding and pressing.  When one strand ends, she weaves in another. She needs no more than two or three hairs. She ties off the last strand with a sewing needle and the shape is complete. This is crin: a traditional technique of miniature basketry weaving using horse hair. 


In 1992, a grey horse led the field past the post to take the Melbourne Cup: Subzero, trained by Lee Freedman and ridden by Greg Hall. It was the crowning achievement of his racing career, but for four-year-old Subzero, it was only the beginning of his story.  Now 28, the extraordinary life of this ex-racehorse is the subject of a new book by racing commentator and lifelong fan Adam Crettenden. It is the story not only of Subzero’s life after racing, but of his enduring partnership with owner Graham Salisbury, who gave this horse a new purpose off the track. 


It was only meant to be a quick, simple training session; a short groundwork session with my young horse, Dante, before I left the paddock for the day. I groomed him and, just as I was about to untie him and start some groundwork exercises, I decided to step it up a bit. I went and got the pony’s saddle. Dante had worn it once before and he’d worn a bareback pad many times. It had never been a problem - no bucking, no drama, just polite acceptance. 


Colicchio "Colicchio (Not A Single Doubt x Leisure Pass) raced nine times for one successful win. He was a promising horse on the track, who had a few preparations, due to knee chips, which required surgery. He was found on a Facebook page for sale in August 2014 by my sister, who then sent the advertisement onto me and I instantly fell in love with him. 


On our cover this month, we are proud to showcase Victorian teenager Sammi McMaster and her Off the Track mare DP Destiny otherwise known as ‘Totti’ or ‘The Queen’ at home. Sammi, along with her sister Sarah and mother Lisa, is a Racing Victoria Acknowledged Retrainer.


Hero "Hero was just four when we got him. He was an expensive yearling, brought into Sydney for two barrier trials, and then he came north to the Toowoomba area for six starts, unfortunately with no wins.  He was quite light in condition, with a matted tail and mane, but he had a good walk and a kind eye. Hero has flourished and he’s now 11 years old. 


An initiative of Racing Victoria launched in 2012, the Off the Track program is helping place retired racehorses in second careers. Through their network of Acknowledged Retrainers, by driving demand for the breed as a performance and pleasure horse, and educating the community about the versatility and the appropriate care and re-training of the Thoroughbred, Racing Victoria is actively ensuring Thoroughbreds are afforded appropriate care and attention before, during and after their racing life.


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