A HORSE IN THE HUNT:

In Louise Davis, a lo­cal tra­di­tion, and a fam­ily tra­di­tion, lives on

Mansfield Courier - - FRONT PAGE - Weekly pro­file on our peo­ple by Courier jour­nal­ist Steve Vi­vian svi­vian@ne­me­dia.com.au

Louise Davis and Rub­ble look con­tent after their big win at the pres­ti­gious hunt teams jump­ing con­test at the Royal Mel­bourne Show ear­lier this month.

TWENTY years after Mans­field’s cham­pion hunt rider Dick Oliver had his great­est ever sea­son, Mans­field can again cel­e­brate an­other hunt­ing cham­pion.

Ear­lier this month, Mans­field lo­cal Louise Davis and her team from the Li­ly­dale Hunt Club man­aged the per­fect ride to take out vic­tory at the Peter Ron­ald Me­mo­rial Hunt Club Teams Jump­ing Con­test at the Royal Mel­bourne Show.

Ms Davis, who only re­cently jumped back on the horse after a 20 year hia­tus, said she felt proud and hon­oured to fol­low in the foot­steps of Dick Oliver, one of her he­roes.

“I grew up watch­ing these com­pe­ti­tions and in awe of peo­ple like Dick Oliver, who were in­cred­i­ble at it,” Ms Davis said.

“Dick used to win year after year, in ev­ery event that he en­tered, he was in­cred­i­ble.

“To fol­low some­one like him is pretty spe­cial.”

The hunt­ing com­pe­ti­tion is a test of dis­ci­pline, skill and syn­chro­ni­sa­tion, in­volv­ing fence jumps of up to 1.2 me­tres in teams of three.

The first rider per­forms a solo lap of four jumps, be­fore pick­ing up the sec­ond rider for a lap and then the third.

With­out miss­ing a beat, the rid­ers must clear the jumps with im­mac­u­late tim­ing while rid­ing at a fast can­ter to a gal­lop - a ‘hunt­ing pace’, as it is known in the sport.

The event is so named as it is deigned to sim­u­late jump­ing through pad­docks dur­ing a fox hunt.

Ms Davis said the adren­a­line of com­pe­ti­tion and the sat­is­fac­tion of win­ning was an awe­some feel­ing.

“I haven’t won stuff since I was a kid – since the ‘90s – so this is pretty cool,” Ms Davis said.

“Win­ning some­thing as a team is very spe­cial.”

It all came out of the blue for Ms Davis, who had never thought too much about com­pet­ing at such a pres­ti­gious event.

“We did a five minute prac­tice after a hunt one day,” she said.

“We thought maybe we should put these horses to­gether and see if they get along – and they just clicked.

“We had a few laps of prac­tice and thought, ‘oh well, this is as good as we can get it’, so we were just re­ally lucky on the day that it kind of just all fell into place re­ally.”

The com­pe­ti­tion was only the first time Davis and her team had at­tempted the event, but she is now hooked on that win­ning feel­ing.

“It was our first com­pe­ti­tion, and they threw us in the deep end and we won,” Ms Davis said.

“We’ve got to keep it up now – we’ve promised we’re go­ing to go back to back.

“When we fin­ished we were like – ‘let’s do it again’.

“I wasn’t ex­pect­ing it to be that much fun, and then to find out that we won, that just took it to a new level.”

While Mans­field does not have a hunt club it­self, Ms Davis said that the Li­ly­dale Hunt Club has some great land own­ers from Mans­field down to Yea, who in­vite mem­bers onto their prop­erty to ride.

“It is very lucky and it means we get to do what we love with our horses and have a good time with a great bunch of peo­ple,” she said.

A week after her win, Ms Davis said she felt thrilled to do hon­our to one of her fam­ily’s favourite pas­times.

“My fam­ily has been do­ing this for­ever – I had no choice,” Ms Davis said with a smile.

“Hold­ing that win­ner’s shield was pretty cool, es­pe­cially for our fam­i­lies, be­cause they’ve all hunted for so long and are heav­ily in­volved in it. “It was pretty spe­cial.” The vic­tory pro­vides a nice sym­me­try for Ms Davis, who fondly re­mem­bers ‘the grand old man of hunt­ing’, Dick Oliver.

It was 20 years ago that Mr Oliver and his horse China Beach were still one of the best hunt­ing com­bi­na­tions in the state, and had just won four events at the Royal Mel­bourne Show.

“He was such a nice man, just an in­cred­i­ble rider, and we all looked up to him,” said Ms Davis.

PHOTO: Steve Vi­vian

PHOTO: Angie Rickard Pho­tog­ra­phy

HAPPY HUNT­ING GROUND: (From left) Amy Herbert on Casper, Louise Davis on Rub­ble and Jes­sica O’Don­nell on Kerry jump their way to vic­tory dur­ing the Peter Ron­ald Me­mo­rial Hunt Club Teams Jump­ing Con­test at the Royal Mel­bourne Show ear­lier this month.

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