Riding for Sarah Rose
Friend rides on for lost equestrian star
FAMILY and friends of 16-yearold Sarah Rose Beltz, right, have paid tribute to her memory in the best way they know how — by taking part in an equestrian event.
Sarah, who tragically died of meningococcal disease in July, had dreamt of competing in the Grand Nationals. Yesterday, close friend Ava Halloran qualified for the competition — on Sarah’s horse, Just an Enigma.
TASMANIAN equestrian star Sarah Rose Beltz dreamt of competing in the Grand Nationals, but she tragically died from meningococcal disease in July before she had her shot in the big arena.
Refusing to let the 16-yearold’s hard work go to waste, Sarah’s family and friends have continued to train her horse Just an Enigma, better known as Nigs, for the past three months.
Nigs and Sarah’s close friend Ava Halloran, also 16, yesterday came one step closer to making her dream a reality, qualifying for Grand Nationals after taking out three of the top awards at the Show Horse Council Spring Gala in Launceston.
“It was a day of mixed emotions but I know Sarah was with me all the way,” Ava said.
“If Sarah was here she would’ve told me to ride it like I stole it and to have the best time.
“The show world is an interesting scene but it’s so amazing to see everyone come together during such a hard and difficult time.
“I’ll be riding for Sarah this season and I want to support as many people as possible, that’s what she would’ve done.”
Competitors’ numberplates and the champion ribbons were switched from the traditional colours to pink and purple in Sarah’s memory.
Belinda Beltz, who watched on from the arena sidelines for the first time since her daughter’s death, told the Mercury Sarah would’ve been so proud of Nigs’ performance.
“It’s not the same as seeing my girl on her, but it’s so special to see all her hard work paying off out there,” Ms Beltz said.
“Sarah’s dream was to ride Nigs in the Grand Nationals. She qualified this year and entered to ride but a horse jumped on her foot and broke it.
“She was so devastated. I told her she had the rest of her life ahead of her and I promised her she’d be able to ride next March.
“She was taken way too soon, she still had so much to live for.”
Sarah, affectionately known as ‘ Sarz’, ‘ Sarah Bear’ and ‘RaRa’, passed away from meningococcal disease just hours after she was rushed to emergency on July 12.
Ms Beltz said she and Sarah’s dad Nick missed their “angel” every day but were comforted by the outpouring of love and support they’d received since her death.
“I have to believe she was taken for her kind heart and
pure soul,” she said.
“I get about 30 messages a day from people remembering Sarah. Sometimes I message back and sometimes I don’t, but to receive those thoughts is lovely.
“It’s so nice to think she was so well regarded and loved. Everyone is trying to do what they can to help.”
Ms Beltz said Nigs couldn’t have continued competing if it weren’t for the support of Sarah’s Aunty Debi, breeder Brooke Knott, sponsors Kim Symmons of Petrusma real estate and Anne and Peta McMinn from Horseland Hobart, coach Fiona Fehlberg, vet Catherine Charlton, and friends Claire Reynolds and Amy Griffiths.
Another person who went above and beyond was equestrian instructor Paul Austin.
Mr Austin, who coached Sarah and her horses for two years, travelled all the way from his home in Queensland this weekend to make Sarah’s “dream happen”.
“Her dream was to get her horse Enigma to the Grand Nationals, and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.
“She definitely would’ve made it there this year. Most kids her age haven’t got the capability, experience or patience to produce a show horse, but Sarah did a great job.
“She was a truly beautiful person and she never said no to anything, she always took a challenge on and would’ve given anything a try.”
Nigs will compete again today before travelling to Melbourne to spend time with Ava in preparation for the upcoming competition season.
The Grand Nationals will be held at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre in New South Wales from March 24-30 next year.
‘‘She was taken way too soon, she still had so much to live for ... I have to believe she was taken for her kind heart and pure soul. SARAH’S MUM BELINDA BELTZ
CLOSE: Belinda Beltz, left, congratulates Ava Halloran, 16, who rode Sarah Beltz’s horse Just an Enigma to a win in Launceston.
MMEEMMOORRIIEESS:: SSaarraahh RRoossee BBeellttzz,, wwiitthh hheerr bbeelloovveedd hhoorrssee JJuusstt aann EEnniiggmmaa.. SSaarraahh ddiieedd ffrroomm mmeenniinnggooccooccccaall ddiisseeaassee iinn JJuullyy..
FOR THE LOVE OF SARAH: Coach Paul Austin, of Queensland, Belinda Beltz and Ava Halloran, 16, of Geelong, with Just an Enigma — known as Nigs — who was Sarah Rose Beltz’s horse. Below: Ava riding Nigs in the Show Horse Council Springpg Gala in Launceston.