Heart of the Nation
There are some curious hybrid sports around these days – mash-ups of different disciplines that produce something more than the sum of their parts. There’s chessboxing, ski-BASE jumping, joggling, Segway polo and dartchery, to name a few. These two Aussies appear to have invented a new one; but then, what on earth would you call horse-riding through water, towing a skimboard?
That’s Lara Scaddan on the horse. The 25-year-old was born and bred here at Wedge Island, north of Perth, and for someone who loves horses it’s pretty much the perfect life. Scaddan works for a local racehorse trainer; she spends every morning exercising the animals at the beach, which she usually has all to herself. “Riding on sand and wading gives the horses a really good workout,” she says. Gus, pictured, is one of her own; she also takes in retired racehorses and retrains them for new lives in campdrafting, showjumping and dressage. Wedge Island 6044 Photography Kym Illman
And that’s Tyler Illman, 17, on the skimboard. He’d taken a break from studying for his school-leaving exams to help his dad on a photoshoot with Lara that day – lugging equipment, holding flashes – and after it was finished, Tyler asked if he could try being towed on his skimboard. Lara was up for it, and his dad, being “a great enabler with this sort of thing”, said sure, why not? It was “fast and very exhilarating”, Tyler says.
It was for Lara, too. She broke her back last year – she was clerk of the course at the Broome racing carnival, leading out the runners, when her own horse got spooked and bucked her off. The Royal Flying Doctor Service flew her to hospital, and she was lucky to walk again after spending months in a brace. Riding on the beach at Wedge Island – which she usually does bareback, without a skimboard in tow – is especially sweet after coming back from an injury like that. “It’s a hell of a lot of fun,” she says. “Just look at that huge smile on my face!”