Heart of the Na­tion

The Weekend Australian - Magazine - - FRONT - By Ross Bi l t on

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!”

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