Beyond the barrier
Ex-racers find success
WESTBURY Show has earned a reputation as one of the state’s biggest horse shows and when the action starts next week long-time show competitor Jo Geard will be there.
Ms Geard has been riding horses since she was seven years old and has become one of the state’s most competitive show jumpers.
Still at pony club stage, Ms Geared had the opportunity to represent Australia as part of an inter-Pacific team in Japan.
She also spent two years working at an eventing yard in Ireland and started showjumping in the 1990s.
“My horses weren't as good at eventing because my scores in the dressage weren’t always high enough, so that’s when I started to do more show jumping,” she said.
A lot of Ms Geard’s success has come with giving ex-racehorses a new career.
Up until recently all her horses were Thoroughbreds.
“My first decent showjumper was Dubbo and I took him from having done not much to the top level in one season, which is pretty unusual.
Another career highlight was winning the Emerald Series at the Australian titles in 2013 on Unreachable Star, another Thoroughbred.
“There is a bit of a stigma around ex-racehorses, but if you get one with the right temperament they are really competitive,” she said.
“A big part of it is finding out all their little quirks. I’ve worked with them for a long time and I don't have too many problems.”
Ms Geard’s main competition horse now is Smudge, who will be at Westbury Show.
“I think the best thing about Westbury is that they have so many different disciplines.
“It’s a good atmosphere too and they’ve put a lot of work into the grounds there to make sure they’re good to jump on.”
About 250 horses are expected to compete at the show from November 9-10.
From miniature ponies to draught horses, Westbury is one of the few shows that caters for three rings of saddle horses and two rings of showjumpers, hunters and stock horses on the main arena.
On Friday the Australian Stock Horse Society will hold its annual state show. Draught horses are a feature this year, with a parade on the Saturday.
Recognition will be given to Thoroughbreds with local studs sponsoring hack and ridden standardbred classes.
Show jumpers will return to Westbury in December for the Tasmanian championships.
SUCCESS: Show jumper Jo Geard and Smudge preparing for the Westbury Show.