As the Cadets get closer to taking on their first work placement, Ellie Morrison learned some valuable lessons about riding out on Week Eight when given a tougher mount and riding with Tommy Peter on the sand track to prepare for her next adventure in a racing stable.
Week 8 of the Explorer Cadetship program was preceded by a pleasant weekend enjoying the benefits of living near Sydney, including visiting Bronte Beach with fellow Cadets.
Monday morning was a stark contrast back to reality as we commenced our usual routine of morning stable duties. At this stage, we are refining our stable skills to ensure we can complete tasks in a timely manner to fit the industry standard.
Our weekly fitness regime was kicked off with our ‘boot camp’ at the Western Sydney University gym. This week consisted of exercises solely with medicine balls and it certainly proved to be a challenge. However, I am definitely noticing the benefits of our regular fitness program; I’m fitter and stronger than ever, and each evening run is starting to feel slightly less agonising.
Our riding class with Fiona Hughes was integrated with Tommy Peter’s track class throughout the week to give us further exposure in different scenarios and build confidence on more complicated horses. A particular highlight for me was getting the opportunity to ride out on the sand track with Tommy. He was riding a more difficult horse that was undergoing training which required for me to push aside my own confidence issues, keep my head up, ride strong and listen carefully to his instructions.
As Tommy had predicted, a situation arose where he deemed it would be best if I rode as a ‘block’ to his side so we could both keep the horses on the track safely when his horse shied. This was an invaluable experience as it proved to me that riding out on the track is so much more than ‘just sitting there’ and that communication is such an integral part of safely navigating any exercise. The rest of the week continued to peel away and then rebuild my confidence as we managed more demanding mounts, which emphasised the necessity of altering our riding style to suit the horse.
Our theory classes were varied throughout the week. During our ‘Explore Job Opportunities’ class, we researched current job openings advertised in the racing industry and wrote up resumes and cover letters to suit those jobs. Joan Pracey provided feedback on our work and encouraged us to always research the “Award” for each job. As we are nearing the conclusion of ‘Equine First Aid’ and ‘Identify Factors That Impact Racehorse Performance’ classes, we completed several assessment tasks as part of our final competencies.
To conclude the week, Derek Major from Agnes Banks Equine Clinic presented an in-depth anatomy class. This class hugely increased my understanding of the mechanisms of the limbs, lungs and heart in racehorses and the importance of careful attention to the delicate structures that we often cannot see. Following this presentation, David King returned to conclude our SES Equine Emergency Rescue module. Building on the skills from the previous week, we navigated various rescue procedures that may be encountered in the workplace including scenarios in the stables.
We are now within the final stretch of our time at the Australian Racing and Equine Academy. I would like to give a huge thank you to all our teachers and their endless patience to ensure we enter the workplace with a broad skill set that will prove to be functional no matter what career path we pursue.