Gai Waterhouse ‘Strikes 3 Chords’ for Youth with the Blue Guitar Project

Blue Guitar Project (BGP) is a charity that was founded by Music Photographer and Social Entrepreneur Roxy Lee. Inspired by a homeless teenage boy who wanted his dreams to come true, Roxy set out to create social change through her charity the Blue Guitar Project, which provides creative educational programs in high schools to help inspire underprivileged teenagers to develop, celebrate and connect to their dreams. Starting off as a single in-school program in August 2014 at Key College, Redfern, the Blue Guitar Project has now grown to encompass over seven schools with more commencing each term. Emily, a 16 year old BGP student from South Sydney High school, with a dream to stop animal abuse, expressed a passion for horses and photography during her course. Fulfilling her dream, the BGP set her up to be mentored by Amanda Wood, equine photographer for Australia’s leading horse trainer Gai Waterhouse. Emily’s dream experience was captured on film. Setting out in the early hours of the morning, Amanda took Emily under her wing introducing her to the world of horse racing and horse racing photography. Against the backdrop of a beautiful misty morning as the sun rose, with the track lights illuminating jockeys as they rode the horses, proved the perfect setting for Emily’s first photoshoot. Says Emily: ‘As soon as I walked on race track I felt like I was ‘home’.

“I don’t think there’s anything more satisfying than watching a young teenager find their spark that could potentially shape the rest of their future. It was obvious Emily had landed on the pathway to her dream of working with horses and she now had the inspiration to build on her dream,” says Roxy.The premise of the BGP program is to bring the community, high profile performers and schools together by asking them to participate, or “Strike 3 Chords” in line with the three pillars of humanity: Unity, Equality and Freedom.

The Gai Waterhouse &Adrian Bott team was exceptionally generous in doing just that. We hope that more business leaders will follow in their footsteps and help teenagers connect to their dreams so they can live a passionate, satisfying and super productive life they love. Something so simple can change the world. Emily’s morning at Randwick in her words…..

It was an early morning start where I woke up at 5 o'clock for the adventure yet to come. Roxy from the Blue Guitar Project made this all possible, as she picked me up from my place at 5:40am. It was dark as we made our way to the racing stables. The realisation of what was about to happen struck me; my heart filled with joy as I met the one and only Amanda Wood, Gai Waterhouse’s exclusive horse photographer. She greeted us with a great smile and I automatically knew she was a lovely person. After our introductions Amanda lead the way and informed Roxy and I of the procedures the stables run by. Amanda’s passion in her photography was inspiring; the joy she was able to gather from her “job” didn't seem like a job at all. As we walked towards the grounds couldn't help but notice that the tunnels we were walking in had information on the walls of race horses dating back to B.C. The information was accompanied by photos, and the further back they were dated, they were accompanied by paintings instead, which was fascinating.

What I saw next was amazing. As we exited the tunnels, the sound of horse's hooves hitting the ground made my eyes glow. It was like a movie scene in a fairy tale; horses were lead by other horses, known as ‘pony’ horses, even though they aren't ponies. Amanda introduced us to co-trainer Adrian Bott and members of the racing community; each member was
dedicated to one stable. The horses themselves are absolutely astonishing. They are very well looked after and are of the highest quality. Amanda then followed up with the basics of photography, and taught myself and Roxy a few tips and tricks. We applied the information we gathered into action. After taking a few photos of Gai’s horses and making the riders feel like celebrities, the riders allowed me to say hello and pet the horses. All the members of Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Racing are really lovely; they were able to have a laugh and enjoy themselves. After some more tips and photo taking I fell in love with a white pony horse tied up on the rails. They are known as ‘companion’ horses who help calm the racing
horses, and are completely adorable. It was my chance to put my photography into practice and I shot some eye opening photography of this beautiful little creature.

After the photoshoot we headed back to Amanda’s place to edit some of the photos we took. I was gifted with the one and only Gai Waterhouse jacket and cap, which nearly made my eyes water. We headed off to Stable Talk to get ourselves some brunch and was amazed to see Amanda's work all around the cafe. We then set off to the office of Gai Waterhouse and was greeted by a lovely dog out the front. As soon as I entered I was shocked by all the medals, trophies and certificates. I was gifted Gai’s autobiography called “Gai In My Words”. Inside was a little personalised note she wrote to me, because she was away. I felt extremely welcome and was astonished to know that Gai Waterhouse knew who I was. Everything seemed perfect. I laid my eyes upon the window to see that there were stables right next door. Of course we went and we were able to pet each horse and read their identification card.

We were introduced to the farrier and by surprise was given a horseshoe, but not any ordinary horse shoe. This horse shoe was the exact model that was used on all the race horses. After some very cute photos and chats with the stable hands we headed back to Amanda’s place and Amanda offered me a ride home.

My overall experience is one I will never forget. It's crazy to think that this whole time I've been living right next door and I never knew the community within. Maybe one day I'll become a Pony Rider for Gai Waterhouse stables. Who knows, I might even become a photographer. I've just experienced a new passion I never really thought I had. I have made new goals. I am so grateful to everyone who made this dream happen for me. A Special Thank you.  


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