Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott Racing

Mary Motion's Blog

Part One - Arriving in Australia

21st February 2019

Exactly a week ago today I started working for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott Racing. Was I nervous? Of course! The one thing I can always count on though whenever I start a new job, even if it is on the other side of the world, is my horsemanship skills. Once I see a horse and start riding, everything starts to fall into place. This week flew by and I am finally able to get into the routine and settle in to the daily activities.

I arrived in Australia from Washington, DC, USA on February 1st. When I left there was currently a blizzard going on, so I was very happy to be going to warmer weather. I flew from DC to LA and then finally landed in Melbourne. In total it was about twenty-six hours of traveling. I went straight to my friend’s, Steven and Jess Pateman who live about an hour from the airport near the beach. I was so happy to see a familiar face after all of that traveling. I stayed with them for about a week to just get my feet on the ground, relax, get my riding fitness up, and learn about life and racing in Australia. I had so many great opportunities in Melbourne from going to the trials, working horses on the beach, visiting Caulfield, and spending a morning shadowing Ciaron Maher. Everything has been an eye opener, but everyone I have met so far is always willing to give me some advice, be my friend, or just give me their phone number if I need help along the way.

I arrived in Sydney a week ago and started work straight away. Even though I have only been working here for a week, I have already learned a lot. The first thing is the vocabulary. I knew it was going to be different from America, but I was hoping it would at least be similar to England where I have lived and worked before. Below is a list of some new words in racing I have learned:

Barriers (AUS) - Gate (US) - Stalls (UK)

Surcingle (AUS) - Overgirth (US)

Rearing Bit (AUS) - Chifney (US)

Head Collar (AUS and UK) - Halter (US)

Bull Ring (AUS) - Round Pen (US)

Floats (AUS) - Trailer (US)

Gallop (AUS) - Work (UK) - Breeze (US)

Canter (AUS) - Gallop (US)

I’m sure there are so many other words I have to learn to be able to completely understand everything, but learning is what I am here to do. Going from working for a big trainer in America to a huge trainer in Australia has its similarities and differences. I have only been here for a week, so I am sure I will discover more along the way, but I am keen to learn what works for certain horses in different countries and what might not work as well. From what I have experienced so far the things I already really like about training here is that the horses go to the beach which is so good for their joints and to unwind in the ocean; all of the horses will swim in the pool at some stage, and it is particularly helpful if they have an abscess and cannot train; everyone rides every horse, sometimes a horse will even have three different riders sit on them in one day. In America, at least where I worked, each rider gets on about seven horses a day. There is a list made up on the board in the barn and you work your way down. You are assigned horses that you probably ride quite a bit and maybe some every day. Obviously horses still get moved around and come and go when the babies arrive in the spring, but they definitely aren’t moving around as much a they do here.

At first, the mornings seemed like absolute chaos to me and that everyone was just winging it. I am now understanding that it is sort of an organized chaos and there is a method to all of it. I think it is very important to switch up the riders on horses, especially the younger ones. It’s good for horses to become used to different riders as well as for riders to get used to different horses. Obviously the “special” group of horses may have a certain rider that knows it well, but other then that the set list gets shuffled around quite a bit. I have been riding my whole life, galloping at the track since I was twelve-years-old, and I used to ride in jump races in America, but this is a whole other world and system that really tests your horsemanship skills and riding ability.

Part Two - My Daily Schedule

28th February 2019

It has been two weeks now since I have started my new job here with Gai and Adrian. I am now finally starting to settle into a routine and understand a little more about what goes on around here. My daily routine has developed into a big job over the last couple of weeks with working in every part of the company. It has been tricky to be able to open up my mind to learning new things since I arrived, because I have been so focused on figuring out what jobs there are for me, and how to get them done. The first thing that I am learning is time management and how to juggle multiple tasks over long work hours. Thankfully growing up juggling a full time job and being a student, I have become used to this life style.

I begin my day at 2:30am when I wake up and luckily I have a very short walk to work. I arrive just before 3am and I usually have two stalls to muck before helping get horses off the walker and organizing who needs to be saddled and who needs to go back to the stables. When 4am roles around all of the riders gather near the saddling stalls where you can find Mel, the amazing foreman ordering everyone around in a calm and timely manner. Mel gives us our instructions for our first ride of the day, and away we go. The first lot varies depending on the day and the horse. Sometimes we will go straight out to the track and canter two turns on the sand and then go home. However, when it is a busy gallop morning we take the horses straight to the tower for the jockeys or senior work riders to gallop.

My first couple of days riding here I had the opportunity to gallop a few horses. Even though we are going the other way around the track, the pace is very similar to the pace you would breeze a horse in America. One huge difference that I only just learned today is that horses gallop every other day here. I have never worked somewhere or know of another place that works the horses that much. In England when I worked for Oliver Sherwood, we would work the horses twice a week. In America though, it is strictly once a week unless the horse works terribly and needs to retry the next day. I think that is probably why it is so important for the horses to canter slower here than they would on the track in America. Another fun difference I have noticed is that a lot of the horses jump. They even start jumping when they are only two-years-olds. I absolutely love this and it seems like a great way for horses not only to use different muscles, but to also focus their minds on something new.

Other then that I haven’t really had the opportunity to observe any of the training yet. I spend most of my mornings trotting horses to the tower, putting another rider on the horse, and then getting on another horse and trotting it home. I was very happy though to be put on a tough horse the other day. This is where I thrive. Big strong horses. Given a challenge and a project, it encourages me to work incredibly hard to achieve my goals, and nothing makes me happier then seeing that project horse go well. Adrian sent me out on a large chestnut older horse named Decroux. My instructions were to take him twice around the poly, go very steady, and try to keep him straight. Some of the other riders commented to me that he can get very tough and expected me to fold under the pressure. But the riders here don’t know me. When we set off on our canter I could tell right away that we were going to get a long. Because I have been in a new place, my confidence hasn’t been amazing. But after discovering a horse like Decroux, I am starting to feel much more comfortable in my new job and confident with my decision to move to Australia at a last minute notice.

When I am all done with riding for the morning I usually help wash horses as well as other yard duties around Desert War. I then go home for some breakfast and get started on any projects I have for the office that day. These can vary from website ideas, this blog, graphic design ideas for various other projects, etc. From noon to 2:30pm I then go back to Desert War which is is the yard I am based at to help feed, swim horses, and other basic yard duties. I then finally go straight from there to the office until 5pm to continue working on my projects for the day.

 
 

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