Name: Melanie Heygate
Lives: Avalon, NSW
Occupation: Office Manager PRP Diagnostic Imaging
At what age did you start riding and who introduced you? I started riding with dedication five days a week on my first lease horse when I was thirteen. I have always loved horses and had been permitted to do a few school holiday camps prior to this but my parents had been reluctant for me to get into riding as they were more focussed on my tennis potential.
Tell us about your first horse: My first horse was a 17.1hh 16-year-old Hanoverian mare named Wolke out of Weltmeyer. She had been a successful Grand Prix dressage horse in her earlier days and was the most loveable, calm, polite, gentle, giant and the perfect horse to teach me the ropes of this horse riding business. Her owner was a World Vaulting Champion in Germany back in 1992.
How many horses do you currently have in work? I currently have two horses in work. My first horse I purchased in Australia, Atticus, now 24 and retired from jumping who still enjoys flat work at home with my husband and has won almost every 70 and 80cm Championship rug there is. Also my main competition horse Pacific Odyssey, (aka Tango) who has been the best horse I could have asked for to take my up the heights. Sadly I don’t have time for another horse as I am working full time but I am hoping to find my dream baby unicorn sometime in the future.
Photo Credit: Stephen Mowbray Photography
Which horse is your current star and do you have any future stars? My current star is my competition horse Pacific Odyssey. He is one of the bravest horses I have ever met and always gives 100% in the ring for me. He does have his quirks at home but certainly makes up for it with his performance. Currently I don’t have the time for another horse but when the time is right for me to part with Tango and for him to show another rider the ropes of jumping I will be looking for a youngster.
Who was the biggest influence to your riding? The biggest influence on my riding was my first coach here in Australia, Kate Pither. I had not done much jumping back in Germany and she really showed me the ropes and taught me how to look after a performance horse and how important commitment, coaching and dedication are if you want to achieve and progress with your riding.
What do you look for in a horse? After having Tango, who I was lucky enough to find with the help of my previous coach Brooke Campbell, I will certainly be looking for bravery in my next horse. It gives me a lot of confidence if I get nervous going into the ring, knowing that my horse will take care of me and make the right decision if I stuff up.
How do you prepare your horse for a big class and what is important for your warm up? I believe that only a fit, happy and healthy horse is able to give 100%. Tango is one of those horses that needs a strict routine and needs regular work, so he gets ridden 5-6 days a week. We do one big road walk a week and I try and have a lesson with my coach David Cameron at least once a week. Dave also helps us out at shows, walking the courses and warm up to try and ensure the perfect preparation going into the ring. In Tango’s case I try and work on his adjustability in the warm-up. He sometimes gets behind my leg so I do a lot of cantering forward, half halting bringing him back as well as keeping my canter through the turn approaching the jump.
What are your biggest competitive achievements to date? Last year (2018) proved to be a huge year for Tango and I. Rarely were we left out of the placings. The highlights certainly were Runner up Amateur Champion Elysian Fields, AQUIS Tour QLD and Thoroughbred Champion Summer Classic. Note from Author: Since we asked Melanie these questions she and Tango were runner’s up in the Wallaby Hill Eventers vs Showjumpers class, which we are sure she would add to this list!
Photo Credit: Stephen Mowbray Photography.
What are your short and long term goals? Short term, I am very excited about the introduction of the Thoroughbred classes this year. The first one was held at the Sydney Summer Show jumping Classics in December last year and we won! Long term I am hoping to come to terms with the thought of finding Tango a new home so someone else can enjoy the attributes of this superstar horse. I will be looking for a young horse to start all over again with the help of my coach. Sadly, I just don’t have the time for a 2nd competition horse.
Who are your role models (Australian and/or international)? There are many amazing international riders out there but for me, my coaches David and Tallara Cameron are the perfect role models. Dave and Tal are both amazing riders. They work so very hard and their love for the sport and their horses is inspirational. There is not much money in horse riding here in Australia and they have worked hard to achieve what they have. Not only do they ride at the top level, they also run a well-organized coaching stable; Redleaf Lodge. The love and support they have for all their students is endless, whether you are in ring 3 on your $1000 pony or in the main ring on your imported performance horse. To find the balance between their own riding and considerable workload as well as they do, deserves a gold medal.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given? To never give up, work hard and believe in your goals. No matter what life throws at you, move on and try your best.
Tell us a few things we don’t know about you. I am lucky to own two labradors, a perfect black one named Jimmy who is an Australian Agility Champion and represented NSW several times on the state team and a cheeky brown one called Oskar who was runner up National Agility Champion last year.
Who are your sponsors? Shezam Equestrian has sponsored me since the beginning of this year, they offer a range of equestrian products in good quality for a affordable price.