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Winners are grinners - Denise and Just One Wish (photo: Roger Fitzhardinge)
Denise Rogan competing on her beautiful mare, Just One Wish
(photo: Stent Event Photography)
The Young Horse competitions are always great to watch, especially at a CDI. It gives the riders and owners a chance to see how their horse rates in regards to movement, rideability and confirmation. They also give the spectator the opportunity to see what level of training a young horse is capable of and at the same time it gives you a sneak preview of the possible champions of the future. I remember clearly when the stallion Northern Simba consecutively won all three Young Horse classes at the Sydney CDI in 2004, 2005 and 2006. I became a fan from the beginning and followed him through the ranks. He is now being ridden by Hayley Beresford and competing Grand Prix internationally.
After watching the results of a number of recent Young Horse competitions, I’m looking forward to seeing the beautiful mare by Heath and Rozzie Ryan’s athletic stallion, Jive Magic and out of a Coriander/Rocadero mare. This special mare, Just One Wish (aka Jag), is ridden by Denise Rogan who would have to be one of the most respected and friendliest competitors in the Australian Dressage scene. The mare was bred by Denise’s mum, Robyn, so you could say she’s part of the family.
From day one, Jag has not been the easiest of mare, Denise explains. “Jag was born at my parents’ property on a super hot summer’s day. Because Mum was at home when Jag was born, she managed to get a photo just minutes after she got up. The photos of the little filly looking around from behind the broodmare was one of shock - Oh My God! Who are you? What are you? And please put me back inside!” This photo sums Jag up perfectly – she’s not too sure about the human race. It took quite a bit of time to convince her that humans were going to be involved in her life”. A few years later not a lot had changed. “Jag spent a good six months with my groom, Luke Craddick, doing a lot of in hand work together. I remember telling Luke when she arrived at the stables that this one is a bit precious and I had no idea how in the heck I was ever going to be able to ride her unless he works his magic and gets to know her inside out. Well Luke worked his magic and had me on the lunge on Jag around November 2011. By January 2012 we competed at Boneo Park CDI - winning the 4yo championship. Since then, there has only been Boneo Park Autumn Championships, Bradgate Park CDI and Dressage With The Stars for her to compete at. Next is the Sydney CDI!”
This young mare seems to have everyone rapped around her little finger (hoof). Luke is called her husband because they admire each other so much. Denise’s mum and partner spoil her rotten with treats and Joe who cleans her stable is only allowed in because he gives her scratches. Denise tells me, “Jags bond with this team of people is incredibly close and anyone outside the team is most definitely trespassing! She’s quite amazing!”
Denise rides and trains Jag with one level in mind and that’s Grand Prix. “Do I think she is capable of Grand Prix – who knows until I get there! I certainly do understand that horses have different capabilities and limits but you discover that during the journey. Right now she is only 4 years old and I am trying to create a mould for Grand Prix in the future – there are so many factors as to whether we will make it to be a competitive Grand Prix horse. Until I think or am otherwise told, Jag is a future Grand Prix mare”.
As far as Denise is concerned, the Young Horse competitions can be treated as a stepping stone to Grand Prix. “It is a chance to get a young horse like Jag (who is slightly fragile) out and about in an environment that is more forgiving. We come out saying to each other, fancy that, only two months ago we were on the lunge, now we have walked, trotted and cantered our way around that arena with all of those scary pot plants and spectators and not only have we survived but I stayed on as well! All jokes aside, that is how Jag got her show name. I was out at my coach’s place having a lesson on another horse, when he asked how ‘the black mare’ was going since arriving at the stables… my answer was “I just have one wish - to stay on!” Hence her show name was born – Just One Wish.”
So what is it that judges are looking for in the Young Horse classes? “Sure there’s always a lot of discussion over what the judges are actually wanting in a young horse class - up, down, round, out, long, short, slow or fast. But from where I see it, the judges want to see the best possible paces in walk, trot and canter – simple as that. And when I think of Grand Prix, the horses with the best possible paces will get the best scores for each movement – keep it that simple and you will always appreciate young horse classes as a measurement for how you are travelling for Grand Prix – whether you do well or not well.”
Like so many Australian up and coming Big Tour riders, Denise is also trained by Roger Fitzhardinge. “I’m lucky enough to have Roger as my coach. He constantly challenges me as a rider, I’m also lucky enough to have the support from my partner to have started my own corporate training company “The REMI Group” so that I can afford the sport.” Like all of us, Denise is grateful for her Mum and Dad and all those around her. “My team are my eyes, my profession is something that I work hard at to get ahead in life and my horses are my passion. At the end of the day what I do know from having taken a young horse through to Grand Prix, is that it takes a complete team to get there, lots of perseverance, patience and what I call ‘bounce back’ and a large sprinkling of luck.”
This exciting combination is only one of the top class competitors in the Young Horse competitions. There is many more to see. The Sydney CDI commences on the 3 May.