The Snowy Monaro region is one of Australia’s premier ski destinations and is quickly establishing itself as the place to be in the summer and autumn for mountain biking. However, anyone who attended the Snowy Mountains Interschools Equestrian Competition (SMIEC) held at The Station over the weekend would agree that the sport of Equestrian continues to go from strength to strength in the region as well.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of the SMIEC event. Over the four days of competition, the Snowy Mountains welcomed 241 riders, 320 horses and, of course, the entourage of coaches, family members and spectators. The event attracts competitors from Sydney, Canberra and surrounds, and all along the south coast, and this year a team of two riders from West Wyalong.

Described as an event that “has something for everyone”, from sporting, showjumping, dressage, showhorse events, stockhorse events, and even a fancy dress schools challenge, all culminating in a schools parade, it is certainly an impressive spectacle.

Of the success of this year’s event, Head of Equestrian and the SMIEC committee, Mrs Sue West, said, “The 2017 running of SMIEC is special in a number of ways. We have revamped our program and, what started out as a one day event with 58 riders from 10 schools, is now a four-day event with over 241 riders, the largest number of entrants we have ever had. 1200 ribbons and 16 trophy rugs were awarded this year from Kindergarten to Year 12. New this year was the “Interschools Hack Day” which has replaced the Gymkhana event, putting SMIEC in line with the state and national interschools showhorse events. This year is also the inaugural year of the SMIEC Speed Championships.” Sue continued to elaborate on the growth of the event over the last 20 years, saying, “The standard and the quality of the riders has increased. This year, SMIEC produced a state level standard in the sporting events in the flag race, with the fastest time of 39.19, which is actually a national competition time. Riders are jumping up to 1.15m in the showjumping, and some of the hack riders are back from winning at the Sydney Royal Show. Across all levels, the standard has increased enormously and we are right up there at a state level standard.”

With the magnitude of the event, one would think it was organised by a large school or professional events company; however, it is the SMGS school community that is 100% behind the success of the SMIEC event. Sue said, “It is incredible to think that a small school like ours can run such a big event. We are known state-wide for the way we execute this event…it is an amazing team-building operation for our whole school – staff, students and community alike.”

Head of Senior School, and SMIEC committee member, Mrs Kelli Wilson, was proud of our school community and equestrian program for their efforts over the weekend, saying, “SMIEC is an amazing event run by a really small group of dedicated staff and parents. It is an opportunity for us to come together to celebrate everything that is our school: commitment, enthusiasm, teamwork, our beautiful location, what we do, and an opportunity for our riding community to really show off their sport, which takes a lot of time, passion and hard work, early mornings and late nights, but when we see the kids’ smiling faces as they ride around, it’s all worth it.”

One of the key factors to the event’s success is the venue, The Station. Staff from The Station assisted throughout the competition and this really made the event run smoothly.  They keep the bathrooms spotless, the grounds rubbish-free and they provided good food and drink each evening for everyone.  The venue also allowed for the addition of evening presentations this year, which were very popular and well received.  It gave children and parents the chance to meet others from other schools and to make some new friendships during the event.  It was also wonderful to celebrate the success of the riders in a warm and hospitable atmosphere each day after a hectic round of events had been completed.

This year the board of SMGS celebrated the extraordinary efforts of Mrs West and her children, Sarah and Tim Dreverman, by naming the coveted individual high point score winner as the Sue West Award and awarded the inaugural Dreverman Family Showjumping Award.

The Sue West Award this year was won by Nimmitabel rider Jane Fitzgerald from Yanco Agricultural High School.

The Dreverman Family Showjumping Award was created to celebrate the enormous efforts that Sue, Sarah and Tim have put into equestrian activities, not only at SMGS but on the Monaro. Sarah (SMGS alumna, Year of 1998) was one of the first members of the SMGS equestrian team and has continued to compete at an elite level ever since. She has been the head coach of the SMGS equestrian programme since 2012. Tim also spent time as head coach of the programme from 2007 until 2010 and now works in senior management within the equine industry. Tim took the first SMGS team to the North-West Horse Expo in Coonabarabran in 2009 – the start of many long treks for the team to northern NSW horse events.

The Dreverman Family Showjumping Award is to recognise the efforts of a rider who has demonstrated excellence in showjumping, good sportsmanship, presentation and professionalism over the event. The 2017 winner was Victoria Doak from Radford College. Victoria was honoured in receiving this inaugural award, saying, “I feel very lucky to have had such a successful week with both horses but made unbelievably more special to have won the Dreverman Family Showjumping Award. Mol was a champion, winning all of her showjump rounds, and Paris placed in all of her events, including winning the interschools challenge and beating Molly! I’m so very lucky to have such good horses. I can’t thank Sue West and Sarah Dreverman enough for all their hard work and putting on such an amazing and friendly event for my last interschools ever!

To cap off an amazing event, SMGS took home the Schools Pointscore award. Year 12 rider, Abby Mifsud, was proud of the SMGS equestrian team and, while reflecting on her time in the equestrian program at SMGS, she said, “Over the four days of competing at SMIEC, our SMGS equestrian team riders had an amazing time and produced some great results. This is such an incredible achievement and really reflects the amount of time and commitment our riders put into their horses. It was wonderful to watch our team ride over the weekend and support each other, and then to finish it all with the win of the overall highest pointscore was a great end to my last SMIEC at school. I hope all of our riders had a good time and I am so proud of each and every one of their efforts during the 2017 Snowy Mountains Interschools Equestrian Competition!”

Principal, Mr Andrew Leslie who was attending SMIEC for the first time was pleased with the success of this years event, saying, “Well done to the entire SMIEC committee and SMGS community on a great event, It was wonderful to see so many riders and their horses who travelled from all over NSW. Congratulations to Mrs Sue West on yet another fantastic event and celebration of all things equestrian in the Snowy Mountains.”

After some much needed rest and reflection, the SMGS equestrian program returns to action next Wednesday and the SMIEC committee will begin their planning for the 2018 edition of SMIEC.

SMGS Equestrian Program

Riders receive a solid general education upon which they may choose to build and excel in one or more of the many equestrian disciplines, or just continue to enjoy riding as a recreational activity.

The school makes use of the wide variety of equestrian facilities in the local area, with the program centred around the purpose-built Jindabyne Equestrian Resort and Jindabyne Pony Club, while our interschools competition is held at the Station Resort which affords accommodation and stabling as well as enough space for a competition of this size.

Most of our riders participate in additional equestrian activities outside school, including pony club, dressage competitions, showjumping events, one day events, team penning and stockhorse challenges. The region is host each year to a number of agricultural shows, to the Snowy Mountains Show-jumping Festival and to the Man From Snowy River Stockhorse Challenge, providing ample opportunities for our riders to participate in their favourite sport.