Caitlin Tee notches first equestrian win at debut competition

12 months ago riding a horse was all but a dream for Caitlin Tee.

The Year 9 student at St Mark’s College had always had a passion for horses – she recalled having a keen interest in the majestic animals from a young age.

However almost one year to the day since she first took to the saddle during her family’s Easter holiday, she dismounted with a first and three third-placings on her horse Benji at the Clare Gymkhana.

The podium finishes covered both the performance of Caitlin and also her horse Benji, with the win fueling her desire for future success. She is now aiming to compete at the Royal Adelaide Show dressage event.

Caitlin said horse riding was a unique and rewarding experience.

“You can have a a bond with and work with something that has its own mind, it could do its own thing but you work together and you can accomplish things together,” Caitlin said.

“You build a strong bond between you and the horse.”

Riding about three times per week, her training involves manipulating the horse’s movements without utilising common control mechanisms such as a saddle. She also learns how to groom and look after her horse’s teeth and hooves.

However despite the precise and detailed training regimes, she said there were many challenges when it came to perform.

“He (the horse) can play up, he can act differently,” she said. “You’re not really 100 percent sure that he is going to listen so you have to have faith and trust.”

Caitlin’s mother Evelyn said her daughter’s passion for riding had changed her outlook on life for the better.

“We’re very proud of her it has shown and taught her a lot about patience and discipline,” Evelyn said.

“It has been a real personality change for her, she has had to become very patient.”

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