Entertainment and enjoyment was front of mind for Kate Farrell as she put together a mix of toe-tapping music especially for her CDI-W freestyle at EQUITANA Melbourne.
It paid off with the crowd who certainly got into the spirit as she and 16-year-old Luxor 118 danced their way to fourth place in the class with 69.085%.
“EQUITANA attracts a huge number of people who aren’t just our usual dressage crowd. Dressage has a bit of a reputation for being a very serious discipline, so I wanted to show it can be really fun too,” says Kate. “Dressage is a passion for me and I always find it uplifting to ride. I wanted to make a freestyle with music that everyone knew.”...
Kate did just that with a musical score that included popular tunes like The Macarena, American Pie, Intermission, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Mambo No. 5, YMCA and Murder On The Dancefloor – all finally put together just minutes before she drove through the gates of the Melbourne Showgrounds.
“I could see people dancing, doing The Macarena, nodding and smiling as I did my test – it was really nice to see the audience enjoying it as much as me.”
Kate first met Luxor, a stunning Hanoverian gelding, at PSI in Germany in 2010. At the time he was Bianca Kasselmann’s riding horse. Kate and her family were looking for young horses, and as a nine-year-old gelding, Luxor wasn’t initially what they were seeking. However, the Farrell family thought he was a very special horse and would suit Kate.
“After our first ride I just fell in love with him,” she says. “I thought he could be one that I could learn a lot on.” When he first arrived in Australia, Luxor found his new environment very exciting and was quite boisterous.
“We’ve had an amazing bond since the beginning, but when we first started training together he was full of beans! I was still balancing high school and riding, so for the first part of our journey, the riding was split between my trainer Daniella Dierks and I.”
Kate was over the moon with her first import and eight years on she still is. Kate and Luxor have become known as one of the dynamic duos on the competition circuit.
The combination previously trained with Daniella Dierks and Brett Parbery, but are now trained by John Thompson, who Kate calls her “Kiwi secret weapon”.
“Through my training with John I am seeing a huge change in the way I ride and Luxor’s development.”
Kate comes from a family whose love of horses spans generations. Her grandfather established Mulawa Arabian Stud nearly 50 years ago. It is now recognised worldwide and continues to produce and sell horses of the highest calibre around the globe. So it’s no surprise that Kate’s equestrian career began with showing Arabian horses. Throughout her journey she has won plenty of awards across various disciplines. Luxor, who has some Arabian blood, has competed with Kate in several Arabian hack classes before.
“One of my favourite competition moments of all time was winning the Arabian Derivative East Coast Cup at the East Coast Arabian Championships.”
Kate was introduced to the world of dressage by Daniella when we was around 13 years old and the rest is history. It started with them teaching her pony Owendale Lemon Twist a couple of moves at home, which led her to beautiful Arabian warmblood called Summerzar Imagery.
But it is with Luxor she has really done well and the two quickly moved through the grades once their partnership was established, dominating the CDI-Y for several years. With a little encouragement from her trainer, Kate was excited to move from CDI-Y to the Big Tour.
By her own admission, what makes riding so special for Kate is that it isn’t a full time pursuit. She considers it as her favourite sport and number one pastime. She has just finished a double degree in commerce and media, majoring in marketing, public relations and advertising, and sets time aside to ride because of the passion she has for horses and dressage.
Kate’s interest in dressage along with her family’s dedication and support of equestrian sports inspired a new direction for the Sydney-based Mulawa Arabian Stud. Along with Luxor, the Farrell family also purchased Westphalian Stallion Aber Hallo 29 from PSI. This was the beginning of Mulawa Performance. With Aber Hallo as a foundation sire and a select number of mares, Mulawa Performance grew and is now a boutique breeding barn.
Riley Alexander is Mulawa Performance’s full time rider and competes a number of Mulawa’s horses – both home bred and acquired – up to Grand Prix level. Kate loves working with Riley and is enjoying taking a more active role with some of Mulawa’s young horses – particularly those by Aber Hallo. Along with Luxor, Kate also has plans to make a return to the Arabian showing scene with young Mulawa bred gelding Archangel.
At EQUITANA Melbourne, Mulawa Arabian Stud sponsored the Arabian Breeders Cup, and Mulawa Performance sponsored both the CDI-W dressage classes in conjunction with Longvue Dressage.
“We love it here,” says Kate. “EQUITANA is a show that is so completely different to all the others we go to throughout the year. It’s a different crowd, with lots of different breeds and just has a really nice vibe. The atmosphere is all inclusive. Everyone is interested in the other disciplines and keen to understand what they are all doing. It is such fun for us to be sharing the stable aisle with showjumpers and all the other disciplines.”
EQUITANA’s shopping is also a big drawcard for Kate. “We just love the event. It has been such fun this year and the feedback from people I don’t even know has been amazing.”
And that’s exactly what she wants for the sport she loves so much.
For more information on Mulawa Performance Horses, click here.