Best in Show

Sharlene Smith needs little introduction in show jumping circles. The mother of Jessie and wife of Clem has certainly had her work cut out for her as the driving force behind one of Australia’s most successful father-daughter competition teams.

We caught up with Sharlene to find out what life on the road is like as the terrific trio make their way to Hawkesbury for the Equine Lifestyle Festival on the 13-15 November.

3How is it to see your family do what they love together, compete together, and often win or lose against each other?

“I love it.  It is wonderful, my daughter and husband have a great bond and that is horses and their love for them.  They are very competitive against each other; Jess loves to place higher than her father.   I am lucky also not only to have Jess and Clem competing but one of my sisters and my brother also Show jump as well as some of my Nieces.  It’s great to spend so much time with my family and also to see them compete in the sport we all love”.    

Do you feel differently watching Clem compete as opposed to Jessie? “Oh definitely – I love watching Clem ride and also Jessie but as a Mum always quite nervous and wishful for Jess, always very happy when they finish their round safely.  I am getting better the older Jess gets”.  

As a mum – what is life on the road like for you? “Hectic.  We don’t usually take a Groom so it is always very long days at the shows as we can have up to nine horses competing.  We are lucky to have a wonderful Horse Truck with a large living area.  It is complete with everything a mum needs, full size fridge, shower, cooking facilities. Washer and dryer etc.  I try to be super organised. I use the Slow Cooker a lot and am known for flooding most show grounds by doing a lot of washing.  Bit of OCD here lol!”

Have you had to make any compromises in terms of your equestrian aspirations for the sake of your family? “No not at all,  I injured my back  about 5 years ago which stopped me from jumping horses but I still get to exercise ride most of the horses on the team”.     

2Do you think the horses have offered a good focus and structure for Jessie, and did you notice differences between her and her non-riding peers growing up? “I think horses have given Jessie a duty of care and responsibility well beyond her years.  Most ‘Horse Kids’ from a very young age are usually quite organised and used to hard work.  It keeps them quite busy, training and care of say one horse takes up time both in the mornings before school and after school so not much time for other things.  Probably a noticeable difference between Jess and her non horse riding friends is that they probably spend a lot more time with friends and Jess spends a lot of  her time with Family as weekends and holidays are filled up with competitions and training. Though she has many friends at the shows, it is wonderful Jess is friends with children of our friends”.    

Is there anything you would change about your lifestyle? “Not really, like everyone it would be nice to better off and not have to worry about making ends meet but all in all I think we have a fabulous lifestyle”.  

What lies ahead for your family over the next five years? “Wow not sure but hopefully much of the same of what we are doing now.  Jessie is in her last few weeks of Year 12.  She has the world at her feet so it will be exciting and scary to watch her grow into an adult.  On the Horse front, I have some wonderful horses on the Team and will be exciting to watch them progress”.  

What do you do for ‘you time’? “Usually read, that’s my time out though don’t seem to be doing much of that lately.  My big thing is making sure we have a nice break away from the horses and head to the beach over Christmas just like normal families”.  

1What are your tips for parents of horse crazy kids – should they embrace it and open up to the lifestyle or try to steer them away? “I would say embrace it, though it is crazy expensive and highly addictive.   Be prepared for it take of your life in a great way.  

What are you looking forward to at the Equine Lifestyle Festival the most? “The World Cup Show Jumping Class – I just love watching not only our horses but also all the top horses from across Australia compete.  The level of excitement for these classes is great and with such a big purse for first prize money the riders will be putting it all on the line to win”.

Thanks to the Equine Lifestyle Festival for getting in touch with Sharlene for Sydney Mum.

Equine Lifestyle Festival is a fun family event on at Hawkesbury Showground between 13-15 NOVEMBER 2015.  Activities include horse and dog competitions, food and wine tastings, and a kids area where they can get to know some of the animals.

Author: Sharon Quill

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