After a two year hiatus EQUITANA Melbourne leapt into action with a high octane day one supported by the weather gods. A balmy 30 degree day with blue skies encouraged the early birds to rise up and trot to the Melbourne Showgrounds to make the most of the day.
Shoppers were treated to a plethora of wares for horses and humans alike, with over 300 exhibitors on site. Kids and adults were entertained, educated and enthralled whilst horses showcased their prowess across a swag of sports.
The heralded Captain Mark Phillips presented his highly anticipated Eventing clinic- with keynotes including overcoming muscle memory, the importance of rhythm and consistency and not allowing yourself to become complacent with position, eye and control.
The Way Of The Horse began with the horse selections; the three trainers (Damian Hall, Daniel Robinson and Mitch Gollan) landing three very different horses, supplied this year by Roseridge Stock Horse Stud. The crowd delighted in seeing three very different approaches and training styles, with more to come over the next few days.
The competition schedule kicked off with the high octane first round of showjumping which saw James Arkins on Vigilante II claim top honours in the lead up to tomorrow nights much anticipated round two CSI-W finals. Billy Raymont on Anton came in second with Clem Smith on Guru third.
The exhibition eventing was heart-stopping, with Tanja Harding taking out the title after a challenging course that saw no clear rounds.
The reining championships saw sensational spins, stops and slides; Shaun Saunders on Whiz Destiny claiming top honours with Noel Watson on Einstein Flashy Jac and Warren Backhouse on Checkout Jollywood in equal second to bed down the $30,000 purse.
The Australian Brumby Challenge round one kicked off with the round pen challenge – brumbies and trainers judged by a panel of experts as they presented their prowess. Today’s place getters include Michael Mason and VBA Honey, Pauly Daniel and VBA Magnus and Rachel Clarkson and VBA Maximus.
The day closed with a swag of entertaining antics from the Double Dan’s along with the dynamic trip encompassing the Wilson Sisters from NZ. From bareback riding backwards to the Double Dan’s showjumping and fire breathing stunts, the RM Williams Flight Without Wings had the crowd in stitches.