11 September 2019

Para Equestrian champ Emma Booth to 'Open Minds' and hearts in Bega

| Ian Campbell
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Emma Booth riding at Willinga Park at Bawley Point. Photo: Emma Booth Para Equestrian Facebook.

Emma Booth riding at Willinga Park at Bawley Point. Photo: Emma Booth Para Equestrian Facebook.

Obsessed with horses from a young age, Emma Booth’s dream of riding one came true when she won a competition run by the TV show ‘The Saddle Club’ to win a pony and riding lessons.

Her raw talent was clear early on and in 2011 she accepted a job in Germany riding and training horses for international dressage rider Holger Schulze.

Emma’s equestrian ambitions were put on hold in 2013 when she was involved in a near-fatal car accident causing paraplegia. Other injuries included a basilar skull fracture, compound fracture of her left ankle, bleeding on the brain and abdominal trauma.

Emma Booth at Willinga Park at Bawley Point. Photo: Emma Booth Para Equestrian Facebook.

Emma Booth at Willinga Park at Bawley Point. Photo: Emma Booth Para Equestrian Facebook.

Seven months later, Emma found the strength to return to riding. Learning of her options as a Para-equestrian, she set her sights on selection for the 2016 Australian Paralympic Team.

Emma competed in two events at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, placing fifth in the mixed dressage individual championship and ninth in the team open with teammates Sharon Jarvis, Lisa Martin and Bega’s own Katie Umback.

Emma then went on to represent Australia at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, USA, last year, she comes to the Festival of Open Minds with her sights firmly set on making the team for Tokyo, 2020!

“It’s always important to know what the big goal is, but equally as important to work out the steps that are going to get you there,” Emma says.

“Reflection – looking back so that the view looking forward is even clearer. I’m taking a second to look back so that I can plan for the future.”

Team Booth includes Mogelvangs Zidane. Zidane is a 15-year-old, Danish Warmblood gelding, who was imported to Australia from Denmark nearly four years ago.

With incredible movement and an extremely willing nature, he is the perfect para horse. Zidane played his part in getting Emma a spot on the Equestrian Team at the Rio Paralympics, where they rode to fifth place in the Individual Championship Test. Emma says he is one in a million, she feels extremely lucky to have him as her competition partner.

Lone Joergensen is Emma’s coach originally from Denmark, Lone represented her country at many Olympics and World Games. She now lives in Australia with her husband Ulli Eggers. Emma trains with Lone at least once a week, increasing in the lead up to important events.

Katelyn Thompson is Emma’s head groom, helping daily with her team of horses. She is 19 years old and lives in Langwarrin South, and has successfully competed to 2* in eventing. She is currently studying Health and Education at Monash and also successfully competes her own horses while still managing to assist Emma.

Emma has her sights set on Tokyo 2020. Photo: Emma Booth Para Equestrian Facebook.

Emma has her sights set on Tokyo 2020. Photo: Emma Booth Para Equestrian Facebook.

Emma is a regular visitor to South East NSW drawn to the world-class Willinga Park at Bawley Point.

“I thoroughly enjoy visiting this incredible facility and spending time with such amazing, kind people,” Emma says.

Emma also has family at Tathra and can’t wait to share her passion for life and horses at the Festival of Open Minds on September 14 at the Bega Civic Centre.

The theme for Open Minds in 2019 is ‘People With Oomph’ inspired by Bega Valley song man Damon Davis and his song of the same name.

“People with oomph – they’re not lyin down. People with oomph – spread the good life. People with oomph – keep their own style. People with oomph – walk mile after mile,” Damon sings.

The 2019 Festival of Open Minds line up includes:

  • Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, World Vision;
  • Nas Campanella, blind Triple J newsreader;
  • Pastor Christie Buckingham, spiritual counselor to executed Bali 9 drug smuggler Myuran Sukumaran;
  • Aly Khalifa, entrepreneur focused on harvesting plastic waste from our oceans;
  • Emma Booth, para-equestrian competitor, represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympics;
  • Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall, comedian, joke writer, grew up in Tathra;
  • Sassi Nuyum, AKA Meaghan Holt, rising Aboriginal writer, performer;
  • Corrine Gibbons, songstress and choir director;
  • Jonathan Kenna, Australia’s Ambassador to Sweden;
  • Captain Phil Holliday, Sydney, Port Kembla and Eden Harbour Master;
  • Damon Davis, long time singer-songwriter and the original man of oopmh;
  • A local panel of leaders including Erica Dibden – Tilba Milk, Louise Brand – road safety campaigner, Kate Toyer – Eurobodalla vet and transgender advocate, Warren Foster Jr – Aboriginal artist and leader, Darren Jones – Band Together, and Hannah Doole – climate change activist.

The night before this day of discussion, we launch the festival with a FREE community celebration – Parklight in the heart of Bega. Littleton Gardens will light up with magical occurrences and happenings, a celebration of our community with a focus on the contribution and talent of youth and Indigenous culture.

Adult tickets for Saturday’s program are on sale now, including lunch option, people 12 to 19 years get in FREE, but you do need to reserve your place. Students there on the day will also be in the running to win $500 to put towards a science education experience of their choice thanks to The Sapphire Coast Regional Science Hub and Inspiring Australia.

Rush to Eventbrite now to claim your place at the Festival of Open Minds.

Thank you to our Festival partners –

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