Quorrobolong dressage rider Olivia Palfreyman has had some outstanding success in the past month, winning 10 national titles across two competitions in April.
The 19-year-old and her horse Hustler were awarded four national champion titles across the open and youth classes at the Australian Quarter Horse Nationals in Tamworth from April 5 to 15.
Along with the titles for open showhunter, open preliminary dressage, open novice dressage and youth dressage, they also received High Point English Horse for the show. Less than two weeks later, Palfreyman was back at Tamworth for the Paint Horse Association of Australia national championships, where she and Hustler won another six titles and again took out the High Point English Horse.
The two competitions are run by different breed associations, and dual-registered horses can compete in both, with the same rules and same events.
Horse riding is a lifelong passion for Palfreyman, who says she was “on a horse before she could walk”.
She started competing in Pony Club as a five-year-old in 2004, followed by open shows around 2007, with her first Sydney Royal Easter Show and state championships in 2009 and her first nationals a year later.
In 2017 she was a finalist for best achievement by a rider aged 17-25 years at Pony Club Australia’s Achievement Awards.
Palfreyman is a member of Toronto Pony Club, where she instructs riders and is a mentor for young riders.
Her achievements and dedication to her sport earned her the young citizen of the year award at Cessnock’s 2018 Australia Day awards.
Along with her sporting commitments, she is studying for a combined law and social science degree at university and works part-time in administration and marketing. In preparation for the national competitions, Palfreyman would ride six-to-seven days a week, for up to five hours a day.
“With a three-year-old horse who had only been under saddle for 12 months, the focus leading up to nationals was on fitness training at home, and a very structured competition schedule that exposed him to everything he would need to cope with at a big event,” she said.
Palfreyman said her success at the last two nationals events have put her exactly where she hoped she would be: “Little did I know it would happen this year,” she added.
However, it’s far from her only goal – she hopes to enter higher levels of dressage competition in the next few years, ending in training the International Equestrian Federation levels.
“Other than that, I look forward to bringing our young horses through the levels and seeing them make their competition debut. I can only hope they will be as successful as my current horse Hustler!” she said.