Well, lets start with the basics. My name is John Lechner, I am 36 and live in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, in Australia, about 2 hours from Sydney. I am married to Kim (my very understanding and supporting partner who allows me to travel the globe chasing my dreams). I have two boys aged 6 & 5.
Kyle & Ethan, future Eventers, maybe
We live in a little village on just under 6 acres, with a retired event horse in the back paddock, a dozen chooks (that’s what we Aussies call chickens) and our Siberian Husky Kody who is 11 years old.
Many years ago I was an event rider, only ever up to 3 foot two, which we call Preliminary here, but is the Training level in the USA. In between horses I fell into the Technical Delegate thing by accident. I will come back to that in a moment. I have always loved horses and remember as a young child my auntie was in the mounted police and on a rare trip to Melbourne as an 7-8 year old I got to sit on her big grey police horse.
Later while at University, I had a girlfriend who was into horses and I got into riding then as a way to spend more time with her. I loved it and even got a weekend job leading trail rides for a while. Girlfriend moved on, and so did the horses.
In my mid-twenties I discovered horses again, this time with a purpose. I had a stressful job working as a Professional Fundraiser at our State Library. I needed an activity to throw myself at to help clear my mind. Horse riding was it, and when I started out I wanted to do something with purpose, not just own a horse, so I decided there and then I wanted to EVENT.
At that time, I knew no Eventers, had only seen it at the Olympics on TV but figured that was what I wanted to do. I found a coach, who thankfully was a great horsewomen.
She taught me a lot in those first couple of years and even got stuck into me when I did dumb stuff, like trying to ride a horse when I was pissed off after a tough day at work. That day she said to me, “if you ever try that again or go near a horse with an attitude like that, you can leave”. That stuck with me and I thank Jane Reid for that piece of wisdom.
Horses are special creatures and if we are to work in partnership with them it must be with respect and understanding.
Frankie, the retired event horse
Today, I don’t ride nearly enough but know one day I will get back to it. I work full time in Disability Services as a fundraiser and business development manager for another understanding and patient lady. I couldn’t chase my dreams without the support of my wife or my boss and for that I am truly grateful.
I am an FEI Technical Delegate, TD to most. I love it. I am very passionate about our sport, Eventing, and enjoy contributing to the future of our sport. I am one of the youngest FEI TD’s in the world, which is great because I get to work with some of the world’s best and learn, before many are forced into retirement.
As a TD, earlier this year I got to go to my first overseas event as part of the FEI Global Education Program for Eventing Officials(GEP). Red Hills Horse Trials was my destination, boy was I lucky. Red Hills is a brilliant event with a fantastic team behind it and I can’t wait to go back in 2011, (I have just over 80 sleeps til I fly out). For me to get to Red Hills requires about 30 hours, three flights and no sleep each way for about 10,000 miles. It is definitely worth every second of it.
I am also lucky enough that in 2011 I will be participating in the GEP again this time to the Four Star Event Burghley in the United Kingdom. On both counts I am truly grateful.
Then of course there is the Eventing Safety side of what I do. That has evolved out of my trip to Red Hills. I was impressed and surprised at some of the great, and not so great things that happen in the USA.
I’ll get the not so great out of the way, I was dumbfounded to see riders wearing hunt caps and baseball caps whilst working their horses on the flat. Here, basically unless you are doing a 2* of above dressage test you MUST be wearing a fastened safety helmet. This was a big shock for me and I note that even this week at the USEA Convention this will be discussed as a possible rule change. My visit to the US was only days after Courtney’s fall and the weekend after Karen had a big crash at an event I can’t remember right now.
There were some great things I picked up on at Red Hills. For starters Eric Bull, Course Builder Extraordinaire, was using his fantastic “Ground Anchors” plus Velcro fasteners for flags. Both of which were new to me and great safety and building improvements.
Also I was very impressed by the ProLogs developed by Kyle Carter and Mike Winter. Hugh Lochore, utilized the ProLogs for two methods
- Firstly as a frangible log, which was its original intention to reduce rotational horse falls
- Secondly, to reduce stifle injuries on horses before a drop into the water.
How I got into the Eventing Safety website was that I tried to find out more about these, as well as the new Mim NewEra clip which I saw a prototype of at Red Hills. I struggled to find information or details of the strategies to implement the use of frangible devices. I set out to bring the information together and that is where the whole EventingSafety John saga started.
Kody our beautiful puppy, 11 years young
Eventing Safety will continue and I will continue to bring the information together and try to make it as easy to understand as possible. I welcome contributions on the issue so please email me direct [email protected] if you have anything of interest you wish to share with the worldwide Eventing community.
Finally, we end up back here at Eventing Nation, how did this happen? To be honest, if you want something, you chase it. Don’t wait for it to happen all by itself, because it wont. I enjoy writing and have written a little for our local Eventing mag called “The Eventer”. My wife sent me to Adelaide as a last minute thing (my wedding anniversary gift) and I thought, I’ll be bored if I go purely as a spectator, so I emailed EN John and the rest is history.
Enjoy the ride,
EventingSafety John (John Lechner)