Fiona Hughes has been riding horses her whole life, and enriching the Aussie eventing scene for much of that time. Her latest project, Sit Tight Radio, brings listeners top quality equestrian info-tainment in the form of commentaries from Australia’s major 3 day events. We caught up with Fi to learn more about Sit Tight Radio and her life with horses.
What is your earliest memory of horses?
My dad kept a photo of himself holding me on the back of a dirty brown pony in what I think is our Greenacre backyard. I think I was about 2 years old. I rode ponies at a ‘pony ride/hire’ place at 5 years old. All the other kids were on leads, and I was kicking and flapping to go faster, lapping them in what I thought was a gallop – we were probably trotting. The lady in charge told Dad to get a pony for me. I started pony club at 7 years with a little black pony called Princey.
What impact have horses had on your life?
I have worked my whole life in the horse industry. As a young person I was a full time rider and coach, and I sold horses to kids and adult students. In so doing, I have been to many many birthdays, weddings, sadly also funerals, and visited new born babies in hospital. Many of my clients have become part of my life forever. I believe I was lucky to be a talented rider and horsewoman and to have trained many horses. I travelled to most of the big events all over the eastern states of Australia – I even competed at an event in Tasmania! This enabled me to meet many riders, parents, owners and officials in all sorts of circumstances.
What is it about eventing that captivates you?
I love the sport for everything it offers riders – young and old, from the top of the sport to the newest rider competing. I guess because I can identify with all those riders. So what captivates me about eventing is the people and their love of competing with their horse, and how that brings out something in their relationships that never dies.
Can you give us a brief run-down of Sit Tight Radio?
Sit Tight Radio is an app, available for iPhones, android phones and tablets. It is a commentary program which brings the event to the listener, whether they are at home or at the stables. I like to think it’s entertaining as well as informative.
Sit Tight Radio evolved from my experience of commentating at the big 3 day events: Sydney 3DE, Queensland 3DE and Adelaide 3DE. I wanted to offer the listeners something more entertaining than just the rider’s number, the horse’s breeding and the owners’ names.
Do you have a favourite Sit Tight Radio episode or story?
It may well be Melbourne 3DE, which was our last live event which we covered in June. That event is what spurred me to say we were ready to tackle the World Equestrian Games.
We hear you’re bringing Sit Tight Radio to the States in September – do tell!
The STR team at the World Equestrian Games will be made up of Prue Barrett, Lindsey Constable and myself. Lindsey, or ‘Nairny’ as I call her, has been with STR for the last couple of years, sharing the microphone at the Adelaide and Melbourne 3DEs on 3 or 4 occasions. Prue took the reins at the recent Melbourne 3DE, or Werribee as we call it – it’s hard to drop the old event names! We are all old mates and have a quirky outlook on the sport. We know the tough side of actually doing it, but we are very capable of seeing the fun side of it, too. We are only covering Eventing at the World Equestrian Games, but you never know where STR may go in the future.
What’s the biggest lesson horses have taught you?
How to pick yourself up and keep going. Solving problems and soldiering on.
You must have heard some great course-side yarns over the years – any chance you’d share one with us?
OMG do I have to pick one!? Even at the recent Tamworth event, a young guy leapt from his horse after the finish line and prayed! Gold!
If you’d like to learn more about Sit Tight Radio and subscribe to the app, head to the website.