Megan Jones is a champion event rider who has represented Australia in the Olympics and achieved great success on her home-bred horses. From her equestrian centre in the beautiful Adelaide Hills, South Australia, Megan and her team run a plethora of programmes and events for everyone from professional riders to horse-loving kids. Megan very kindly took some time out of her ever-busy schedule to share some stories about her life with horses.
What is your earliest memory of horses?
Oh gosh, it was being put up on a what felt like a giant horse bareback in a stable. It was just a friend’s Thoroughbred apparently, but at the age of 4, I felt like I was 10 feet in the air!
Of all the horses you’ve ridden, is there one who is/was especially important to you?
Obviously I love them all. But Kirby Park Irish Jester, my Olympic horse, will always be my hero. He was born at our stud and I broke him in, trained him and developed our special partnership… it was not not all smooth sailing, but the years of training brought us to a very special place. But my top horse right now, Kirby Park Impress, is also firmly wedged into my heart already. She’s like no other horse I’ve had… I can ride her via bluetooth!
What is it about eventing that captivates you?
The feeling after cross country at all levels. From baby horses to the 4* horses. Only you know the training and partnership that goes into each cross country round.
You must have heard some great course-side yarns over the years – any chance you’d share one with us?
Most good stories are truck-side, fuelled by wine! Back when I was younger the competitions were very much a truck party zone once darkness fell. These days it’s all so much more serious and professional!
I do have a naughty story about myself as a young rider at our national 3 day event championships held in Naracoorte in South Australia’s south east. Basically, I missed our state team 10pm post-cross country trot up (to check the horses were all happy and sound so they could be put to bed for the night). Our coach was none other than Olympic champion Gill Rolton. I was with other riders partying in a truck when I looked at the time – 10.30pm!! Shoot! I scooted back to the stables (in stealth mode) only to see the other team members finishing up! So I hid in the shadows till they had all gone, then I got my horse out and jumped on with no helmet, all of his rugs on and only his halter and rope, and did a couple of trot laps around the oval track! I thought I had gotten away with being busted for maybe being a bit tipsy and riding my horse, but no, Gill promptly found me and gave me a roasting!
I did still jump a clear showjumping round the next day to win, though!
What does a typical day at Kirby Park look like for you?
Well James and I have actually bought our own place in Woodside and called it ‘Hallmark Farm’ after my first 4* horse I produced, Kirby Park Irish Hallmark. But it’s still the same work involved in a day.
I’m usually on a horse by 7:30/8am and I ride until 12ish. I try really hard not to book any lessons in before 12pm so I can get all of my 5-7 horses worked without having to get the stable girls to start earlier than 7am. Then I teach back to back 45 minute lessons until 8-9pm! The working students/grooms get my horses ready for me and put them away and there is no way I could get through what I do in a day without the girls in the stables.
Once inside James has dinner ready for us ( I’m 100% winning on the husband front!), I do a little office work, then shower and go to bed! We have Mondays off and it’s a real treat.
Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?
Everyone around me. I have the best group of students and everyone’s enthusiasm for the sport is a driving force for me. My husband James says I inspire him to be great, but it works both ways. He’s so positive about our next competition or our next goal on the property and this also inspires me to go harder.
Also, the lure of a gold medal is a pretty good motivator!
What’s the most important lesson horses have taught you?
Never look back… always look forward in life.
What’s next for you and your team?
Team MJET are fully focused on the next Olympic Games! I’ve been very lucky have some incredible support and we have purchased 3 incredible horses from Europe to join my little team of horses here at Hallmark Farm. So I’ll have 2 if not 3 horses ready to go for selection for 2020!
And finally, if you had to choose one horse riding holiday, which would it be?
The Icelandic ride looks amazing! I’d be on that in a flash!
To keep up with Megan and her team, follow them on Facebook.
Image credits: Sporting Schools, Equestrian Australia, Stephen Mowbray.