It’s been a wild ride for Esther Brooks and a horse called Johnny.
Ever since the 74-year-old won a 2017 Clubbie for Best Masters Performance, she has become a media favourite.
No one is more surprised than Brooks herself, who didn’t realise she was in the running until the votes started pouring in earlier this year.
“I was told by my farrier when he came by one morning and said that they were voting for me out there on Facebook,” Brooks says.
“I Googled Esther Brooks and up it came… I was just quite amazed. I don’t know how I did it but everyone got behind me. It was a huge surprise.”
Atherton Tablelands and District Dressage Association president, Margot Warnett, says the attention is well deserved, hailing the elite dressage rider for her “horsemanship, calmness, compassion” and dedication to mentoring others.
“All our club members were so pleased for Esther, and the excitement extended across the entire equestrian community up here in the Far North,” Warnett says.
Taking the ensuing publicity in his considerable stride is the chestnut Hanoverian whose own remarkable story, Brooks says, began as “imported frozen semen” from Germany. Not surprisingly, then, that the Germans also rallied behind Brooks’ nomination.
She says of Johnny (aka Benchmark Let’s Rock): “He’s been bred with a pretty good brain and they’re not as easy to train some of these highly-bred horses.
“It’s been a little bit of a problem starting young because he does mind games – he’s even jumped out of the arena a couple of times. He just makes life very interesting.”
After her early pony club days, Brooks spent much of her adulthood riding the scrub and bushland around her property before taking up dressage some thirty years ago.
She adds: “People have contacted me who found out that I had only started dressage in my forties.
“They’ve been encouraged and a couple have even gone out and bought horses. It’s been a bit inspiring I think to some who thought they were too old.”
MAIN PHOTO by Pamela Kingwill – PVS Captured Impressions