FORMER Bega woman Emma Donnelly has lived out her dreams
Emma, 22, with her horse Reg (Wadbilliga Major Impact) has been riding since she was four, and her dedication paid off recently when she took part in the Grand Nationals in Sydney.
The duo didn’t only compete, but came away with a runner-up ribbon in their class.
Twenty five of Australia’s best riders and their horses took part in the division, large show hunter galloway, where Emma and Reg finished second.
Proud mum Sharon Donnelly said it had been Emma’s dream since she was a young girl to compete at the grand nationals.
“Emma’s dream to compete at the Grand Nationals, has been her lifelong passion,” Sharon said.
Sharon said a number of competitors at the top level bring in professionally trained horses, and it made her proud to see Emma working with Reg.
“The fact Emma has developed and trained with Reg, she’s trained him from scratch from an early age and developed him to this level.
“It’s rare to have a horse you’ve trained from scratch to compete at this level without any professional training.
“She’s done it all herself,” she said.
Sharon said it had been Emma’s determination that got her to the top after purcashing Reg four years ago.
“Her dedication to her sport of choice has allowed her to achieve her dream.
“Four years ago Emma never imagined that this horse ... would take her all the way to the top,” she said.
Sharon said the family had bought Reg locally as two-year-old from a stud in Cobargo.
“[He was] purchased from Martin and Judy Bourke of Wadbilliga stockhorse stud at Cobargo.”
Horse riding is in Emma’s blood Sharon said going all the way back to her great grandfather Dave Stevenson who owned a palomino stud in Bega.
Grandfather Athol Moon also owned a quarterhorse locally.
Nearly the whole family was in Sydney to watch Emma compete.
“It was a real point of pride, for her to reach that level was a proud moment for all of us,” Sharon said.
Unfortunately, Emma’s aunty Julie Stevenson was unable to attend.
“Julie had provided plenty of support with travelling to competion - Julie wasn’t able to go ... she was very upset.”
Emma, who now resides in Cooma, used to train kids locally and left the area to pursue a career assisting disabled children learning to ride.
Emma has now moved on to veterinary nursing and is looking forward to her next big riding challenge: the Sydney Royal Show.
Emma said she was thrilled with the event and was grateful to everyone who has supported her.
Meanwhile, Sharon said Emma is passionate about riding.
“We thought she’d grow out it and stop riding.
“A lot of people have a passion and leave it behind when they reach a certain age.
“It’s a passion that’s never going to die with Emma,” she said.