Supporting Idealistic Young Women Athletes

MsElouise and her pony Missy. Another human-equine partnership that can’t be severed

So there’s this girl that I don’t know called Telea. I don’t know her but I do know of her. Mostly because she’s a gun at a sport that I really love, endurance riding and when I keep up to date with the happenings of Australian Endurance Riding her name inevitably comes up. Also because she’s a friend of a friend, actually, it turns out she’s a friend of a few friends that I didn’t even know, but that’s a different story.

Endurance riding is an interesting sport. Everyone competes together and divisions are based on the weight of the rider, not their competition history. So if I’m a middleweight and so is the Australian champion and we both turn up to the same ride, I would be competing against the Australian champion, despite the fact that I’ve never even come close to winning a ride, in fact, completing a ride is my only goal. Actually, completing is a big chunk of the endurance riders out theres only goal, see in endurance, you not only have to cover the distance, you have to do it with a fit and healthy horse that is theoretically capable of continuing. Eg: if you finish the ride but your horse is dehydrated or lame or has a really high heartrate, then you don’t finish. So it’s a really technical and challenging sport, not just physically, but physiologically as well.

Anyway, Telea is only 18, which means she’s just started riding in adult divisions and despite this and despite the fact that her mum bought her horse for only $200, she’s managed to get a place on the Australian team heading to the World Championships in the UK in August. This is a pretty incredible achievement. Especially for someone who does this for the love, doesn’t work for a big endurance stable and doesn’t have endless equipment and other resources behind her. Unfortunately, because endurance is not an olympic sport, there’s no funding available to help her get there and believe me, flying a horse to England is not a cheap enterprise. The flights alone are going to cost around $35,000!

So Telea has a choice, because her horse has been so successful, he’s worth a lot of money, she could easily sell him for a six figure sum, get her flights to the UK and then have plenty of money left over to buy a new horse… but what teenager do you know who’d sell their pony just for a little international glory? (ok, maybe there are plenty, which just goes to show how special this pair is).

Why is this a feminaust issue? Because, feminaust is dedicated to supporting young women, especially young women who are doing amazing things in amazing ways. See, despite the fact that women make up the majority of horse riders, they are seriously under-represented in elite level competition. There are a lot of factors that influence this, companies don’t sponsor female athletes as happily as they sponsor male ones, women have many more conflicting priorities and there are always the negative stereotypes of athletic women. So not only is Telea an amazing woman athlete, she’s also an amazing YOUNG woman athlete. Two things we at feminaust LOVE!

In all sports, money is the single greatest factor for predicting performance. The more money an athlete has, the better they will do. In most cases this means better equipment, better advice and more access to resources. It also means more time to dedicate to being an athlete and not being anything else like a student, or a farmer or an accountant. Some athletes have the benefit of prize money to help them along. In endurance this doesn’t exist. Some riders use their skills to make money, teaching, riding other people’s horses, training a selling animals. For an eighteen year old, this is a prospect, but not yet a reality. And all of this results in one thing. A young woman, at the top of her sport years before her time, with a tough decision in front of her. Sell her horse? Beg, borrow and steal the cash to get there? Don’t go?

So, she’s trying the begging route and this is where you come in. Telea has a Pozible campaign up and running that you can contribute to. She’s almost half way to the $10,000 she’s hoping to raise from this enterprise and has 38 days from the 28th of June as I write this post to do it. So get on it feminausts and support an amazing young Australian woman athlete.

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About MsElouise

MsElouise is a community programs worker and feminist from Melbourne Australia. She likes to travel, write, rant and make people feel uncomfortable about their assumptions. She hopes to one day be remembered for changing the world just a little bit. Right now she does this by proving that teenage girls are a higher order of beings.

One thought on “Supporting Idealistic Young Women Athletes

  1. Hi Ms Elouise, good on you for supporting teenagers and an especially for supporting teenage Talea’s attempt to break the mould of Australian international endurance riding It is so sad that so many great Australian horses have been sold overseas – horses who would give their all to the right person,but are treated like chattels. Much like women in general were often treated in the past and women still iare treated in some countries. But that is another story..

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