Meet the Saddleworld Horse of the Month – Diamantina

Meet the inaugural Saddleworld Horse of the Month, Maree Tomkinson’s Diamantina.

Maree has taken the mare all the way from Young Horse classes to representing Australia at the WEG in Normandy:

“We purchased Diamantina in 2006 from Johannes Westendarp whilst we were in Germany with Rodrigo for the World Young Horse Champs. She was 4 years old, she had a super canter and walk, and a very good trot that developed more and more as she grew older. She always had an amazingly active hind leg and a very good back. No matter how tense she may look in the neck at times, she always feels supple in the back and this she had from a very young horse. As active as the hind leg is, it can be difficult for her to find balance when there is so much power coming from the back end, and this has been our greatest challenge.”

“She was beautiful to ride as a young horse, always not so easy to teach anything new, strong willed and determined, very reactive but always reliable in the test. She could be like a hurricane outside the arena, but once she went in, she knew her job, and there was perfect harmony, it was like being in the eye of the storm: an amazing feeling of so much power, and grace, with perfect precision. It became a little bit her MO, the more wild she was outside, the better she was inside the arena.”

“Sadly in her later life, this was very much frowned upon, and her exuberance outside the arena was seen as tension and penalised inside the arena. By trying to curb her natural enthusiasm and exuberance it affected her energy and expression in the test. I always loved her the best when she was free and full of expression.”

“She had many injuries as a young horse, she broke her splint bone in the paddock as a five-year-old, was injured in quarantine as a six-year-old and had five operations on her hock and 6 weeks in the veterinary hospital. She was given a 10% chance of ever walking again. We hand walked her for fifteen minutes every hour, 24 hours a day for six weeks, and then slowly increased the duration of walking, but decreased the frequency. She beat the odds and made a full recovery… we were very lucky.”

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“At seven years she had a ruptured ovary with severe colic and they wanted to give her a hysterectomy, fortunately she is one strong lady and this was avoided.”

“At ten years old she was in a car accident, we wrote-off the car and float, and she had major muscle damage to her left buttock muscle that now has a large dent in it.”

“She is one tough mother, the strongest, bravest horse I have ever known: a little neurotic, but as strong as they come.”

“She was always special, she was born that way, she demanded it and it was clear. I guess when we went back for the World Young Horse Championships it became very clear. She won everything she went in at that level in Germany, many M level classes and 6-year-old classes, lots of 9’s for canter and walk, the Oldenburger Championships and then 6th in the first round of the World Young Horse.”

“It was amazing and so exciting, she was a sensation wherever she went, we were offered an incredible amount of money for her, it was just the most wonderful time and so exciting for the future. And of course the future proved to be just as wonderful with many titles at small tour and then National titles at GP level and finally representing Australia at WEG in 2014.”

“On top of all that she has given us four beautiful foals, the oldest of which is five now. She has been so special on so many levels and has taken us on such a wonderful, interesting and exciting journey. She has been very good for the sport in our country, always so exciting to watch, able to draw a crowd and inspire equine and dressage enthusiasts alike.”

A day in the life of Her Highness…

“She lives in the stable closest to all the action, it is lined in rubber from top to bottom to try and protect her from herself with CCT cameras so I can keep an eye on her no matter where I am. She is always the first to be fed, cleaned, worked, everything. Not because she demands it, but because she is so special to us. She is ridden each day for a least an hour, 20 minutes walking first, and then mostly gymnastic work, usually in a snaffle with no spurs. She is extremely sensitive in the skin, so rugs, girth, saddle pads, bridle, spurs, even bandages will rub her if we are not very careful. Despite appearances she is actually a very lazy horse. At competitions when she becomes very reactive and hot, it is like riding a totally different horse, I have to be able to adapt very quickly to which ever Diamantina turns up for work on any given day!”

Diamantina has a ‘Princess’ moment in the trot up at the selection trials for the WEG in France

“She has one day a week on the lunge or in hand , one  day a week trail riding and one day a week rest. A rest day involves a good brush, Equissage, feet wash and dress, and 20 minutes walk x 2. In the afternoons she is walked or taken outside on a lunge lead to graze.”

“She is the only horse in the stable that does not go in a paddock. I have tried so many times to integrate her in the paddock with disastrous results that I have now given up. I have built her a big paddock with post and three-rail fences, no corners, a shelter, dam and trees surrounding for her and Rodrigo and Mikado to retire in when the time is right. She is still only 14 years old, so I hope we feel like competing again some time soon.”

“We feed the horses seven times a day, hard feed or hay alternating, and do a night check at 9pm with lights off… I can still see her in the cameras with night vision!”

“I hope she is a happy horse, we work very hard at keeping the horses active and happy and really take notice of how they look in their beautiful faces, and eyes. They will tell you exactly how they feel so long as you take the time to look.”

“At the moment Diamantina is taking a year off from competition, she has completed four European tours now and has been a full-on competition horse for ten years without a break. We need to look after her and keep her healthy and happy. We owe it to her. She has ticked every box, on every level, and proven to be more than we could ever have imagined. I am very proud of the way we have managed her career and forever grateful for the opportunities she has made possible.”

Maree and Diamantina – that’s her on the right of the pic – with some of her progeny, a four-year-old black/brown Totilas mare, a bay five-year-old Totilas mare. And there’s a two-year-old Fürstenball colt, and a yearling Fürstenball filly still waiting in the paddock…

“For me the first and most important part of the ‘sport’ will always be the horse, if you look after your horse the rest will fall into place. After that comes the sport, and finally the business. If you keep it in that order the integrity of the discipline will be maintained, as soon as the ‘business’ is more important than the horse then we have lost our way ethically.”

“We have always been clear that Diamantina’s welfare on every level came first above anything, and because she is so special, she always deserved the special treatment she received.”

2 thoughts on “Meet the Saddleworld Horse of the Month – Diamantina

  1. Thank you I enjoyed the article immensely.
    She has come a long way since first I say her at Werribee as a baby,
    Congratulations
    Jilli

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