An Eventful Life provides an insight into the lives of five elite Australian eventing riders: Sonja Johnson, Megan Jones, Shane Rose, Wendy Schaeffer and Stuart Tinney. They are all Olympic medallists, they are all aiming for further medals and they are all still based in Australia.
An additional chapter on an up and coming rider, Emma Scott, reveals how younger Australian riders vying to take over from these champions view the world of professional equestrian sport.
This is not just a book for fans of equestrian sport - it is a book for anyone interested in how seemingly ordinary people become Olympic champions. Their stories are inspiring, touching, funny at times and sad at others and they reveal what it takes to be the best in the world. Each of these Olympic medallists deserves a biography of their own – but as they are still at the top of their sport and aiming for future goals.
These are their stories . . . so far.
Fabulous! Review by Kerry
Sounds like a winner. Thanks for producing a book of such quality and interest.
Kerry (Posted on 12/12/11)
I think other readers are going to love it Review by Louise Curran
I’ve started the book and I’m really enjoying it. It’s an easy read and Alison has done a great job of chronicling each person’s journey while making the reader feel as though they’re really getting to know the rider. I think other readers are going to love it (Posted on 3/12/11)
A fascinating book - I could not put it down. Review by Vaughan Ellis
A fascinating book - I could not put it down. (Posted on 3/12/11)
Ordinary Aussies with exceptional talent, guts and pure determination Review by Rosemarie Hazard
An honest and sometimes emotional ride to the world stage of the Olympic Games. Ordinary Aussies with exceptional talent, guts and pure determination. An amazing journey from early beginnings to the ultimate partnership between horse and rider (Posted on 3/12/11)
A great read and a must have addition to one’s equestrian library Review by Anna Sharpley
Alison Duthie is the foremost eventing commentator in Australia and with An Eventful Life she further demonstrates her ability as interviewer and writer. All of us who have ever cantered around the back yard on a stick are fascinated by the people and horses that have achieved what for most of us are just fantasies; Olympic Gold Medals. Alison gives insight in to the lives of six outstanding and inspiring horse people and has brought their trials, tribulations and triumphs to life through her gracious and accessible prose. We may not make an Olympic Team, but this book is an inspiration, not only to riders who want to achieve more, but to any sportsperson interested in the psychology of winning. But above all it is a great read and a must have addition to one’s equestrian library or the beginning of it (Posted on 3/12/11)
Well told, insightful and fascinating. A genuine treat. Review by Emmet O'Cuana
“Wendy has no hesitation in saying that the highlight of her career so far is winning a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. There are, however, two tales within this amazing story. The first is the fairy tale of the young woman who rides her pony club horse at the Olympics and wins a gold medal. The second is the tale of Wendy breaking her leg nine weeks out from the Olympic Games. Thanks to grit, determination, and a metal plate and several screws keeping her leg together she still rode at the Olympic Games and won the gold medal. Put the two tales together and you have a story worthy of an Oscar.”
One thing that struck me after I came to Australia was how much pride the country takes in its deserving athletes. Partly this made an impression on me, because growing up I was not aware of much of a sports culture in my country. Yes everyone I knew was mad about soccer, but these were English clubs they were supporting. Also the money simply was not available for proper sporting facilities for hopeful Olympians. Saying that though, I did grow up in the same town as Michelle Smith, Rathcool. I even caught the same bus to school as equestrian Cian O’Connor.
So often it appears as if the spectacle of sporting events, seemingly always occuring in some stadium in a foreign land, causes us to forget that these are ordinary people, from ordinary places, which was why I enjoyed the personal perspectives offered by An Eventful Life: Life Stories of Eventing Champions.
In her opening foreward publisher Debbie Higgs asserts that [this] is not just a book for fans of equestrian sports – it is a book for anyone interested in how people with extraordinary talent and perseverance can become Olympic champions. This for me is the real heart of the book. Too the careers of sportsmen are forced into a global historical narrative. This book instead concentrates on the personal.
Alison Duthie presents a series of journalistic profiles of several Australian Olympians. A welcome addition to the selection of sportspeople is young up-and-comer Emma Scott. The book’s appendix lists an impressive selection of appearances by Scott on the equestrian circuit since 2007. The other professional horse-riders who partake of eventing have already experienced a whole series of highs and lows across the world. Emma Scott’s story has not yet truly begun.
The book’s subjects are Megan Jones, Sonja Johnson, Shane Rose, Wendy Schaeffer and Stuart Tinney. Collectively they can hold claim to an incredible assortment of medals and prizes. We learn how each of them first came to the sport, often with the generous help of family members and friends, as well as the experiences they shared with the horses that carried them to victory. One of the book’s strengths is that the relationship between horse and rider is emphasised through the testimonies of these athletes. They speak of them as animal friends, or even colleagues of a kind, but never dismissively as ‘beasts’.
The level of dedication and determination required by the sport can also bring a dangerous cost with it. The quote I chose to open this piece gives an example of the extraordinary lengths Wendy Schaeffer was willing to go to in order to attend the Olympics despite serious injury. Shane Rose had to undergo major reconstructive surgery after he was struck in the face by a horse. While escaping injury himself, Stuart Tinney’s horse Jeepster leaped into the crowd of onlookers at Badminton in 1999. That all of these athletes would continue on despite the harships and occasional mishaps of a life in professional sports, shows just how dedicated they are to equestrianism. Many have even become trainers of the next generation themselves.
Writer Alison Duthie herself trained in the sport and her familiarity helps convey the personal stories told here with an added degree of insight. There is even a wonderful collection of photographs included at the end of each chapter, illustrating the careers of each of these men and women. The tone of the book is both warm and enthusiastic, enough to encourage the interest of anyone, regardless of their interest in the field.
Well told, insightful and fascinating. A genuine treat. (Posted on 3/12/11)
An Eventful Life: Life stories of eventing champions Review by Toni-anne Collins
An Eventful Life, a book that follows the often difficult rise to the top of Australia's top eventing riders is an absolute gem. It doesn't actually matter if you don't follow the sport of Eventing, anyone who is interested in the sacrifice that top athletes make or anyone who is interested in the bond between humans and horses will delight in this book written by Alison Duthie.
Each rider featured in this really easy to read series of true stories has represented Australia at the Olympics and continue to dominate the sport world wide. They herald from right across the massive land mass that Australia is and they all travel nationally and internationally with their horses in tow.
From sheep farming in Western Australia, to race horse training in New South Wales, to sport horse breeding in South Australia each of these amazing riders has a unique story to tell that says more about having a go and dedicating yourself to a goal than about riding horses.
I did absolutely laugh out loud and also could not help but shed a tear or two whilst reading this book that is seriously hard to put down.
(Posted on 3/12/11)