When talented 17-year-old eventer Tayah Andrew discovered she’d made the Australian Young Rider Team for the 2017 Oceania Championships in Melbourne, her elation came with an extra sense of achievement that only those who’d been a part of her journey could understand.
Securing one of only four places in the team to compete against New Zealand at the Melbourne International Three Day Event was a remarkable accomplishment, but for the young West Australian rider it came after what has been a rollercoaster three years with her horse Silver Force.
Tayah, who rides track work for some of Perth’s leading trainers began riding the Thoroughbred known as Gary three years ago, but early into their partnership the unthinkable happened; the 11-year-old by Enforcer suffering a large twist in his intestine requiring colic surgery. Complications afterwards saw him test positive for severe blood toxicity and he developed Laminitis, forcing him out of work for eighteen months.
For an ambitious young rider with lofty goals it was a devastating blow and a long road back. The horse that held so much promise was going to require careful management with the potential for repeat bouts of colic and laminitis a serious concern, especially considering Gary’s tendency to be an anxious horse.
At that point, one of Tayah’s long time sponsors, Kelato Animal Health stepped in and proved pivotal to the campaign to get Gary back to performing at his competitive best. He was immediately started on GastroAID Digestive to get his gut health in order and protect his stomach from any further damage. In Tayah’s own words the results were “amazing”. Gary became happy to eat, gained weight and maintained it easily.
As the months went by and the workload steadily increased, so too did the improvement in Gary’s wellbeing, and to Tayah’s surprise, his temperament as well. The once tense Thoroughbred who struggled with the busy atmosphere and being confined at events had transformed into a much cruisier version of himself and most importantly, one that was healthy and sound.
In the lead up to the Melbourne International Gary’s competition schedule was kept to a minimum with events in WA carefully selected. The pair also spent a week in New South Wales, training with Olympians Heath and Rozzie Ryan whose Heatherbrae property Tayah has been visiting for working holidays since she was 14.
Heading to Melbourne, the reality of representing Australia at the Oceania Championships finally hit home as did the enormity of the three-year journey to get there. Hard work, unfailing help from family and friends and the support of Kelato’s GastroAID, a product that yielded remarkable results, and the pair contested the 2* with Silver Force a picture of health and at the peak of fitness.
While that in itself was a win for Tayah, she and her team-mates, Gemma Tinney, Shenae Lowings and Olivia Barton proved to be the dream team, cruising to a clear victory over New Zealand.
Individually, Tayah finished on her dressage score in 11th place, cementing her position as one of Australia’s most talented young Eventers. Having already represented her country at just 17, a future on the world stage beckons and Tayah could not be more excited.