How this executive's hobby horse helps her solve problems – The Australian Financial Review

August 5, 2019 - Comment

Aug 5, 2019 — 9.46am Helen Souness, chief executive of RMIT Online, enjoys being challenged – in and out of the office. How did you get into horse riding?By riding a horse called “Unconscious” at age two. It has been my “other” love ever since. Describe your first horseWhero (Maori for “red”) was a beautiful


Aug 5, 2019 — 9.46am

Helen Souness, chief executive of RMIT Online, enjoys being challenged – in and out of the office.

How did you get into horse riding?
By riding a horse called “Unconscious” at age two. It has been my “other” love ever since.

Describe your first horse
Whero (Maori for “red”) was a beautiful half-Arabian pony I borrowed from a friend for many years.

Do you compete or ride purely for pleasure?
At RMIT Online, we’re passionate about lifelong learning, and horse riding for me is an extension of my personal education. I ride dressage, a formal demonstration of skill, with Raenor Priest, a wonderful instructor at Bingara Dell Riding School in Castella, outside Melbourne.

When dressage goes well, “riding Victor is like riding a cloud”, says Souness of this former racehorse. Supplied

How often do you ride?
I have a lesson on Victor, a beautifully schooled, retired racehorse, every fortnight and often go hacking with my 11-year-old daughter, Jessie. We also love careening around the countryside or beach, and trail riding too. We have ridden on the beach in New Zealand, cantered around in Italy, and climbed all over Victoria, including the classic Man from Snowy River ride up to Craig’s Hut.

What’s the most demanding form of horse riding you do?
Definitely dressage, which is all about communicating with the horse through the slightest shift in your body. I often get it wrong, but when I get it all together and communicate correctly, riding Victor is like riding a cloud.

Do you combine it with aerobic exercise?
Yes, sadly I don’t ride enough for it to be my only exercise, and you need a really strong core to ride well. I row regularly on a WaterRower at home.

Describe a training session
It varies enormously, depending on the dressage move we are working on. It will usually be an hour in the arena, practising a movement or dressage test, with constant feedback from my instructor. Both Victor and I have good and bad days. I think the biggest factor is how good my mental focus is, especially if it has been a big week. Riding wipes my slate clean, and I am usually in the moment by the time we are doing more complex things. Towards the end of a session, Victor and I happily fly around the arena.

Favourite piece of tack?
Definitely the saddle. I am a fiend for good-quality shoes and leather, so I love good tack and keeping it in great order. We use saddle soap every time we use the tack at Bingara Dell, so it’s always in beautiful condition.

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