Tom New is no stranger to being in the ring at the Sydney Royal Easter Show having competed many times over the years in led classes, however, this year was his first year that he took to the saddle to compete.
The 18-year-old Young High School student has been profiled in the Young Witness before for his success with his and mum, Charmaine New's horse, Emugully Diggers Blaze and this year Tom not only got to do his usual led classes with the most success he's had at the big show, but he also rode Digger in his Australian National Saddlehorse Association (ANSA) class.
Bred by Libby Callaghan from Bendick Murrell the Australian Stock Horse Ripwheeler, affectionately known as Joycie, went out for his first Sydney Royal led by Tom in the Australian Stock Horse Gelding, any age, over 15hh to place not only in the top 10 but bringing home the fifth place ribbon.
"We've had him for about six or seven months," Tom said.
"He was basically a green broken horse who had just done a bit of stockwork."
Originally Joycie had been bred for polocrosse but wasn't fast enough for the field and in Libby's words, moved too prettily for polocrosse, so Libby decided to find him a home where he would be well looked after and be doing something not as high speed.
Charmaine and Tom had already made the tough decision to retire Digger from the ring at the end of Sydney Royal and were looking for a new horse the pair could take out showing.
Good family friends Libby and Charmaine got to talking and decided that maybe the show ring would be the best place for Joycie who was still learning the ropes of being under saddle. Charmaine, a huge fan of the TV series Yellowstone, along with Tom and Libby all decided it was only appropriate to name the gelding after one of the characters on the show.
After working with him on the ground for a couple of weeks Charmaine and Tom felt that Joycie was ready to head out in the ring for his led classes.
"We took him out about a month or so after we got him," Tom said.
The pair competed together for the first time one of the the Cootamundra Shows in later last year.
"Joycie was as cool as a cucumber," Tom said.
"He just did his led Stock Horse and led ANSA and then we did a few more Coota shows."
As the state began to come out of lockdown due to COVID Cootamundra hosted or held a number of shows to allow local horses to gain some exposure and qualifications before Canberra and Sydney.
From their first show Joycie started to see ribbons in the ring.
"He was kind of the favourite," Tom said.
"We got him qualified for Canberra (Royal) and Sydney (Royal). He got fourth in led Stock Horse at Canberra."
The last local show the pair went to was at the Batlow Show at the end of March which they used as a warm up for the Royal, which ended up with Joycie winning Champion.
Heading into Sydney, Tom knew that Joycie would go out and hold his own, however, he was not expecting the fantastic result that they won.
"I was expecting him to go in for his round, I didn't expect him to place at all," Tom said.
"He exceeded my expectations, I can tell you that much."
Even though it wasn't Tom's first time in the ring, considering it was Joycie's first Sydney Royal and the first time he'd had to walk through the tunnel into the arena the way the gelding handled the atmosphere was very impressive.
"It's always different when you go out, there's always something new," Tom said.
"He just cruised out quite happily, nothing really phased him from what I could tell."
On top of taking a new horse to its first Royal Tom also got to come full circle with the horse that he and his mum raised, trained and love, Emugully Diggers Blaze.
Digger as he's most commonly known around the area, had qualified for Sydney and competed in his Show Hunter Galloway classes, however, to kick the week off with his ridden classes at his last Sydney Royal Tom rode him in his ridden ANSA class.
Charmaine, family and friends all got emotional as they watched the boy who led the then young gelding, ride out as a man on the horse he helped produce.
"Before I went out I was very nervous cause I didn't know what to expect," Tom said.
"Once I got out there I just treated it like an Ag Show, like it is what it is, whatever happens, happens."
Tom said he couldn't have asked for more from Digger who did everything Tom asked him.
"I asked him to do something and Digger did it, he was very excited to be out there," he said.
"It was a new experience, it was something that I've tried and I want to do it again."
Although they didn't place in their class, the moment was something those close to Tom and Charmaine will never forget.
"Digger was a great horse to experience what it's like to ride out there," Tom said.
Looking forward Tom has begun to prepare Joycie for his ridden classes with the pair travelling to the Orange Ag Show this weekend where they will make their debut in the Stock Horse ring.
Tom hopes to return to Sydney with Joycie next year where they will compete together under saddle.
"Working Stock Horse, Stock Horse hack, Joycie and I will be back," Tom said.
"I want to thank Mum, Libby and Tracie Wells, Dana Smith, Nan (Odette Yen), Tanburra Park Physiokey and Fuel Tax Credits (HPL Group) for everything. If it wasn't for them it wouldn't have happened."
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