Dianne BarnesDianne Barnes

2023 My Para equestrian journey continues with a lease from Sharyn McCombe`s beautiful mare named “Sorena“  who I am trying to qualify for 2024 Paris Paralympics.

First pony at the age of 4, I have now  been riding for over 60 yrs. Like most kids I started off in Pony Club, then started to break in a few local ponies and horses to earn some money.  I left school in year 10 and then went to work with Mark and Jim Houlihan, where I stayed for the next 7 years. 

I have been working as a full time rider, trainer and coach for over 40 years.

  • Extensive experience as A grade showjumper, leading lady jockey, 3 day event riding. I have competed and won at State, National and Royal show horse titles and FEI level dressage.
  • Officially Judged at Royal shows, Horse of the year shows throughout Australia and Tasmania.
  • I have completed successful appointments as Young ambassador coach and assessor for Equestrian Victoria for both showing and dressage. Along with a range of successful clinics throughout Australia including Western Australia , Equestrian Victoria as well as private clinics throughout NSW,TAS and VIC.

After a successful show career my daughter Jodie wanted to turn her hand to Dressage so I thought I would give it a go with her. She purchased 3 yold mare named Cil Dara Cosmic ( Stella ) from Nick and Sara English who own Cil Dara Stud in Qld who we had brought lovely horses from before. While Jodie and Stella worked her way through the levels, I continued with young green horses and turning them over after a season or two.

In 2014 Stella came down with colic and was rushed to SEEH where she underwent surgery then once her recovery time had passed she continued on where she left off.

In 2016 I had spinal surgery… C5-6 and C6-7 anterior decompression and fusion, which kept me off the horses for quite a few months.   In 2019 I had a full left hip replacement and the horse I climbed back on at first was Stella as she was the safest.  Jodie continued going through the levels with her to Grand Prix .

At the start of 2020 I was diagnosed with Parkinson`s Disease and Dystiona in my neck and told by my Neurologist not to ride again as my balance was affected and my left arm and leg, Jodie and I just giggled as we walked out and well that`s not going to happen. Jodie did the most selfless thing a person can do she gave me her horse to ride and enjoy for for the next 12 months before I retired.

Not long after she contacted Julia Battams at Para Pathways and we went over to be assessed. We were graded Level 5 and that was the start of my Para riding career. At the start of this year I was re-assed and was now level 4 and trying to qualify for WEG.   After having trouble with my memory and making errors in my test I had a Neurophyscologist test for my memory which is declining and became eligible for a test caller.

My journey with Jodie`s unicorn has lead me to the amazing opportunity to compete for Australia as part of a team with Emma Booth and Lisa Martin.


Photo credit FEI: Libby Law

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