Kiara Henderson, 18, is putting a bold foot forward into a career in the racing industry as part of 30 new cadets to start at a Richmond training base this week.
She has ridden horses most of her life from the age of six at pony club, mustering stock on her southern NSW farm, to even taking her favourite horse Banjo with her when she studied at Yanco Ag College.
As an advanced rider she hopes to make the most of her chances after being selected to participate in the Thoroughbred Industry Careers (TIC) new Explorer Cadetships, with only 30 places on offer from around Australia.
“It’s a door-opener, a pathway into racing,” she says. She hopes to move into horse nutrition and even farrier work, concentrating on hoof health. She is prepared to defy the tradition of burly farriers and knows she can bring unruly horses to heel. “I have been passionate about horses ever since I was very young.”
The course started in earnest on Monday at Richmond with TIC chief executive Lindy Maurice saying all the cadets were very excited and asking every minute “what are we doing next?”. The cadets got close up with a few off-the-track thoroughbreds on the first day and Kiara obviously bonded very quickly with her charge.
Kiara is hoping to make the contacts that will earn her a career in racing, but also make good friends among her fellow cadets. She says she is in good single room accommodation at the University of Western Sydney’s Richmond campus and shares a kitchen with four other cadets. Having been a school boarder, she is used to staying away from home. Her home is the tiny and picturesque place of Yaouk in the Snowy Mountains, just north of Adaminaby, nestled into the back of the rugged Brindabella ranges.
The thirty young horse-enthusiasts from regions spanning Townsville in Queensland to Northampton in Western Australia and met at the Australian Racing and Equine Academy in Richmond.
The program starts with a three-month practical and theoretical learning block at the Australian Racing and Equine Academy. Each student will then be assigned to a leading trainer where they will spend 4.5 months on their first paid work-experience in a racing stable, followed by 4.5 months on a leading stud farm.
Kiara is hoping instead of the option she had of taking a gap year before a job or university that she has done the right thing in getting straight into a career path. And what about Banjo ? “He’s fine, my younger sister is looking after him,” she says.