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Young equestrian up for athlete of the year award despite health scare

equestrian star Ginger Kennett during competition.

Athlete of the year nomination: Picton equestrian star Ginger Kennett during competition.

Around this time last year Ginger Kennett was a young equestrian star on the rise.

She had made the Australian team for the junior world vaulting championships in Ermelo, Netherlands in 2015 and the future looked bright.

A serious health challenge took her focus away from the sport she loves and as a result she missed almost half the competitions on offer in 2017.

When she was finally well enough to literally get back on her horse, Ginger successfully returned to vaulting competition.

The brave 15 year old from Picton performed so remarkably well in the remaining four events of the equestrian season that she has now been nominated Young Athlete of the Year in the Equestrian Australia Sport Achievement Awards for 2017.

The Year 10 Frensham Mittagong student is taking the possibility of winning such an honour in her stride.

She is actually more excited about being healthy once again and focused on continuing to progress in the sport she loves.

Asked to list her biggest achievement in 2017, Ginger wrote: “My biggest achievement for 2017 was recovering from a serious illness and being able to work my way back to doing things that I adore doing.’’

Someone else may have pointed out winning three of the competitions Ginger entered after overcoming her illness – plus a second place in a fourth competition.

Ginger at home with her vaulting horse, Don-Don.

Love him: Ginger at home with her vaulting horse, Don-Don.

Ginger even confesses to loving training – and in vaulting it is very important both the athlete and the horse are in peak physical condition if they want to impress the judges.

There’s no shortage of space to make sure her horse, Don [full name Donati3] gets a good workout – Ginger and her family, mum Georgie Kennett, dad Jamie Maclaughlin and sister Ruby live on a 600 acre cattle farm just west of the Picton township.

There’s even a perfectly level arena where Ginger, Don, and mum as the lunger, can practice.

As for Ginger’s fitness, it all happens in a very well equipped gym on top of the farm’s highest point.

“That’s my favourite part of preparation,’’ she says about spending time in the gym.

“I love the feeling after preparation that you’ve accomplished something important as part of your overall objective.’’

Ginger took up vaulting in 2012, a year after she became seriously infatuated with eventing – a very popular  equestrian discipline –  at the age of eight.

“One of my best friends dragged me to a vaulting session one Saturday and I fell in love with it instantly.’’

Ginger has to explain to this old journo that vaulting is gymnastics on horseback and combines the skills of both gymnastics and horsemanship.

 Ginger in the gym.

Loves the training: Ginger in the gym.

Eventing (also known as three day eventing or horse trials) is an equestrian event where a single horse and rider combination compete against other combinations across the three disciplines of dressage, cross-country, and show jumping.

After Ginger moved across from eventing to vaulting she got the best gift possible from mum and dad – her own vaulting horse, all the way from Germany.

It took a bit of time, but Ginger and Don are as one, a real team.

“I think Don-Don, that’s what I call him, understands in English now,’’ says Ginger.

“Don. Is Good. I love him, he’s awesome.’’

Ginger says that coming through her illness last year made her realise how much she loved equestrian sports.

“I would not swap equestrian for any other sport, I am pretty sure about that,’’ she says.

Members of Equestrian Australia can vote in the award. To do so visit

Competition photos by Samual Noakes Photography




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