Kristy Oatley’s “Very Organized Chaotic Life” On Hold When She Competes Ronan at WEG

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Ronan displaying huge and expressive gaits with Kristy Oatley aboard. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Ronan displaying huge and expressive gaits with Kristy Oatley aboard at Fritzens, Austria. © 2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Aug. 13, 2014

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Kristy Oatley will put aside her “very organized chaotic life” of juggling three children, a husband and a stable full of horses to compete her Ronan for the Australian’s third World Equestrian Games.

The world championship on Ronan, with eye-popping gigantic gaits, is the latest major event for Kristy since she claimed the European Young Rider title on Rosemount Oskar almost two decades ago–she had dual citizenship of Germany and Australia. Two WEGs, three Olympics, two World Cup Finals and a couple of European Championships followed.

Now 36 years old and firmly established in Germany, Kristy is as passionate about riding as ever.

“Riding is my way of life,” she told dressage-news.com.

Her husband, Piotr Staczek, with whom she will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary in November, supports Kristy, helping with the children: Oskar, 9, Rose, 7, and Ben, 5. The two boys follow in their father’s footsteps, preferring soccer and tennis, but Rose has begun competing at horse shows.

Kristy and her 14-year-old Oldenburg geldig (Riccione x Contender) qualified for the Australian team by earning a start in the two European selection trials, at the CDI4* in Fritzens, Austria and the CDI3* in Deauville, France and obtaining the scores to be named to the four-member team.

The other combinations named to the team for dressage starting Aug. 25 are: Mary Hanna, 59, based in Australia on Sancette, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Lyndal Oatley, 34, Kristy’s cousin and also based in Germany, on Sandro Boy, a 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding and Briana Burgess, 26, based in Germany, on La Scala, 16-year-old Rhinelander gelding.

La Scala, excused from the second selection trial because of a tendon injury, underwent a veterinary examination this week ordered by the Australian equestrian federation. If the horse is found not to be fit enough for the championships, Maree Tomkinson, 45, and Diamantina 4, a 12-year-old Oldenburg mare that finished fifth in the trials, will be named to the team.

Kristy’s championship experience and years competing successfully at premier shows has given her both name recognition and stature in Europe. It also may have given her the ability to shut out the impact of the turmoil and sniping that began with the 2012 Olympic selection procedures and has shown signs of occurring again.

In two decades of packing in WEGs at Rome in 1998 and 2006 and Olympics in her homeland in 2000, the Beijing Games in 2008 and London in 2012 her two most successful mounts were Wall Street and Quando Quando.

Kristy Oatley and Clive at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Kristy Oatley and Clive at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Not only was Kristy a stalwart of Australian teams, in a period of 12 months in 2007 and 2008 she and Quando Quando racked up a dozen top five finishes, including two victories, in German CDIs, the World Equestrian Festival at Aachen among them.

She has had Ronan since the horse was four–“love at first sight,” is the way she puts it–but she was eight months pregnant at the time so didn’t actually sit on him.

For the past four years she has been training with Sjef Janssen, the former Dutch team coach who took over training of Totilas ridden by Matthias Alexander Rath and their return to the top level of the sport.

As Ronan has moved up to Grand Prix she has been able to use dramatic music in freestyles that  “emphasizes his gaits even more than what they naturally are, expressing what he can do best.”

After the 2012 Olympics, Kristy competed at German national shows with younger horses and moved Louisa, whom she also qualified for the selection trials, up to Grand Prix last October.

A few weeks ago, Kristy acquired Du Soleil, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding as a prospect for the Olympics in Tio de Janeiro in 2016.

The horse was trained and competed by Austria’s Saskia Lieben-Seutter, for the past four years and was being prepared for Grand Prix.

As well as Du Soleil, Ronan and the 10-year old Louisa she has the developing Grand Prix horses Qualia, an eight-year-old sired by Quando Quando, and Swagman, a nine-year-old by Sandro Hit.

Her life, she said, is lots of traveling, looking at horses, her stables at Hamburg and Sjef’s training center at Erp, the Netherlands.

“I have a very organized chaotic life with a great team at the stables and a wonderful famiy/husband that help me which allows me to travel back and forth to Sjef for training and to competitions,” she said.

“Some times the kids come, depending on their school holidays and logistics.”

Ben, the youngest, travels with her at the moment while Rose has also started competing.

Like many mothers, “I am a taxi” as all the children’s activities–soccer, tennis and riding–happen every day after school.