Ashley Olsen is the Wauchope Showgirl for 2012 – a hard-working, high achieving young woman with strong country roots, who aspires to a career in law…
Where did you grow up, Ashley, and what are some of the fondest memories from your childhood?
I grew up on a property at Redbank, just outside of Wauchope, where my family runs Angus cattle. I attended Wauchope Primary school and went on to St Joseph’s Regional College; I completed my HSC through Mackillop Senior College in 2009.
I have so many great memories growing up that it is hard to narrow it down to a specific one. For me, the best thing about growing up in Wauchope was that we could enjoy a rural lifestyle while still being so close to the beach. We love the area so much, that we could find no better place to spend our Christmas holidays then camping with friends at Bonny Hills.
How old were you when you first rode a horse?
I was 5 years old when I rode my first horse, a gift from my uncle; however, I did not start riding seriously until I was around 8 years old.
It took about 6 months for our neighbours to convince Mum and Dad to let me attend Hastings District Pony Club camp on a pony borrowed from some other family friends – this decision I’m sure they still question to this day! From those humble beginnings, we have gone on to compete extensively and show our horses all around the country.
What’s your family’s history with riding and showing Australian Stock Horses?
My grandfather and father were both involved in horses growing up, but our involvement with Australian Stock Horses was a natural progression for our family.
As we got older, my brother David became involved in campdrafting, so the Stock Horses allowed us to continue to travel to competitions as a family and compete in a range of events that we were all interested in.
For those unfamiliar with the breed, what are some of the standout characteristics?
The Australian Stock horse is Australia’s own breed, although the breed is now becoming internationally recognised as ‘the breed for every need’. The Australian Stock Horse is best known for its versatility and temperament, which allows them to compete in a variety of disciplines; therefore, making them the ideal family horse.
The Australian Stock Horse Society is leading the way into the future and has a strong focus on promoting youth competitors. The Mid North Coast branch, of which my father Dale is the current President, holds regular training days and is very well supported.
How long have you been showing your horses, and what events do you normally compete in?
I have been showing horses for around 11 years now, and in this time I have competed in a range of different events. I have represented Hastings District Pony Club at the NSW state Dressage Championships, Zone 9 Showjumping Championships, Zone 9 Hacking & Dressage Championships, as well as many Zone 9 Jamborees.
With the help and continuous support of my family and local riding instructors, Nagrie Reynolds and Rachel Clarke, I have been fortunate to qualify to show my horses at Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney Royal shows, as well as Representing NSW at the SHC Grand National Championships, the EFA Australian National Interschool Championships and many A.S.H National Shows.
What made you decide to enter the Wauchope Showgirl competition in 2012?
I have always wanted to enter the Showgirl competition, as I have seen many girls I look up to do well in it, and I think it’s a great way to get involved in the community. I have strong rural links and am very passionate about the importance of keeping country agricultural shows alive and growing in the future, so others can have the wonderful experiences I have been lucky enough to have. The Showgirl competition aims to find local ambassadors to go on to represent our community at a zone and state level.
How did you feel when you won the competition, and what was the most valuable piece of knowledge you took away from the whole experience?
I was thrilled to be named the 2012 Wauchope Showgirl and really enjoyed the whole experience. It was great to be able to give back to our hardworking Show Society that have provided me with so many good times; the experience showed me the wonderful benefits and satisfaction that comes from being involved in such a strong community. I would encourage all girls to enter the Showgirl competition, as it will open up so many opportunities and establish connections.
What are your official duties as the Wauchope Showgirl for 2012? Do you feel these duties will help you with your future endeavours?
As the 2012 Wauchope Showgirl, I am required to continue to be involved in the community and attend a number of events and functions. I will also be competing in the Zone Showgirl Finals in February, which I’m very excited about. These duties will help me immensely with my future endeavours, by keeping me in touch with the community and the rural and agricultural sector.
What other competition results have you achieved?
I have recently competed at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, where I was Runner-Up in the Australian Stock Horse NSW state youth judging competition; my family also competed with our horses in a number of events for a win and various other placings.
I’m also currently half way through completing my New England Award, which is a university based award achieved by being involved in all aspects of university life through extra-curricular social, cultural, sporting and volunteer activities – which is in addition to your degree.
You’re at university in Armidale now, studying a combined Business/Law degree. What career plans do you have once you graduate?
I’m currently in my third year of Business and Law degree, majoring in Agribusiness. I would love to complete my Honours in law, on top of my degrees and am interested in focusing on politics. Once I graduate, I plan to practice law in a rural context. I have recently became part of the UNE Farming Futures committee and SIFE UNE, which aim to mobilise university students into successful agriculture and business careers by promoting social responsibility through ongoing community involvement.
I’m an active resident of Robb College, where I have been Vice President of the Robb Rugby Ladies Auxiliary, as well as being on various function organisational committees. Additionally, I’m also involved in the UNE Law Students Society and have been fortunate to complete work experience locally at Priest McCarron Lawyers. I’m looking forward to undertaking more work experience with agricultural based companies in the near future.
Interview Jo Atkins.
This story was published in issue 79 Greater Port Macquarie Focus