It is a rare thing to meet someone with a genuine passion. Jay Randle is one of the fortunate few.
From the tender age of 18 months Jay Randle has been a member of Queensland’s first pony club, LeVale, started by her mother Carmel and aunt Zita. Today she is training winning racehorses and running a successful horse riding school of her own. “I can’t remember the time before I learned to ride,” says Randle. “Family stories say I could ride before I could walk.”
As a young child growing up in Dalby, Jay and her siblings spent every spare second on horseback, competing in polocrosse, showing, jumping, hacking, mustering and distance riding. Along with her sister, Norah, she would take her lunch packed in saddlebags and set out for a whole day of riding on her part-Arabian pony, Goldfrost.
This idyllic childhood set Randle up for a career of equine success. Her work has taken her from Queensland to the New South Wales Mounted Police and as far as California, where she trained cutting horses. She has started hundreds of horses under the saddle and dabbled in campdrafting, polo, reining and dressage along the way.
Fifteen years ago, Jay was introduced to the sport of endurance riding. Showing a natural aptitude for training endurance horses, she quickly moved on to training riders too, finding immense satisfaction in matching horses to riders. Playing an instrumental role in riders’ successes in competition, it is no surprise that her training stables have since become famous nationwide. Her stables, Splendacrest Endurance, are amongst the biggest in the country and in 14 years she has trained 170 horses and 160 riders.
Of all the equine sports, Jay has the most respect for endurance riding. She believes no other sport teaches the rider more about horse health and welfare. “Who doesn’t like to spend hours with their favourite horse, exploring the countryside, riding with friends, knowing that your horse is happy and healthy? That’s what endurance riding is all about!”
Jay’s father, Ken Randle, was a racehorse trainer, so it comes as no surprise that her latest challenge is in the same discipline. While Ken specialised in thoroughbreds, Jay favours the Arabians, having gained a new respect for the breed after proving perfect for endurance riding. In December 2014, Jay’s Arabian mare Keisha won the United Arab Emirates Plate over 1400 metres at the Gold Coast, already proving Jay a natural racehorse trainer and breeder. “Arabian horses are not as fast as thoroughbreds, however they are a lot of fun and they do love to run.”
Jay says the year ahead will be an interesting one as she commences training younger horses for racing. With her success in endurance riding already evident, there is no doubt that her skill and natural ability with horses will have her dominating the racetrack in no time.
Words Alice Thompson Images by Melissa Batterham