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Lalwa May: Representing Australia and Inspiring Indigenous Riders in Showjumping

Lalwa May, a 16-year-old Indigenous resident of Darwin, Australia, has an unwavering passion for the exhilarating sport of showjumping. With her trusted horse, Target, she thrives on the thrill of soaring over 1.10 metre jumps. However, Lalwa is about to embark on an extraordinary journey that will take her to new heights as she represents Australia internationally at the 2023 World Clubs Tournament in France.

The upcoming competition is an integral part of the renowned French National Championships, a grand equestrian event that draws participants from around the globe. Showcasing various disciplines ranging from dressage to horseback archery, this prestigious gathering is the largest of its kind. Lalwa, the youngest among the four riders chosen by Pony Club Australia, holds the distinction of being the sole Indigenous rider on the team.

"I can't wait. It's going to be such a big experience, seeing the level of horses and competitors over there and just learning — it's going to be incredible," she said. Ms May is one of the relatively few Indigenous people to take up showjumping and wants to see more diversity in the sport. "I really hope that me representing Australia and going to France will encourage other Indigenous kids to get into the sport," she said. "I wish there were more."

A passion for horses spans three generations of women in Ms May's family.

Her first horse, Charlotte, was a gift from her grandma, who passed away last year.

"My grandma meant a lot to me," she said.

"She'd be so happy, I wish she was here."

Ms May's sights are set on reaching the Brisbane Olympics in 2032, where she hopes to continue making her grandma proud.

Eagerly anticipating the forthcoming tournament, Lalwa expresses her enthusiasm for the invaluable experience that awaits her. She eagerly anticipates witnessing the caliber of horses and competitors in France, as well as the opportunity for personal growth and learning. The profound impact this event will have on her is not lost on her as she eagerly awaits the chance to partake in this incredible opportunity.

Lalwa's fervent hope is that her representation of Australia and her participation in the French tournament will inspire more Indigenous children to explore and embrace the world of showjumping. She yearns for greater diversity within the sport and envisions a future where more Indigenous individuals are drawn to its allure. Lalwa believes that the sport can provide a respite from life's challenges, enabling young Indigenous teenagers to momentarily forget about school or home and revel in the sheer joy of horseback riding.

Lalwa emphasizes the importance of the partnership between horse and rider in showjumping. According to her, a strong bond and mutual trust are essential for successfully navigating the course and clearing jumps. While her current horse, Target, won't be accompanying her to France due to the potential stress of travel, Lalwa remains confident in her ability to build a connection with a new horse within the five-day timeframe she will have upon arrival.

Nicole Mutimer, Lalwa's coach, holds great faith in her abilities. Recognizing Lalwa's innate understanding of her horse and her skill in bringing out the best in him, Nicole believes that Lalwa is more than capable of excelling in the upcoming challenge. The tough training conditions in the demanding Top End climate have only fortified Lalwa's resilience and determination. Be it under the scorching sun, pouring rain, or even during the monsoon, Lalwa remains dedicated to her craft.

"It's tough. You don't get too much time outside of it, but I love it. It's my favourite thing to do."

While the rigorous training regimen allows for little time outside the sport, Lalwa's unwavering love for showjumping keeps her motivated. Despite the challenges and sacrifices she endures, she asserts that there is nowhere else she would rather be. Showjumping continues to hold a special place in her heart, serving as a constant source of joy and fulfillment. With her unyielding spirit and remarkable talent, Lalwa May stands poised to make her mark in the world of showjumping.

Read the full article here.

Courtesy ABC News

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