Caroline Wagner is a four-time winner of the most prestigious equestrian event in Australia, the Garryowen Equestrienne Turnout.
Regarded as the ‘Wimbledon’ of the horse showing world, the Garryowen has been at the Melbourne Royal Show since 1934. It is contested by only the most decorated saddle horses in the country and attracts the top lady riders from every state and territory each year.
Mrs Wagner was the winner of the 60th Diamond Jubilee Garryowen in 1994, a particularly special event which was judged by past Garryowen winners in every section. She was also awarded a prized diamond stock pin, and to date, holds the highest winning total of 196 points out of a total 200.
With her business Wagners Saddlery having been a part of the Melbourne Royal Show through sponsorship and trade stands since the late 1980s, Mrs Wagner has also helped many other riders prepare for the Garryowen and junior turnouts over the years.
From helping in the months prior, to trying stocks on Garryowen morning (even as a competitor herself), Mrs Wagner enjoys supporting her fellow exhibitors.
It has always been my belief that everyone should be able to start in the Garryowen on an even playing field, there is no reason not to be able to have your costume and saddlery correct, this just takes good preparation and homework,” she said.
“Then the job is to go out and produce a great workout, but good preparation in the months leading into the show to have a great partnership with your horse makes the difference. The times I have won at the Melbourne Royal Show, I have always been very proud of the work my horses have given me.”
Mrs Wagner has been competing at Melbourne Royal since she was 15. She clearly recalls the Girls Riding 14-16 class that inspired a lifetime of competition – 120 girls lined up down the trotting track and she was proud to place eighth by the final workout.
She was inducted into the Garryowen Hall of Fame for her four-time winning efforts, as was and again for ‘Ark Royal’, the beautiful grey horse she won on in 1992 and 1994. To date there have been only 14 winners of the Garryowen riding grey horses.