Chantal Wigan has been closely associated with every discipline within the Equine industry. She has been competing, winning, studying and following her passion of horses for most of her adult life and has proven that an unknown can also rise to the top. Chantal believes that the most important qualities of a rider are dedication, a positive attitude, and a true love of horses.
Chantal was involved with horses early in life, taking lessons as a child while learning the basics of horsemanship. Always being at the forefront she started with her winning pony “Tiger” at the age of four. Chantal describes him as a true champion who was never afraid to compete. During these early days Chantal was instilled with a completive edge while never loosing sight of the enjoyment and rewards associated with the sport. At home, her mother was a visionary within horse sports by establishing “Pine Lodge” an equestrian centre a truly state of the art facility on the outskirts of Brisbane for riders who were dedicated in the pursuit of excellence. In short, this centre was for riders who desired qualified training of the highest international standard.
In an effort to better herself Chantal relocated to Britain where she studied and easily obtained the British Horse Society (BHS) A.I exams in 1994. This was closely followed with an “Intermedial Instructor” qualification issued by the Society. With these new credentials and a youthful desire to move forward, it was clear that she needed to stay motivated and attain her winning edge. It is no surprise that she rebased from Britain to Europe where many consider the heart beat of Equestrian top sport lies. Germany is where she stayed and dedicated her time to learning why German riders and training methods are known worldwide. “In some ways they were some of the best years of my life”, Chantal claims, which could be attributed to the huge number of elite sport horses available to be ridden daily. This coupled with everyone in Germany had some sort of association with the horse industry so you were never out of the competition circle. Even after being sidelined for 3 months when Chantal sustained a leg injury from a horse related accident, she reluctantly left Germany and headed home to Australia with her newly gained knowledge to start training horses.
By 2003 Chantal had re-established herself at her family’s property and took over management of the Equestrian Centre, ‘Pine Lodge’. During these years she ran a fledgling riding school program. Wigan believes this was the key to her early success as a teacher. Chantal gave her riders a solid foundation. She taught them the basics, and when they were ready, they would compete at shows. It was during this time, Wigan also realized that she did not have the same outlook on her horses and clients that she had when she left Australia.
Like many in the industry, Wigan constantly traveled to shows and was very focused on the end result. “I decided to start over at the ground level. I changed my teaching. I focused on providing my clients with a base of knowledge for riding, and wanted them to focus on the horsemanship, not the ribbons,” Chantal explained. “I’ll teach anyone if they want to learn. ”It was a hectic schedule during these days as her horses also had to be trained for up coming show events. Wigan had proven herself as a strong competitor with successes on the Australian show circuit. She was also chosen as member of the Queensland State Dressage Squad in 2002, 2006 and been selected for 2007.
Chantal once again set her sights abroad, closed the riding school and moved back to Germany in November 2006. Her mother Loretta says, “Chantal always had the desire to return to Germany with her own horse and train; it is what happens when you have the “Passion”, you can do almost anything.
Addressing her critics Wigan does not discount riding in Australia but does quantify her move, “The level of riding and horse management is very different when large amounts of money are not involved”, Chantal goes on, “you really can’t expect people to be successful at an International level without sponsorship support or an inherent sales industry that supports the training of Top Sport horses”. “These Top Sport horses cost money and those who do not have sponsors or a money base finds it almost impossible to succeed”.
Chantal’s time in Europe has not been wasted and after a short season she produced outstanding results for the Grand Prix test on her new horse Ferero. Chantal is looking forward to a season of international competition with the support of her trainer Imkie and Academy Bartels. With the proven record of Academy Bartel I am confident to adopt the Dutch methods and move forward in my GP carrier.
In her quest for perfection, Chantal farewells’ her family and two prize winning Boarder Collies “Cliff” and “Auzzuri Polo” whom diligently await her return.