Farewell and Good Luck to Horse SA Executive Officer Julie Fiedler

 

Horse SA members, colleagues, sponsors, followers and friends ...

I’m writing to let you know that Horse SA Executive Officer Julie Fiedler has resigned and is leaving us this month. After 20 years with Horse SA, beginning with a Board appointment and 19 years as Executive Officer, Julie is embarking on the pursuit of a research PhD. This is a new and exciting chapter in her life, but one which necessitates this reluctant farewell from Horse SA.
 
Julie maintains a keen interest in the work she began for her master’s degree which was nestled within the topical context of the Social Licence to Operate and attitudes to sport horse welfare. Her Master of Communication (by research) was awarded in January 2020 from Central Queensland University. Julie’s PhD research will extend this focus to advance knowledge about the welfare of horses in racing, sport and tourism, and how attitudes of stakeholders may inform an organisation’s social licence to operate.
 
I’d like to take a moment to highlight just a few of the many achievements Julie has made.
 
In my comparatively short time with Horse SA I'm happy to convey that, Julie, you are a tour de force, showing exceptional leadership across this organisation’s broad portfolio. You have represented Horse SA nationally and internationally by contributing to crucial advances in equine related policy, research, practice, management, education, welfare and wellbeing.
 
Your sustained work in informing significant national debates about the introduction of an Australian horse traceability register led to Horse SA’s submission at the recent Senate inquiry about the feasibility of such a register. With the discussion now well in place nationally, this extraordinary achievement rests on your knowledge of the sector and your ability to build strategic relationships through common goals. In this sense, you are an exceptional organiser who ‘takes people with you’ – you understand the complexity of working across government, industry and community, building relationships with a common focus, and you seem to do so almost effortlessly.
 
It’s not a revelation to say that your expertise and community leadership have been evident for many years. But in my own experience, and following SA’s horrendous bushfires during the recent summer, I could see that your work with colleagues in government and affiliated organisations, horse owners and the community, was well respected. You worked to provide crucial information, support, and practical help, and importantly, you nurtured a sense of community under the most difficult of circumstances beyond any individual need.
 
Personally, I am daunted by your stamina. You have an unflinching commitment to the mission of Horse SA, and a good deal of your time has been given freely; ‘in-kind.’ In this, and many other senses, you are indeed irreplaceable, and I want to thank you for your support to me personally during this time of transition in our organisation.

 


 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There will no doubt be many colleagues, friends and supporters who will want to connect with you, remember shared experiences and wish you well. Here are some excerpts from recent contributions:

The Horse Federation of SA went through some very heady times in 2000/2001 as various disparate horse groups wrestled with the idea of uniting together under a new structure. … We had some well attended, and energetic meetings in those days, and we filled some quite large halls as we edged our way forward. … The Horse community in SA were always on a winner with Julie.
 

Paul Mabarrack, Founding Member, Horse SA

 

For 20 years you have devoted your life to Horse SA. You have supported riders, landowners, clubs and businesses with their individual needs. You have advocated on behalf of interest groups, put policies, programs and structures in place that have made a difference – at all levels and across many areas. You have bridged the gap from grass roots to the political arena. You have shown incredible initiative, resourcefulness and far thinking which has kept Horse SA going through some very difficult times.
 

Helen Whittle, Founding Member, Horse SA

 

Horse SA without Julie as its Executive Officer is difficult to imagine. I have never been part of an organisation where its Executive Officer has worked so hard for the organisation. I believe the horse community in SA and for that matter, Australia, owes Julie a huge debt of gratitude. More than they will ever know. I have known Julie from the very early days of Horse SA and it has never ceased to amaze me just how much time Julie has put into Horse SA because of her passion for horse owners and riders to maintain a viable industry and access to places to ride as more and more of the general public became isolated from having anything to do with horses and didn’t care about them.
 

Pam Brookman, Founding Member, Horse SA

Julie is unafraid to take on the big issues (and sometimes the big people!). She is respected and admired across varied sections of the community, not just the horse world. She is acknowledged as a leader in her thinking, and in coming to grips with vitally important issues for the horse world, such as biosecurity, resilience, traceability, ethics and science, and workplace safety. She is committed, dedicated, tireless and innovative.

 

Denzil O’Brien, former Secretary, Horse SA
 

So, in the strongest possible, yet heartfelt, terms, I know I speak on behalf of the Horse SA Management Committee, members and friends, in saying thank you, Julie, for your exceptional leadership and the major contribution you have made to the recognition of horses locally, nationally, and internationally. We wish you the very best for your future.
 
Dr Lisa McDonald
Chair, Horse SA

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

The Horse Federation of SA went through some very heady times in 2000/2001 as various disparate horse groups wrestled with the idea of uniting together under a new structure. I think just about every horse group saw the emerging Horse SA as a disruption to their own particular patch. We had some well attended, and energetic meetings in those days, and we filled some quite large halls as we edged our way forward.

 

Julie was not the first Executive Officer, but she was the second- she was volunteering at the very time the short-tenured first executive officer resigned. We turned to Julie immediately. She took up the role and the Horse SA committee could immediately see how fortunate we were to have her.

 

The Horse community in SA were always on a winner with Julie.

 

Paul Mabarrack, Founding Member, Horse SA

Julie, the horse community will be forever indebted to you. For 20 years you have devoted your life to Horse SA. You have supported riders, landowners, clubs and businesses with their individual needs. You have advocated on behalf of interest groups, put policies, programs and structures in place that have made a difference – at all levels and across many areas. You have bridged the gap from grass roots to the political arena. You have shown incredible initiative, resourcefulness and far thinking which has kept Horse SA going through some very difficult times.

 

You have brought Horse Welfare to centre stage through highlighting Social Licence. You have put Horse SA on the world stage. And we must acknowledge that most of your work has been voluntary. Your only reward has been your personal development and the appreciation and respect of many and various groups & individuals. You can leave feeling very proud of what you have achieved. 

 

Let us hope that the foundation you leave is strong enough for your good work to continue. Only when you are gone will most realise how much you have done. I hope you will continue to input and mentor the organisation. Thank You. And the very best wishes for your future endeavours.

Helen Whittle, Founding Member, Horse SA

 

Horse SA without Julie as its Executive Officer is difficult to imagine. I have never been part of an organisation where its Executive Officer has worked so hard for the organisation. I believe the horse community in SA and for that matter, Australia, owes Julie a huge debt of gratitude. More than they will ever know. I have known Julie from the very early days of Horse SA and it has never ceased to amaze me just how much time Julie has put into Horse SA because of her passion for horse owners and riders to maintain a viable industry and access to places to ride as more and more of general public became isolated from having anything to do with horses and didn’t care about them.

 

Julie has been the very respected link between government and the horse community. I am sure this is a result of her very professional manner in which she puts Horse SA’s viewpoint forward to government.

 

As many of you know, two areas dealing with horses that are my passion or bugbear [depending how they are going], are land management on horse properties and the development of horse trails and access to areas to ride. I have worked with Julie on both these areas and that gave me the insight into just how much of her own personal time Julie put into Horse SA. I was heavily involved with the sorting out of the route for The Kidman Trail with Julie and this certainly showed up Julie’s professionalism in handling the situation compared to my emotional outbursts as to why we can’t use this or that road reserve when legally we had the right to ride through there, so let’s just cut the fence or the locks off the gate!

 

From horses just being considered a necessary and ordinary part of a farm, or even back yard up until the 1970s, and didn’t require planning permission, they suddenly became almost impossible to keep. When planning laws came in there were obviously no horse owners in the planning department, and as we subsequently found out, it is very hard to get laws changed no matter how stupid or inequitable they are. Horses overnight became non-complying, and to get the right to keep them on your land was about just as hard as trying to get a foundry licence in the middle of Rundle Street.

 

 Julie and I attended many meetings with councils, SA water and Planning SA to get the right to at least be able to keep horses in the Adelaide Hills if you agreed to maintain good land management practices. Granted, it still is a frustrating application but at least the answer now isn’t the outright “No.” Planning laws are about to change again, and I must say, I really dread not having Julie as EO of Horse SA to keep a close eye on this. Somehow, Horse SA must replace that section of her role very quickly.

 

Those on the Horse SA Board would be aware of how few paid hours Julie does for Horse SA compared to the much greater unpaid hours, but the general horse community have no idea of this. They think Julie has been there full time 24/7 for the last 20 years. I have to say, I am in awe of how much time Julie has given to Horse SA, how she has managed to live on so little and how disciplined she is to be able to gain her university degree and masters by distance education.

 

Julie’s work with large animal rescue and horse welfare has led to international recognition and respect and although much of this was her own work and initiative, she always acknowledged it as part of Horse SA, giving Horse SA a respected international platform.

 

I wish Julie all the best in following her dreams to do her PhD. It won’t be easy work wise or financially, but she has shown she is very capable of managing hard work on the smell of an oily rag.

 

On a personal note, Julie has become a great friend and I am really going to enjoy her putting exercising my mule ahead of her dedication to Horse SA, although I have already heard her say that she is of course prepared to help out if needed. I fear that “if needed” could get in the way of Reilly’s exercise program! Horse SA without Julie is difficult to imagine.

Pam Brookman, Founding Member, Horse SA

Julie Fiedler is a wonderfully talented, focused and passionate person who has dedicated herself to the equine industry for more than two decades. Horse SA has been able to become recognized nationally and globally as a leader and voice for the equine industry. Her passion and dedication is extraordinary and she is forever smiling and always gets the job done. Congratulations Julie on such a remarkable achievement and for being the wonderful person that you are. The equine industry as a whole is where we are today due to people like you. Enjoy the next challenge in your career and we will be forever grateful. Thank you and best wishes.

 

Gary Slack, Founding Member, Horse SA

 

Julie’s leadership in her position as Executive Officer of Horse SA has been exemplary. While attending to the day-to-day business of the organisation (developing information and materials for members, organising seminars, producing cutting edge documents on areas of interest for members, and overseeing the maintenance and development of the various horse-friendly trails around South Australia), Julie has also played a significant role in bringing Horse SA to the world’s attention, as a leading horse-focussed organisation dedicated to making life better for horses, horse people, horse clubs and horse-related businesses.

 

In particular, her role in helping the horse community to survive and recover from major disasters such as bushfires and drought, and in developing appropriate biosecurity protocols in earlier pandemics such as equine influenza, has been noteworthy. Horse SA is now recognised as a significant player in developing resilience and assisting in recovery. Through Julie’s efforts, Horse SA has also played a significant role in the establishment of a national horse traceability register, as well as in addressing some of the environmental issues facing horse owners and property managers.

 

Julie has established relationships with leaders in their fields in various other countries, the better to develop Horse SA’s international reputation as a provider of advice and information in critical areas, including large animal rescue, horse well-being, equitation science, horse sports’ social licence to operate, and workplace safety for those who work with horses. Under her leadership, Horse SA has hosted a number of significant international conferences, including the first Large Animal Rescue conference in the southern hemisphere; several cross-industry conferences focussing on workplace safety; and a major event in February 2019, Sport Horse Welfare and Social Licence to Operate, which attracted speakers and attendees from around the world. As a representative of Horse SA and in her own right, she has presented papers and posters at several International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) conferences, and at national conferences here in Australia.

 

Julie’s own personal development during my involvement with Horse SA has been inspiring to observe. She first tackled an undergraduate degree in communication, exploring the topic of social licence to operate, a concept largely unknown at that time. She then pressed on to a master’s degree, successfully awarded early in 2020, and is now about to undertake study towards a Doctorate of Philosophy – and so Horse SA will have to say goodbye!

 

A few summary words:

  • unafraid to take on the big issues (and sometimes the big people!)

  • respected and admired across varied sections of the community, not just the horse world

  • acknowledged as a leader in her thinking, and in coming to grips with vitally important issues for the horse world, such as biosecurity, resilience, traceability, ethics and science, and workplace safety

  • committed, dedicated, tireless and innovative.

 

Denzil O’Brien, former Secretary, Horse SA

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