DIANE Bennit of Kalamunda says she was very surprised to be included on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her service to equestrian sports as a competitor and coach and to the horse industry as a commentator and administrator.
Ms Bennit, who has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia, has been involved with horses for many years.
“My mother Rachel Pardoe offered me a party or a riding lesson for my eighth birthday, apparently I chose the riding lesson and then like ‘Topsy’ it just growed,’’ she said.
When asked what out of all her achievements in the equestrian field which was the one she was most proud of she found it impossible to choose just one.
Her list included being chosen to represent WA at the 1975 National Dressage Championships at Expo in South Australia, being nominated to train for the Australian show jumping team for the Mexico Olympics, presenting the weekly radio program Talking Horses 91.3 Sportfm, now in its 10th year, being named the winner of the first ‘Powder Puff’ Ladies Derby at Ascot racecourse and being the stable manager for the 2007 Australian Para Equestrian team that competed at the World Championships in Hartbury in the UK.
She said out of all the equestrian interests she represented the one she found the most rewarding was being involved with the Western Australian Horse Council, an organisation that is made up of volunteers and works with state and local governments to create a sustainable environment for horses and horse riders for the future.
The equestrian bodies she either still serves or has served in the past include the Australian Horse Industry Council, Equestrian Australia, Australian Warmblood Horse Association, Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia, Riding for the Disabled Association of Australia WA, Australian Horse Riding Centres, Western Australia Branch, Animal Health Australia and Western Australian Turf Club.
Her media and commentary roles include presenter and script writer, media coordinator, a training and grading of commentators coordinator, breeds commentator, state and international show jumping events commentator and dressage commentator.
Her other awards and recognitions include 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games baton relay bearer, Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia 2013 volunteer of the year and was named in the Best 100 Women Competitors and Contributors to their Sport by the Women’s Sports Foundation of Western Australia in 1996.
By Anita McInnes