Michael Bragge

Growing up in the suburbs in a non-equestrian family, my only access to horse riding came at weekends and school holidays at my uncle’s riding school in Thomastown. Attending Melbourne 3DE in the early 60s with Uncle Jack and meeting Olympians filled me with a passion that took some years to find expression.


After University I was able move to the country and buy horses. When it came to horsemanship, I had a lot of catching up to do. So I jumped in at the deep end and planned a Pack horse ride from Brisbane to Melbourne. 2,500 km, 34 sets of horse shoes and many experiences later I felt like I was beginning to learn. I joined EFA 1983 and started Eventing, which lead to a need to understand Dressage.

While working fulltime as a Secondary Art Teacher, training one horse at a time has been my limit. I was able a few years ago, to take a skinny chestnut off the track and train him with Sue Chandler’s help, to get through quite decent P St. G tests.  

My early passion in sport was Athletics, Football and Cricket. I particularly flourished in the team environment. My involvement in Dressage today seems the perfect coming together of my love for sport and art.

I have been on the committee of the Berwick & District Dressage Club for nearly 30 years and was honored to be named their second Life Member after Ed Rodgers. Through the medium of this progressive club I have been involved in many important innovations in Victorian Dressage.

I have chaired or taken roles on a number of community committees seeking a better deal for horse owners in the Casey/Cardinia area. As a faculty leader I have been part of many committees and appointment panels, over my 40 years with Victorian Education. I served on the Dressage Victoria committee for nearly 10 years.

I feel that with a wealth of committee experience, a sound knowledge of the sport and an unencumbered desire to progress our organisation for all involved, I am well placed to enjoy a productive contribution to the Oakwood Riding School Committee of Management.


Sue Stott

Having been involved with the Oakwood Riding School since 1977, Sue joined the Committee of Management for the first time in 1979.  

Sue brings extensive industry experience, and of course intimate knowledge of the Oakwood organisation, which supports the Committee in its work and decision making.  She is also a very kind natured person, and helps create a welcoming, friendly environment at Oakwood.

What is your history with Oakwood Riding School?
I have agisted many horses at Oakwood over the years, and received many, many lessons on my horses at the 'old' Oakwood.  I have also had a few rides on school horses at the 'new' Oakwood.
What is your equestrian background?
I primarily have a showing background.  I used to compete at local agricultural shows, and I also competed in the Garryowen at the Melbourne Royal.  We owned many horses over the years, but my main horses were Humbert, Planet, Kelly, Leo, Lilly, Vickie and Peppi.
What do you do outside of your work at Oakwood?
I run my farm, which is 70 acres located just outside of Pakenham.  I breed cattle and have some horses on agistment.
I love going out with friends, and caring for my beloved cat and dog.
What do you like most about Oakwood?
I gain great enjoyment from working with the Oakwood team, and I like to make sure they are happy and well looked after.  I believe the current Committee of Management is a terrific group, and lovely to work with.
What is your vision for the organisation?
I want to see Oakwood grow, to progress.  I am particularly interested in encouraging young riders and supporting their development.


Rhondda Strafford


Libbie Rogers

What is your history with Oakwood Riding School?

As well as my involvement with Oakwood through teaching riding, membership and COM, I was also a member of Berwick Riding and Club and Berwick Pony Club (well my daughter was) and was involved in the negotiations between Berwick Riding Club and Oakwood to establish Oakwood as the club grounds for BRC.  Through Berwick Riding Club, I have been involved in the running of HRCAV events and competitions at Oakwood, and I have also part of the organising committee that has booked Oakwood for clinics with Peter DeCosemo, a British Dressage Instructor and Judge.

What is your equestrian background?

I am an EA Level 1 General Horse Riding Coach, HRCAV Accredited Level Assessor and Dressage Judge.  I am also a Trainer and Assessor for the Certificate II in Equine Studies VETis course with Box Hill Institute.  I have been a Member of the HRCAV Executive team and during that time, chaired the HRCAV Showing Subcommittee.    I have been a member  and office bearer of the Berwick Riding Club committee for nearly twenty years, and am now Secretary for Gembrook Riding Club. 


My riding background ranges from hunting to Dressage, and everything in between, but Dressage is my passion.  My highest level of competition was to Prix St George, I also competed at Dresage with the Stars, with ponies that I started and qualified myself.  I have competed at Melbourne Royal Show in the Working Hunter classes, done some EV eventing, dabbled in showjumping.


I have lived my adult life immersed in horses, and everything related to them.  However, I was a child who grew up in Caulfield, with very little opportunity to ride.  One of my bedroom walls as covered in photos of racehorses I had ripped out of Racetrack Magazine.  My mother was dead against them, but my father loved horse racing, and used to take me to the races with him.  I remember when I was around seven or eight, I would spend my Friday evenings studying the form guide, I would give my Dad a list of my bets.  On Saturday he would take me to the races, Flemington was my favourite. He would leave me under the old oak tree where they ran free pony rides all day, and I would spend the day doing pony rides.  For a break, I would go to the birdcage, and gaze at all the beautiful racehorses.  The best hot chips at Flemington were always sold at the café at the birdcage.  The people who ran the pony rides got to know me, so eventually I was allowed to lead the ponies for other kids.  I was in heaven.


My father was eventually invited to take shares in a racehorse with some of his mates, and that was when I met Zara Hawkins.  She is probably forgotten now, but she was involved in starting Caulfield Pony Club, and later Cranbourne Pony Club.  She had competed to Garryowen level was a show judge and riding instructor, but by the time I met her, she was an owner trainer based in Cranbourne.  She trained my father’s horses, and took me under her wing.  I spent every Saturday morning at the Cranbourne track with Zara.  If my father was overseas (and he was often overseas) one of his friends would take me.  I spent as much of my school holidays at her house, and she taught me to handle and care for the horses, pick up poo and clean saddles, but because she only had racehorses, I was not allowed to ride.  I cleaned a lot of saddles, and picked up a lot of poo at Zara’s.  Zara also taught me how to plait, pull manes and present a horse.  She advised my father to try to get riding lessons for me, and I had a couple, but we did not have a lot of money, and most of it went towards ballet lessons for me and my sister.  Even when I gave up the ballet lessons, there was always a reason why I could not have riding lessons.


When I was old enough to get a job, I also bought myself a bike, and my first job was with Kel Chapman, a racehorse trainer based in Caulfield.  It was an easy bike ride from home to the track, and I would get up and ride my bike to the track at 4am.  As I finished school, I had part time jobs with various trainers in Caulfield, which satisfied my need to be around horses.  I took a gap year from Uni, and worked as a stable hand.  One of the trainers allowed me to ride their pony, but because I was always falling off, made me ride bareback all the time.  It taught me to develop balance and a seat, and I stopped falling off.


When I was old enough to fund my own riding lessons, I started to ride, and I have never stopped…

What do you do outside of your work at Oakwood?

I am secondary Drama and English teacher, but my specialist area is VCE Drama.  I work part time teaching Drama and running production (because I never really let go of my inner ballerina) for a secondary school,  I also teach Equine Studies for Box Hill Institute.  I still work as a freelance coach, breaker and trainer, and run horse agistment on my property, and do a bit of amateur and professional theatre.

What do you like most about Oakwood?

The opportunity for children and adults to learn to ride, but also that in the time I have been involved at Oakwood, that it has high standards of safety, and that these standards are constantly upheld and enforced, and the property, facilities, horses and equipment are well maintained.  I have worked at and witnessed other riding schools, where there is not the same attention to detail.

What is your vision for the organisation?

Educational excellence in a harmonious and supportive environment.


I have been involved with Oakwood since 2007, when I was employed as an instructor.  I taught at Oakwood for four years, and then decided to focus on my own business.  I then applied to become a member and have been a member ever since.  I joined the Oakwood Riding School Committee of Management in 2019.

Rhondda has been involved with Oakwood Riding School for over 30 years now, contributing as a passionate member and a part of the Committee.

What is your history with Oakwood Riding School?
I have had continuous membership since I joined Oakwood 
over 30 years ago when it was located at the old venue in
Narre Warren Cranbourne Road and Malcolm Barnes was the
chief instructor. I served on the committee for a number of
years back then and enjoyed the competitions and working
bees as well as the general riding and friendships made through a mutual love of horses.


​​What is your equestrian background? My involvement with horses goes back more than 50 years when I got my first horse and joined Pony Club. I was involved in a dressage training  squad organised through our club, that set me on the right path to understand the basic principles of riding and training horses. I have had hands on experience as a race horse strapper and have trained many off the track thoroughbreds to become successful show horses. I was also registered as an owner /breeder with the Australian Stud book and have bred numerous horses that have gone on to be successful show and/ or race horses.  I have judged many horse shows in Australia and overseas including the prestigious Garryowen Trophy. I have had success competing at State and National level Horse shows. I still actively ride and compete nowadays mainly in HRCAV events.


What do you do outside of your work at Oakwood?  These days I spend my time being a house wife and Grandmother apart from the time when I am riding. Before I retired I was a Special Education teacher and Welfare co-ordinator.

​​What do you like most about Oakwood?  Oakwood has always been a well -run organisation where all people young and old can learn to ride in a safe environment. Horse owners can become part of a club where they can establish friendships with like -minded people and have access to safe well  maintained facilities.   


What is your vision for the organisation? I believe that Oakwood has continually re-invented itself as it has moved with the times and worked within any  legal or ethical constraints. I believe that it will continue to do so in the future, but the philosophy of Oakwood will always stay the same. A place where everyone has the opportunity to be involved with horses.