The way the equestrian world got behind the #RideforOlivia was unprecedented and heartwarming, and bought solace for her grieving friends and family. Some reports say that there have been 20 million uses of the hashtag #RideforOlivia.
Lisa Purcell and other friends of Olivia’s turned all the tagged photos into a huge mosaic artwork representing Olivia and her horse Coriolanus.
This was presented to the family at Olivia’s funeral which was held in Sydney, and attended by hundreds. There was extensive media coverage of the funeral in Australia.
The Sydney Herald paper also reports that Olivia’s family were quite overcome by the reaction of the equestrian world but were very grateful for the support.
There were so many photos tagged that they couldn’t all be used for the original piece but there are plans to incorporate the others in some way somehow in the future.
The video above was put together to show the final version of the artwork. We’ve spotted a few photos of people we know, including Olympian Shane Rose on CP Qualified jumping into the water at Taupo and Jock Paget on Clifton Promise. There are so many more.
In New Zealand alone the response to #RideforOlivia was tremendous. Timelines were full of photos. Many former competitors posted old pics of themselves in action, which was a great walk down memory lane. And there were a lot of connections and revelations made as a result; who knew, for example, that Jill Morrison, former ESNZ Jumping Board member and mother of show jumping rising-star Samantha, competed at the Pony Club Champs on that great pony Talamanca? Personally, I posted an action photo on my old pony, Pyramus at the Northland Area Trials after we finished second in the DC section. I was beaten by Blyth Tait on his fantastic little pony Mandara. Scott Johnstone on Carlos was third, and Carlos went on to also be much loved in the South Island. Also in the photo is Team Manager, Cliff McIntosh, grandfather of Samantha McIntosh.
And through Facebook connections, I found the family that had Pyramus in the last 10 years of his life. When he died at a ripe old age, they buried him on their family farm. I have now seen photos of him in his latter years and heard the stories of how he taught lots of kids what cross-country was, and continued to be a great pony club pony. I had always wondered what had happened to him, as I lost track of him after a few years, so it was heartwarming to hear that he was so loved right until the end.
It is inspirational to see that the true spirit of camaraderie is still so strong in the horse world. #RideforOlivia was started as a result of a terrible tragedy but it is great that it has brought many people together, some who may have encountered each other years ago, others who have never met before.
Thank you, equestrian world.
RIP Olivia and Coriolanus.