RIDING HIGH: Warwick rider Steph McConnell leapt over neigh- sayers to create her thriving business. Photo: Warwick Daily News
RIDING HIGH: Warwick rider Steph McConnell leapt over neigh- sayers to create her thriving business. Photo: Warwick Daily News

Acclaimed horse trainer sings praise of Warwick home

DESPITE growing up in a family of pro golfers, Steph McConnell was sure from an early age her sporting passion was different.

Instead of golf clubs and caddies, she favoured all things equestrian.

“It was the only sport I really got into as a kid,” she said.

“People do footy or dancing — I’d go ride.”

The avid showjumper finished schooling at Scots PGC and almost immediately headed to the US and Canada where she worked with Olympic medallist and two-time winner of the Show Jumping World Cup Ian Millar.

The experience, she said, was invaluable.

“My biggest goal going over there was to learn how they train and what mechanisms they used to get the best result,” she said.

“They have such a good reputation for the shows they hold and I tried to learn as much as possible.”

During those two years abroad, her desire to start her own equestrian centre catapulted.

Returning home and starting up SGM Stables in 2015, Miss McConnell successfully created a Warwick niche as a horse trainer and seller.

Breaking horses in for both showjumping and drafting purposes, as well as teaching riding to students, the thrill of managing her own business was unlike any other.

“I wanted to start something for myself,” she said.

“At the end of the day, you’re still riding other people’s horses, and doing as they’re dictating.

“When you’re doing it yourself and get a great result, it’s a good feeling to know it’s because of your own instincts.”

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Now she was branching out even further.

Rebranding this week to the Pauletta Park — Miss McConnell had decided to expand the Bracker Rd business with a new top-class arena and plans to diversify into breeding.

“From being overseas and riding on five star arenas, I came back and wanted to give the best possible,” she said.

“People leave Warwick to get more experience because there’s not a great deal of professionals left but I want to be able to offer that locally.”

An advocate for a strong local presence, it was something she encouraged other local business owners to consider.

“I’m really happy here. It’s affordable and it gives horses the chance to have a really good lifestyle.

“It also is accessible because it’s easy to get over the border and gives me more opportunities.

“I was always going to come back home.”

To contact Miss McConnell for breeding, training or selling purposes, head to Pauletta Park on Facebook or pauletta.park@outlook.com to book a visit.