In March next year Juliana Waugh and her husband Mark will travel to Dubbo to commemorate the tenth anniversary of their daughter Sarah’s death in a tragic horse riding accident.
It will be an occasion filled with sadness but also satisfaction that the circumstances of Sarah’s death – she was killed when a former racehorse she was riding bolted during a Tafe jillaroo course – will never be repeated.
Mrs Waugh’s work to make the horse riding industry safer has been recognised after she was named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to the community. “We have saved lives,” Mrs Waugh said. “This award is for Sarah, it’s part of her legacy.”
The Waughs were instrumental in the introduction in early 2017 of a NSW code of practice to manage the risks associated with new and inexperienced riders who interact with horses in the workplace.
“A person is admitted to hospital every day as a result of a horse injury. It changes lives and tears families apart,” Mrs Waugh said.
“We are really excited about the introduction of the NSW code and we are hoping it will go national.”
The Waughs’ present focus is lobbying for the introduction of a national horse register to support and enhance the code.
“The fact that there was no horse register in Australia tragically contributed to Sarah’s preventable death and, as was discovered later- as evidence was presented across three court cases following the accident – there is often great difficulty in identifying and confirming details about a horse in Australia which is leased or sold,” Mrs Waugh said.
They have the support of 97 per cent of the 2243 respondents to a 2017 NSW Department of Primary Industries survey on the subject.
The federal chief veterinary officer is also considering the proposal favourably.
The Waughs are now hoping to meet with federal agriculture minister David Littleproud to progress the plan.
“While safety is our motivation to advocate for a register we know that it would also contribute to improving many other issues within the horse industry” Mrs Waugh said.
The benefits include increased traceability, better biosecurity risk control, more history of horse ownership, improved animal welfare, reduced crime and theft and breeding control.
While nothing can bring Sarah back, Mrs Waugh said she was proud that the industry had been made safer as a result of her legacy.
“We have improved health and safety in other industries, such as mining. The same thing needs to happen in the horse riding industry.”